Finding the Best Retirement Calculators

May 18, 2018

Figuring out how much to save for retirement and when you can safely stop working can be difficult. A growing number of online retirement calculators, many of them free, are available to help. Although these calculators can yield vastly different results, they can still be useful tools. Based on information about you and your finances, retirement calculators try to predict how much you need to save to achieve your retirement goals. There are many different types of calculators. Some are web-based while others require you to download a program or an app. The amount of information needed also varies from...

New Brokerage Account Safeguards Aim to Protect Seniors From Financial Scams

May 8, 2018

New rules have been put in place to protect seniors with brokerage accounts from financial scams that could drain the accounts before anyone notices. As the population ages, elder financial abuse is a mounting problem. Vulnerable seniors can become victims of scammers who convince them to empty their investment accounts. According to the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), the organization that regulates firms and professionals selling securities in the United States, its Securities Helpline for Seniors has received more than 12,000 calls and recovered more than $5.3 million for seniors whose investment funds were illegally or inappropriately distributed since the helpline opened in April...

Are Medicare Advantage Plans Steering Enrollees to Lower-Quality Nursing Homes?

April 20, 2018

A new study has found that people enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan were more likely to enter a lower quality nursing home than were people in traditional Medicare. The study raises questions about whether Medicare Advantage plans are influencing beneficiaries’ decisionmaking when it comes to choosing a nursing home. Medicare Advantage plans, an alternative to traditional Medicare, are provided by private insurers rather than the federal government. The government pays Medicare Advantage plans a fixed monthly fee to provide services to each Medicare beneficiary under their care, and the services must at least be equal to regular Medicare’s. While the...

How to Appeal a Medicare Prescription Drug Denial

April 13, 2018

If your Medicare drug plan denies coverage for a drug you need, you don’t have to simply accept it. There are several steps you can take to fight the decision. The insurers offering Medicare drug plans choose the medicines — both brand-name and generic — that they will include in a plan’s “formulary,” the roster of drugs the plan covers and will pay for that changes year-to-year. If a drug you need is not in the plan’s formulary or has been dropped from the formulary, the plan can deny coverage. Plans may also charge more for a drug than you...

Long-Term Care Insurance Policyholder Wins Suit Against Company for Hiking Premiums

April 9, 2018

A long-term care policyholder has successfully sued her insurance company for breach of contract after the company raised her premiums. At age 56, Margery Newman bought a long-term care insurance policy from Metropolitan Life Insurance Company. She chose an option called “Reduced-Pay at 65” in which she paid higher premiums until she reached age 65, when the premium would drop to half the original amount. The long-term care insurance contract set out the terms of the reduced-pay option. It also stated that the company could increase premiums on policyholders in the same “class.” When Ms. Newman was 67 years old, the company...

Choosing Retirement Account Beneficiaries Requires Some Thought

March 26, 2018

While the execution of wills requires formalities like witnesses and a notary, the reality is that most property passes to heirs through other, less formal means. Many bank and investments accounts, as well as real estate, have joint owners who take ownership automatically at the death of the primary owner. Other banks and investment companies offer payable on death accounts that permit owners to name the person or people who will receive them when the owners die. Life insurance, of course, permits the owner to name beneficiaries. All of these types of ownership and beneficiary designations permit these accounts and types...

Be on the Lookout for New Medicare Cards (and New Card-Related Scams)

March 20, 2018

The federal government is issuing new Medicare cards to all Medicare beneficiaries. To prevent fraud and fight identity theft, the new cards will no longer have the beneficiaries’ Social Security numbers on them. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) is replacing each beneficiary’s Social Security number with a unique identification number, called a Medicare Beneficiary Identifier (MBI). Each MBI will consist of a combination of 11 randomly generated numbers and upper case letters. The characters are “non-intelligent,” which means they don’t have any hidden or special meaning. The MBI is confidential like the Social Security number and should be...

Proving That a Transfer Was Not Made in Order to Qualify for Medicaid

March 20, 2018

Medicaid law imposes a penalty period if you transferred assets within five years of applying, but what if the transfers had nothing to do with Medicaid? It is difficult to do, but if you can prove you made the transfers for a purpose other than to qualify for Medicaid, you can avoid a penalty. You are not supposed to move into a nursing home on Monday, give all your money away on Tuesday, and qualify for Medicaid on Wednesday. So the government looks back five years for any asset transfers, and levies a penalty on people who transferred assets without...

New Federal Law Puts Focus on Preventing Elder Abuse

March 10, 2018

A new federal law is designed to address the growing problem of elder abuse. The law supports efforts to better understand, prevent, and combat both financial and physical elder abuse. The prevalence of elder abuse is hard to calculate because it is underreported, but according to the National Council on Aging, approximately 1 in 10 Americans age 60 or older have experienced some form of elder abuse. In 2011, a MetLife study estimated that older Americans are losing $2.9 billion annually to elder financial abuse. The bipartisan Elder Abuse Prevention and Prosecution Act of 2017 authorizes the Department of Justice (DOJ) to take...

Long-Term Care Insurer Cannot Be Sued for Elder Financial Abuse

February 22, 2018

Long-term care insurance policyholders suing Bankers Life and Casualty Company were dealt a blow by the Oregon Supreme Court when it ruled that the state’s elder financial abuse statute does not apply to their case. Residents of Oregon who bought long-term care insurance policies from Bankers Life and Casualty Company sued the insurer five years ago in federal court. The policyholders claimed that the company violated Oregon’s elder financial abuse law by purposely delaying and denying insurance claims. The policyholders alleged that, among other things, the company didn’t answer phone calls, lost documents, wrongly denied claims, and paid less than policyholders...

Report Finds Lack of Government Oversight of Assisted Living Facilities

February 22, 2018

The government is spending billions to fund assisted living services through Medicaid, but government oversight and regulation of assisted living facilities is lacking, according to a new government report. Medicaid funds long-term care services for low-income individuals. It is primarily used for nursing home care, but 48 states have opted to give assisted living residents the ability to receive Medicaid benefits, mostly through “waiver” programs that promote home health care. More than 330,000 people in assisted living are receiving more than $10 billion in Medicaid benefits to pay for those services. Because the number of individuals receiving long-term care services from Medicaid in...

Estate Planning and Retirement Considerations for Late-in-Life Parents

February 19, 2018

Older parents are becoming more common, driven in part by changing cultural mores and surrogate motherhood. Comedian and author Steve Martin had his first child at age 67. Singer Billy Joel just welcomed his third daughter. Janet Jackson had a child at age 50. But later-in-life parents have some special estate planning and retirement considerations. The first consideration is to make sure you have an estate plan and that the estate plan is up to date. One of the most important functions of an estate plan is to name a guardian for your children in your will, and this goes...

A Guidebook to Planning for Old Age

February 19, 2018

Joy Loverde. Who Will Take Care of Me When I’m Old? Plan Now to Safeguard Your Health and Happiness in Old Age. New York, NY: Da Capo Press, 2017.  Millions of Americans are facing old age essentially alone.  One in three baby boomers is single or no longer part of a couple due to divorce or death.  Others may be in a relationship where chronic illness has struck both partners simultaneously. Children may live too far away or lack the resources to offer a parent meaningful help. But there is no reason why circumstances like these should bar anyone from a...

Report Finds Lack of Government Oversight of Assisted Living Facilities

February 13, 2018

The government is spending billions to fund assisted living services through Medicaid, but government oversight and regulation of assisted living facilities is lacking, according to a new government report. Medicaid funds long-term care services for low-income individuals. It is primarily used for nursing home care, but 48 states have opted to give assisted living residents the ability to receive Medicaid benefits, mostly through “waiver” programs that promote home health care. More than 330,000 people in assisted living are receiving more than $10 billion in Medicaid benefits to pay for those services. Because the number of individuals receiving long-term care services from Medicaid in...

Home Health Care Patients With Chronic Conditions Are Having Trouble Getting Medicare

January 27, 2018

Medicare is supposed to provide up to 35 hours a week of home care to those who qualify, but many Medicare patients with chronic conditions are being wrongly denied such care, according to Kaiser Health News. For a variety of reasons, many home health care agencies are simply telling patients they are not covered. Medicare is mandated to cover home health benefits indefinitely. In addition, Medicare is required to cover skilled nursing and home care even if a patient has a chronic condition. Unfortunately, many home health providers are not aware of the law and tell home health care patients...

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