Category Archives: Estate Planning

New Law Expands Benefits for Chronically Ill Medicare Advantage Beneficiaries

Congress expanded benefits for Medicare recipients with chronic conditions in its latest budget bill. The law gives some Medicare plans the option of covering certain non-medical benefits and also increases telehealth services. Passed with bipartisan support as part of the budget bill approved in early 2018, the Creating High-Quality Results and Outcomes Necessary to Improve Chronic (CHRONIC) Care Act of 2018, gives Medicare Advantage plans the flexibility to cover equipment and supplies for beneficiaries who are chronically ill beginning in 2020. Covered items could include wheelchair ramps, grab bars, visits by a personal assistant, transportation, and meal delivery. Currently, Medicare…

Lawsuit Alleges Assisted Living Facilities Discriminate Against Wheelchair Users

A lawsuit in New York state highlights an issue with some assisted living facilities: No wheelchairs allowed. The lawsuit claims that state regulations and facility policies discriminate against residents and potential residents who use wheelchairs. Filed on behalf of the Fair Housing Justice Center and an anonymous assisted living resident, the lawsuit alleges that four assisted living facilities in New York refused to admit applicants who were in a wheelchair and threatened to evict or actually evicted residents who started using wheelchairs. According to the lawsuit, state regulations are to blame. The regulations prohibit assisted living facilities from admitting residents…

Where’s My New Medicare Card? How to Find Out the Status

The federal government has begun mailing new Medicare cards to 59 million Americans. You should keep track of when your new card will arrive and contact Medicare if you don’t receive it. To prevent fraud and fight identity theft, the federal government is issuing new cards to all Medicare beneficiaries that will no longer have beneficiaries’ Social Security numbers on them. The government began mailing the cards in April 2018 and the new cards should be completely distributed by April 2019. The cards are being mailed in phases based on the state the beneficiary lives in. To check the status…

Watch Out for These Hidden Taxes in Your Retirement Plan

If you have started to further develop your retirement plans, you may have noticed that your taxes in retirement can be a lot more complicated than your working taxes. Social Security checks are not always taxed, which will depend on your income. Tax rates will depend on additional state taxes, as well as any other investments you might have. What Taxes Should I Look Out for in My Retirement Plan? Combined income taxes. How your Social Security benefit is taxed will depend on your combined income. This is also known as your adjusted gross income, plus any non-taxable interest and…

Medicare Extends Deadline for Relief from Part B Penalties

Medicare is extending its offer of relief from penalties for certain Medicare beneficiaries who enrolled in Medicare Part A and had coverage through the individual marketplace. Beneficiaries who qualify will be able to enroll in Medicare Part B without paying a penalty for late enrollment if they enroll by September 30, 2018. Individuals who do not enroll in Medicare Part B when they first become eligible face a stiff penalty, unless they are still working and their employer’s plan is considered “primary.” For each year that these individuals put off enrolling, their monthly premium increases by 10 percent — permanently….

Problems With Guardianship System Is Focus of John Oliver Show

John Oliver recently highlighted problems with the guardianship system on his HBO show, Last Week Tonight with John Oliver. The comedian provided a scary and funny explanation of how guardianship works, ending with a public service announcement by William Shatner, Lily Tomlin and others explaining steps you can take to avoid the guardianship. The show focuses on the abuses of a professional guardian in Las Vegas, April Parks. She is clearly at the far end of guardianship exploitation and is currently facing prosecution on more than 200 charges. But Oliver does a good job of explaining how guardianship takes away rights without…

Court Overturns Obama Rule Protecting Investors Saving for Retirement

A U.S. court of appeal has struck down a Department of Labor (DOL) rule that was intended to prevent financial advisers from steering their clients to bad retirement investments, but the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has proposed new regulations to at least partially address the same problem. Prompted by concern that many financial advisors have a sales incentive to recommend to their clients retirement investments with high fees and low returns because the advisors get higher commissions or other incentives, in February 2015 President Obama directed the DOL to draw up rules that require financial advisors to act like…

The Difference Between Will-Based and Trust-Based Estate Plans

Chances are that your estate plan is going to involve a variety of different documents, but generally speaking, estate plans are centered around one of two different documents: a Will or a Revocable Living Trust. These documents, while similar, can have vastly different uses. Will-based estate plans use the Will as the primary set of instructions that your chosen representative (or executor) must follow to distribute your assets after death. However, because Wills only take effect after a person’s death, they do not allow for any disability planning while the subject is still alive. This means that, if you utilize…

The Little-Known Tax on Roth 401(k) Distributions

401(k) over a traditional 401(k) after retirement is that distributions from a Roth 401(k) are tax-free, but there is a little-known situation where distributions can be taxed. Contributions to a traditional 401(k) are made pre-tax, so while it reduces your taxable income in the year you contribute to it, you have to pay taxes on the money you withdraw during retirement. On the other hand, contributions to the Roth 401(k) are made after taxes. This means you won’t have to pay any taxes when you withdraw the money. Some employers offer to match any contributions you make to your 401(k)…

More States Asking to Eliminate Retroactive Medicaid Benefits

Arizona and Florida are the latest states to request a waiver from the requirement that states provide three months of retroactive Medicaid coverage to eligible Medicaid recipients. Medicaid law allows a Medicaid applicant to be eligible for benefits for up to three months before the month of the application if the applicant met eligibility requirements at the earlier time. This helps people who are unexpectedly admitted to a nursing home and can’t file — or are unaware that they should file — a Medicaid application right away.  Preparing an application for Medicaid nursing home coverage may take many weeks; the…