Tag Archives: finance

Ways to Pay For Nursing Home Care

The easiest way to pay for nursing home care for an elderly or disabled family member is also the hardest. You write the monthly check. It hurts because the average yearly cost is now $70,128.

Before writing a check, it makes sense to talk with a knowledgeable attorney or accountant so that your family does not overlook tax deductions or available benefits. For example, if you pay more than 50% of the support for a relative who meets certain gross income guidelines, then you may claim the relative as a dependent on your own federal tax return. You might also qualify for the dependent care credit which is available for a dependent parent who needs full time attention.

The I.R.S. also permits a tax deduction for qualified long term care services. Many of the costs incurred in a nursing home can qualify for the medical expense deduction under a proper plan as long as it is set up by a licensed healthcare practitioner.

Medical expenses can be claimed as itemized deductions, so long as they exceed 7.5% of adjusted gross income. Qualified health insurance premiums, long term care service and other eligible medical expenses can be added together to meet this cutoff. If you pay nursing home costs for a parent or disabled family member, it is important to consider this deduction.

Many people turn to Medicaid to write the check for nursing home care. The program is jointly funded by the states and the U.S. government. The first hurdle is that your family member must have a medical reason to be in a nursing home. It is not a housing program. The next hurdles are the income and asset guidelines. The single person guidelines for Medicaid limit assets to $2,000 in the bank, possibly a car, some personal property and a prepaid funeral account. The rules are more generous for spouses. A spouse can keep approximately $100,000 in assets and the family home. If any assets were given away within five years prior to applying, those transfers may block your family member from eligibility. The guidelines do vary from state to state.

Considering that some government statistics predict that 50% of U.S. population will spend at least some time in a nursing home, it is a good idea to consider long term care insurance. The average stay is 11 months. Long term care insurance policies have many different features, including daily benefits, elimination period, inflation riders and benefit length limits. Two good starting points are to be sure that any policy you purchase is tax qualified and that the insurance company is sound. Since long term care insurance is a new product and the companies have had limited claims losses, it tends to be reasonably priced.

The United States Veterans Administration is another possible source of nursing home care. The U.S. Veterans Administration maintains about 115 nursing care facilities. That is a very small number to house all of our veterans. They have about 300 beds each and there is some availability for spouses of veterans, surviving spouses and certain eligible parents, such as Gold Star mothers.

Medicare is another checkbook but its funds are very limited. It doesn’t come out until a patient spends three days in a hospital and is prescribed to a nursing home by a doctor for “skilled nursing care.” After 21 days you have to write checks for a significant co-pay of $128 per day. A medi-gap policy can cover this but your own checkbook comes out again for full pay after 100 days.

It pays to plan and consult ahead and long term care insurance may be a bargain in the long run.

Joseph M. Hoffmann, Esq. is an attorney in Newton, who helps clients with trusts, estate planning, Wills and related transactions.

About the Author:

Joseph M. Hoffmann, Esq. is an attorney in Newton, who helps clients with trusts, estate planning, Wills and related transactions.

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Joseph_M._Hoffmann,_Esq

Senior Real Estate Specialists; Seniors Enter the Housing Market

Senior Real Estate Specialists, or SRES for short, are realtors who have received specialized training in order to better serve clients who are senior citizens. To receive this designation one must learn about some of the legal and tax aspects that are involved when a senior is buying or selling a home, as well as the emotional ramifications of moving later on in life. Senior Real Estate Specialists can guide seniors through the process of selling their home, finding a new house that will meet their needs, and can empathize with the emotions involved with the entire process. Like any subject from a doctor or a repairman, a specialist is better able to help you and your loved one makes the transition from the beloved family home to one that is more fitting for their current needs.

While selling a home can be stressful for people of any age, it is a particularly difficult experience for older sellers. They may have lived in the neighborhood for many years, and raised their family in the home. There are many years of memories to pack up and leave behind, which can lead to a great deal of sadness and anxiety about the future. As with our current economy, confidence and having a clear sense of direction makes for a better outcome.

In addition to saying goodbye to the past, seniors must think about the future as they look at potential new homes. Do they plan to move again, or is this where they plan to spend their remaining years? If this is their final move, then the house needs to accommodate any physical limitations that the person may incur later on, such as relying on a walker or a wheelchair to get around. It is helpful to consider the family tree for which maladies maybe in the lineage, in making this choice. The doorways and hallways need to be wide enough to accommodate mobility devices, and the house itself should ideally be one level. As our bones and muscles begin to weaken, some may find stairs to be difficult, and even dangerous. Another concern is yard size. Seniors need to keep in mind that while they can currently tend to a large garden, and mow the lawn, they will not always be able to be so active. They need a property that will be manageable in size as they get older. For some, the resources of a gardener can be a burden as well as worrying about all the lovely plants that once adorned the yard.

Senior Real Estate Specialists also have experience dealing with the financial issues that may come up for seniors, including reverse mortgages, estate taxes, trusts and more. These agents can assist seniors with the paperwork and contractual issues that may not have existed the last time the senior was in the real estate market. All of these items in addition to selling and moving can be overwhelming, especially if the person is moving to a new area. Having an SRES by your side can be immensely helpful. As a Santa Cruz SRES, helping bridge the transition with an adult child and a parent allowing their “kids” to help is a touching and rewarding experience.

Senior specialists also know that not all seniors are the same. Baby boomers have different priorities than older seniors, and even then, everyone has individual requirements. These realtors are trained to respect each seller as an individual, and not to make assumptions about their needs. Call one today and start working on your plans for change.

Article Source: http://www.articlesbase.com/elderly-care-articles/senior-real-estate-specialists-seniors-enter-the-housing-market-699679.html

About the Author:

Gregg Camp is an experienced Santa Cruz real estate broker who has spent more than 20 years working in the beautiful Santa Cruz home market. Search for homes with a Santa Cruz Seniors Real Estate Specialist (SRES) and view property listings at PropertyInSantaCruz.com

Avoid Identify Theft from Obituaries

Identity theft even applies to the dead. Write your obituaries with identity theft in mind because the deceased’s identity is an irresistible target for thieves. There are tips that you can follow to avoid identity theft.
Victims of identity theft

Identity theft of the dead is a deplorable topic to have to discuss, but it must be talked about to help those who may be victims of identity theft in the future. The problem is compounded by the fact that the family is grieving for the dead and being conned at the same time. It is made even worse when the deceased had joint accounts with a partner who is still living because she or he ends up having to pay dearly for the thief’s crimes. The saddest part is that the thief often gets away with the crime before he or she is caught.

Identity theft from obituaries

Con artists will scan the obituaries in their city or town and watch for valuable information that they can use to access bank accounts and personal credit. Long obituaries that give many details give these scam artists more valuable information that they can use to steal the identity of the deceased. The deceased doesn’t have to worry about their credit rating, but the family is caused undue emotional stress. Sometimes the thieves want to steal the identity to avoid immigration, legal or financial problems of their own.

How you can avoid identity theft

The best way to avoid identity theft from your loved ones obituary is to take care of financial and credit issues before the obituary is published. Close accounts, and notify all creditors, banks and credit reporting agencies of the deceased’s passing. The next best thing is to limit the information on the obituary so that there isn’t a resume of details that list every occupation, award and detail of the person’s life. You can find out more about writing an obituary at ObituariesHelp.org

A checklist of what to do to avoid identity theft from obituaries

If you do all of these things you will ensure that your loved one will not be a victim of identity theft after he or she has passed away. It is even better if you do all of this before you publish the obituary:

Close accounts and credit cards.

Notify Equifax, Trans Union and Experian of the deceased’s passing.

Contact Social Security and have them deactivate the social security number of the deceased.

What to do if you suspect identity theft

If you’ve already published the obituary and you notice unusual activity on the deceased’s accounts, you can assume there is some sort of identity theft and so you must do the following:

Notify the police immediately.

Contact your bank and freeze account.

Contact credit-reporting agencies.

The police and credit reporting agencies will have more suggestions for you to keep you safe.

Writing obituaries need not be a daunting task, especially if you have all your financial affairs in order. If you’ve taken all the steps to avoid identity theft from obituaries, you can rest assured that your obituary can be as long or as short as you would like it to be.

Article Source: http://www.articlesbase.com/elderly-care-articles/avoid-identify-theft-from-obituaries-607521.html

About the Author: Melanie Walters recommends ObituariesHelp.org for Newspaper Obituaries , free genealogy resources, guides to building a family tree, sample letters of sympathy and condolence, written examples of eulogies as well as help with all aspects of funeral planning.

Medigap Insurance: Do I need a Medicare Supplement?

Medigap insurance overview:

Medigap insurance is a Medicare supplement insurance provided by a private insurance company. Medigap insurance is separate from the original Medicare insurance plan, as well as being separate from federal programs. It fills in some but not all of the holes in the basic, original Medicare plan. Typically, this Medicare supplement insurance plan pays the cost of premiums, co-payments, deductibles and any physician’s fees that exceed the amount approved and paid by Medicare. It does not cover any charges not covered by Medicare. Also, long-term care is not paid for by Medigap insurance.

Medigap insurance covers people for ongoing medical expenses. It is frequently considered to be a good idea for many people, but is not for everyone. An example may be an individual enrolled in a Medicare advantage plan or other managed-care plans, or group health plan that provides adequate coverage. In many instances, it may even be illegal for a company to sell an individual Medigap insurance coverage when they have these types of plans.

Anyone nearing the level of financial eligibility for Medicaid does not need a Medigap insurance plan. Also, as mentioned above, it is illegal for a company to sell this type of Medicare supplemental insurance plan to someone on Medicaid. However, you should be aware, that Medicaid is run by the individual states that may have their own varying coverage arrangements.

If an individual wants additional coverage, they should consider changing to a Medicare Advantage plan, which may offer some additional benefits (but may also have some limits that you may be uncomfortable with).

If you’re interested in a Medigap insurance plan, you should probably buy it within six months of enrolling in Medicare Part A. During this window of opportunity, your parent or loved one cannot be denied coverage because of existing medical problems.

After this six-month enrollment period is over, insurance companies may be allowed to increase the price of the policy, refuse coverage or even attach an array of conditions to a policy. Your senior may be protected from these increases, denials, and conditions if their current employer, group, or Medicare Advantage health coverage ends for some reason.

Your senior may also switch from one Medigap insurance policy to a different one without penalty for pre-existing illnesses or disability, as long as they have had their current policy for at least six months. The company can however delay coverage beyond what the original policy covered, for six months.

The basic Medigap insurance plan includes the following benefits. All Medigap insurance plans cover certain holes in the original Medicare insurance plan. These include:

Co-insurance for hospitalization.

After Medicare’s hospitalization coverage is used up, 365 additional days (over a lifetime).

Co-payments required by their Part B Medicare insurance (20% Medicare approved fee for doctor services and 50% for mental health services).

The first 3 pints of blood each year (at which time Medicare will then pick up the payments).

Some information from How to Care for Aging Parents by Virginia Morris

Additional information and web page by Paul Susic Ph.D. Licensed Psychologist Clinical Director- Senior Care Psychological Consulting

Medicare Supplement Insurance Plan Choices

Medicare supplement insurance plan overview:

Medicare supplement insurance plans are usually limited to 10 standard plans in most states, to make your shopping just a little easier. They usually run from plan A, which is the core plan that covers only the basic benefits and is available in all states, through plan J., which is the most comprehensive and expensive of the Medicare supplement insurance plans. By law, these insurance plans can not vary from state to state or from company to company. Also, to make it even a little easier, the language and terminology used in the policies are standardized in these Medicare supplement insurance plans.

There are always exceptions however in that not all states carry every one of the Medicare supplement insurance plans, and a few states (such as Massachusetts, Minnesota, and Wisconsin), have their own versions of these plans. Although there are many aspects of these programs that are standardized to make it easier to purchase these plans, your loved one in Minnesota may not be able to buy the same Medicare supplement insurance plan as another individual in Illinois.

Another thing to consider is that any of the standardized plans can be sold as “Medicare Select” policies which work like managed-care plans. According to these plans, individuals are required to use designated doctors, clinics and hospitals within a “network”, but usually pay less for the plan. Finally, insurers are also allowed to add benefits to a standard Medicare supplement insurance plan, making it just a little less standardized.

In spite of all these efforts at standardization, you or your loved one should read the policies carefully for any Medicare supplement insurance plan you are interested in. You should always make sure that you understand completely what is covered and what exclusions or restrictions may exist in your prospective program. Ask the company for a very simply worded summary, which companies are required to provide. You should make sure that your loved one is actually comparing apples and apples, so that they can decide with relative ease which Medicare supplement insurance plan is the best program for them. They should then shop around and find out who has the best price and best services, along with being the most stable and reliable companies providing these Medicare supplement insurance plans.

Some information from How to Care for Aging Parents by Virginia Morris

Additional information and web page by Paul Susic Ph.D. Licensed Psychologist Clinical Director- Senior Care Psychological Consulting

Medicare Advantage Plan: What is it exactly?

Medicare Advantage Plan overview:

The Medicare advantage plan is provided as an alternative to the original Medicare plan, depending upon where your loved one lives. Private insurance companies also provide coverage similar to the Medicare advantage plan. Frequently they offer broader coverage but limit which doctors, hospitals, and other health-care providers that your senior may visit for services.

If your parent or loved one decides to utilize a Medicare advantage plan, they will still be in the Medicare program, and will still get coverage included in Part A. and Part B of the original Medicare plan.

Medicare advantage plans usually fall under one of the following four categories.

Managed-care. Under managed-care plans, your senior can only go to doctors and other providers within the managed-care network. Also, in most cases referrals to specialists are made through primary care doctors. Doctors can leave the plan at any time and your senior needs to make sure that their current doctor is not thinking about leaving the plan in the future.

Some managed-care plans offer an option called “point of service” which means that your senior may go to doctors and hospitals outside of the network, but they may have to pay deductibles and coinsurance to do so.

Preferred provider organization. These organizations are similar to managed-care plans except that your senior can see specialists without referrals from primary care doctors. In some cases, your loved ones can see any doctor or other health care provider who accepts Medicare, although, they may have to pay an extra charge if the provider is not within the plans “network”.

Private fee-for-service. These plans operate much like the original Medicare plan except that are private company, rather than Medicare, determines the “approved fees”, premiums, deductibles, coinsurance, and co-payments. Your senior may go to any physician or hospital approved by Medicare who has decided to accept the plan’s fees as their payment.

Specialty plan. These plans are relatively new in that they provide normal Medicare coverage, plus they pay for any extra care that is needed because of a specific disorder or disease (such as renal disease, congestive heart failure, or diabetes).

In summary, Medicare Advantage Plans come in many forms with many being very similar to the original Medicare plan. You should continue to learn all that you can in order to make sure that your loved one gets the services that they need through either their original Medicare plan or through one of these Medicare Advantage Plans.

Some information from How to Care for Aging Parents by Virginia Morris

Additional information and web page by Paul Susic Ph.D. Licensed Psychologist Clinical Director- Senior Care Psychological Consulting

Medicare Assignment: What does it mean to me?

Medicare assignment overview:

Medicare assignment is a way to keep costs under control in the Medicare program. Medicare assignment is a way in which costs are determined in advance, with Medicare establishing a certain fee that it will pay for medical procedures and supplies before the procedures are even provided. When a physician, health care provider, or supplier of medical supplies accepts Medicare assignment, they are basically stating that they will take the assigned fee as full payment for a given service with your loved one only paying the deductible and a coinsurance (usually either 20% or 50% depending upon the service rendered) amount.

Current estimates are that more than 70% of doctors (excluding pediatricians and others who do not provide care under Medicare) are “participating physicians”, which means that they accept Medicare assignment on their patients.

If a physician does not accept assignment, they can establish the amount of their own charges and your loved one will be responsible for the difference beyond the part that Medicare would normally pay for that specific service and the actual charge. Also, your senior may have to pay the bill in full and then get a partial reimbursement from Medicare.

There are limits to how much doctors can charge for their services. In most cases, the physician cannot add more than 15% to the fees that have been approved by Medicare. For example, if the approved fee for a specific service is $100, the most a doctor can charge is $115. (Of course a doctor can charge whatever he/she wants for services that are not covered under Medicare).

If your parent or loved one is very happy with their doctor, they may be willing to pay whatever the physician chooses to charge, and they may be willing to pay the extra charge. Otherwise, your senior may find a participating physician either by calling doctor’s offices and asking if they accept Medicare assignment or by looking in the Participating Physician Directory, which can be found at www.medicare.gov , or at public libraries, Social Security offices and also at your local senior citizens center. Your senior may also call his/her Medicare carrier for a list of participating providers.

Some information from How to Care for Aging Parents by Virginia Morris

Additional information and web page by Paul Susic Ph.D Licensed Psychologist Clinical Director- Senior Care Psychological Consulting

Tell me about traditional Medicare.

Original Medicare insurance plan overview and requirements:

The original Medicare insurance plan is divided into two parts: Part A, which includes hospital insurance; and Part B, which is basically medical insurance for outpatient services.

Part A Medicare insurance covers most hospital bills, hospice care and a limited amount of nursing home and home care. Most people who meet the Medicare requirements do not have to pay anything to receive Part A, the hospital insurance, but they may be responsible for certain deductibles and co-payments once they actually receive services.

If for some reason your parent or loved one is not enrolled in Part A Medicare insurance, they should enroll right away; if they wait until they are hospitalized, they will face a mountain of paperwork and bureaucratic delays at an already very difficult time.

Part B Medicare insurance, is the medical insurance portion which covers most doctors fees (but not annual checkups), medical equipment, diagnostic tests, outpatient care, and some mental health and rehabilitative therapy. Most people pay a monthly premium of about $70 for this part of their Medicare insurance, which comes directly from their Social Security payments. Beginning in 2007, the premium will be linked to income, with higher rates for those making over $80,000 per year.

An annual deductible of about $100 must be met before payments begin. After the deductibles are covered, the enrollee pays a “coinsurance” or share the cost of any covered service (about 20% for most services) and Medicare will pay the rest.

Part B Medicare insurance is optional. If your elder receive Social Security payments, they are usually enrolled automatically. If for some reason they do not want Part B (possibly because they are adequately covered by another policy), they need to contact a local Social Security office to let them know immediately. But, there may be penalties if they decide to change their mind and sign up at a later time.

Medicare insurance requirements are as follows:

Services must be provided by a Medicare-approved hospital, agency, institution, or company, except in emergencies.

Services must be “medically necessary”, that is they must be ordered by a physician to diagnose or treat acute or chronic illness.

Services must be provided within the United States are in some emergency situations, Canada (some Medicare advantage plans have different rules regarding travel.)

Some information from How to Care for Aging Parents by Virginia Morris

Additional information and web page by Paul Susic Ph.D. Licensed Psychologist Clinical Director- Senior Care Psychological Consulting

Can You Retire Before You Die?  (Page #2)

Have we shown you enough? Well, here’s a few more facts…

“The rising stock market and escalating property values, while adding general prosperity, hide the brutal fact that for many Baby Boomers-who are now turning 50, retirement may not be a pretty picture.

Over the next 20 years, 76 million of us born between 1946 and 1964 will hit 50. For most, that means facing up to the harsh questions of how, or even if, they will be able to afford to retire.

With meaty employment pension plans gone the way of ancient history, and Social Security increasingly becoming an uncertainty, the lifestyle of retirees is no longer leisure, golfing, fishing and travel. In fact, the lifestyle for many retirees may be continued work and “cans of Spam . . . and not Caviar and Travels.”

The latest Census Statistics show that only 1 out of every 10 Americans today, is financially prepared to retire when they reach the age of 65.

What about the Current Economic Situation?

As we know, the economy is teetering on recession, companies continue to lay off in great numbers. And, you may as well kiss true job security good-bye. It doesn’t seem to exist anymore.

And although you may be one of those that make it to retirement and manage to hang on to your job, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, at 65 only 5% have enough money to retire on.

And since the standard route of working a traditional job has failed for 95% of all Americans. Shouldn’t you be seriously RE-evaluating the traditional career job employment scenario and if it is going to get you to and take you through retirement financially sound?

Here’s the real kicker… You and most of the people you know are going to work for at least 30 to 40 years …. at jobs you hate… with bosses you hate… with commutes you hate… with hours that you hate. What a life – failing while you are miserable most of the time. Do you want to do this for the next 40 years?
So What Can You Do About It?

Well, one pro-active move you can make is to avoid common and costly retirement planning mistakes that could seriously jeopardize your future and the lifestyle you dream of for your retirement.

Mistake Number 1: Procrastination
Mistake Number 2: Not realizing that you’ll need a specific amount of money to sustain you each month when retired.
Mistake Number 3: Relying on the belief you’ll be able to draw FULL Social Security benefits.
Mistake Number 4: The under-estimation of your medical costs if you are not in good health.
Mistake Number 5: Not setting up your long-term-care insurance early.
Mistake number 6: Making the assumption that you can retire early.
Mistake Number 7: Getting into the false hope that in retirement you will be in retirement-mode.
Mistake Number 8: Failing to seek expert financial and retirement guidance.

Start focusing on these commonly made mistakes and make sure you are not falling into the traps they can create. If you recognize some of them in your portfolio, get them fixed so you are on the right track. You don’t want any of them to affect your retirement planning and live-on income.

Start a pro-active plan NOW! If you want to be able to live financially stable now and into your “golden” retirement years, you need to make changes in the strategies you’re presently using.

One other pro-active move you can make is to join the home-business boom. It is the next big trend. CNN reports that a new home based business is started in the United States every 11 seconds.

Why? Well because a new home based business offers a low start-up investment compared to a brick and mortar, or franchise business, low monthly overhead, and you can start part-time while still employed, and create time leverage, residual income, and tax benefits for yourself. Tax expert Sanford Botkin says that a home business can result in tax savings of $3,000 to $9,000 per year.

Follow this trend, however do proceed wisely – you don’t want to get into a situation where you are wasting time or money out of your pocket.

Make sure you do your research. You are looking for an income generating system that allows you to build substantial supplemental income, PASSIVELY; where you don’t have to give up your life, or your spare time to run it successfully.

You don’t want to be adding a lot of additional work hours to your day, otherwise, you might as well start commuting to a second job site.

Start now… remember, procrastination is mistake #1… That way when you do decide to retire, unlike the income earned at a job, which stops when the work stops, the residual income from your home based business will continue to pay you long after the work is completed. Leaving you to enjoy your retirement free and to the fullest.

By: Tracey Anne 

Can you retire before you die?  (Page#1)

Most of us are familiar with these statistics…

Out of 100 people who starts working at the age of 25, by the age 65:

* 1% are wealthy
* 4% have adequate capital stowed away for retirement
* 3% are still working
* 63% are dependant on Social Security, friends, relatives or charity.
* 29% are dead.

More Statistics on “The GOLDEN Years”

Retirement by the Governments own statistics:

* The average savings of a 50 year old in the U.S. is $2500.
* 32 Million Americans are currently threatened with bankruptcy.
* More than 1,000,000 [1 Million] filed for bankruptcy in the year 2000.

More Statistics…

Out of every 100 people who reach the retirement age of 65:

* 62 retire with less than $25,000 in assets and depend on Social Security or family for their retirement.

* Another 35 retire with less than $100,000, have some form of pension in addition to Social Security and are just making it in their retirement. If either Social Security or their pension went away they would have a very difficult time surviving.

* 2 of the 3 remaining retirees have an adequate pension or retirement account. They have assets of between $100,000 and $750,000. They do appreciate having the additional money they receive from Social Security, but could survive without it.

* The last of these 100 retirees, is the only one who is financially independent. This retiree has assets approaching or exceeding $1,000,000. They do not need the income from Social Security at all.
Which group above will you be in when it is time for you to retire?
Still More Statistics…

“According to recent Governmental statistics, most people are very concerned about their financial security in retirement. Over 70% believe they won’t have enough money put away for retirement. Of those between the ages of 30 and 54, almost 80% feel this way about their future.

One of the factors is the uncertainty of Social Security. In the mid 1970’s, 2/3 of the people surveyed said they were quite confident Social Security would be there for them when they retired.

In 1980, of those surveyed, 2/3 commented that they were not confident that Social Security would be there to support them in retirement. They felt that if Social Security was still a functioning service, it probably would not be paying an adequate amount to cover a reasonable standard of living.

So if this is the case… why aren’t people socking away hoards of money so they are not part of the statistics? Well, it seems that saving for retirement is a difficult task to master for the average person.

Some have difficulty saving on a systematic basis. With others, it’s often the case of having good intentions but very poor follow-through. Still others, it’s that they make poor selections with the saving and investment vehicles they choose.”

Clearly, the working-class scenario of toiling away building someone else’s empire for forty years, trying to accumulate wealth (money) so one can retire comfortably, is NOT working. Most people would like to retire with dignity. Wouldn’t you?

Also. See Page #2

By: Tracey Anne