What Is the Elder Justice Act of 2010?

The Elder Justice Act, passed in 2010, is the first federal legislation to specifically address and combat elder abuse, providing those at risk with protection and legal justice. The Elder Justice Coordinating Council organizes several of these programs. Protect yourself and your loved ones by learning about the provisions of the Elder Justice Act and the legal repercussions.

Lindsey Crossmier, writer for RetireGuide
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APA Crossmier, L. (2022, July 27). What Is the Elder Justice Act of 2010? RetireGuide.com. Retrieved August 14, 2022, from https://www.retireguide.com/retirement-planning/elder-law/laws-and-acts/what-is-the-elder-justice-act-of-2010/

MLA Crossmier, Lindsey. "What Is the Elder Justice Act of 2010?" RetireGuide.com, 27 Jul 2022, https://www.retireguide.com/retirement-planning/elder-law/laws-and-acts/what-is-the-elder-justice-act-of-2010/.

Chicago Crossmier, Lindsey. "What Is the Elder Justice Act of 2010?" RetireGuide.com. Last modified July 27, 2022. https://www.retireguide.com/retirement-planning/elder-law/laws-and-acts/what-is-the-elder-justice-act-of-2010/.

What Is the Purpose of the Elder Justice Act?

The Elder Justice Act (EJA) was established to protect older adults by preventing, treating and deterring elder abuse, neglect and exploitation on a federal level. The EJA was signed into law by President Obama on March 23, 2010. Up until recently, there has been a lack of elder laws to protect those at risk.

The EJA helps defend older Americans in several ways, such as requiring immediate reporting of elder abuse, legal penalties for elder abuse cases, data collection on elder abuse, funding millions to protective services and establishing an advisory board on elder abuse.

The Elder Justice Act of 2010 authorized a $777 million fund to help fight and prevent elder abuse. Some of the money went to various grants to provide elder protection at long-term-care facilities. Others went to specific organizations or programs.

Authorized Funding Related to The Elder Justice Act
Adult Protective Services $400 million for funding purposes, $100 million for testing improvement methods
Elder Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation Forensic Centers $26 million to develop forensic methods and services related to elder abuse and exploitation
Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program32.5 million for support grants, $40 million for training programs
Long-Term Facility Staffing $67.5 million for recruiting and training staffing in a facility or community-based care establishment
National Training Institute for Surveyors$48 million to collect data and raise awareness
National Nurse Aide Registry $500,000 to establish the registry nationwide
The Department of Health and Human Services$15 million to improve data collection and disseminating information
Source: The Elder Justice Coalition

Note that these funds were spread out over four years — not sent out immediately. The funding was pivotal to enforcing the provisions of the EJA.

What Are the Provisions of the Elder Justice Act?

The provisions of the Elder Justice Act are made to enforce elder protection and strengthen reporting requirements. There are seven main provisions of the Elder Justice Act.

Provisions of the Elder Justice Act
  1. Creating the Elder Justice Coordinating Council
  2. Enforcing nursing home transparency requirements and regulations
  3. Establishing the Advisory Board on Elder Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation
  4. Offering support for Elder Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation Forensic Centers
  5. Requiring immediate reporting
  6. Making offenders subject to penalties for any retaliation against those reporting abuse
  7. Creating a national nurse aide registry to include criminal background checks
Source: The Elder Justice Coalition

What Are the Responsibilities of the Elder Justice Coordinating Council?

The Elder Justice Coordinating Council (EJCC) is responsible for detecting, treating and prosecuting anyone who commits elder abuse, neglect and exploitation. The EJCC is a permanent group that meets several times a year to coordinate defense against elder abuse on a federal level.

Because the number of seniors is expected to double by 2050, elder abuse is expected to rise exponentially. The EJCC’s main responsibility is to reduce cases of elder abuse and exploitation.

According to an article from the Administration for Community Living, the EJCC reports their findings to the Secretary and provides Congress with a report no later than two years after the Council convenes.

The chair of the Elder Justice Coordinating Council is the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. There are currently 16 members with the chair included.

Members of the Elder Justice Coordinating Council
  • U.S. Department of Justice
  • Social Security Administration
  • U.S. Department of Labor
  • Consumer Financial Protection Bureau
  • U.S. Department of Agriculture
  • U.S. Department of the Treasury
  • U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs
  • U.S. Department of Homeland Security
  • AmeriCorps
  • Federal Communications Commission
  • U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development
  • U.S. Postal Inspection Service
  • U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission
Source: Administration for Community Living

Each member plays a pivotal role in keeping older adults safe. These members are also responsible in enforcing any adoptions of recommendations to the Elder Justice Act.

Adoptions of Recommendations in May 2014

At the May 2014 meeting, the Elder Justice Coordinating Counsel agreed upon eight new recommendations. These adoptions increased the federal involvement in elder abuse and exploitation.

Eight Adoptions of Recommendations from May 2014
  1. Provide additional elder abuse prosecution support by providing extra training and resources to federal, state, and local investigators and prosecutors.
  2. Update identifiers of elder abuse and rapid response and outreach to victims.
  3. Create a National Adult Protective Services (APS) System with standardized data and best practices.
  4. Create a Federal Elder Justice Research Agenda to unionize a nationwide response to prevent elder abuse and exploitation.
  5. Develop a broad-based public awareness campaign to raise awareness and educate the public about elder abuse.
  6. Provide cross-disciplinary training about elder abuse to stakeholders on how to prevent and respond to elder abuse.
  7. Raise awareness about abuse by fiduciaries through federal enforcement activities, policy initiatives, education, and providing resources for victims.
  8. Provide updated screening for dementia, cognitive degeneration, financial capacity and exploitation.
Source: Congressional Research Service

What Penalties Did the Elder Justice Act Establish?

Due to the EJA, there are penalties if an individual fails to report elder abuse. To successfully report the abuse, you need to make two reports — one to the Department of Health and Human Services and the other to your local police department.

If you do not report the abuse within a specific time frame, you will be subject to a civil money penalty. The time frame to report varies depending on whether the victim is injured.

If the abuser caused the victim a severe bodily injury, you must report the abuse immediately, or up to two hours after the time of abuse. If you surpass the two hours and don’t report the abuse, you can face the civil money penalty.

If the victim did not suffer a severe bodily injury, then you have no later than 24 hours to report the abuse. If you surpass the 24 hours and don’t report the abuse, then you can face the civil money penalty.

The amount of the civil money penalty ranges. If you do not report the abuse past the specified time frame, but the victim doesn’t suffer further from a lack of report, you will still be subject to a civil money penalty up to $200,000.

If you do not report the abuse past the specified time frame, and the victim or another suffers further harm, you will be subject to a civil money penalty up to $300,000.

Elder justice act penalties

If you’re ever in doubt, it’s a good idea to report elder abuse immediately to avoid legal repercussions or fines.

Last Modified: July 27, 2022

6 Cited Research Articles

  1. Congressional Research Service. (2020, June 15). The Elder Justice Act: Background and Issues for Congress. Retrieved from https://sgp.fas.org/crs/misc/R43707.pdf
  2. Administration for Community Living. (2020). EJCC Membership. Retrieved from https://acl.gov/sites/default/files/programs/2020-10/EJCC_Member_List_2020.pdf
  3. Administration for Community Living. (2020). Elder Justice Coordinating Council. Retrieved from https://acl.gov/sites/default/files/programs/2020-07/Fact%20Sheet%20Elder%20Justice%20Coordinating%20Council.pdf
  4. U.S. Senate Committee on Finance. (2010). Amendment to S. 2010, The Elder Justice Act. Retrieved from https://www.finance.senate.gov/imo/media/doc/080306chairmark.pdf
  5. U.S. Government Publishing Office. (2008, September 18). Elder Justice Act. Retrieved from https://www.govinfo.gov/content/pkg/CRPT-110srpt470/html/CRPT-110srpt470.htm
  6. The Elder Justice Coalition. (n.d.). Elder Justice Act Summary. Retrieved from http://elderjusticecoalition.com/sites/default/files/documents/Elder%20Justice%20Act%20Facts%20Funding%20Resources.pdf