From the Executive Director and the President…
As we officially close the books on 2005, we feel both gratitude and
trepidation. Gratitude for the significant help we received this year from our friends in
the legal and business communities. As news of our county funding cut spread,
hundreds of our friends responded to our call for financial assistance. However, the
future for all nonprofits is bleak. As sources of government funding diminish, more
and more human services agencies must compete for a share of the private sector
dollar. At the same time, we must prepare for a huge increase in demand as the first
of the baby boomers age into eligibility for our services. A recent report by the
federal Legal Services Corporation states that we are failing to meet 80% of the civil
legal needs of low income Americans. Although we will continue to rigorously
pursue private sector assistance, the need is simply too great to rely upon the kindness
of individual donors. The elderly deserve a dedicated source of state funding to
provide them the access to justice they deserve.
Karen L. Nicolson, Executive Director
Thomas Keefe, President
The Mission of LSED
It is the mission of Legal Services for the Elderly, Disabled or Disadvantaged of
Western New York, Inc. (LSED) to improve the quality of life for elderly persons in Western
New York. We do so by providing free legal services in those areas which generally have a
significant impact on the lives of our clients. These areas include health care, housing, income
maintenance, family law and protective services. LSED’s primary goal is to use the legal
system to assure that older people in our community may live with dignity.
Overview of Services
LSED is a nonprofit human service agency incorporated in 1978 to provide
specialized, free legal services to elderly people in the community of Western New York.
Currently we contract with the Departments of Senior Services in the following counties:
Erie, Cattaraugus, Chautauqua, Allegany, and the Seneca Nation of Indians. In Genesee and
Niagara Counties we contract with the Department of Social Services to handle Medicare
appeals for Medicaid recipients.
Through our health care program, we seek to ensure access to adequate health care by
handling appeals and questions regarding Medicaid, Medicare, private health insurance, home
health care and patients’ rights. Health care issues continue to be a major area of concern for
seniors; this year in particular due to the significant changes to the federal Medicare program.
All of our impact litigation and nearly ¼ of our new cases involve health care disputes.
The goal of our housing program is to help our clients avoid homelessness by
defending them in evictions, tax foreclosure proceedings and predatory lending schemes. We
also represent elderly homeowners faced with housing code violations and assist those clients
in obtaining grant money to make the necessary repairs. Many seniors are long-term city
residents and, by helping them remain in the community, we also ensure the stability and
character of local neighborhoods.
Our protective services program developed as a result of the large number of calls we
received about seniors with diminished mental capacity. When caseloads permit, we are
available to serve as defense counsel, court-appointed guardian and court evaluator. We also
draft advance directives for our clients, both powers of attorney and health care proxies. It is
our hope that by promoting the use of advance directives, we can reduce the burden on our
courts and community caused by the commencement of guardianship proceedings.
We handle issues of income maintenance and some consumer matters with the goal of
increasing the self-sufficiency of our clients. We remove illegal liens on the Social Security
accounts of our clients, handle utility shut-offs and represent clients in appealing adverse
decisions in the areas of Social Security retirement, non-disability SSI and Veterans benefits.
In 2001 we began a Grandparents’ Rights Program. The goal of this program is to
provide support to seniors caring for minor children. A secondary goal is to preserve intact
families and keep children out of the foster care system. The project is funded by the Erie
County Department of Senior Services with a federal grant through Title III-E of the Older
Americans Act. Older relative caregivers can get assistance with custody and adoption of
their minor family members and can also obtain help with issues involving the child’s (and
their own) public benefits.
This year LSED closed 842 cases, a decrease of 17% from 2004, directly attributed to
the lay-off of an attorney this year. The vast majority of our clients reside in Erie County
(84%). The attached graph provides a percentage break down of closed cases by county of
Based upon the information from our closed cases, it is possible to get a picture of our
client population. The typical client in 2005 was more likely to be female (74%), and
disabled (59%). Forty-three percent of our clients identified themselves as belonging to a
minority group, a 2% increase from the previous year. As our local population ages, our
client base does as well: 55% of our clients were age 75 or older in 2005. Although the Older
Americans Act prohibits us from having a strict income test, 71% of our clients identified
themselves as experiencing significant financial distress.
As required by the Older Americans Act, every client receives a survey at the close of
his or her case. An impressive 92% of our clients are either very satisfied or satisfied by our
services and staff. The following comment is typical:
“I could offer no improvements. The staff was most superior, understanding
& helpful. Mrs. Furnette Williams was wonderful to me. She eased my
concerns, kept me posted & I thank God your group was there to help us.”
LSED receives the bulk of its funding through the federal Older Americans Act, which
is distributed to the New York State Office for the Aging and finally to the county
Departments of Senior Services. LSED contracts with several Western New York counties in
the proportions illustrated in the attached graph. The single largest funder is the Erie County
Department of Senior Services.
In 2005, LSED received another grant from the Interest on Lawyers Account (IOLA)
in the amount of $95,090. The IOLA fund was established to receive the interest earned by
funds held in client accounts by attorneys. Although the interest on individual accounts is
minimal, when pooled in an IOLA account, the income is sufficient to benefit needy persons.
The IOLA fund was our second largest funding source in 2005. This source of revenue
supplemented our governmental contracts, allowing us to serve many more clients than would
otherwise have been possible. IOLA provides critical support for our outreach programs to
Hispanic and African-American elderly.
Our local New York State Assembly Members and Senators have been instrumental
this year in obtaining continued funding for our program. We have been fortunate to receive
local initiative funding from both the Assembly Majority Democrats and Senate Majority
Republicans, as well as a small budget line for civil legal services.
What is notable about our funding this past year is the increased percentage of non-
governmental sources of support. Our golf tournament almost doubled in revenue and
attendance this year. Foundation grants, including the IOLA grant, constituted almost 20% of
our funding this year. In addition to the IOLA grant, we received a total of $48,406.13 in
grants in 2005 from the following foundations:
The Cameron Baird Foundation $10,000.00
The Western New York Foundation $ 1,000.00
Evans-Devereux Trust Article 11 $ 6,000.00
New York Bar Foundation $ 5,000.00
The Margaret L. Wendt Foundation $ 6,734.13
The J. P. Morgan Chase Foundation $10,000.00
M&T Charitable Foundation $ 5,000.00
Kenmore Rotary Foundation, Inc. $ 4,772.00
Each year we must ask the local community to support the work we do. We run both
an annual golf tournament and a direct mail drive each year. In addition, we use staff to
handle all administration, so that all of the funds raised can go back into our program. As
government funding has gotten more scarce, we have had to ask more of our friends. Without
their support we would be unable to accommodate the ever-increasing calls for help. This
year private donations made up over 10% of our annual budget.
We would like to thank the following individual donors who supported us in 2005.
We apologize if we neglected to include anyone. Please call Karen Nicolson at 853-3087 if
you need to make any corrections.
Abbarno, McLaughlin & Kedzielawa Gary Billingsley, Esq.
Abbott, Tills & Knapp, LLC Blesy & Associates
Eugene P. Adams, Esq. Richard Blewett, Esq.
Kenneth Africano, Esq. Michael Blinkoff, Esq.
Peter Aiello, Esq. Lisa Bloch-Rodwin, Esq.
Donald Alessi, Esq. Alan B. Block, Esq.
Mr. and Mrs. David Alexander Edward Bloomburg, Esq.
Cheryl A. Aloi, Esq. Daniel Boeck, Esq.
John J. Aman, Esq. Paul Bogdan
Jon P. Amershadian, Esq. William Bond, Esq.
Nicolas P. Amigone III, Esq. Robert L. Borenaz, Esq.
Ann Leonard Anderson, Esq. Diane Bosse, Esq.
Daryl Anello Bouvier Partnership, LLP
Sharon Anscombe-Osgood, Esq. Jennifer D. Bowen, Esq.
Claudette Antholzner John Brady
Glenn & Heidi Arthurs Brautigam & Brautigam
Attea & Attea Bryan Brockway, Esq.
Brian F. Attea, Esq. Harold Brody, MD
Joseph M. Augustine, Esq. Phillip Brothman, Esq.
Hedwig M. Auletta, Esq. James Brown, Esq.
Jill Aures-Dawes, Esq. T. Alan Brown, Esq.
Diane Avery, Esq. Chris T. Brunea, Esq.
Melissa A. Bader, Esq. Vicky-Marie Brunette Anthony, Esq.
Bagley, Lynett & Saia Earl W. Brydges, Esq.
The Ballow Law Firm Thomas Brydges, Esq.
Joseph Bania, Esq. Hon. Paul Buchanan
Patrick J. Bannister, Esq. Buffalo Law Journal
Tracey A. Bannister, Esq. Toby-Lee Goldstein Bulan, Esq.
Janice A. Barber, Esq. James Burgio, Esq.
Rebecca H. Baritot, Esq. Frank Bybel, Esq.
The Barnes Firm Campbell & Shelton
Kenneth Barone, Esq. Capital Abstract Co.
Michael Barone, Esq. Edward Carland, Esq.
Holly Baum, Esq. James Carlo, Esq.
Leon P. Beaner Alan Carrel, Esq.
James Beardsley, Esq. Jerome Carrel, Esq.
Peter and Christine Bellanti Patricia I. Carrington, Esq.
Catherine Beltz-Foley, Esq. Anthony Casilio, Esq.
Paul William Beltz PC Thomas Cassano, Esq.
Sheldon B. Benatovich, Esq. Rich Catalano
Thomas W. Bender, Esq. Joseph Catanzaro, Esq.
James W. Bennett, Esq. Stephen Cavanaugh, Esq.
Janet Bensman, Esq. Roland Cercone, Esq.
George Berbary, Esq. Roy R. Cesar, Esq.
Jan Berg Chiacchia & Fleming, LLP
Elizabeth Bergen, Esq. Linda W. Chodos, Esq.
Howard Berger, Esq. Diane K. Church, Esq.
Ann Bermingham, Esq. Paula Ciprich, Esq.
Donna Berry Elizabeth G. Clark, Esq.
Katherine Bestine, Esq. Clark & Steiner
David Beyer, Esq. Clark & Whipple
Lynn Clarke, Esq. Randy C. Fahs, Esq.
David A. Clemens, Esq. Julie Falvey, Esq.
CMX Warehousing & Distribution LLC Martin B. Farber, Esq.
David Cohen, Esq. Thomas C. Farley, Esq.
Jeremy V. Cohen, Esq. David A. Farmelo, Esq.
Cohen & Lombardo, P.C. Wendy K. Fechter, Esq.
Collins & Maxwell, L.L.P. Joshua Feinstein, Esq.
William Collins, Esq. Feldman, Kieffer & Herman
Elisabeth Colucci, Esq. Fenster & Lazenski, LLC
Com-Doc Noemi Fernandez-Hiltz, Esq.
Carol Condon, Esq. Michael Flaherty, Esq.
Robert B. Conklin, Esq. David Floyd, Esq.
Robert W. Constantine, Esq. Georgiana Ford, Esq.
Sharon Corrigan Forge Consulting
Edward Cosgrove, Esq. Robert Frangooles, Esq.
Hon. Nelson Cosgrove Howard Frank, Esq.
Peter Costa, Esq. Joseph G. Frazier, Esq.
Patricia Costanzo, Esq. Jeffrey Freedman, Esq.
George Cownie, Esq. Fred Friedman, Esq. and Fay Friedman
Joseph Crangle, Esq. Sandra B. Friedfertig
Crestwood Health Care Center, Inc. John T. Frizzell, Esq.
George Crofts, Jr., Esq. Fuccillo Chevrolet
John M. Curran, Esq. Thomas J. Gaffney, Esq.
Hon. John T. Curran Pat Galley
Hon. John and Jane Curtin Jerry A. Gambino, Esq.
Steven P. Curvin, Esq. GAS Associates, Inc.
Craig Cwick, Esq. Henry Gartner, Esq.
Damon & Morey Eugene M. Gaughan, Esq.
Victoria L. D’Angelo, Esq. Frederick J. Gawronski, Esq.
Jennifer Desmond, Esq. Hon. Joseph Gerace
Maura C. Desmond, Esq. Joseph F. Gervase, Jr., Esq.
Richard Deveans Arthur Giacalone, Esq.
DiCerbo & Palumbo Mary E, Giallanza, Esq.
Richard F. DiGiacomo, Esq. Mark G. Giangreco, Esq.
Daniel Dillon, Esq. Gibson, McAskill & Crosby
Hon. Kevin M. Dillon Herman Ginsburg, Esq.
John W. Dorn, Esq. Hon. Eric Glazer
Christopher Doyle, Esq. Kevin K. Gluc, Esq.
Walter F. Drag, Esq. Gerald Grace, Jr., Esq.
Robert B. Druar, Esq. William E. Grande, Esq.
Robert K. Duerr, Esq. James R. Grasso, Esq.
Thadeus J. Dziekonski, Esq. Greater Buffalo Savings Bank
Paula M. Eade-Newcomb, Esq. Josephine A. Greco, Esq.
Gayle Eagan, Esq. Cheryl A. Green, Esq.
James Eagan Richard F. Griffin, Esq.
David M. Eberle Frederick Gugino, Esq.
Lynn S. Edelman, Esq. Gurney, Becker & Bourne
Donald Egan, Esq. HSBC Bank
Susan J. Egloff, Esq. Theodore Hadzi-Antich, Esq.
Tracey Ehlers, Esq. Charles J. Hahn, Esq.
Ellicott Development Company Hamberger & Weiss
Erie County Department of Senior Services Brendan C. Hand, Esq.
Anne C. Evans, Esq. Harrington & Mahoney
Evans & Evans Harris Hill Nursing Facility
EZ Graphics Paul M. Hassett, Jr., Esq.
Sara A. Faherty, Esq. Mary Louise Hayden, Esq.
David R. Hayes, Esq. Robert Kresse, Esq.
Nan L. Haynes, Esq. Karl W. Kristoff, Esq.
Holly C. Hecker, Esq. Joan M. Kronman, Esq.
Heffernan & Sweet Kevin J. Kruppa, Esq.
Christian J. Henrich, Esq. Eleanor T. Kubiniec, Esq.
Carolyn M. Henry, Esq. Thomas Kubiniec, Esq. and Gail Kubiniec
Daniel J. Henry, Jr., Esq. Paul W. Kullman, Esq.
Ann W. Herman, Esq. Thomas Kurtz
Judy Hernandez, Esq. Richard S. Kwieciak, Esq.
Thomas Hewner, Esq. Kysor & Della Posta
George M. Hezel, Esq. Hon. John J. LaFalce
Terrence P. Higgins, Esq. Stephen Lamantia, Esq. and Roslyn Lamantia
Andrew C. Hilton, III, Esq. Land America
Marilyn A. Hochfield, Esq. Hon. John P. Lane
Hodgson Russ LLP Toby F. Laping
J. Gregory Hoelscher, Esq. Jim Latacki
Donna Hoelscher-Suchan, Esq. Courtland R. LaVallee, Esq.
Susan S. Hogan, Esq. Robert H. Lawrence, Esq.
Hogan & Willig, PLLC Lawley Insurance
David A. Hoover, Esq. David P. Lazenski, Esq.
Timothy W. Hoover, Esq. Richard J. Lehner, Esq.
John Horn, Esq. and Janice Horn J. Michael Lennon, Esq.
Hurwitz & Fine John Francis Leone, Esq.
Melvyn L. Hurwitz, Esq. Francis M. Letro Attorneys at Law
Thomas R. Hyde, Esq. Daniel F. Lewandowski, Esq.
Injured Workers Pharmacy Lewis & Lewis, P.C.
Paul Isaac, Settlement Professionals Kathleen A. Linhardt, Esq.
Jaeckle, Fleischmann & Mugel, LLP Martin G. Linihan, Esq.
James L. Jarvis, Jr. Andrew Lipkind, Esq.
William T. Jebb, II, Esq. Lipsitz & Ponterio
William P. Johnson, Esq. Richard Lipsitz, Esq.
Alice Joseffer, Esq. Lucian Lodestro, Esq. and Emily
Todd M. Joseph, Esq. Sally B. Logan, Esq.
Hon. Norman Joslin Thomas Lokken, Esq.
Richard S. Juda, Jr., Esq. Mark Longo, Esq.
Just Like Family Robert D. Lonski, Esq.
Ranjana D. Kadle, Esq. Ralph C. Lorigo, Esq.
Michael J. Kanaley, Jr., Esq. Losi & Ganzi
Hon. James B. Kane, Jr. John T. Loss, Esq.
Richard D. Kaufman, Esq. The M&T Charitable Foundation
Kavinoky Cook LLP James L. Magavern, Esq.
Joseph W. Keefe, Esq. Sam Maislin, Esq.
Thomas F. Keefe, Esq. William D. Maldovan, Esq.
William F. Keenan, Esq. W. Barry Mallon, Esq.
Robert W. Keller, Esq. Maloney & Maloney
Kenmore Mercy Hospital James M. Maloy, Esq.
Christopher Kerr, Esq. Dale J. Manchester, Esq.
Hon. Mary Ann Killeen Giles P. Manias, Esq.
Peter E. Klaasesz, Esq. Robert Marinelli, Esq.
Kristen Klein-Wheaton, Esq. Edward J. Markarian, Esq.
Robert A. Klump, Esq. John Markarian, Esq.
James R. Knox Linda J. Marsh, Esq.
Michael L. Kobiolka, Esq. Hon. Frederick Marshall
John Koeppel, Esq. Philip M. Marshall, Esq.
Peter M. Kooshoian, Esq. Karen Mathews, Esq.
Rachel Kranitz, Esq. W. Donn McCarthy, Esq.
Lisa McDougall, Esq. Paul A. Peters, Esq.
Virginia C. McEldowney, Esq. Pfalzgraf, Beinhauer & Menzies
Janet McGlone, Esq. Raymond Pfeiffer, Esq.
Donald F. McKenna, Esq. John J. Phelan, Esq.
Kathleen McMahon-Stoll, Esq. Phillips Lytle LLP
Aileen M. McNamara, Esq. Judy A. Piwowar
Laurie Menzies, Esq. Plesh Industries
Hon. Ann T. Mikoll Steven H. Polowitz, Esq.
David C. Mineo, Esq. Daniel Polowy, Esq. and Arlene
Minority Bar Association Mary Powers, Esq.
Miserendino, Celniker, Seegert & Estoff, P.C. Public Abstract Corp/First American
Francine Modica, Esq. Puleo & Puleo
Robert A. Moeller, Esq. Theodore Pyrak, Esq.
Albert J. Mogavero, Esq. Michael Pysz, Esq.
Richard E. Moot, Esq. Lawlor F. Quinlan, Esq.
Michael R. Moravec, Esq. Lauren D. Rachlin, Esq.
David Morgante Radack & Hartnett
Keith A. Morgenheim, Esq. Larry Reagan
Robert B. Moriarty Robert J. Reden, Esq.
Gayle T. Murphy, Esq. Christopher K. Reed, Esq.
Sue D. Murszewski, Esq. Shari Jo Reich, Esq.
Hortense B . Nash Bruce Reinoso, Esq.
National Fuel Aven Rennie, Esq.
George J. Navagh, Esq. Rowland Richards, Esq.
Thomas W. Nelson, Esq. Samantha L. Riley, Esq.
Network Title Agency of NY David L. Roach, Esq.
Wade Newhouse, Esq. Edward C. Robinson, Esq.
Niagara Lutheran Health System John P. Robshaw, Jr., Esq.
Ilo Noble, Esq. Mark C. Rodgers, Esq.
Sharon Nosenchuck, Esq. Rodgers & Coppola
Peter T. Notaro Field Research Michael J. Roemer, Esq.
Barbara S. Nuchereno, Esq. R. Anthony Ronci, Esq.
O’Brien Boyd, P.C. Marcella Rosinski, Esq.
O’Connell & McClaren Arthur A. Russ, Jr., Esq.
Hon. John F. O’Donnell Louis and Norma Russo
Randall M. Odza, Esq. Maryann Saccomando-Freedman, Esq.
Francis J. Offermann, Esq. Nancy W. Saia, Esq.
Timothy O’Mara, Esq. Marlin B. Salmon, Esq.
Randolph C. Oppenheimer, Esq. Sammarco, Mattacola & Sammarco, LLP
Patrick O’Reilly, Esq. Joseph Saeli, Jr., Esq.
Mickey H. Osterreicher, Esq. Melinda Saran, Esq.
Hon. William J. Ostrowski Barbara A. Sauer, Esq.
Hon. Elloeen Oughterson Tim Sawers, Esq.
Jeffrey Palumbo, Esq. Victoria J. Saxon, Esq.
George R. Palz Barbara A. Schaus, Esq.
Thomas C. Pares, Esq. Michael Schiavone, Esq.
Michelle Parker, Esq. Geralyn A. Schiffler, Esq.
Mark Pearce, Esq. Andrea Schillaci, Esq.
Paul D. Pearson, Esq. James N. Schmit, Esq.
Robert Pearson, Esq. and Louanne David C. Schopp, Esq.
People, Inc. Schroeder, Joseph & Associates, LLP
Hon. Erin M. Peradotto James D. Schultz, Jr., Esq.
Gregory J. Perla, Esq. Paul J. Schulz, Esq.
Mark S. Perla, Esq. Scott M. Schwartz, Esq.
Philip A. Perna, Esq. Edward J. Schwendler, Esq.
Personius Melber LLP Denis A. Scinta, Esq.
Raymond H. Seitz, Esq. Denis J. Uminski, Esq.
Thomas G. Sellers, Esq. Vicky L. Valvo-Walkowiak, Esq.
Senior Residential Services, Inc. Robert Van Every, Esq.
Eugene Setel, Esq. and Susan Setel Lawrence Vilardo, Esq. and Jeanne
Michael R. Shannon, Esq. Joseph Vispi, Esq.
James Shaw, Esq. Judith L. Voit, Esq.
James P. Shea, Esq. Senator Dale M. Volker
Kevin P. Shelby, Esq. Oliver Young, Esq.
Kimberly I. Shimomura, Esq. Matthew X. Wagner, Esq.
Don D. Shonn, Jr., Esq. Norman F. Walawender, Esq.
Myron M. Siegel, Esq. Patrick Walh
Anne Smith Simet, Esq. Mark S. Wallach, Esq.
Michael S. Simon,Esq. Ruthanne Wannup, Esq.
Tara Singer-Blumberg, Esq. Thomas Ward, Esq.
Joseph F. Sinkewicz, Jr., Esq. Michael A. Wargula, Esq.
Hon. Donna M. Siwek Joan Warren, Esq.
Jamie Smith, Esq. Watson, Bennett, Colligan, Johnson &
Christopher J. Smolka, Esq. Schechter, LLP
Eugene J. Smolka, Esq. Paul C. Weaver, Esq.
Oscar Smukler, Esq. Lester Wedekindt, Inc.
James W. Smyton, Esq. and Patricia Brian Weidner, Esq. and Cathryn A.
Margaret Snajczuk, Esq. Steven J. Weiss, Esq. and Ellen
Isadore Snitzer, Esq. West Herr Ford
Edward J. Snyder, Esq. Frank R. Whitcher, Esq.
Arnold Soeder, Esq. and Catherine Michael J. Whitcher, Esq.
John E. Spadafora, Esq. Willcare
Mark Spitler, Esq. Peter C. Wiltse, Esq.
Mr. and Mrs. Peter D. Spira Douglas Winokur, Esq. and Miriam
David Starkey, Esq. Wayne D. Wisbaum, Esq.
Mark Starosielec, Esq. and Jackie Starosielec Daniel W. Wisniewski, Esq.
Cheryl L. Stein, Esq. Thomas Wiswall, Esq. and Dorothy
Robert D. Steinhaus, Esq. Wolfgang & Weinmann
Roger E. Stone, Esq. Laurence H. Woodward, Esq.
Cheryl R. Storie, Esq. Diane Y. Wray, Esq.
Richard Sullivan, Esq. and Lois Sullivan Marilyn B. Wray
Paul J. Suozzi, Esq. Phyllis Wray
Kathleen M. Sweet, Esq. Wilson E. Wray, Esq.
Synchronet Industries Raymond V. Wylegala, Esq.
Anthony H. Szczygiel, Esq. Wynne and Wynne CPA’s
Lawrence H. Taylor DDS Richard Wyssling, Esq.
Dominic J. Terranova, Esq. Robert L. Zaffram
John C. Thompson, Esq. Hon. Marilyn Zahm and Robert
Ticor Tile Insurance Co. Paul Zarembka
Robert W. Tills, Esq. Nelson Zakia, Esq.
Richard Tobe, Esq. Joseph E. Zdarsky, Esq.
Susan Tobe, Esq. Arnold Zelman, Esq. and Marjorie
Melissa A. Tocha, Esq. George Zimmerman, Esq.
Hon. Sharon Townsend Helen Zimmerman, Esq.
Thomas V. Troy, Esq.
Ayoka Tucker, Esq.
Volunteers and Donations
LSED draws volunteer law students and attorneys, who provide invaluable additional
services to our clients and the community at large. This year we continued our relationship
with the SUNY at Buffalo School of Law to run a clinic program through our office. The
students in this program earn class credit for working on LSED files. They are supervised, at
no cost to the agency, by Professor Anthony Szczygiel. As a result, we received 712 hours of
free law student services in 2005.
In addition to Professor Szczygiel, we were fortunate to have the services of several
volunteer attorneys: John Rickers, Elizabeth Miranda, Bill Licata, Rosalind Polanowski and
Henry Killeen. In addition, we have had the help of several other volunteers. Special Thanks
to Joyce Seegel, and Lisa Kelly who volunteered their time in 2005. These volunteers
provided 662 hours of free legal services to the agency in 2005.
Publications and Presentations
Once again in 2005, we presented our annual Elder Law Fair, together with the Erie
County Department of Senior Services. This ambitious project allowed more than 500
seniors to go to law school for the day. Volunteer attorneys, from our office and the private
bar, provided sales-free information about legal issues that impact the lives of seniors.
Additional sponsors of the event included the University at Buffalo School of Law, the
Network in Aging, AARP and the Bar Association of Erie County.
Thousands of seniors and their families heard about our services this year through the
media. We authored, or were the subject of, seven articles, appeared on two radio shows and
two local television stations. Our staff is in demand as lecturers and, during this past year, we
spoke to 31 separate groups. We estimate that approximately 1,600 individuals attended our
community presentations. In addition, this year we partnered with Volunteer Lawyers Project
to train 25 volunteer attorneys on the issue of tax foreclosure. Our staff provided the
materials and presentations to private bar attorneys who agreed to take cases pro bono,
thereby increasing the numbers of clients who were able to get legal assistance and avoid
losing their homes.
Finally, our staff members have taken leadership roles in the aging community. This
year staff members have served on the Board of Directors of the Erie County Bar Foundation
and the Western New York Law Center, served as chair of the Erie County Fair Housing
Partnership Task Force on Predatory Lending, co-chaired the Inclusion Task Force
(advocating for the rights of the disabled), served on the Elder Abuse Coalition, Chaired the
Erie County Caregiver Coalition’s Legislative Committee and served as the consumer
representative for the Mercy Hospital Ethics Committee.
Our largest contract, both in terms of the number of clients served and the level of
funding, is the contract we have with the Erie County Department of Senior Services New
clients either call our office directly, or are referred by caseworkers from the department. We
visit clients in the community whenever necessary and work closely with the Department of
Senior Services to set case priorities that will target the most economically and socially
disadvantaged seniors. In 2004 we sent out an ambitious survey to ascertain the current legal
needs of older persons in our community. As a result, we changed our priorities to ensure that
we use our limited resources most efficiently and where we are most needed.
A sixty-four-year-old woman contacted our office because the New York
State Department of Health had rejected Medicaid payment for her
dentures. By the time she called us, she had been without dentures for 8
months and had lost a significant amount of weight due to her
compromised ability to eat. We negotiated with the State Medicaid
Dental Unit and obtained an over-ride of the previous denial.
Mrs. G., a sixty-five year old woman contacted our office for help with
medical transportation. She is 600 lbs and non-ambulatory. She requires
a van with a heavy-duty lift in order to access Medicaid medical
transportation. For a number of years she had used a transportation
company that provided her adequate service. However in May of 2005,
the Department of Social Services unilaterally switched her provider.
The new vendor did not have a manual lift and was unable to provide
services and our client missed several appointments with her physician.
Our staff called Medical Utilization Review (MUR) and discovered that
the county had a zone plan which guaranteed that each vendor was
assured of all clients within their services zone, regardless of the
provider’s ability to meet the needs of those clients. We insisted on an
appeal and represented our client in requesting an exception, which was
approved. Our client now has access to a medical transportation provider
that can actually transport her to her medical appointments.
Relatives’ Rights Project
Funded by the Erie County Department of Senior Services with monies from Title III-
E of the Older Americans Act, we offer legal representation and advice to older caregivers of
minor children, in the areas of custody, guardianship, adoption and public benefits. This year
our small project staff helped 63 new families. Although the main focus of this project
involves advocacy in Family Court to obtain custody of minor children, we pride ourselves on
advocating for our clients in all areas that impact these “new” families.
We represented Mrs. S in obtaining custody of her 8-year-old grandchild.
During the course of our representation, the child’s SSI income was
discontinued due to the fact that Social Security no longer considered the
child’s sickle cell anemia to meet the definition of a severe impairment. Our
attorney represented the family at a hearing at which it was determined that
the child was disabled and entitled to retroactive benefits. This income is
crucial to maintaining the family’s long-term survival.
A maternal grandmother and maternal aunt contacted our office. Six
children were placed in multiple foster homes after the father shot the mother
in the face causing her to be legally blind. The grandmother and aunt had
offered to take the children but the Department of Social Services refused,
preferring to place them all with separate foster families. Through the efforts
of our office the children have all been reunited under the custody of their
grandmother and aunt.
In addition to representing individual clients, Michele is the chair of the Erie County
Caregiver Coalition’s Legislative Committee. The Committee attempts to keep members
informed about pending state and federal legislation, which may impact grandparents caring
for minor children. She also started The Good Samaritan Project, a Christian outreach project
that provides essential goods and services to underprivileged relatives caring for children in
LSED handles a large number of highly labor-intensive protective services cases. We
are appointed by the Court as permanent guardian, as court evaluator, or defense counsel.
LSED’s services as guardian are typically in situations where intervention is sought by a
hospital for an indigent patient who may not be capable of giving informed consent. Last
year, Erie County took the initiative in this area and provided dedicated funding to continue
and streamline the project.
In most instances, LSED has been appointed where there is a high level of family
conflict. LSED sometimes has discovered financial abuse of the elderly client in the form of
misappropriation of funds by acquaintances, or by family members. In these cases, we have
attempted to trace an often-difficult trail, and to recover as much of the estate as possible. In
all these cases, we are the only advocate for individuals who are poor, sick and often
We were guardian for an 84-year-old gentleman with no family and no
assets. He has chronic renal failure and schizophrenia, as well as dementia.
We received several calls from the nursing home that they wanted to stop his
dialysis treatment, since he often became combative. Stopping his treatment
would have caused his immediate death. Our office demanded that the
facility continue his treatment. He had pleasant visits with our social worker
and enjoyed appropriate activities until his death early in 2006.
We continued our partnership with the Cattaraugus County Department of the Aging
in 2005. Our staff attorney made monthly visits to the county in order to visit clients, conduct
intake, and appear in court.
Mr. C., an 82-year-old gentleman was living in the community. The
Department of Social Services brought a guardianship proceeding against
him. They were named temporary Guardian and put him in an unlicensed
family style home against his wishes. The owners of the home left residents
unattended for long portions of the day, and shaved Mr. C.’s head without
Office for the Aging personnel did not have an opportunity to assess Mr. C.
prior to his placement. Family members, who had several complaints about
the unlicensed facility, contacted the Office for the Aging after the
placement. Moreover, neither the family, nor the Office for the Aging
thought the gentleman was mentally incapacitated. Bill Berry filed an
appeal of the guadianship order and settled the case without a finding of
incapacity. In addition, Mr. C. was able to leave the unlicensed facility.
We contracted again this year with the Chautauqua County Office for the Aging.
Brenda Symans conducts intake at two locations in buildings occupied by the Office for the
Aging. This cooperative arrangement permits LSED to provide more direct service hours at
a lower cost, eliminating travel time and fostering a close day-to-day working relationship
with the County.
This year we opened 81 new cases in Chautauqua County. We dealt with a variety of
issues including: debtor/creditor matters, evictions, landlord disputes, Social Security, SSI,
mortgage foreclosure and Medicaid. We also provided several trainings on a variety of topics
including: Health Care Proxies, Living Wills, Powers of Attorney and an overview of the
services we offer to seniors in the county.
An 83-year-old woman contacted our office after she was denied
reimbursement for the purchase of a lift chair her doctor had prescribed.
Client had severe arthritis and was wheelchair-bound. Our office represented
her at a hearing and the decision was fully favorable.
An eighty-year old former client contacted our office again for assistance this
year. The client was the primary caregiver for her husband with Alzheimer’s
disease. They resided in an apartment complex where the landlord would not
correct a maintenance problem that had resulted in raw sewage in the
basement. On our advice, she made a housing code complaint and broke her
lease to move to a more habitable apartment. Now the landlord refused to
return the security deposit. Brenda negotiated with the landlord and obtained
the full security deposit for our clients.
Since 1982 LSED has handled housing law problems for residents of the City of
Buffalo age sixty and over. Our Housing Law for the Elderly Program, unlike our programs
funded with Older Americans Act monies, does have an income eligibility standard. LSED
assists qualified clients with the following issues: problems with tenants (including eviction
and collection of rent), compliance with building and health codes, defense of evictions,
representation of clients in Housing Court, property tax foreclosure, foreclosures due to water
arrears and defense of evictions.
In 2002 the City of Buffalo cut all grant-in-aid funding for human services programs
and we lost all City support for this project. The program has continued only due to the
support from The New York Bar Foundation, the JP Morgan Chase Foundation and the
Cameron Baird Foundation. Despite the dramatic loss of funding to this project we were able
to assist 133 seniors with housing issues.
A sixty-nine-year old gentleman with serious health problems and numerous
hospitalizations called our office. He was about to have his house sold at the
City Foreclosure because he owed $127.35 in a user fee. Added to the user
fee, was $439 in legal fees, which now made it impossible for him to pay off
before the sale date. We filed an Order to Show Cause to halt the sale and
negotiated a payment plan for him with the City of Buffalo. He remains in
Don’t Borrow Trouble Campaign
Three years ago, we started a project to combat predatory lending in Erie County.
Predatory Lending is generally defined as abusive or illegal lending practices, or loan terms
that are used to strip home equity from homeowners and make loans unaffordable. The
practice ultimately leads to foreclosure, homelessness and the destruction of urban
neighborhoods. This year, the project suffered a significant loss of funding which resulted in
our temporary withdrawal from the project. Emergency funding from a local bank contacted
by the Buffalo Urban League, as well as a grant to our agency from JP Morgan Chase
Foundation, enabled LSED and our legal partners to reopen for business. We are working with
city officials and the Buffalo Urban League to find continued support for the project.
Mrs. E, a seventy-one year old African American woman, has owned her
home since 1971. One son had recently passed away and she was caring for
a second disabled son. After paying off her original mortgage, she was
solicited to take out a series of predatory loans in order to pay off credit card
debt of approximately $20,000. In total, she ended up with a mortgage of
$82,000. In order to justify the large loan, the lender conspired with an
appraiser to over-appraise this La Salle Ave home to $92,000. The
appraiser’s officer was subsequently indicted and the loan sold to a new
Since her mortgage payment constituted 75% of her income, she quickly fell
into foreclosure. The new company refused to negotiate a settlement and we
brought a court action to stop the foreclosure. The judge found in our favor.
Although an appeal is pending, our client remains in her home.
For several years we have contracted with the Genesee County Department of Social
Services to help maximize the federal Medicare benefits available to county residents on
Medicaid. This year, we started a new relationship with the Genesee County Office for the
Aging. In response to the chaos surrounding the implementation of the new Medicare Part D
prescription drug coverage, the Office for the Aging contacted our office to provide assistance
to their seniors. With the assistance of Tony Szczygiel we did a series of nine presentations to
caseworkers, seniors, pharmacists and other medical personnel. In 2006, one of our paralegals,
Cheryl Kostrewa, will begin regular intake visits to the county to assist individual seniors with
disputes and appeals regarding this new benefit.
Seneca Nation of Indians
This year, we represented clients on both the Cattaraugus and Allegany Indian
Reservations. Common issues addressed during 2005 for the members of the Nation involved
landlord/tenant, Social Security, consumer, health care proxies and living wills, and estate
matters. We met with clients at the Offices for the Aging on both the reservations, as well as
in the homes of our clients. In addition to direct representation, our “Lawyer of the Month”
program at the Cattaraugus Reservation provides free, brief advice to many seniors during the
lunch hour at the senior center.
“ I am writing to express our gratitude to your organization for allowing
Beata Banas, Esq. to present at our health center on legal issues and the
elderly. The community has benefited greatly from the information that was
presented. Many of the elders present reported that they planned on
following up with Beata independently. This informational event was
absolutely a success and Ms. Banas is welcomed back anytime with any
other information she would be willing to share. Thank you so much for
assisting with the well being of our community elders.”
Lesley E. Nephew-Kennedy, MSW
We receive referrals directly from the Allegany Office for the Aging and consult with
social workers from that office on legal issues that impact the elderly. Our goal is to
maximize limited available resources, while at the same time providing high quality legal
services to both the seniors and staff in Allegany County.
Mr. & Mrs. H, relying upon information provided by their employer, did not
apply for Medicare Part B coverage when they became eligible at age 65.
After several years, they discovered that their employer coverage would not
pay for anything that Medicare Part B would have covered. As a result, they
were responsible for large medical bills. In addition, since they did not sign
up at age 65 they could only obtain Part B coverage by paying a surcharge of
70%. Our office is drafting the legal papers to file litigation against the
employer in early 2006.
New York State
Since 1994, LSED has received a line item in the New York State Budget. In addition,
LSED has been the recipient of local initiative funding from both the Western New York
Assembly Majority delegation and the Western New York Senate Majority delegation.
Funding from New York State has provided general support and expanded the services we are
able to provide to our clients.
Mrs. K. was diagnosed with cancer of the larynx and underwent a
Laryngectomy. In addition, she received post-operative radiotherapy which
damaged her salivary glands resulting in the gradual deterioration and
breaking off of her teeth. As her teeth deteriorated and began to break off,
she was at risk of choking on a tooth. Her doctors recommended and
performed oral surgery as medically necessary to protect her health. Her
insurance company, a Medicare Plus Choice organization, refused to pay for
the surgery and she won an appeal after a hearing in front of an
administrative law judge. However, the HMO appealed and the case is now
in federal district court awaiting a decision.
LSED is a charter member of the Interest on Lawyer Account Fund, a program
dedicated to providing funds for civil legal services programs and programs for the
improvement of the administration of justice. The IOLA funds are used to support our entire
program; with particular emphasis on the poor minority communities we serve. IOLA funds
have enabled us to steadily increase our services to the Latino and African-American
communities over the years. In 2005, 43% of our clients identified themselves as belonging
to a minority group. In 1999, only 26% of our clients self-identified as non-white. Our
Hispanic Outreach Program, as well as our outreach efforts into the African-American
community, is supported entirely by our grant from the IOLA Fund.
We spent a significant amount of our time this year explaining how the new
Medicare Part D plan was going to impact our clients already on Medicaid
(called dually-eligible). The language barrier our Latino clients face made
the transition to Medicare even more confusing. We also had clients who
had encountered opportunists looking to capitalize on this confusion. One
70-year-old gentleman sent in $250 to a “Discount Club/Advocacy
Organization”. It was difficult to ascertain what “services” they supposedly
provided to enrollees. We obtained a refund for him before he gave this
company any more of his SSI check for further consulting fees. We also
reported the organization to the federal Medicare program.
In 2004 our office collaborated with People Inc. and Key Bank to start the first local
Pooled Supplemental Needs Trust. Unlike our programs funded by the Older Americans Act,
our trust is not restricted to those age sixty and older. Our supplemental needs trust allows
family members to enhance the quality of life of their loved ones with disabilities, without
causing a loss of the public benefits that the disabled person relies upon to survive.
Beneficiaries pool their money together to take advantage of better investment opportunities.
The trustees keep a separate sub-account for each trust beneficiary, and any money remaining
in the trust at the death of the beneficiary is put into a fund to provide assistance to other
disabled trust beneficiaries who have depleted their accounts. Trust money can be used to
purchase most items beyond necessary food and shelter, including such things as purchasing a
wheelchair van, paying for a vacation, or obtaining additional medical care not covered by
Although we have accomplished much this past year, more needs to be done. All of
the counties which we serve have elderly populations that are greater than the National
Average, and we can expect the numbers to increase as the baby boomers move into
retirement. As this trend continues, it is imperative that adequate funding is provided to
ensure access to our justice system for all older people, regardless of income.
Karen L. Nicolson, Esq. Executive Director
Michaelene Bauer, Office Manager
Robert S. Esposito, Administrative Assistant
Beata Banas, Esq., Staff Attorney
William W. Berry, Esq., Staff Attorney
David Chadwick, Esq., Staff Attorney
Mary Jo Lattimore-Young, Staff Attorney
Michele Sterlace-Accorsi, Esq., Staff Attorney
Anthony Szczygiel, Esq., Clinic Professor
Elizabeth Miranda, Esq., Volunteer Attorney
John W. Rickers, Esq., Volunteer Attorney
Thomas E. Hayduk, Staff Paralegal
Kathleen M. Kanaley, Social Worker
Mary Lee, Social Worker
Cheryl Kostrewa, Staff Paralegal
Brenda Symans, Staff Paralegal
Furnette Williams, Staff Paralegal
Mary Ellen Loncto, Secretary
Judy Piwowar, Secretary
Kathleen Philip, Receptionist
Thomas F. Keefe, Esq., President
Toby F. Laping, PhD., Vice President
Giles P. Manias, Esq.
Randolph C. Oppenheimer, Esq., Vice President
Bruce D. Reinoso, Esq., Vice President
Shari Jo Reich, Esq., Treasurer
David J. Starkey, Esq.
Ann B. Bermingham, Esq.
Harold Brody, MD
Helen Ferraro-Zaffram, Esq.
Lenora B. Foote, Esq.
Jack Freer, MD
Garry M. Graber, Esq.
Robert L. Marinelli, Esq.
Hortense B. Nash
Frederic Paul Norton, Esq.
Timothy O’Mara, Esq.
Hon. Elloeen D. Oughterson
Rowland Richards, Esq.
Clifford E. Whitman
Marilyn B. Wray, CSW-R
Honorary Board Members
Elizabeth G. Clark, Esq.
Gayle L. Eagan, Esq.
Richard F. Griffin, Esq.