Massachusetts Estate Planning & Asset Protection Blog

What will 2017 bring to Seniors and Persons with Disabilities? - Part II

Posted by Dennis Sullivan & Associates on Tue, Jan 24, 2017

What will 2017 bring to Seniors and Persons with Disabilities? - Part II

In last week's blog 'What will 2017 Bring to Seniors and Persons with Disabilities? - Part I' we discussed some of the key issues to watch out for in 2017 including Medicare and Medicaid reform. In Part II of the blog we continue our review of potential impacts on legislation that affects seniors and persons with disabilities.

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Affordable Care Act

Republicans are already moving to repeal and replace Obamacare. The question is: How much will be repealed? There are several programs included in the ACA, not related to traditional health insurance, that are important to elder law attorneys and their clients. For example, Medicaid expansion, a kind of Medicaid reform, is part of the ACA.

The ACA also includes programs that work toward ending the institutional bias in Medicaid. One is Community First Choice, a state plan that provides home- and community-based services. Currently it has an extremely low-income threshold so it’s a limited population, but it’s a start.

Another is Money Follows the Person, which pays for transition services. For example, it could provide extra funds to help someone leave a nursing home, by paying for a housing coordinator to find an apartment, a roommate, buy basic furniture and so on.

We are moving toward home- and community-based service, which many people favor. How will that interact with Medicaid reforms? Because they are optional, some fear that with per capita caps, these services will be among the first to go. There may be more opportunities to expand these services through block grants because they allow more flexibility in what is offered. Along this line, Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) has introduced a bill called the Disability Integration Act, which would make home- and community-based services a civil right.

Other Medicaid-Related Issues to Watch

Limiting home equity: This proposal, H.R. 1361, would take away the state option to expand the cap for single individual home owners. It would not impact people who have a community spouse living in the home or if you have a disabled child or a dependent under 21. 

Medical liability reform: This could impact whether individuals get adequate access to personal injury settlements and funds that can be put into a special needs trust.

Long-Term Care Reform

There has been a lot of discussion on Capitol Hill about picking up the pieces on long-term care. After a decade, the market has completely collapsed. John Hancock just withdrew, and Genworth was bought out by a Chinese private equity firm. Republicans and Democrats agree on the problem, but there doesn’t seem to be common ground yet on a solution. The Senate Aging Committee is starting the process, which is a positive step. There are calls for catastrophic coverage, at least on the back end, and probably some sort of front-end coverage for two or three years. There may be some long-term care reform as part of Medicaid reform.

VA Benefit Rules

The new rules have been delayed again until at least April, 2017. Fixing the VA is a Trump priority. An important piece to what will happen with the VA is who Trump names to head the VA and Veterans Benefit Administration (VBA). 

Nursing home binding arbitration rules

Nursing homes must comply with binding arbitration rules to have access to Medicare or Medicaid funds. NAELA has been working with others to push CMS to ban pre-dispute binding arbitration. The for-profit nursing home industry association is fighting it and recently won a preliminary injunction in a Mississippi district court (American Health Care Association et al v. Burwell). We do not yet know if the Trump Administration will appeal this ruling and continue with banning binding arbitration for nursing home contracts. 

In Kindred Nursing Centers Limited Partnership v. Clark in Kentucky, the issue is whether federal arbitration acts overrule the state’s arbitration acts. The state of Kentucky has a law that says in order to waive the principal’s constitutional right to a jury trial, the agent must be given that specific authority within the power of attorney. Whether this is overturned is likely to hinge on President Trump’s pick to fill Justice Scalia’s vacancy on the Supreme Court.

 Conclusion

There are a number of issues that will be addressed in 2017 that can have significant impact on seniors and their loved ones, Veterans, and persons with disabilities. If you have questions or would like to discuss any of the issues raised here, please don’t hesitate to contact us.

At the Estate Planning & Asset Protection Law Center, we help people and their families learn how to protect their home, spouse, life-savings, and legacy for their loved ones.  We provide clients with a unique educational and counseling approach so they understand where opportunities exist to eliminate problems now as they implement plans for a protected future.

We encourage you to attend one of our free educational workshops. Call 800-964-4295 and register to learn more about what you can do to enhance the security of your spouse, home, life savings and legacy.

Click Here to Register For Our Trust, Estate & Asset  Protection Workshop

 

Tags: disabled, seniors, Affordable Health Care Act, Veteran, VA benefits, VA, Medicaid, Nursing Home, Estate Planning, Elder Law, elder care, New estate tax law, new regulations, trusts, Nursing Home Costs, social security

Aid & Attendance Pension

Posted by Dennis Sullivan & Associates on Mon, Oct 20, 2014

Aid & Attendance Pension | Massachusetts Elder Care Attorney

  

 veterans

 

A Little Known Tool for Our Nation’s Heroes

When fighting for the nation comes to the close, every veteran will be proud to come back home to live in peace with their family. Well, that may sound good for the youth that enlisted, but when entering into the golden years, every veteran and his surviving spouse needs a better home care as the cost of assisted living continues to rise. 

Is there an official care for the nation’s hero? Yes, the Veterans Administration has an vastly underused pension benefit called Aid and Attendance that provides money to those who need assistance performing everyday tasks. Families of Veterans should be assisted with the VA’s benefit programs that are available to those honorably discharged Veterans who are age 65 and older and are struggling to pay for their cost of care. 

Revealing the Secret

Most of the veterans have no idea of this pension program exists. The official title of this benefit is a Pension; the reason for using the Aid and Attendance to refer pension is that many veterans (or their single surviving spouses) can become eligible if they have a steady need for the aid and attendance of a caregiver, or if they are housebound. Evidence for this need for care must be certified by VA as a rating. With their rating in place, certain veterans or their surviving spouses can now qualify for Pension.

 

At the Estate Planning & Asset Protection Law Center, we provide a unique education and counseling process which includes our unique 19 Point Trust, Estate and Asset Protection Review to help people and their families learn how to protect their home, spouse, life-savings, and legacy for their loved ones, click here for more information. We provide clients with a unique approach so they understand where opportunities exist to eliminate problems now as they implement plans for a protected future.

We encourage you to attend one of our free educational workshops, call 800-964-4295 and register to learn more about what you can do to enhance the security of your spouse, home, life savings and legacy.

Tags: veterans benefits, wartime veteran, benefit, VA, VA benefit, VA benefits

Three Ways to Pay for Long Term Care part 2

Posted by Massachusetts Estate Planning & Elder Law Attorney, Dennis B. Sullivan, Esq., CPA, LLM on Fri, Aug 15, 2014

Three Ways to Pay for Long Term Care continued

Long term care insurance, IRA, trust

In our last post we were discussing the difficulties in funding long term care through either insurance or Medicaid.  Most insurance companies seem to be getting out of the long term care market entirely or drastically raising premiums.  Medicaid, the primary government program that covers long term care, is still a fall back for many.  But, there are gaps in terms of what it will and will not cover, and it is increasingly difficult for many to navigate the Medicaid system.

This is especially so given the two objectives most of our clients want to achieve: making sure they have enough money to meet their own needs as well as passing on a legacy to their children and grandchildren.  Without proper planning for long term care, however, the first objective may overwhelm the second, making it unachievable.

That’s where long term care insurance has sometimes helped.  It’s also where our specialty of setting up 5 year planning using trusts, has also helped.  But, sometimes there is no long term care insurance, it’s too late to get it and the legal solution can only go so far.

Self-funding with asset based long term care financial products just might be the answer.  As some insurance companies have left the long term care insurance market, others are now offering alternative ways to fund the care, such as life insurance or annuities.

These products allow your money to grow tax deferred.  It can then be used to pay for long term care and, unlike traditional long term care insurance you don’t have to worry about “using it or losing it”.  A death benefit is paid to your heirs if you don’t use it (or only use some).

The longer you wait until you start drawing out the investment, the more time to build up the account value for use as long term care.  While these investments don’t return the higher rates that can be gained in the market, they also don’t put your principal at risk, meaning you won’t lose any of it if there is another 10 to 30% market correction.  For those who have their money sitting in CDs and cash earning less than 1%, the higher rates are a clear bonus.

Many of these products do not have the same underwriting requirements that exist for long term care insurance.  Whereas a diagnosis of dementia or being age 75 or older would preclude Long Term Care Insurance entirely, these asset based products may still be an option, even as late as age 85.

For our clients with large IRA accounts who want to protect some of that account for loved ones, moving the money to a trust results in a large income tax bill because the account can no longer remain tax deferred.  However, purchasing asset based long term products within the IRA can allow the account to remain tax deferred, increase the income value significantly if long term care is needed, and provide a death benefit for your loved ones if not needed.

 

At the Estate Planning & Asset Protection Law Center, we help people and their families learn how to protect their home, spouse, life-savings, and legacy for their loved ones.  We provide clients with a unique educational and counseling approach so they understand where opportunities exist to eliminate problems now as they implement plans for a protected future.

We encourage you to attend one of our free educational workshops, call 800-964-4295 and register to learn more about what you can do to enhance the security of your spouse, home, life savings and legacy.

Click Here to Register For Our Trust, Estate & Asset  Protection Workshop

Tags: Nursing Home Costs, long term care, veterans benefits, VA benefit, VA benefits, Massachusetts, Nursing Home, Veteran, VA, Nursing Home, long term care insurance

There Are Three Ways to Pay for Long Term Care

Posted by Massachusetts Estate Planning & Elder Law Attorney, Dennis B. Sullivan, Esq., CPA, LLM on Tue, Aug 12, 2014

The Three Ways to Pay for Long Term Care

VA Long Term Care

As we always explain to people, there are 3 ways to pay for long term care:  The first way is to use your own money.  The second source is long term care insurance and the third is government benefits, primarily Medicaid and the VA Aid and Attendance program.

We have written before in this blog about government benefits, especially Medicaid.  Because long term care is so expensive and so many people run out of money, Medicaid, as a last resort, must always be considered. Unfortunately, the economy is still struggling and tax revenues, which provide the funding for Medicaid, are down.  State and Federal governments are always looking for ways to cut costs and Medicaid is likely to continue to be a target for them.  The VA Aid and Attendance benefit, which has been a help to some, is not a total solution by itself and is also likely to be more restrictive.  Of course, VA benefits have never been an option for the non-Veteran senior population.  As we see fewer World War II veterans, there are fewer Korean veterans behind them, and still fewer Vietnam veterans coming behind them.

Long term care insurance is an important piece as well, unfortunately, all too often we find that too many people don’t have it, and when they do seriously consider purchasing the insurance, just as they start to think that they just might need long term care, it’s too late. They are now too old or too ill to pass insurance underwriting requirements.

What we have also seen, and what we have written about in the past, is the change occurring as a result of an aging population and poor forecasting by the insurance industry.  Many companies have dropped out of the long term care market altogether.  Others have presented their policyholders with large premium increases with the promise of more to follow each year.  America’s seniors are faced with the choice of paying the increases or cutting their coverage.

So, what other options are there for seniors looking for coverage?  Let’s go back to the first way to pay for care, self-funding or using your own money.  We see so many seniors who fall into one of two categories:  Some have their savings heavily invested in the stock market and other investments that are too risky for someone who could need large amounts of principal to pay for long term care.  If the market drops by 25% or more again like it did a few years ago, many seniors won’t have the ability to hold on till their investments recover. Others have gone the other way and put their savings in bank accounts and CDs that earn less than 1%.  The principal is safe from market fluctuations but they are getting a next to nothing rate of return.  Coupled with Social Security and small pensions, most seniors today have income in the $2000 to $4000 per month range; not enough to meet their monthly expenses without dipping into the principal.

So, is there are another way?  The answer, happily, is yes.  With asset based long term care products, there is a way to self-fund the cost of long term care and have something left for your spouse, children and loved ones.  We’ll tell you more about it in our next blog post, so be sure to watch for it.

At the Estate Planning & Asset Protection Law Center, we help people and their families learn how to protect their home, spouse, life-savings, and legacy for their loved ones.  We provide clients with a unique educational and counseling approach so they understand where opportunities exist to eliminate problems now as they implement plans for a protected future.

We encourage you to attend one of our free educational workshops, call 800-964-4295 and register to learn more about what you can do to enhance the security of your spouse, home, life savings and legacy.

Click Here to Register For Our Trust, Estate & Asset  Protection Workshop

Tags: massachusetts estate planning strategies, Nursing Home Costs, long term care, Nursing Homes, VA benefit, VA benefits, Massachusetts, Nursing Home, incapacity, senior, Veteran, VA, Nursing Home, long term care insurance

VA Rules are Changing: NEW Three Year Look Back! | Massachusetts Elder Law Attorney

Posted by Massachusetts Estate Planning & Elder Law Attorney, Dennis B. Sullivan, Esq., CPA, LLM on Fri, Nov 08, 2013

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The winds of change are blowing over the VA landscape.  I’ve written about this in the past and the time may soon be here.  These are changes that you need to understand.

 Over the years, many of our clients have been able to qualify for an Improved Pension (sometimes called Aid and Attendance Benefit) to help pay for the cost of long term care, whether that be in an assisted living facility or nursing home or to enable them to stay home longer. This VA benefit has helped many people meet the high cost of care and stretch their dollars.

 In order to be eligible for the VA benefit, as a rule of thumb, claimants had to have assets totaling less than about $80,000 (not counting their home or car). They also had to meet the VA income rules. While giving away assets triggers a five year look-back under the Medicaid rules, under the VA rules there is no look-back period for gifts or asset transfers.

 All of that may be about to change under new VA legislation making its way through the House and Senate.

 While the legislation has not yet been voted on, there are commonalities in the bills which tell us that a change in the law is near. Among the biggest proposed changes are the following:

  • A penalty with a three year look-back for asset transfers under the VA rules.

  • Under the new rules, transferring money into a Vet Trust or into an annuity will also trigger the three year look-back period.

  • What’s more, penalties caused by an asset transfer from a now-deceased spouse will carry over to the surviving spouse.

 As with so many bills that wind through the legislative process, no one can know for sure what the final result will be until the House and Senate have each voted and then reconciled their respective bills and then the President must sign it. Our best guess is that the new legislation will probably make its way to a vote early next year and it appears likely that it will become the law of the land at that time.

 For that reason, people who are eyeing VA eligibility would do well to get their plans in place now before the anticipated law changes. Any new law will be prospective only, meaning opportunities still exist now under the current laws.

At the Estate Planning & Asset Protection Law Center, we help people and their families learn how to protect their home, spouse, life-savings, and legacy for their loved ones.  We provide clients with a unique educational and counseling approach so they understand where opportunities exist to eliminate problems now as they implement plans for a protected future.

We encourage you to attend one of our free educational workshops, call 800-964-4295 and register to learn more about what you can do to enhance the security of your spouse, home, life savings and legacy.

Tags: Estate Planning, asset protection, veterans benefits, VA benefits, Veteran, VA, 2013

Massachusetts Elder Law Attorney | The VA’s Most Often Overlooked Benefit- Aid & Attendance

Posted by Massachusetts Estate Planning & Elder Law Attorney, Dennis B. Sullivan, Esq., CPA, LLM on Mon, Jan 07, 2013

The number of our nation’s veterans that are eligible for benefits from the Veterans Administration yet do not receive the benefit is staggering. The Aid & Attendance is part of an “improved pension” benefit few are aware of, let alone fully understand.VA, elder law, attorney, benefits

To qualify for Aid and Attendance, the veteran must rely on assistance from another for one or more daily life activities. The benefit is available to help pay for the cost of in-home care, nursing home costs and assisted living facilities. A veteran may qualify for up to $1,731 each month, while a surviving spouse of a veteran may qualify for up to $1,112 per month. A veteran with a spouse can be eligible for up to $2,053 per month.

When a veteran is unable to care for himself, Aid and Attendance is usually sought, but most people, however, overlook the availability of Aid and Attendance for a healthy, independent veteran who has a sick spouse. The care of the sick spouse will often drain the couple’s income and savings, and the VA Aid and Attendance pension is designed to help in exactly this situation.

DON'T LEAVE MONEY ON THE TABLE

If your loved one is a veteran over the age of 65, that needs extra assistance for daily activities, or has a spouse that ill and requires extra care, call our office at (781) 237-2815 to see if he or she qualifies for Aid and Attendance.

For more information go to www.SullivanVeteransReport.com, which contains important information on the “Hidden Benefit” available to veterans and their spouses, and the steps you should be taking right now to find out if your loved one qualifies. For useful information on Alzheimer’s disease including care tips and resources please visit www.BostonMemoryLawyer.com. You will be given access to the Complete Alzheimer’s Resource Kit, sold nation wide for $197, absolutely free.

At the Estate Planning & Asset Protection Law Center, we help people and their families learn how to protect their home, spouse, life-savings, and legacy for their loved ones.  We provide clients with a unique educational and counseling approach so they understand where opportunities exist to eliminate problems now as they implement plans for a protected future.

We encourage you to attend one of our free educational workshops. Call 800-964-4295 to learn more about what you can do to enhance the security of your spouse, home, life savings and legacy.

 Click Here to Register For Our Trust, Estate & Asset  Protection Workshop

Tags: veterans benefits, Massachusetts, Elder Law, Attorney, VA, pension, surviving spouse

Massachusetts Elder Law Attorney | Eligibility for the Aid & Attendance Pension

Posted by Massachusetts Estate Planning & Elder Law Attorney, Dennis B. Sullivan, Esq., CPA, LLM on Thu, Jan 03, 2013

Determining what veterans are eligible for the Veterans Administration Aid & Attendance Pension can be a confusing subject matter. Let’s take a closer look, and take the guesswork out of determining your loved ones eligibility.VA, veterans, benefits, elder law, attorney

  • Veteran must have served 90 days of active duty
  • One day of active duty must have been during a period of war
  • A spouse must be the surviving spouse of a qualifying veteran
  • Veteran or surviving spouse of veteran must need the assistance of another person for one or more daily tasks including eating, dressing, toileting, bathing, etc.
  • Blindness, residing in a nursing home or assisted living facility also qualifies

Assets will be taken into consideration when determining eligibility. The veteran or surviving spouse of a veteran cannot have assets over the accepted limit. The primary home and vehicles do not count in the asset qualifications.

If you need assistance in determining eligibility or planning for your loved ones financial needs, please contact our office at (781) 237-2815.

For more information go to www.SullivanVeteransReport.com, which contains important information on the “Hidden Benefit” available to veterans and their spouses, and the steps you should be taking right now to find out if your loved one qualifies. For useful information on Alzheimer’s disease including care tips and resources please visit www.BostonMemoryLawyer.com. You will be given access to the Complete Alzheimer’s Resource Kit, sold nation wide for $197, absolutely free.

At the Estate Planning & Asset Protection Law Center, we help people and their families learn how to protect their home, spouse, life-savings, and legacy for their loved ones.  We provide clients with a unique educational and counseling approach so they understand where opportunities exist to eliminate problems now as they implement plans for a protected future.

We encourage you to attend one of our free educational workshops. Call 800-964-4295 and register to learn more about what you can do to enhance the security of your spouse, home, life savings and legacy.

Click Here to Register For Our Trust, Estate & Asset  Protection Workshop

Tags: veterans benefits, Massachusetts, Elder Law, Attorney, VA, pension, surviving spouse

Massachusetts Veteran Benefit Lawyer | Secret Dollars Veteran's Benefits From New Guide

Posted by Massachusetts Estate Planning & Elder Law Attorney, Dennis B. Sullivan, Esq., CPA, LLM on Fri, Nov 23, 2012

Here is a chapter preview: How to Use “Secret Dollars” to Pay for Long Term Care-Veteran’s Benefit for Long-Term Care Revealed,from our upcoming book entitled the “Senior and Boomers Guide to Health Care Reform & Avoiding Nursing Home Poverty”. Learn about valuable benefits that you may be entitled to. The chapter provides information on Veteran Administration benefits,  how to apply and who qualifies. There are currently thousands of veterans who are missing out on th is valuable benefit that may help pay for in home, long term care or assisted living costs.Veterans Benefits, VA, Veterans, Assests

How to Use “Secret Dollars” to Pay for Long Term Care

Veteran’s Benefit for Long-Term Care Revealed

Thousands of Massachusetts veterans may not be receiving the VA aid and attendance benefits they are entitled to.  One of the VA’s best-kept secrets, which is an excellent potential source of funds for long-term care are veteran’s benefits for a non-service connected disability.  Most VA benefits and pensions are based on a disability that was incurred during a veteran’s wartime service.  This particular benefit is available for individuals who are disabled due to the issues of old age, such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, multiple sclerosis, and other physical disabilities and have the additional requirement of needing the aid and attendance of another person in order to avoid the hazards of his or her daily environment.  What that means in English is the veteran needs someone to help him or her prepare meals, bathe, dress and otherwise take care of him or herself.  These benefits can be a blessing for the eligible disabled individual who is not yet ready for a nursing home. 

Under this program, a veteran not married to another veteran can receive a maximum of $2,019 per month in benefits and a widow can receive up to $1,094 per month

In order to qualify for these “Secret Dollars”, the applicant must be “permanently and totally disabled” based on VA standards.  The applicant does not need to be helpless – he/she need only show that he/she is in need of aid and attendance on a regular basis.  Someone who is housebound or in an assisted living facility and over the age of 65 is presumed by the Veterans Administration to be in need of aid and attendance.  We were shocked to learn that thousands of Massachusetts veterans in need may be missing out on this valuable benefit which they have a legal right to receive. 

Filing a Claim for Veteran’s Benefits

To file a claim for this benefit, it is wise to seek the involvement of a trained veteran’s service officer.  A Veteran’s Service Officer is critical to the filing of an application with the local VA regional office.  It is also important to seek the guidance of an experienced elder law attorney who is familiar with estate planning, disability, Medicaid and veterans’ benefits. 

Do You Qualify for “Secret Dollars”?

This particular program does have substantial limitations related to the income and assets that are held by the applicant.  However, the countable income for veterans’ benefits is determined by taking an individual’s gross income and subtracting from that all of their unreimbursed medical expenses to determine their Income for Veteran Administration Purposes (IVAP) that is ultimately used to determine whether or not a person qualifies. 

Some of the cost of an assisted living facility, and even some of the cost of an independent living facility may also be an allowable medical deduction to reduce a veteran’s gross income to a much lower net countable income that may qualify him or her for veterans’ benefits. It is very important to meet with a knowledgeable veteran’s service officer or an experienced elder law attorney for a pre-filing consultation to determine whether or not a veteran may qualify. It is also important to review the estate planning work to see what may be done to assist the veteran in qualifying for this particular benefit. There may be planning steps that can be implemented before applying that will help a veteran or widow to qualify and or obtain an increased benefit.

Determining what is the countable income as measured by the Veterans Administration is very confusing to many individuals in. An attorney skilled in elder law can provide a veteran and the veteran’s family with appropriate pre-filing consultations to determine the appropriate steps that must be taken to be able to determine if it would be right to apply for this VA benefit.  Please contact our firm, The Estate Planning & Asset Protection Law Center of Dennis Sullivan & Associates, for a more information or for asset protection analysis.  You can call us at (781) 237-2815.  The professionals at the firm are experienced helping counsel people and their families in the area of elder law services for senior citizens, including estate planning, disability, Medicaid planning, and veterans’ benefits related to long-term care needs.

For more information, you can gain free online access to the “Senior and Boomers Guide to Health Care Reform & Avoiding Nursing Home Poverty” which contains secret benefits on health care reform and avoiding nursing home poverty. To Learn even more register to attend one of our free educational workshops hosted by a team of professionals and VA accreditted attorneys.

  VA benefits, assets, VA, veterans benefits

Tags: veterans benefits, VA benefits, assets, VA

Massachusetts VA Benefit Attorney | Is the VA Aid and Attendance Benefit Counted as Income?

Posted by Massachusetts Estate Planning & Elder Law Attorney, Dennis B. Sullivan, Esq., CPA, LLM on Mon, Nov 19, 2012

The deadline for Medicare’s open enrollment is three weeks earlier this year that 2011, so boomers need to gather all the necessary information regarding changes and updates to care now to make the best decisions for the health and finances.

The deadline of Dec. 7 is right around the corner and the more information boomers have about the plans, the better off they will be now and down the road.

 A new federal ruling could transform the way that Medicare covers long-term care and allows more patients to receive home health care services.

I sat down with Robert Quinlan, an independent insurance agent/broker since 1986 in New Windsor, N.Y. and had him review the following: 

Boomer: Please explain how a recent court decision on Medicare services could impact boomers now and in the future.

Quinlan: The federal case in Vermont called Jimmo vs Sebelius was decided last month and expands Medicare’s skilled care services to people who needed care to maintain their health or prevent or slow further deterioration.

Prior to this decision, Medicare would not approve skilled care services to those who had no prospects for improvement in their health like people with Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis or patients that have had a stroke.

The potential for more Medicare paid services will be limited to skilled care, which is care provided by licensed professionals like physical therapy, respiratory therapy, speech therapy or care from registered nurses. There will be no restrictions on the types of diseases that will be covered.

The lawsuit was brought by a class of individuals receiving Medicare services and other organizational plaintiffs like the National Multiple Sclerosis Society and the Paralyzed Veterans of America. The case’s defendant was Kathleen Sebulius, U.S. Secretary of Health, and Human Services who represents the federal government’s Medicare program. 

The ruling will not expand other Medicare services today. For example, nursing home coverage will still be limited to 100 days. Medicare costs for skilled care services are expected to rise in the short term, but longer-term costs for nursing homes and hospitals could be lower if more people receive better care at home and avoid more costly care later. 

Why does this case matter? People with chronic illnesses and accidents have been denied skilled care under Medicare because their condition was not improving. Now there is the likelihood that these people will receive more robust care that has eluded them in the past.

The final settlement of the case must be approved by the court which is expected to take several more weeks. Stay tuned! 

Boomer: Are there tax benefits available for small business owners who want to buy long-term care insurance?

Quinlan: Yes, there are federal tax benefits when you purchase long term care insurance (LTCI) as a business owner. If you are:

  • Self employed: you can deduct 100% of your long-term care insurance premiums up to the IRS’s “Eligible Premium” amounts. For example, the 2012 tax deduction limit is $350 starting at age 40 or less, going to $3,500 if you are age 61 but not yet age 71 and $4,370 for people age 71 and older.
  • Partnership, LLC or subchapter S corporation: The partnership, LLC or Subchapter S pays the LTCI premium. You may deduct up to 100% of the age-based Eligible Premium like the self employed person with no age criteria.
  • Subchapter C corporation – entitled to a 100% deduction of the LTCI premium as a business expense on the total premium paid. The deduction is not limited to the “Eligible Premium” schedule.
  • Individuals:  LTCI premiums are considered medical expenses for individuals . For a person who itemizes tax deductions, medical expenses are tax deductible if they exceed 7.5% of the person’s adjusted gross income in tax year 2012. The amount that can be deducted as a medical expense is limited to the IRS’s “Eligible Premium” that is referred in the above “Self Employed” section.

 In addition to these federal tax benefits, your state may also have a tax benefit for LTCI premiums. For example, New York State permits tax payers to take a 20% tax credit (better than a tax deduction) on the LTCI premiums with no 7.5% adjusted gross income rule or age threshold. For example, if you paid an annual premium of $4,000 for your long term care insurance, you would receive $800 tax credit ($4,000 times 20%) on your NYS tax bill.

 The above information is only intended as general information. As in all tax matters, check with your own tax/financial advisor before taking action.

Boomer: I have seen many ads about Medicare insurance plans since September, and I have noticed that some Medicare insurance plans offered by private insurance companies have zero or low premiums, namely Medicare Advantage plans (Part C). How is that possible? Do these plans offer comprehensive coverage like coverage in original Medicare Parts A and B?

Quinlan: Medicare Advantage plans are provided by private insurance companies that are required by law to have comparable services as the original Medicare Parts A (hospital insurance) and B (medical insurance). Plus they also offer additional services like prescription drug coverage and vision care. Some plans will also pay for membership in gyms. The premiums for these Medicare Advantage plans are often low premiums or no premiums (not a misprint). How is this possible? The federal government pays the private insurance companies to offer these services to local communities across the US. About 25% of Medicare eligible Americans are covered by these plans today. 

Your doctors and hospitals must be part of the network in your Medicare Advantage plan. You will pay more money for out of network services. Insurance companies may not offer these plans in every county in your state. Check with your local insurance company or insurance agent/broker if these plans are offered in your county. You must also be enrolled in Medicare Parts A and B to enroll in these Medicare Advantage plans. You will not need to purchase a Medicare supplement plan.

 Now until December 7, 2012 is a good time to review your current Medicare coverage to make any plan changes during this year’s Medicare open enrollment period. New plan coverage will become effective January 1, 2013.



Read more: http://www.foxbusiness.com/personal-finance/2012/11/15/what-boomers-need-to-know-about-medicare-changes/#ixzz2CgaTfuN5

The deadline for Medicare’s open enrollment is three weeks earlier this year that 2011, so boomers need to gather all the necessary information regarding changes and updates to care now to make the best decisions for the health and finances.

The deadline of Dec. 7 is right around the corner and the more information boomers have about the plans, the better off they will be now and down the road.

 A new federal ruling could transform the way that Medicare covers long-term care and allows more patients to receive home health care services.

I sat down with Robert Quinlan, an independent insurance agent/broker since 1986 in New Windsor, N.Y. and had him review the following: 

Boomer: Please explain how a recent court decision on Medicare services could impact boomers now and in the future.

Quinlan: The federal case in Vermont called Jimmo vs Sebelius was decided last month and expands Medicare’s skilled care services to people who needed care to maintain their health or prevent or slow further deterioration.

Prior to this decision, Medicare would not approve skilled care services to those who had no prospects for improvement in their health like people with Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis or patients that have had a stroke.

The potential for more Medicare paid services will be limited to skilled care, which is care provided by licensed professionals like physical therapy, respiratory therapy, speech therapy or care from registered nurses. There will be no restrictions on the types of diseases that will be covered.

The lawsuit was brought by a class of individuals receiving Medicare services and other organizational plaintiffs like the National Multiple Sclerosis Society and the Paralyzed Veterans of America. The case’s defendant was Kathleen Sebulius, U.S. Secretary of Health, and Human Services who represents the federal government’s Medicare program. 

The ruling will not expand other Medicare services today. For example, nursing home coverage will still be limited to 100 days. Medicare costs for skilled care services are expected to rise in the short term, but longer-term costs for nursing homes and hospitals could be lower if more people receive better care at home and avoid more costly care later. 

Why does this case matter? People with chronic illnesses and accidents have been denied skilled care under Medicare because their condition was not improving. Now there is the likelihood that these people will receive more robust care that has eluded them in the past.

The final settlement of the case must be approved by the court which is expected to take several more weeks. Stay tuned! 

Boomer: Are there tax benefits available for small business owners who want to buy long-term care insurance?

Quinlan: Yes, there are federal tax benefits when you purchase long term care insurance (LTCI) as a business owner. If you are:

  • Self employed: you can deduct 100% of your long-term care insurance premiums up to the IRS’s “Eligible Premium” amounts. For example, the 2012 tax deduction limit is $350 starting at age 40 or less, going to $3,500 if you are age 61 but not yet age 71 and $4,370 for people age 71 and older.
  • Partnership, LLC or subchapter S corporation: The partnership, LLC or Subchapter S pays the LTCI premium. You may deduct up to 100% of the age-based Eligible Premium like the self employed person with no age criteria.
  • Subchapter C corporation – entitled to a 100% deduction of the LTCI premium as a business expense on the total premium paid. The deduction is not limited to the “Eligible Premium” schedule.
  • Individuals:  LTCI premiums are considered medical expenses for individuals . For a person who itemizes tax deductions, medical expenses are tax deductible if they exceed 7.5% of the person’s adjusted gross income in tax year 2012. The amount that can be deducted as a medical expense is limited to the IRS’s “Eligible Premium” that is referred in the above “Self Employed” section.

 In addition to these federal tax benefits, your state may also have a tax benefit for LTCI premiums. For example, New York State permits tax payers to take a 20% tax credit (better than a tax deduction) on the LTCI premiums with no 7.5% adjusted gross income rule or age threshold. For example, if you paid an annual premium of $4,000 for your long term care insurance, you would receive $800 tax credit ($4,000 times 20%) on your NYS tax bill.

 The above information is only intended as general information. As in all tax matters, check with your own tax/financial advisor before taking action.

Boomer: I have seen many ads about Medicare insurance plans since September, and I have noticed that some Medicare insurance plans offered by private insurance companies have zero or low premiums, namely Medicare Advantage plans (Part C). How is that possible? Do these plans offer comprehensive coverage like coverage in original Medicare Parts A and B?

Quinlan: Medicare Advantage plans are provided by private insurance companies that are required by law to have comparable services as the original Medicare Parts A (hospital insurance) and B (medical insurance). Plus they also offer additional services like prescription drug coverage and vision care. Some plans will also pay for membership in gyms. The premiums for these Medicare Advantage plans are often low premiums or no premiums (not a misprint). How is this possible? The federal government pays the private insurance companies to offer these services to local communities across the US. About 25% of Medicare eligible Americans are covered by these plans today. 

Your doctors and hospitals must be part of the network in your Medicare Advantage plan. You will pay more money for out of network services. Insurance companies may not offer these plans in every county in your state. Check with your local insurance company or insurance agent/broker if these plans are offered in your county. You must also be enrolled in Medicare Parts A and B to enroll in these Medicare Advantage plans. You will not need to purchase a Medicare supplement plan.

 Now until December 7, 2012 is a good time to review your current Medicare coverage to make any plan changes during this year’s Medicare open enrollment period. New plan coverage will become effective January 1, 2013.



Read more: http://www.foxbusiness.com/personal-finance/2012/11/15/what-boomers-need-to-know-about-medicare-changes/#ixzz2CgaTfuN5

The deadline for Medicare’s open enrollment is three weeks earlier this year that 2011, so boomers need to gather all the necessary information regarding changes and updates to care now to make the best decisions for the health and finances.

The deadline of Dec. 7 is right around the corner and the more information boomers have about the plans, the better off they will be now and down the road.

 A new federal ruling could transform the way that Medicare covers long-term care and allows more patients to receive home health care services.

I sat down with Robert Quinlan, an independent insurance agent/broker since 1986 in New Windsor, N.Y. and had him review the following: 

Boomer: Please explain how a recent court decision on Medicare services could impact boomers now and in the future.

Quinlan: The federal case in Vermont called Jimmo vs Sebelius was decided last month and expands Medicare’s skilled care services to people who needed care to maintain their health or prevent or slow further deterioration.

Prior to this decision, Medicare would not approve skilled care services to those who had no prospects for improvement in their health like people with Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis or patients that have had a stroke.

The potential for more Medicare paid services will be limited to skilled care, which is care provided by licensed professionals like physical therapy, respiratory therapy, speech therapy or care from registered nurses. There will be no restrictions on the types of diseases that will be covered.

The lawsuit was brought by a class of individuals receiving Medicare services and other organizational plaintiffs like the National Multiple Sclerosis Society and the Paralyzed Veterans of America. The case’s defendant was Kathleen Sebulius, U.S. Secretary of Health, and Human Services who represents the federal government’s Medicare program. 

The ruling will not expand other Medicare services today. For example, nursing home coverage will still be limited to 100 days. Medicare costs for skilled care services are expected to rise in the short term, but longer-term costs for nursing homes and hospitals could be lower if more people receive better care at home and avoid more costly care later. 

Why does this case matter? People with chronic illnesses and accidents have been denied skilled care under Medicare because their condition was not improving. Now there is the likelihood that these people will receive more robust care that has eluded them in the past.

The final settlement of the case must be approved by the court which is expected to take several more weeks. Stay tuned! 

Boomer: Are there tax benefits available for small business owners who want to buy long-term care insurance?

Quinlan: Yes, there are federal tax benefits when you purchase long term care insurance (LTCI) as a business owner. If you are:

  • Self employed: you can deduct 100% of your long-term care insurance premiums up to the IRS’s “Eligible Premium” amounts. For example, the 2012 tax deduction limit is $350 starting at age 40 or less, going to $3,500 if you are age 61 but not yet age 71 and $4,370 for people age 71 and older.
  • Partnership, LLC or subchapter S corporation: The partnership, LLC or Subchapter S pays the LTCI premium. You may deduct up to 100% of the age-based Eligible Premium like the self employed person with no age criteria.
  • Subchapter C corporation – entitled to a 100% deduction of the LTCI premium as a business expense on the total premium paid. The deduction is not limited to the “Eligible Premium” schedule.
  • Individuals:  LTCI premiums are considered medical expenses for individuals . For a person who itemizes tax deductions, medical expenses are tax deductible if they exceed 7.5% of the person’s adjusted gross income in tax year 2012. The amount that can be deducted as a medical expense is limited to the IRS’s “Eligible Premium” that is referred in the above “Self Employed” section.

 In addition to these federal tax benefits, your state may also have a tax benefit for LTCI premiums. For example, New York State permits tax payers to take a 20% tax credit (better than a tax deduction) on the LTCI premiums with no 7.5% adjusted gross income rule or age threshold. For example, if you paid an annual premium of $4,000 for your long term care insurance, you would receive $800 tax credit ($4,000 times 20%) on your NYS tax bill.

 The above information is only intended as general information. As in all tax matters, check with your own tax/financial advisor before taking action.

Boomer: I have seen many ads about Medicare insurance plans since September, and I have noticed that some Medicare insurance plans offered by private insurance companies have zero or low premiums, namely Medicare Advantage plans (Part C). How is that possible? Do these plans offer comprehensive coverage like coverage in original Medicare Parts A and B?

Quinlan: Medicare Advantage plans are provided by private insurance companies that are required by law to have comparable services as the original Medicare Parts A (hospital insurance) and B (medical insurance). Plus they also offer additional services like prescription drug coverage and vision care. Some plans will also pay for membership in gyms. The premiums for these Medicare Advantage plans are often low premiums or no premiums (not a misprint). How is this possible? The federal government pays the private insurance companies to offer these services to local communities across the US. About 25% of Medicare eligible Americans are covered by these plans today. 

Your doctors and hospitals must be part of the network in your Medicare Advantage plan. You will pay more money for out of network services. Insurance companies may not offer these plans in every county in your state. Check with your local insurance company or insurance agent/broker if these plans are offered in your county. You must also be enrolled in Medicare Parts A and B to enroll in these Medicare Advantage plans. You will not need to purchase a Medicare supplement plan.

 Now until December 7, 2012 is a good time to review your current Medicare coverage to make any plan changes during this year’s Medicare open enrollment period. New plan coverage will become effective January 1, 2013.



Read more: http://www.foxbusiness.com/personal-finance/2012/11/15/what-boomers-need-to-know-about-medicare-changes/#ixzz2CgaTfuN5


Read more: http://www.foxbusiness.com/personal-finance/2012/11/15/what-boomers-need-to-know-about-medicare-changes/#ixzz2CgaTfuN5

I get this question frequently.  Does Medicaid count the VA benefit as income for eligibility purposes is more specifically the question.  The answer is “no, it is not”.  There is a specific Medicaid Communication (25 years old) that states that VA Aid & Attendance benefits are not counted as income.  Please be aware that there are other VA benefits, however, that may be treated as income and also be aware that it is the aid and attendance portion of the benefit that is not countable.  How much that turns out to be depends on each individual case.  You must examine your award letter.

                Please also note that the VA benefit will drop to $90 per month when the recipient qualifies for Medicaid.  When there is a spouse at home, the community spouse may be entitled to receive more than $90 per month.   Our practice with our elder law clients is to notify the VA when Medicaid is approved (but not when we file the application since we don’t want the benefit to stop until Medicaid is approved).

I get this question frequently.  Does Medicaid count the VA benefit as income for eligibility purposes is more specifically the question.  The answer is “no, it is not”.  There is VA, veteran, Medicaid, benefita specific Medicaid Communication (25 years old) that states that VA Aid & Attendance benefits are not counted as income.  Please be aware that there are other VA benefits, however, that may be treated as income and also be aware that it is the aid and attendance portion of the benefit that is not countable.  How much that turns out to be depends on each individual case.  You must examine your award letter.

                Please also note that the VA benefit will drop to $90 per month when the recipient qualifies for Medicaid.  When there is a spouse at home, the community spouse may be entitled to receive more than $90 per month.   Our practice with our elder law clients is to notify the VA when Medicaid is approved (but not when we file the application since we don’t want the benefit to stop until Medicaid is approved).

For more information go to www.SullivanVeteransReport.com, which contains important information on the “Hidden Benefit” available to veterans and their spouses, and the steps you should be taking right now to find out if your loved one qualifies.

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