News

New Rules Will Make It Harder to Qualify for Long-Term Care Help From the VA

The Veteran's Administration (VA) offers a pension benefit to low-income veterans (or their spouses) who are in nursing homes or who need help at home with everyday tasks like dressing or bathing. The pension, called Aid and Attendance, is currently underused, but impending regulations will soon make it available to even fewer veterans. The new regulations will for the first time specify asset limits for qualification and impose a look-back period and transfer penalties similar to Medicaid’s. The looming changes mean that those considering applying for Aid and Attendance should act quickly.

Don't Let Health Care Providers Use the Improvement Standard to Deny Medicare Coverage

Have you or a loved one been denied Medicare-covered services because you’re "not improving"? Many health care providers are still not aware that Medicare is required to cover skilled nursing and home care even if a patient is not showing improvement. If you are denied coverage based on this outdated standard, you have the right to appeal.

Long-Term Care Scorecard Finds States Have Room for Improvement

A new report finds that states have made incremental improvements in providing long-term care, but need to make more improvements in order to meet the needs of the growing number of people who require long-term care services. According to the 2017 Long-Term Services and Supports State Scorecard, while long-term care remains unaffordable for middle class families, there has been some progress in other areas.

How the Medicaid Debate Affects Long-Term Care Insurance Decisions

The latest version of the Senate’s health insurance bill appeared on Thursday, and it didn’t do much to change the drastic reductions in Medicaid spending that were in the original legislation.Here’s why that’s important to nearly everyone, even people who are reasonably affluent for now: As I’ve explained in two recent columns, Medicaid is the backstop for retirees who run out of money but still need home-based care or must move into a nursing home. Medicare generally doesn’t cover those costs, and they are high enough that even people with many hundreds of thousands of dollars can end up spending everything they have the years before they die.

Assisted Living Facilities

Assisted living facilities are a housing option for people who can still live independently but who need some assistance. Depending on the facility, that assistance may include help with meal preparation, housekeeping, medication management, bathing, dressing, transportation and some nursing care.

Medicare Preventive Services: What’s Free and What Isn’t?

When we’re young we believe that we’re invincible, which makes it harder to admit as we age that our bodies naturally need more care. Normal aging affects the heart, bones and joints, so preventive care is key to avoiding aging that could be harmful to your health.

Are Trusts Still Useful If the Estate Tax Is Repealed?

With Republicans in control of Congress and the presidency, there is talk of eliminating the federal estate tax. In 2017 the tax affects only estates over $5.49 million, meaning that for more than 99 percent of Americans, it's already been repealed. With no estate tax, do you still need a trust? While trusts can be used to shelter assets from the estate tax, trusts have many other valuable estate planning uses.

Avoid Disagreements Between Your Power of Attorney Holder and Health Care Proxy

A durable power of attorney and a health care proxy are two very important estate planning documents. Both allow other people to make decisions for you in the event you are incapacitated. Because the individuals chosen will have to coordinate your care, it is important to pick two people who will get along.

How to Use IRA Savings to Buy Long-Term Care Insurance

Long-term care insurance (LTCi) is an important element of good retirement planning, since it offers financial protection against unexpected illness or disability that would otherwise eat into savings. However, many LTCi plans are simply too expensive for most retirees or people nearing retirement age, and the costs just seem to be going up.

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Eligibility for Veterans' Medical Care

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) provides health care benefits to veterans. The plan covers a number of health care services, including preventative services, diagnostic and treatment services, and hospitalization. It may also cover nursing home and other long-term care options.

Trusts and SSI

The contents of most trusts you create for yourself will be considered available to you in determining your eligibility for SSI. On the other hand, assets of most trusts that someone else creates and names you as a beneficiary of will not be considered to belong to you for purposes of determining your SSI eligibility. If you created and funded an irrevocable trust for your own benefit prior to January 1, 2000, it will be grandfathered, and in most cases its assets will not be considered to belong to you.

How Does Work Affect Your Social Security Payments?

Many people continue to work beyond retirement age, either by choice or out of necessity. But if you are receiving Social Security benefits, you need to be aware of how working can affect your benefit payments. Earning income above Social Security thresholds can cause a reduction in benefits and mean your benefits will be taxed.

Where Should You Put Your Retirement Money?

There are as many opportunities to grow money as there are people with great ideas. Some people choose to save for retirement outside of the conventional vehicles like 401(k)s and IRAs.When systemic market failures surfaced around the globe in 2008 and caused massive market turmoil, seasoned investors as well as novices were caught off guard. What was supposed to be safe turned out not to be. Many Americans who were counting on the appreciated value of their homes to convert to a stream of income for retirement were left vulnerable, finding themselves with far less to work with than they expected.

Problems with Guardianship Abuse Leading to Calls for Reform

A growing problem with adult guardianship abuse is giving rise to calls for reform of the system. Vulnerable elderly can get caught in the guardianship system, being harmed and exploited by the very process that is supposed to protect them.

Medicaid's Gift to Children Who Help Parents Postpone Nursing Home Care

In most states, transferring your house to your children (or someone else) may lead to a Medicaid penalty period, which would make you ineligible for Medicaid for a period of time. However, there are circumstances in which transferring a house will not result in a penalty period.

Co-Payments for Veterans' Health Care

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) provides health care benefits to veterans. The plan covers a number of health care services, including preventative services, diagnostic and treatment services, and hospitalization. It may also cover nursing home and other long-term care options.

The Need for Medicaid Planning

One of the greatest fears of older Americans is that they may end up in a nursing home. This not only means a great loss of personal autonomy, but also a tremendous financial price. Depending on location and level of care, nursing homes cost between $40,000 and $180,000 a year.

To Ensure Your End-of-Life Wishes Are Honored, a Directive May Not Be Enough

Do you want to live out your last days hooked up to a ventilator or a feeding tube? Whether you want your life to be extended as long as possible or whether you want no life-sustaining measures at all, you need to make your wishes clear beforehand. Chances are you won’t be able to express yourself when a crisis is at hand and a decision needs to be made.

Medicaid's Asset Rules

In order to be eligible for Medicaid benefits a nursing home resident may have no more than $2,000 in "countable" assets (the figure may be somewhat higher in some states). Note that Medicaid is a state-run program, so the rules are somewhat different in each state, although there are federal guidelines.