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The FindLaw Legal Dictionary -- free access to over 8260 definitions of legal terms. Search for a definition or browse our legal glossaries.

Health and Older Adult Law Glossary

Are you trying to decipher an acronym? Attempting to understand legal jargon? The Health and Older Adult Law glossary gives you access to definitions and legal terminology commonly used.

These terms are used in medical settings, documents, and court proceedings. This glossary will also help you understand the legal words and phrases relevant to insurance issues, medical malpractice, and other areas of Health and Elder Law.

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Older Adult Law Terms, Definitions, and Examples

Accident Insurance: Insurance against loss to the insured through accidental bodily injury.

Advance Directive: A document (as a living will or durable power of attorney) in which a person expresses their wishes regarding medical treatment in the event of incapacitation.

Death Certificate: A document setting forth information (such as age, occupation, and place of birth) relating to a dead person and including a doctor's certification of the cause of death.

NOTE: Death certificates are issued by a particular public official, such as a city or town clerk. A death certificate is required to document a person's death for certain purposes, such as filing an estate tax return or probating an estate.


  1. Inability to pursue an occupation because of a physical or mental impairment
  2. Inability to engage in any substantial gainful activity because of a medically determinable physical or mental impairment that can be expected to result in death or to be of long-continued or indefinite duration following the Social Security Act (see also benefit or compare incapacityoccupational disease)
  3. Lack of legal qualification to do something

Durable Power Of Attorney: A power of attorney (POA) is a legal document that allows you to designate someone to act in a legal capacity on your behalf (acting as your "agent" or "attorney-in-fact"). Most powers of attorney can be revoked and end when the grantor dies.

Euthanasia: The act or practice of killing or permitting the death of hopelessly sick or injured persons in a relatively painless way for reasons of mercy, also called "mercy killing."


  1. One often in a position of authority who obligates themself to act on behalf of another (as in managing money or property) and assumes a duty to act in good faith and with care, candor, and loyalty in fulfilling the obligation.
  2. One (as an agent) having a fiduciary duty to another see also fiduciary duty at dutyfiduciary relationship, compare principal
  3. Of, relating to, or involving a confidence or trust [a guardian acting in someone else's capacity]
  4. Of or relating to a fiduciary or the position of a fiduciary [a bond]

Guardianship: A legal arrangement under which one person (a guardian) has the legal right and duty to care for another (the ward) and their property. A guardianship is established because of the ward's inability to legally act on their own behalf.


  1. Not legally qualified by:
        a: lacking legal capacity (as because of age or mental deficiency)
        b: incapable due to mental or physical condition (compare competent)
        c: lacking authority, power, or qualifications required by law
  2.  unable or failing to perform adequately
  3. A person who is incompetent (compare interdict)

Independent Medical Examination (IME): In many situations, an employer and insurance company will want to have an injured employee seen by a particular physician to obtain an objective evaluation of the employee's health. An employee may initially be seen by a company physician or a physician of their choosing.

However, if litigation commences over the extent of the employee's injuries (or whether the employee has any injury at all), the employer and insurer will likely be entitled to require the employee to appear for an IME with a physician of their choosing.

Living Will: A document in which the signer indicates preferences or directions for the administration about the withdrawal or withholding of life-sustaining medical treatment in the event of terminal illness or permanent unconsciousness. See also: advance directive (compare durable power of attorney at power of attorney).

Long-Term Care: Long-term care insurance (LTC insurance) provides health insurance for extended time periods, covering expenses that many private insurance policies, Medicaid and Medicare do not cover.

Means-Tested Public Benefits: Federal means-tested public benefits include food stamps, Medicaid, Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), and the State Child Health Insurance Program (SCHIP).

Medicaid: A program of medical aid designed for those unable to afford regular medical care and financed by the state and federal governments.

Medicare (Social Security Amendments of 1965): A federal act to provide hospital and medical insurance for the aged under the Social Security Act.

Mercy Killing: See euthanasia above or "death with dignity" laws per state.

Patients' Rights: A general statement adopted by most healthcare providers, covering such matters as access to care, patient dignity, confidentiality, and consent to treatment.

Permanent Partial Disability (PPD): PPD benefits are payable, in most jurisdictions, to an employee who has sustained a permanent, but not complete, disability. Many state statutes have pre-set values for various PPD injuries involving specific body parts or conditions.

Permanent Total Disability (PTD): PTD benefits are available if an injured employee is permanently and totally disabled from work.

Physical Therapy (PT): Many injured employees are entitled to receive physical therapy as medical treatment to recover from injuries. On forms or in medical records, you may see a reference to "PT." That is short for "physical therapy."

Social Security Disability Benefits (SSDI): SSDI benefits are payable to disabled individuals through the Social Security Administration. Many state workers' compensation statutes have specific provisions which dictate whether an injured employee may receive both workers' compensation benefits and SSDI benefits at the same time.

Suppose both benefits are appropriate for the same individual. In that case, a complex calculation will be performed to "offset" the benefits so that the individual does not receive more money than they are entitled to from both programs.

Statewide Average Weekly Wage (SAWW): The statewide average weekly wage is a computation of average wages paid to workers in a jurisdiction for a set time and is generally used to calculate the minimum and maximum amounts of workers' compensation benefits that an injured employee will be entitled to receive.

Temporary Partial Disability (TPD): TPD benefits are payable when an injured employee can work despite their injury. The benefits are available only for a limited time, in recognition that the employee will recover fully enough in the future that they will be able to resume employment without a wage loss.

Temporary Total Disability (TTD): TTD benefits are available to employees whose injuries leave them totally unable to work for a period of time. The benefits are no longer payable when the "temporary" disability clears, and the employee can resume working. In some states, if the employee must return to work at partial hours or at a wage loss, while their disability resolves, they may be entitled to payment of TPD benefits after receiving TTD benefits.

Vocational Rehabilitation (VR): Vocational rehabilitation generally includes a melting pot of services that are offered to injured employees to help them return to work following a work injury. VR may involve transferable skills assessments, educational courses, job search assistance, and many other vocational aids. Vocational rehabilitation is sometimes also referred to as "occupational rehabilitation."

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