Category Archives: Trusts

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…

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 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…

Finding the Best Retirement Calculators

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

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…