Senior Virginians Handbook

Senior Virginians Handbook

Senior Virginians Handbook (PDF)

Manual para Adultos Mayores de Virginia (PDF)

Order the Senior Virginians Handbook
singly or by the box here.

Watch our Senior Law Day videos

The Senior Virginians Handbook is a resource for seniors, their families, and their caregivers to provide overviews and contact information for issues, opportunities, and choices facing senior citizens today, with summaries of how specific laws affect Virginia's older citizens and practical advice on issues such as Medicaid, Alzheimer’s Disease, landlord-tenant relations, and much more. There is also an extensive list of community service organizations that provide services to senior Virginians.

Manual para Adultos Mayores de Virginia, the Spanish version of the Senior Virginians Handbook, is also available.

Online versions revised June, 2021. 


Financial Assistance

Social Security

  • Introduction
  • Social Security and your retirement plans
  • How do you qualify for retirement benefits?
  • How much will your retirement benefit be?
  • Full retirement age
  • Age to receive full Social Security benefits
  • Early retirement
  • Delayed retirement
  • Deciding when to retire
  • Retirement benefits for widows and widowers
  • Benefits for family members4
  • Spouse’s Benefits
  • Maximum family benefits
  • Social Security Benefits and Divorce
  • How do you sign up for Social Security?
  • Right to appeal
  • If you work and get benefits at the same time
  • A special monthly rule
  • Your benefits may be taxable
  • Pensions from work not covered by Social Security
  • Leaving the United States
  • Supplemental Security Income
  • Eligibility
  • Income
  • Penalties
  • Applying for Benefits
  • Appeals Process for SSI
  • Overpayments


  • Introduction
  • Pension Eligibility
  • Types of Pension Plans
  • Pension Rights
  • Breaks in Service
  • Benefits for Workers’ Spouses
  • Protection of Pension Funds
  • Appeals
  • Veterans‘ Benefits
  • Aid and Attendance Allowance
  • Eligibility
  • How to Apply for Aid and Attendance
  • Eligibility
  • Relationship of VA Income to Social Security Administration (SSA) Benefits
  • Applying for VA Benefits and Information
  • Right to Appeal
  • Representation
  • Railroad Retirement Act Benefits

Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (Snap—Food Stamps)

  • The Myth
  • Applying for SNAP (Food Stamps)
  • Eligibility
  • What to Do if Refused

Federal Tax Relief

  • Federal Income Taxes
  • Federal Income Tax Credit
  • Earned Income Credit8
  • Taxpayers Who Are Blind or Older than 65 Years
  • Medical Expenses
  • Sale of Principal Residence
  • Medical Savings Account (MSA)
  • Long-Term Capital Gains and Dividends
  • Estate and Gift Tax Exemption
  • Unlimited Marital Deduction
  • Gift Tax Annual Exclusion
  • Charitable Contributions
  • Real Estate Tax Reductions for the Elderly

Health Care


  • Introduction
  • Eligibility
  • Applying for Medicaid
  • Resource Limitations
  • Transfer of Assets
  • Medicaid and Long-Term Care
  • Appeals
  • Conclusion


  • What Is Medicare?
  • The Different Parts of Medicare
  • Medicare Part A (Hospital Insurance)
  • Medicare Part B (Medical Insurance)
  • Medicare Part C (Medicare Advantage Plans)
  • Medicare Part D (Prescription Drug Coverage)
  • Your Medicare Coverage Choices
  • Original Medicare
  • Medicare Advantage Plans (like an HMO or PPO)
  • Other Medicare Health Plans
  • State Insurance Counseling

Alzheimer’s Disease

  • Introduction
  • Symptoms
  • Services Available
  • Health Care Services
  • Rest for the Caregiver
  • Day-to-Day Assistance for the Caregiver in the Home
  • Day-to-Day Assistance Outside the Home
  • Short-Term Assistance for the Caregiver
  • Long-Term Assistance
  • Resources for Families
  • Legal Considerations for Alzheimer’s Patients

Long-Term Care

Nursing Homes

  • Introduction
  • Selecting a Nursing Home
  • Paying for Nursing Home Care
  • Medicare
  • Medicaid
  • Veterans Benefits
  • Private Health and Long-Term Care Insurance
  • Personal Resources
  • Resident Rights
  • Financial Controls and Resident Funds
  • Resources
  • Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program

Assisted Living Facilities

  • Introduction
  • Design
  • Regulation
  • Paying for Assisted Living
  • Choosing an Assisted Living Facility

Adult Day Care

  • Introduction
  • Regulation of Adult Day Care
  • Services Provided
  • Paying for Adult Day Care

Home Care

  • Introduction
  • Arranging for Home Care
  • Choosing a Home Care Provider
  • Questions to Ask
  • Paying for Home Care

Continuing Care Retirement Communities

  • Introduction
  • Type A Facility: Extensive Plan
  • Type B Facility: Modified Plan
  • Type C Facility: Fee-for-Service Plan
  • CCRC Fees
  • Pros and Cons
  • Residents‘ Rights and the Possibility of Dismissal
  • Choosing a Specific CCRC
  • Seek Professional Advice
  • Virginia Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program


  • Landlord-Tenant Issues
  • Obtain Necessary Information About Rental Property
  • Understand Your Lease
  • Virginia Residential Landlord and Tenant Act
  • Security Deposits
  • Rental Application
  • Duties of the Tenant
  • Duties of the Landlord
  • Tenant Remedies/Defenses
  • Important Things to Remember
  • Landlord Remedies/Eviction
  • Retaliatory Action by Landlord
  • Rental Assistance Program
  • Eligibility
  • How Does the Program Work?
  • Virginia Low Income Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP)
  • Other Energy Assistance Programs
  • Telephone Assistance Programs

Reverse Mortgages

  • What Is a Reverse Mortgage?
  • Who can qualify for a HUD HECM?
  • What types of homes are eligible for HECM loans?
  • How are the proceeds of the HECM loan paid to the homeowner?
  • Must the proceeds of the HECM loan be used by the homeowner only for certain specified things?
  • Is the homeowner personally liable to repay the HECM loan?
  • Does the homeowner have obligations under the HECM loan?
  • When must the HECM be repaid?
  • Does the homeowner need to pay a fee to a planner or loan finder in order to obtain an HECM loan?
  • Is an HECM loan expensive?
  • Should the homeowner obtain counseling before obtaining an HECM?
  • Are there web sites or toll free telephone numbers from which homeowners can obtain information about HECM loans or other reverse mortgage loans?

Planning for the Future

Divorce and the Elderly
Real Estate Transfers
Probate and Estate Administration

  • Probate
  • Estate Planning
  • Wills
  • Preparation of Your Will
  • Changing Your Will
  • Dying Without a Will
  • Wills and Life Insurance
  • Joint Tenancy Ownership as a Will Replacement
  • Revocable Living Trusts
  • Estate Taxes
  • Settling an Estate/Administering a Trust
  • Special Needs Trust
  • Supplemental Needs Trusts

Advance Directives

  • Introduction
  • Types of Advance Directives
  • Health Care Power of Attorney

Power of Attorney and Durable Power of Attorney

  • Introduction
  • Who Needs a Guardian?

Funeral Services

  • Planning Ahead
  • Funeral Service Consumer Guidance
  • Planning at Time of Need
  • Veterans


  • Social Security

Protection of Legal Rights

When Do You Need a Lawyer?
How to Find a Lawyer

Selecting And Working With A Lawyer

  • Why do you need a lawyer?
  • IWhat kind of lawyer do you need?0
  • How do I find a Lawyer?
  • How to choose the right lawyer
  • Prepare for the meeting1
  • Fees
  • Fee Agreements
  • Fee Dispute Resolution Program
  • Best Strategy for Choosing a Lawyer to Represent You

Consumer Guide

  • Introduction
  • Contracts and Credit Buying
  • Basic Contract Dos and Don’ts
  • Credit Card Finance Charges
  • Unsolicited Credit Cards
  • Lost or Stolen Credit Cards
  • Bad Credit Ratings
  • Error in Billing
  • Collection Agencies
  • Door-to-Door Sales
  • Mail-Order Merchandise
  • Unordered Merchandise
  • Telemarketing Sales
  • Unscrupulous Practices
  • Bait and Switch
  • Pigeon Drop
  • Home Repairs
  • Health Quackery
  • Consumer Remedies
  • Suits in General District Courts


  • Age Discrimination
  • Discrimination Based on Disability

Grandparent Rights

  • Grandparent Rights to Visitation and Custody
  • A Primer on Legal Custody and Guardianship
  • of Grandchildren
  • Legal Custody
  • Guardianship
  • Parental Presumption
  • Person with a Legitimate Interest
  • Visitation Determination
  • Foster Care and Grandparents
  • State Benefit Programs
  • Internet Resources

Your Personal Safety and Security

  • At Home
  • Walking
  • While Shopping
  • In Your Car
  • Banking

Elder Abuse

  • What Is Elder Abuse?
  • Signs of Elder Abuse
  • Preventing Abuse
  • Reporting Abuse

Alternative Dispute Resolution

  • Arbitration
  • Mediation
  • Collaborative Family Law

Specific Concerns for Seniors

Virginia’s Judicial System

  • Magistrates
  • District Courts9
  • Circuit Courts
  • Court of Appeals
  • Supreme Court
  • Law Enforcement and Prosecution of Criminal Cases

Helpful Contacts

  • Agencies on Aging
  • Citizen Help Lines
  • Consumer Protection
  • Discrimination
  • Employment Information
  • Funeral Services
  • Health Care Information
  • Housing Information
  • Information and Referral Services
  • Legal Information
  • Long-Term Care
  • National Organizations
  • Nursing Homes, Adult Homes & Day Care
  • Railroad Retirement Act Benefits
  • Social Services
  • Social Security Administration2
  • Veterans’ Affairs
  • Victims of Crime Compensation

Updated: Jul 21, 2021