Donald A. Dennison is an associate in the firm’s elder law department, where he focuses on guardianships, Medicaid planning, special needs and estate administration. He specializes in complex Medicaid and asset preservation planning, as well as Nursing Home and probate litigation. In addition, Donald has extensive experience helping members of the LGBTQ+ community address the legal issues that arise from aging and disabilities.

Prior to joining the firm, Donald was an associate in the New Jersey elder and disability law firm Fink Rosner Ershow-Levenberg Marinaro, LLC.

Donald earned his J.D. from Touro College Jacob D. Fuchsberg Law Center, and his B.A. from Kings College in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. While in law school, Donald was active in several pro bono projects, including the Elder and Disability Law Project which served the local community.

Donald is passionate about protecting the rights of the elderly and disabled, and frequently lectures on the subject. For several years he served as a panelist at the annual New Jersey Elder Law Retreat, and in 2021 and 2022, he delivered the retreat’s Elder and Disability Case Law Update. Donald also serves on the Executive Council for the First Congregational Church of Montclair, most recently as Assistant Treasurer for the June 2022 to June 2024 term.

In his personal life, Donald enjoys fly-fishing and hiking throughout the Northeast, painting, and spending time with his two nieces, and his dog Chloe.

  • New Jersey State Bar Association
  • Irish-American Bar Association of New York
  • Union County Bar Association
  • NJSBA Elder and Disability Law Section – Executive Committee Member
  • NJSBA LGBTQ+ Rights Division
  • NJSBA Young Lawyers Division (YLD)
  • NJSBA YLD Mentoring Program – Volunteer Mentor

  • New Jersey
  • United States District Court District of New Jersey

  • Touro College Jacob D. Fuchsberg Law Center, J.D.
  • Kings College, B.A.

Five Ideas to Consider when Exploring Home Health Care Options for an Aging Loved One

November 18, 2022

Anyone who has considered home health care for an aging loved one will undoubtedly remember how daunting the process can be. From the foreign terminology to the overall structure of an individual care plan, enrolling a loved one in a home care program may cause a great deal of frustration for families experiencing this process […]

Filial Responsibility: Requiring Adult Children to Pay for Aging Parents’ Care

July 6, 2022

Did you know that in many states you could be responsible for your parents’ unpaid medical bills? In fact, more than half of all states currently have laws making adult children financially responsible for their parents, including their parents’ long-term care costs. However, these laws are rarely enforced. Notably, New Jersey does not have filial […]

Arbitration Clause in Last Will and Testament Found to be Unenforceable by New Jersey Superior Court

April 11, 2022

Both lawyers and non-lawyers alike are familiar with arbitration clauses found in contracts. Whether the arbitration clause is found in a nursing home admissions agreement, or everyday "adhesion contracts" (for example, contracts governing the use and enjoyment of social media platforms), arbitration clauses can be found nearly everywhere – except a Last Will and Testament according to a recent New Jersey Superior Court decision.

The Earned Income Tax Credit ("EITC") Has Been Expanded, Now Covering More People with Disabilities

March 18, 2022

For the 2021 tax year, the IRS is expanding eligibility for the Earned Income Tax Credit ("EITC"), an important anti-poverty measure that assists those with low incomes either avoid paying taxes altogether, or in some cases, offering those individuals tax refunds that they would not have otherwise received. One key impact of these changes is that more people without children, many of whom are also people with disabilities will also qualify. Traditionally people with disabilities have left money on the table by assuming they would not qualify for the EITC.

What is Elder Law?

March 4, 2022

When I was admitted to the New Jersey State Bar four (4) years ago, I dove into the practice of elder law headfirst and I don't regret it. Since that time, I have encountered a re-occurring question from both practitioners and non-practitioners alike: "what is elder law?" It is a fair question, and in the spirit of full transparency, the name is somewhat of a misnomer. When referring to the general practice area we call "elder law" the term "elder" encompasses both the traditional definition of an elderly person, as well as those who are disabled of any age. This expanded definition of "elder" sometimes creates confusion and leads both lawyers and non-lawyers alike to ask what exactly it is we do.

New Jersey Drastically Expands the Medicaid Workability Program Opening the Doors of Eligibility to Thousands of Residents

February 8, 2022

In New Jersey, Medicaid, specifically, New Jersey Family Care, is an umbrella term that encompasses various Medicaid programs designed to accommodate people with different asset and/or income circumstances. The one common thread that binds all Medicaid programs together, however, is that no matter the program, Medicaid is a form of means-tested benefits. In other words, in order to obtain Medicaid coverage under one of New Jersey's various Medicaid programs, an applicant's income and/or assets (resources) are measured against certain federal poverty guidelines that are modified from year to year based on the cost-of-living adjustment (COLA).

Two Underutilized Government Programs for Seniors May Prove Particularly Beneficial During Challenging Financial Times

January 31, 2022

One of the roles of an elder law attorney is to assist individuals and families navigate the maze of government programs established to assist the aged, blind or otherwise disabled. This article highlights two such programs that are very useful for those who qualify.

ALF Medicaid vs. SNF Medicaid

January 11, 2022

Assisted living facilities are a housing option for people who can still live independently, but who need some assistance with their daily activities. Costs can vary greatly depending on location and services offered. Medicare won't pay for this type of care, but Medicaid will, subject to the assisted living resident meeting certain requirements.

The Affordable Care Act's Estate Recovery Catch-22

December 13, 2021

Medicaid is a federal program administered through the states at the county level, and created under the Social Security Act, 42 U.S.C.A. § 1396 to 1396 w-5. The various Medicaid programs in New Jersey all fall under the umbrella of "NJ Family Care." The most recent major expansion of the Medicaid program at the federal level occurred on March 23, 2010 when the Affordable Care Act a/k/a "Obamacare" was signed into law.

This National Long-Term Care Awareness Month, Make The Decision to be Proactive About Future Planning

November 5, 2021

November is National Long-Term Care Awareness month! Here are our top five tips for anyone considering a long-term care placement:

How to Use Intrafamily Loans as Part of Your Estate Plan

October 18, 2021

When interest rates are low, intrafamily loans can be a good way to assist a relative (typically a child) with purchasing a house or a family business, and in certain circumstances they can be used to gift money to the next generation.

Passing on Assets Outside of Probate: PODs and TODs

October 13, 2021

For a variety of reasons, people sometimes want some or all of their assets to pass directly to specific individuals upon their deaths, outside of probate. One way to accomplish this is to set up a "payable on death" (POD) account for money in a bank account or a "transfer on death" (TOD) account if funds are in a brokerage account.

Supreme Court to Hear Case That Could Increase the Bite That Medicaid Takes Out of Settlements

October 11, 2021

The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to hear a case disputing how much states can recoup from Medicaid recipients' settlements in personal injury cases. The decision has the potential to affect anyone who receives government assistance with their medical care following a disabling injury that results in a lawsuit.

Do You Need a Lawyer to Write a Will?

October 8, 2021

A will is a legal document that directs who will receive your property when you die. The legal requirements are pretty simple. In order for your will to be valid, you must know what property you have and what it means to leave it to someone, then sign the document and have it witnessed according to the laws of your state.

Make Sure Your Estate Plan and Other Essential Documents Are Safe from Disasters

October 5, 2021

It's an unfortunate reality that with the increasing number of natural disasters across the country, including fires, floods, and hurricanes, the chance that you could lose your house and possessions has become more likely. In the event of such a calamity, it is important that your estate planning and other important documents are beyond reach and easily retrievable.

Medicaid's Bias for Institutionalized Care May Be Shifting under President Biden's Proposed American Jobs Plan

September 27, 2021

Medicaid is a federal program, administered through the states at the county level, and created under the Social Security Act, 42 U.S.C.A. S. 1396 to 1396 w-5. The various Medicaid programs in New Jersey (all falling under the umbrella of NJ Family Care) are overseen by the Department of Human Services' Division of Medical Assistance and Health Services ("DMAHS").

Pandemic Payments Now Won't Affect SSI Benefits or Eligibility at All

September 22, 2021

Pandemic-related financial assistance will no longer affect an individual's eligibility for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or the benefit amount, the Social Security Administration (SSA) has announced. The assistance includes a long list of pandemic payments, ranging from COVID-19 relief checks to state unemployment assistance.

Recreational Cannabis Has Come to New Jersey, but the State's Medical Marijuana Program Remains Largely Inaccessible to Populations Most in Need

September 17, 2021

New Jersey's Medical Marijuana Program is administered through the State Department of Health's Division of Medicinal Marijuana. New Jersey was the fourteenth (14) state to legalize medical marijuana in January 2010 when the Legislature passed the New Jersey Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act ("CUMMA"), also known as S 88.

Donald Dennison, Esq. to Present at the NJICLE Annual Elder and Disability Law Symposium

November 29, 2022

New Jersey Institute for Continuing Legal Education’s Annual Elder and Disability Law Symposium is a must-attend program for every Elder and Disability Law attorney. Mandelbaum Barrett Elder Law attorney Donald “Donny” A. Dennison, Esq. will be delivering the Case Law and Legislative Updates during the webcast on December 8th, 2022. Learn more and register here.

Congratulations to Donald “Donny” A. Dennison, Esq., who has been elected to serve on the Executive Committee for the New Jersey State Bar Association, Elder and Disability Law Section for 2022-2023.

June 24, 2022

Donny will be serving as the Legislative Chair and his responsibilities will include presenting new state and federal legislation to the Section for review, facilitating discussions within the Section about the applicable pieces of legislation, and presenting the Section’s position to the State Bar Association if the Section decides as a whole to support / […]

Donald Dennison, Esq. to speak at the NJSBA's 24th annual Elder and Disability Law Retreat

March 10, 2022

Mandelbaum Barrett Elder Law attorney Donald Dennison, Esq. will be presenting a "Case Law Update" at the New Jersey State Bar Association's 24th annual Elder and Disability Law Retreat on Thursday, March 24th at the New Jersey Law Center (also presented via Zoom).

Donald Dennison to present LGBTQIA+ Lunch & Learn to the Metro YMCA of the Oranges

March 7, 2022

Mandelbaum Barrett Elder Law attorney Donald Dennison, Esq. will be presenting a LGBTQIA+ Lunch & Learn to the Metro YMCA of the Oranges on Wednesday, March 23rd, 2022 at 7pm ET via Zoom. The discussion will cover the importance of estate planning for both married and non-married couples - especially those who have children (minors). It will also touch on New Jersey's Laws Against Discrimination.

Richard Miller, Donald Dennison and Shawna Brown to present to the Passaic County Bar Association

February 9, 2022

The modern American family has undergone drastic changes during the last two generations. Now more than ever before, second or third marriages, each with their own children, unmarried significant others and caregivers who have served as quasi-family members for aging or disabled individuals are becoming more prevalent. As the concept of the American family evolves, so should our approach to effective estate planning counseling.