News and Press Releases
First Lady Susan Corbett Announces New Statewide Art Contest for Individuals with Disabilities in Partnership with The Arc of Pennsylvania, Pennsylvania Council on the Arts
News for Immediate Release
April 1, 2014
First Lady Susan Corbett Announces New Statewide Art Contest for Individuals with Disabilities in Partnership with The Arc of Pennsylvania, Pennsylvania Council on the Arts
Harrisburg – First Lady Susan Corbett today announced a new art contest − a partnership between The Arc of Pennsylvania, the commonwealth and the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts − that will showcase artwork from Pennsylvanians with disabilities.
“Art is a language that transcends ability,” Mrs. Corbett said. “Pennsylvanians with disabilities have a lot to overcome, but it is their abilities and talents that we often overlook. That’s why I am proud to announce a new partnership between The Arc of Pennsylvania, the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, and the commonwealth to launch a statewide art contest entitled ‘Art: The Universal Language’.”
The contest is open to any Pennsylvanian of any age with a disability.
Listen for McAndrews Law Offices on the Radio!
On Monday, March 24th, McAndrews Law Offices, with the help of Connor Communications, met with Baker Sound Studios in Philadelphia to produce MLO’s Special Education and Estate Planning radio ads. Take a look at a few pictures from the studio!
Save the Date!
“Older Adults Challenged Financially When Adult Children Move Home” – UCLA Center for Health Policy Research
By Stephen P. Wallace, PhD, D. Imelda Padilla-Frausto, MPH
This policy brief looks at the financial burdens imposed on older Californians when adult children return home, often due to a crisis not of their own making, to live with their parents. The findings show that on average in California, the amount of money that older adults need in order to maintain a minimally decent standard of living while supporting one adult child in their home increases their expenses by a minimum of 50 percent. Low-income older adults are usually on fixed incomes, so helping an adult child can provide the child with a critical safety net but at the cost of the parents’ own financial well-being. Policy approaches to assisting this vulnerable population of older adults include implementing reforms to increase Supplemental Security Income (SSI), improving the availability of affordable housing, assuring that all eligible nonelderly adults obtain health insurance through health care reform’s expansion of Medi-Cal and subsidies, and increasing food assistance through SNAP and senior meal programs.
“Elder Abuse is a Growing Concern” – The AARP Bulletin
By Cristina Rouvalis
Here’s the dire situation presented to Renee Martin, director of education and outreach for the state attorney general’s office: A 72-year-old Lancaster County man was in danger of losing his home because his drug-addicted son had stolen thousands of dollars from his accounts.
The tip came from a woman living next door to the man.
Martin contacted the Lancaster County Office of Aging, which had already been looking into the case. But their investigation turned up something else—the neighbor was allegedly dipping into the older man’s funds too. Between the son and the neighbor, the man was out approximately $50,000.
“It seems like she wanted more money. The son was taking it all. She was a ‘good neighbor’ to the tune of about $12,000,” said Martin, who fields elder abuse complaints from a hotline in the attorney general’s office, 866-623-2137 toll-free. The Office of Aging was able to take guardianship of the man’s accounts so he could keep his house.
Elder abuse can take many forms, from physical to sexual to neglect. But state officials are seeing a rise in financial exploitation, which is often carried out by trusted relatives or friends.
“It’s just a tragic situation,” said Ray Landis, advocacy manager for AARP Pennsylvania. “With physical abuse, it’s easier to investigate. Financial exploitation is harder for folks to get their arms around.”
Even when county officials untangle complicated financial records and find fraud, prosecutors often deal with reluctant victims who don’t want to send their children or grandchildren to jail.
“The unfortunate reality is that a majority of cases involve loved ones, and older adults don’t want to follow through with the prosecution,” said David Gingerich, deputy secretary of the state Department of Aging.
Allegations rise sharply
Elder abuse allegations are on the rise, with more than 18,000 complaints filed in Pennsylvania during the 2010-11 fiscal year—a 29 percent jump from two years before. During the same period, substantiated complaints rose 27 percent to more than 4,300.
Neglect by caregivers accounted for 27 percent of the abuse cases, while financial exploitation accounted for 15 percent.
The General Assembly is working to strengthen and broaden the scope of the Older Adults Protective Services Act. One proposal would preclude anyone convicted of abusing a care-dependent person from working in a setting such as a nursing home. Other proposals call for defining financial exploitation as a violation of state law.
The House Aging and Older Adult Services Committee recently held hearings on the issue. AARP’s Landis and Jacqueline Burch, executive director of the Lancaster County Office of Aging, testified on the growth of financial abuse.
“We are almost at the point of a perfect storm,” Burch said. “We are a graying state, with people living longer. People age 60 and up are the largest holders of wealth in our county, and they rely on other people for their care and to manage their finances.”
An adult child or friend might use an older person’s ATM card to buy them something, she said, and then run up personal charges or dip into their checking account.
Besides loyalty to relatives, older adults may be reluctant to pursue fraud cases for another reason. “Sometimes they are fearful of prosecuting someone who is providing their care, because that may mean going to a nursing home, which is the last thing they want to do,” Burch said. “Often, older people accept that people take their money if they can stay at home.”
The state Department of Aging’s confidential elder abuse hotline can be reached at 800-490-8505.
– See more at: http://states.aarp.org/pa-elder/#sthash.LaHrV323.dpuf
“Retirement: A Third Have Less Than $1,000 Put Away”
– USA Today
By Nancy Hellmich, USA Today
Most people aren’t trying to figure out how much they’ll need in their golden years.
Most people have very little tucked away for retirement, and many aren’t even trying to figure out how much they’ll need later in life, a new national survey reveals.
About 36% of workers have less than $1,000 in savings and investments that could be used for retirement, not counting their primary residence or defined benefits plans such as traditional pensions, and 60% of workers have less than $25,000, according to a telephone survey of 1,000 workers and 501 retirees from the non-profit Employee Benefit Research Institute and Greenwald and Associates.
CHADD: Children and Adults with Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder will be hosting a Spring Virtual Conference about ADHD
Visit www.chadd.org/virtual2014 for details
“Why Do Elderly Parents Fall For Scams
That Seem So Obvious To Us?” – FORBES
by Carolyn Rosenblatt
The professional crooks are at it again.
The U.S. Attorney’s office recently charged six defendants with yet another telemarketing fraud scheme targeting the elderly. The allegations are that the con artists sought out and preyed upon the elderly through their lottery scam. We see these reports often in the news, to the point that they seem very repetitive. The characters and the amount of money stolen from elders changes but the methods are the same over and over. They caught the scammers this time and charged them with theft of a total of $400,000 from various victims. That’s the least of it. Other scams bring in millions from their vulnerable victims.
Why do elders fall for these things? Why don’t they get that the “Nigerian prince” or the “Jamaican Lottery” are clearly bogus and not to be trusted? Isn’t it obvious?
There are various reasons why our elders are such easy prey for these thieves. One root cause is isolation and loneliness, a fact of life for many seniors who are not closely monitored by loved ones. A pleasant, slick professional calls on the phone in a friendly and engaging manner and traps the vulnerable elder with kind words, attention and a feeling of connection. The thieves are trained and smart. They smell the kill. They know exactly what to say to get the elder to trust them.
Finish Reading/Source: Forbes
“Dead or Alive? Social Security Can’t Always Say”
– Washington Times
By Tom Howell Jr.
Federal auditors said Friday the Social Security Administration still struggles with a basic problem — figuring out who is dead and who is not. The question is a crucial one, since federal agencies rely on the administration to cross-match data on deceased persons and avoid paying out federally funded benefits to people who aren’t alive, or to establish accurate benefits for survivors. The administration also maintains a “Death Master File” that is available to the public. “SSA’s methods for processing death reports may result in inaccurate, incomplete or untimely information for users of its death data,” the Government Accountability Office, an arm of Congress, said in the new report. “Consequently, this could lead to improper payments if benefit-paying agencies rely on this data.” Auditors attributed these pitfalls to how they verify death reports from a patchwork of sources, which include state sources, families, funeral directors, post office, financial institutions and more. The auditors also found inconsistencies in how several federal agencies reimburse the SSA, if at all, for sharing its data. Some agencies share data with the SSA, too, and consider their arrangement a reciprocal one, yet administration officials “were unable to point to any reciprocity study supporting this decision.” The auditors said the administration should develop clearer plans for how it obtains death reports, ensures their accuracy and shares them with other agencies.
Finish Reading/Source: Washington Times
Bullying in Schools: An Exploding Problem
The issue of bullying in schools has become an increasingly troublesome and difficult problem for parents and school officials to navigate. Although a recent television commentator (whose name I will not repeat) recently referred to bullying as a “fad”, this insensitive and uninformed comment is belied by the facts and the experiences of parents and educators.
As recently as ten to fifteen years ago, bullying commonly involved one-on-one contact between a bully and a victim, often in unstructured or unsupervised areas of a school building such as a locker room or a stairwell. Audiences to the bullying, if any, were typically small in number. However, changes in technology and the media have created dramatically greater capacity for bullies to harm vulnerable children, and especially children with disabilities and/or gender issues.
Click Here to Read the Full Article: “Bullying in Schools: An Exploding Problem”
“Keeping Students with Disabilities Safe From Bullying” – A letter from the United States Department of Education: Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services
“The United States Education Department’s Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (OSERS) issued guidance to educators and stakeholders on the matter of bullying of students with disabilities. This guidance provides an overview of school districts’ responsibilities to ensure that students with disabilities who are subject to bullying continue to receive free appropriate public education (FAPE) under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). Under IDEA, States and school districts are obligated to ensure that students with disabilities receive FAPE in the least restrictive environment (LRE). This guidance explains that any bullying of a student with disabilities which results in the student not receiving meaningful educational benefit is considered a denial of FAPE. Furthermore, this letter notes that certain changes to an educational program of a student with a disability (e.g., placement in a more restricted “protected” setting to avoid bullying behavior) may constitute a denial of FAPE in the LRE.” –Official Blog of the U.S. Department of Education
To read more information from the Official Blog of the U.S. Department of Education click here
To read the full August 2013 letter from the United States Department of Education: Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services click here
CBS 60 MINUTES SPORTS, SPECIAL ON THE JERRY SANDUSKY TRIAL
INTERVIEW WITH PROSECUTORS JOSEPH MCGETTIGAN AND FRANK FINA
WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 4, 2013 AT 10:00PM ON SHOWTIME
Philadelphia, Pa – The 2012 trial of ex-Penn State football coach and child sex abuser, Jerry Sandusky, caught media attention all around the world. Next Wednesday’s edition of CBS 60 MINUTES SPORTS will feature an interview with the prosecutors who helped bring justice and awareness to these horrific crimes. Lead prosecutor, Joseph E. McGettigan III, and Frank Fina answer questions about the shocking scandal that led to an emotional 8-day trial, finding Sandusky guilty on 45 of 48 counts against him. On this episode of CBS 60 MINUTES SPORTS, McGettigan and Fina discuss the dramatic effects the crimes had on many people and what it was like working on such a controversial case.
This was not McGettigan’s first high-profile case. Both him and Dennis McAndrews were the prosecutors for the 1997 trial of John duPont – one of the wealthiest murder defendants in American history who shot and killed former Olympic wrestler, David Schultz, on his Pennsylvania estate named “Foxcatcher” in Newtown Square, Pa. duPont was convicted of third-degree murder and died in jail in 2010. Sixteen years later, McGettigan and McAndrews have reunited as McGettigan joins McAndrews Law Offices, a private law firm based out of Berwyn, Pa with offices in Delaware, Washington, D.C., and several Pennsylvania cities. McGettigan will handle cases involving the abuse of children, persons with disabilities and elderly citizens as well as the review of academic and organizational policies, practices, and allegations of misconduct.
McAndrews Law Offices in the Philadelphia Inquirer – Joe McGettigan and Dennis McAndrews reuniting after the John duPont and Sanudusky trials and what is to come for McAndrews Law Offices
By Allison Steele, Inquirer Staff Writer, August 13, 2013
Joseph McGettigan assumed he was getting into a low-profile case.
“I thought, the guy’s a retired coach and not even head coach,” McGettigan said last week. “I thought it would get maybe three stories in the Centre Daily Times,” the State College, Pa., newspaper.
The “coach” in question, of course, was Jerry Sandusky, and McGettigan, the chief prosecutor, became a central figure in a case that became a national sensation.
As the Sandusky scandal exploded, eventually bringing down famed Pennsylvania State University football coach Joe Paterno and three of the school’s top leaders, it became a media spectacle that rivaled nothing McGettigan had witnessed since he prosecuted multimillionaire John E. du Pont more than a decade earlier.
Now, a year after a trial that enthralled much of the country and the sports world and ended with Sandusky’s 30- to 60-year prison sentence for child sexual abuse, McGettigan has stepped back into a more anonymous life at a law practice in Berwyn.
As a member of McAndrews Law Offices, he works alongside his former co-counsel in the du Pont case, Dennis McAndrews. He is focusing on cases involving victims of abuse that occurred in institutional settings, such as schools, colleges, and religious organziations.
“I love it,” McGettigan said of the job he has held since April. “I couldn’t be happier.”
Click Here to Read the Full Article: “A Quieter Life in the Law After Sandusky”
Laughter and Music Better than Drugs for Dementia Patients
A weekly dose of songs and laughs, combined with a daily regimen of jokes and silliness, is replacing psychotropic drugs and anti-depressants given to dementia patients in New South Wales, Australia. It is usually a cliché to say laughter is the best medicine. But Barry Cowling, Operations Manager of Summit Care nursing home in Randwick, said humor therapy had reduced aggression and depression among 18 residents in the secure dementia wing. ”We’ve had residents where we could reduce psychotropic drugs or have them come off, and we could see benefits to staff with improvements in morale and engagement,” Cowling said. His nursing home participated in a three-year study that found weekly visits by clowns, plus the training of staff members to provide humor therapy, significantly reduced agitation among 180 residents in 17 nursing homes compared with a control group. The effect was similar to that of the average dose of Risperidone, a drug used to reduce aggression and agitation among dementia patients, the Sydney Multisite Intervention of LaughterBosses and ElderClowns (SMILE) study found. It also avoided common side effects like stroke. Results from the study show improvements in levels of depression among residents correlate with the enthusiasm and dedication of nursing home staff trained in humor therapy. Even before the formal results of the study were known, the changes were so obvious that Cowling decided to make laughter therapy permanent.
Source/more: Sidney Morning Herald
China Will Scrap One-Child Policy as Aging Crisis Looms
The official news agency Xinhua has reported that China’s Family Planning Commission is studying proposals to lift the ban on a second child, if either parent is an only child. The body’s spokesman said aim is to “improve” family policy, confirming leaks to Chinese newspapers that a major shift is in the works. The new rules are expected to come into force early next year, and may be extended to cover all families by 2015. Jun Ma from Deutsche Bank said the new policies should shore up the pension system and inject stimulus as China’s growth sputters. “As tens of millions of sibling-less people in China are now entering their child-bearing age, we expect this policy shift would induce a baby boom,” he said. The one-child policy dates back to 1971 in its original form. Premier Li Keqiang clearly views the policy an anachronism at a time when China is running out of workers, and faces a demographic time-bomb. There are currently five workers for every pensioner. This ratio will fall to two by 2035.
Source/more: London Telegraph
Nursing Home Use By Medicaid Seniors Plummeting
Long-stay nursing home care by seniors enrolled in Medicaid has been plummeting for 15 years. It is not clear exactly why, but there are probably several reasons. First, state Medicaid programs have been shifting care from nursing facilities to home and community-based settings — a step that seniors themselves favor and one that may save money in the long run. While Medicaid still spends more total dollars on nursing home care than on home care, nursing facility use by Medicaid-eligible seniors has fallen by nearly one third, from 1.4 million in 1995 to just over 1 million in 2010. The second reason is that seniors’ enrollment in Medicaid is growing very slowly even though the overall older population is growing rapidly. The number of people 65 and older increased by more than 80 percent from 1975 to 2010 and the number of those over 85 (who are most likely to need long-term supports and services) has tripled. Yet, Medicaid enrollment by seniors increased by only 18 percent from 1975-2010. That’s in sharp contrast to younger Medicaid beneficiaries, who have increased by more than 200 percent. A third reason may be that nursing homes themselves would rather provide post-acute and rehabilitation services instead of long-stay care. Why? Medicaid pays an average of only about $125 per day for a long-term care resident, while Medicare pays $500 or $600 per day for a post-acute short-stay patient. As a result, many nursing home operators are shifting beds from long-term care to more lucrative rehab and post-acute.
The 8th Annual World Elder Abuse Awareness Day is coming up this Saturday, June 15. Elder abuse, like domestic violence and child abuse, comes in many forms. It is recognized by experts as a public health crisis for which there are no socio-economic borders. Millions of older Americans are abused, neglected, or exploited each year, with an estimated 84% of cases going unreported.
To read more visit “http://acl.gov/NewsRoom/Observances/2013/June_WEAAD2013.aspx”
Social Security Administration Revises Policies Regarding Trusts
The Social Security Administration has revised its Program Operations Manual System (POMS) to allow Self-funded Special Needs Trusts to pay for travel expenses incurred by family members to visit the disabled beneficiary. The revised POMS also allow payment of some administrative expenses upon early termination of the trust, including trustee fees. Notably, the new SSA rules expressly permit payments from Special Needs Trusts “to a third party that results in the receipts of goods or services by the trust beneficiary.” Previously, SSA objected to reimbursement to third parties for purchases on behalf of a trust beneficiary and counted such reimbursement payments as “income” which could reduce or eliminate beneficiary’s Supplemental Security Income and/or Medical Assistance eligibility. This new provision provides substantial new flexibility to trustees in arranging for benefits and services to be provided to beneficiaries of Special Needs Trusts. These payments must be for non-cash items other than food or shelter to avoid being treated as income.
Joseph McGettigan, the successful prosecutor of child abuser Jerry Sandusky, has joined McAndrews Law Offices.
McAndrews Law Offices recently announced that Joseph McGettigan, the successful prosecutor of child abuser Jerry Sandusky, has joined the firm. Mr. McGettigan travels to Mexico this week at the request of Mexican authorities to train local prosecutors in the practices in addressing the needs of crime victims in the evolving Mexican criminal justice system.
Pennsylvania Supreme Court Establishes Task Force To Study Elder Abuse, Exploitation Issues
The Pennsylvania Supreme Court has created an Elder Law Task Force charged with studying the growing problems involved with guardianship, abuse, and neglect, and access to justice involving the commonwealth’s senior citizens, according to the Administrative Office of Pennsylvania Courts. The task force, which will be chaired by Justice Debra Todd, has been charged with recommending solutions that include amended court rules, legislation, education and best practices. “The increased population of older Pennsylvanians has strained the resources of our courts and their ability to provide services to these individuals,” Supreme Court Chief Justice Ronald Castille said in a statement. “The needs of this growing population will continue for years to come, especially in regards to guardianships, elder abuse, and access to justice. Now is the time to put in place solutions that will allow older Pennsylvanians to age without worries that they will be abused or their money will be taken.” The task force, which will be comprised of 38 elder law experts including judges, lawyers, and social workers, will be made up of three different subcommittees, one addressing appointment and qualifications of guardians and attorneys, one dealing with guardianship monitoring and data collection, and the last focusing on elder abuse and powers of attorney. The task force will have one year in which to complete its work
United States Department of Education Hold Least Restrictive Environment Mandate Applies to Transition Programs
The Office of Special Education and Rehabilitation Services of the United States Department of Education issued a recent OSERS Letter which holds that IEP teams must comply with the mandate of Least Restrictive Environment in developing transition plans and assigning work placements to students. McAndrews Law Office has been a leader in pursuing community-based transition programs, including placements in local businesses with job coaches or aides, and this OSERS Letter can assist our work in these endeavors.
The OSERS Letter states that “If an IEP team determines that work placement is an appropriate transition service for child, it must be included in child’s IEP,” and notes that “the LRE provisions would apply equally to the employment portion of the student’s program and placement.” The OSERS Letter adds that “When an IEP team includes a work placement as part of student’s transition services, the IEP team must consider, and include in the IEP, as appropriate, any supplementary aids and services needed to enable the student to participate with other students with disabilities and non-disabled students in the work placement described in the IEP.”
Finally, the OSERS Letter sets out that an IEP “must include appropriate measurable post-secondary goals based upon age-appropriate transition assessments related to training, education, employment and, where appropriate, independent living skills” and notes that “specific transition assessments” must be used to “determine appropriate measurable post-secondary goals”.
This OSERS Letter should be cited to schools districts and hearing officers whenever advocating for supports in employment-based transition services in a least restrictive setting.
SANDUSKY PROSECUTOR JOSEPH McGETTIGAN JOINS McANDREWS LAW OFFICES, P.C.
When Joe McGettigan returned to the Attorney General’s Office in the Fall of 2011 and was immediately assigned to prosecute Jerry Sandusky, he was no stranger to prosecuting high profile cases. McGettigan had prosecuted John duPont, the richest murderer in American history, as well as many other murder cases in Philadelphia and across Pennsylvania. But even McGettigan did not anticipate the extent of the public profile of the Sandusky case. “Initially, McGettigan says, “I thought that the publicity would be limited and short-lived. Sandusky had been long retired from Penn State, and Centre County is removed from major media markets. But as I learned all of the disturbing facts of the case, and realized that its full reach went well beyond a single retired coach, the full impact of the case became clearer to everyone.”
In June of 2012, after one of the most followed trials in recent American history, Sandusky was convicted by a jury of 45 criminal counts involving his molesting 10 young boys on or near the Penn State campus while part of the Second Mile program for children. Sandusky’s abuse of his victims spanned over a decade. The case riveted the attention of the nation and gained almost as much attention internationally. And the investigation and verdict continue to have far-reaching results for Penn State and the operations of child care programs everywhere.
Joe McGettigan will now enter private practice with his co-counsel in the duPont prosecution, Dennis C. McAndrews, of McAndrews Law Offices in Berwyn. With the McAndrews firm, McGettigan will work primarily in cases involving crime victims in organizational or institutional settings, whether in youth organizations, religious groups or facilities, and will include the abuse and bullying of children, the disabled, and the elderly. McGettigan has had a long and notable career as a prosecutor, serving as First Assistant District Attorney in both Delaware County and Philadelphia, as well as a Chief Deputy in the Attorney General’s Office, and as an Assistant United State Attorney. In each of those roles, McGettigan also tried cases, mostly child abuse and murder.
McAndrews says, “Our firm is deeply gratified that Joe is joining our legal family. Joe’s broad experience in working with victims of abuse and crime will be invaluable in our already extensive cases involving child abuse, school bullying of children with disabilities and gender issues, and harm to the disabled and elderly. All of these cases involve persons who have been subjected to abuse despite being in the care of responsible adult caretakers, and Joe has extraordinary skills and years of experience in assisting victims of crime and abuse in every conceivable setting. In addition to his experience and ability, Joe will bring to his cases a compassion for those who have been harmed, and a strong voice advocating for the rights of victims of crime or abuse.”
McGettigan and McAndrews worked closely in 1996 and 1997 as co-prosecutors for then-District Attorney (now Congressman) Patrick Meehan, in Delaware County, Pennsylvania, in the celebrated trial of John duPont for the murder of Olympic gold medal wrestler David Schultz. duPont’s defense was a claim of insanity, and District Attorney Meehan convinced McAndrews, who was in private practice at the time, to enter into the case because of his expertise in mental health and disability law. McAndrews and McGettigan worked closely every day for a year and a half during the prosecution. McAndrews states, “duPont effectively had an unlimited budget, and it often seemed like he exceeded it. Joe and I were required to contest and rebut — often within 24 hours — over 70 pretrial motions and emergency appeals by duPont’s defense team of over a dozen lawyers. I observed firsthand Joe’s skill and commitment in his preparation for trial and his work with victims and witnesses to insure that justice prevailed in the case.” duPont’s insanity defense was rejected, and he was convicted of murder. He was sentenced to up to 30 years in prison and he died in jail in 2011.
McGettigan’s background includes a year-long deployment to Iraq where he worked in a U. S. Department of Justice/State Department program to help re-establish a criminal justice system after the fall of Saddam Hussein. He has also served in private industry, having worked as a consultant and manager for Vance International, a prominent private security company based in Washington, D.C., and for Bochco Media, in Hollywood, as an attorney-consultant for major network television productions focusing on criminal law. McGettigan graduated summa cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa from Temple University in English literature, and from the University of San Diego School of Law.
McGettigan said, “I have truly enjoyed my years as a prosecutor, but the opportunity to work with Dennis, for whom I have the highest professional respect and personal affection, presented just the ideal situation in which to work and continue to help victims.”
McAndrews Law Offices is a seventeen attorney law firm based in Berwyn, and with offices in Scranton, Wyomissing, Wilmington and Washington, D.C. It has been involved in some of the largest abuses cases in the nation, including a five million dollar ($5,000,000) settlement on behalf of children with autism who were abused in a Northeastern Pennsylvania classroom, as well as cases involving facilities which care for disabled and elderly citizens. In addition to its work in abuse cases, the firm handles special education matters in Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia and Washington, D.C. Its practice in this specialized area is the largest in the United States, with attorneys who possess degrees in education and psychology. The firm pursues appropriate programs and placements for children with disabilities, including compensatory education, research-based instruction, private school tuition and inclusive programs with nondisabled children.
McAndrews Law Offices also has one of the region’s fastest growing estate planning and estate administration practices. Its Estates and Trusts attorneys possess advanced degrees and certifications in taxation and estate planning, and enjoy a national reputation in special needs and elder law planning.
February 2013: McAndrews Law Offices is excited to announce our newest addition to our firm. Elaine Yandrisevits
Elaine T. Yandrisevits is an associate attorney at McAndrews Law Offices, P.C. in the Estates and Trusts department.
During law school, Ms. Yandrisevits served as an associate editor of the Drexel Law Review and volunteered as a fellow with the Marshall-Brennan Constitutional Literacy Project, where she taught constitutional law to high school students and coached selected students to participate in a city-wide moot court competition. As a law student, Ms. Yandrisevits served as a summer intern for the Honorable Marlene F. Lachman of the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County and the Honorable Jack A. Panella of the Pennsylvania Superior Court.
Prior to joining McAndrews Law Offices, P.C., Ms. Yandrisevits was an associate attorney at a boutique trusts and estates law firm in Center City Philadelphia, where she focused her practice on estate planning and estate administration, while also assisting with fiduciary litigation matters.
Ms. Yandrisevits earned her J.D. from the Drexel University Earle Mack School of Law, and is presently pursuing an LL.M. in Taxation and an Estate Planning Certificate from the Graduate Tax Program at Villanova University School of Law. Ms. Yandrisevits is a graduate of the University of Delaware, where she earned her Bachelor of Arts, cum laude, in Political Science and History and was named to the Dean’s List every semester. Ms. Yandrisevits is also a proud former member of the University of Delaware marching band, symphonic band, and pep band.
A native of the Lehigh Valley, Ms. Yandrisevits presently resides in Montgomery County.
January 2013: New Estate Tax Law Makes 2013 the Year to Review your Will
By Dennis McAndrews, Esq.
As you may have heard during the recent extensive news coverage related to the “Fiscal Cliff,” in early January, 2013, Congress recently enacted significant legislation concerning the Federal Estate Tax. In this legislation, Congress made “permanent” the Federal Estate Tax threshold of $5,000,000 per individual, and $10,000,000 per couple, adjusted annually for inflation.
The new legislation causes Credit Shelter Trusts (also sometimes referred to as an “A Trust” under an “A/B Trust” scheme) to be far less advantageous than in the past. Indeed, prior to this legislation, the use of a Credit Shelter Trust for a surviving spouse was common among estate planning attorneys where married couples possessed assets in excess of $1,000,000, as a threat constantly loomed until the recent legislation that the Federal Estate Tax threshold could return to the $1,000,000 figure which existed in 2001.
The recent legislation of January, 2013 removes most fears that a $1,000,000 threshold will be reinstated. Under the new legislation, estate plans which include a Credit Shelter Trust for individuals with an estate of less than $5,000,000 ($10,000,000 for couples) can now have negative effects, as the “formula” which is used to establish Credit Shelter Trusts requires that the Trust for the surviving spouse be funded first up to the Federal Estate Tax threshold before any outright bequest may pass to the surviving spouse or others. Consequently, wills which involve a Credit Shelter Trust now often operate to create an unnecessary and undesirable trust upon the death of the first spouse. This scenario could involve costs and inconvenience upon the death of the first spouse which can be avoided by updating your will to remove the Credit Shelter Trust.
January 2013: McAndrews Law Office Wins Federal Court Decision For Tuition Reimbursement By Dennis C. McAndrews, Esq.
McAndrews Law Offices recently prevailed in another case in Federal District Court. In L.G. v. West Chester Area School District, the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania reversed a decision by a Pennsylvania Special Education Hearing Officer which granted only limited tuition reimbursement due to the District’s failure to offer an appropriate educational program to the child. The federal court expanded the tuition reimbursement to the complete time period allowed under the statute of limitations.
The Court found that under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act the District’s obligation to identify the student as a child with a disability, and to provide an appropriate program, extended back well into the child’s educational past, and that the District improperly ignored significant evidence of the child’s disability and need for specialized interventions. Despite clear warning signs of the child’s disability, including behavioral issues, depression, and attendance problems, the District failed to identify the student, thus entitling the parents to tuition reimbursement for a program at the King George School.
The District Court also found that the School District violated IDEA, albeit at a later date, by failing to 1) identify the child, and 2) provide an appropriate Individualized Education Program. Because IDEA specifically delineates particular categories of disabilities, unlike Section 504 which includes any disability which substantially impacts learning or other major life activities, the District’s obligation to identify the child arose at an earlier date under Section 504. The remedy of tuition reimbursement was found to be available under both statutes.
June 2011: Congressman Ted Deutch (D-FL) Introduces Bill into Congress to Provide Tax Credit for Legal Expenses While Pursuing Guardianship of Adult with Disabilities
Congressman Ted Deutch (D-FL) recently introduced a Bill into Congress that would provide a tax credit of up to $5,000.00 for legal expenses incurred while pursuing a guardianship of an adult with disabilities. The Special Needs Tax Credit Bill is intended to make the legal guardianship process, which can cost several thousands of dollars, more affordable for families with persons with disabilities. The proposed legislation would give qualified individuals a tax credit (which is generally more favorable than a deduction) of up to $5,000.00 for their guardianship related legal fees. The amount of the available credit is based on the proposed guardian’s income, with a maximum income limit of $90,000.00 for a single person, and a $165,000.00 for a married couple filing jointly. Check back at mcandrewslaw.com for updates as to whether this important legislation is enacted.
June 2011: McAndrews Selected as 2011 Super Lawyer by Philadelphia Magazine
McAndrews Law Offices, P.C. is pleased to announce that Dennis C. McAndrews, Esquire has been selected by Philadelphia Magazine for the 8th consecutive year as a “Super Lawyer” in the field of Special Education Law for 2011. He has received the highest rating by Martindale-Hubbell and his colleagues for attorneys in the field of Estate Planning.
August 2010: McAndrews Law Offices, P.C. Won Major Victory in Third Circuit Court of Appeals
McAndrews Law Offices, P.C. recently won a major victory in the Third Circuit Court of Appeals in a case arising out of the Philadelphia School District. The Third Circuit Court of Appeals (the federal court one step removed from the United States Supreme Court) held that a young woman was entitled to compensatory education services in the form of an IEP which permitted the student to attend an Approved Private School beyond the age of 21. In previous proceedings, McAndrews Law Offices, P.C. convinced a federal District Court judge that the court’s equitable powers under the Individuals With Disabilities Education Act provided authority for the Court to require the School District of Philadelphia to develop and implement an Individualized Education Plan to allow the child to attend a private school after the age of 21. The court also recognized that in some circumstances, a monetary award of compensatory education may be inadequate to allow a child to be “made whole” as a result of a district’s inadequate program, and that additional relief such as the development of a post-21 IEP may be required. Our best wishes to our client who will now receive critically necessary services as compensatory education!
August 2010: Hulse Wins Significant Decision Before PA Special Education Hearing Officer
Heather Hulse, Esquire of the Scranton office of McAndrews Law Offices, P.C. recently won a significant decision before a Pennsylvania Special Education Hearing Officer. In this case, the Hearing Officer decided that the student had been denied a free appropriate public education by a school district in Northeastern Pennsylvania, and awarded a significant number of compensatory education hours to remediate the child’s special needs as a result of the loss of proper educational programming. Significantly, the award mandated that the child’s parents may select the form and service providers for the compensatory education, and the award and order indicated that the allowable costs of these services would total the salaries and related costs to the school district of the faculty which should have provided the services in the first instance. McAndrews Law Offices, P.C. thanks Heather for her hard work on this case, and looks forward to the family’s use of compensatory education services to develop meaningful educational progress for our client.
February 2010: McAndrews Selected as 2010 Super Lawyer by Philadelphia Magazine
McAndrews Law Offices, P.C. is pleased to announce that Dennis C. McAndrews, Esquire has been selected by Philadelphia Magazine for the 7th consecutive year as a “Super Lawyer” in the field of Special Education Law for 2010. Mr. McAndrews was also selected as a “Top Lawyer” in 2009 by Main Line Today in the field of Wills, Trusts, and Estates. He has received the highest rating by Martindale-Hubbell and his colleagues for attorneys in the field of Estate Planning.
August 2009: Article by Jennifer M. Lukach Bradley Published in The Pennsylvania Lawyer
Jennifer M. Lukach Bradley, an associate with McAndrews Law Offices, P.C., was published in the July/August 2009 edition of The Pennsylvania Lawyer. The article is entitled “Staying in the Mainstream.”
June 2009: McAndrews Law Offices, P.C. Opens Northeastern PA Office
McAndrews Law Offices, P.C. has opened a Northeastern Pennsylvania office. The office is located at 400 Spruce Street, Suite 300, Scranton, PA, phone: 570.969.1817, fax: 570.969.0955. Please watch our website for seminars with regard to Special Education, Special Needs Trusts and Estate Planning in Northeastern Pennsylvania. We will conduct extensive outreach to interested parties in the local community and will offer free special education consultations in 2009. Heather Hulse, Esquire, has relocated full time to our Scranton office and brings her extensive experience in our practice areas to our new location. Heather spent many of her formative years in Scranton, Pennsylvania, and possesses two Masters’ degrees in Psychology in addition to her law degree. The firm’s Managing Partner, Dennis C. McAndrews, Esquire, grew up in Lackawanna County and attended North Pocono High School. Both Heather and Dennis maintain many family and professional contacts in Northeastern Pennsylvania, and look forward to serving the needs of our expanding client base in that region.
April 2009: McAndrews Receives Highest Rating by Martindale-Hubbell
McAndrews Law Offices, P.C., a nine-attorney firm with offices in Berwyn, Wyomissing and Scranton, which emphasizes in Special Education law, Special Needs Trusts and Estate Planning/Administration, is pleased to announce that Dennis C. McAndrews, Esquire has an “AV Rating,” Martindale-Hubbell’s highest rating.
Mr. McAndrews is the founding shareholder of McAndrews Law Offices, P.C., and has worked for over twenty-five years in the public and private sectors in several roles in field of disability law. The Martindale-Hubbell Peer Review Ratings service evaluates lawyers and law firms in the United States and Canada and is based on the confidential opinions of members of the Bar and the Judiciary, including those who are and are not rated. To achieve an “AV Rating,” an attorney must be in admitted to the bar for 10 or more years. There are two components to the Martindale-Hubbell Peer Review Ratings: the General Ethical Standards Rating and the Legal Ability Rating. Mr. McAndrews has received ratings of “very high to preeminent” and “very high,” signifying professional expertise and adherence to professional standards of conduct and ethics, reliability, diligence and other criteria relevant to the discharge of professional responsibilities.
January 2009: Alvarado Named Shareholder with McAndrews Law Offices, P.C.
McAndrews Law Offices, P.C., a nine-attorney firm with offices in Berwyn, Wyomissing and Scranton, emphasizing in Education law, Special Needs Trusts and Estate Planning/Administration, is pleased to announce that Tanya A. Alvarado, Esquire has been named a shareholder with McAndrews Law Offices, P.C.
Mrs. Alvarado received her Bachelor of Arts from Cornell University and her law degree from Boston University School of Law.
January 2009: Konkler-Goldsmith Assumes New Role at McAndrews Law Offices, P.C.
McAndrews Law Offices, P.C., a nine-attorney firm with offices in Berwyn, Wyomissing and Scranton, which emphasizes in Education law, Special Needs Trusts and Estate Planning/Administration, is pleased to announce that Heidi B. Konkler-Goldsmith, Esquire will assume the role of Supervising Partner for Special Education.
Mrs. Konkler-Goldsmith is a shareholder of McAndrews Law Offices, P.C. and is a frequent lecturer to the Bar Association and parent groups in Pennsylvania. She received her law degree from Villanova School of Law and has amassed extensive experience in a wide variety of special education matters.
January 2009: McAndrews Named “Super Lawyer” in 2008 by Philadelphia Magazine
McAndrews Law Offices, P.C. is pleased to announce that Dennis C. McAndrews, Esquire was recently selected by Philadelphia Magazine for the fifth consecutive year as a “Super Lawyer” in the field of special education law for 2008. He also practices extensively in Estate Planning, Special Needs Trusts and Estate Administration.
Mr. McAndrews is the founding shareholder of McAndrews Law Offices, P.C., with offices in Berwyn, Scranton and Wyomissing. He is a frequent lecturer to national conferences, Bar Association Committees and advocacy groups in Pennsylvania concerning the rights of the disabled. He received his law degree from Villanova School of Law and is also an instructor of law courses at Villanova University.
January 2009: McAndrews Law Offices, P.C. Celebrates Over 25 Years of Service on the Main Line in Estate Planning, Estate Administration and Special Needs Representation
For over 25 years, McAndrews Law Offices, P.C. has provided comprehensive estate planning services from our geographic base on the Main Line. Our services have included the full gambit of estate planning, including every type of estate plan imaginable, from simple Wills for individuals with modest estate planning needs, to highly complex Wills and related trusts to address significant issues involving death taxes, unusual family situations and special needs planning. Our attorneys have a wealth of experience in every area of estate planning, estate administration and special needs planning. We have created hundreds of estate plans with widely diverse needs, and are thoroughly versed in the use of credit shelter trusts, life insurance trusts, disclaimer trusts, special needs trusts and related death tax planning. Our attorneys and paralegals possess a wide array of experience and professional training, and include experience at large center city estate planning firms, post-graduate legal training in taxation, representation of trust companies and dozens of presentations at national and state seminars on special needs planning.
We invite you to review the resumes of our talented professionals as you make the important decision of selecting a law firm to represent the interests of your family in these vital legal matters.