The Department of Health and Human Services issued guidance clarifying that all beneficiaries in private Medicare plans have access to equal coverage when it comes to care in a nursing home where their spouse lives. According to the Press Release, this guarantee of coverage applies equally to all couples who are in a legally recognized same-sex marriage, regardless of where they live. Read more here.
According to the Administration on Aging’s National Center on Elder Abuse and UC Irvine’s Center on Excellence and Elder Abuse and Neglect, one in ten Americans age 60 and older experienced elder abuse in the last year. Read more about the study in the American Journal of Public Health. According to the New York State Elder Abuse Prevalence Study, for every elder abuse case reported to authorities, 23.5 are unreported. Annually, financial elder abuse and exploitation costs victims billions of dollars each year: $2.9 billion in 2009, a 12% increase from 2008. Read more about the costs here. According to JAMA Internal Medicine articles, victims of elder abuse are at greater risk of hospitalization and face a greater risk of dying sooner.
To commemorate World Elder Abuse Awareness Day and spread awareness of the ever-growing problem of elder abuse, visit the National Center on Elder Abuse by clicking here and the UC Irvine’s Center of Excellence on Elder Abuse and Neglect by clicking here.
According to a recent article, federal employee retirement applications are being filed in record numbers. In March, the Office on Personnel Management expected 5,000 applications but received 10,183. Between February and March, the Office on Personnel Management processed 14,683 claims decreasing the backlog by 11%. Currently, there are 36,603 retirement applications waiting to be processed. The Office on Personnel Management administers retirement benefits for 2.5 million retirees. Review the data here and read the report here. For pension assistance, contact the Western States Pension Assistance Project by clicking here.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office for Civil Rights (OCR) has entered into a settlement agreement with Genesis HealthCare, a provider of 400 skilled nursing centers and assisted/senior living communities. The settlement, which can be read here, addressed a complaint filed on behalf of a skilled nursing facility resident after facility staff failed to provide a qualified sign language interpreter. In violation of Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, the facility failed to take appropriate steps to ensure effective communication with the resident. The Office for Civil Rights determined that the facility’s failure to provide an interpreter violated federal law and led to harmful effects on the resident’s health status. Read the press release here.
Analyzing private industry workers’ access to medical and retirement benefits, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports significant differences between occupation groups, wage category, employment status, and union status. According to a recently released article, on average, 70% of workers have access to medical benefits and 65% have access to retirement benefits. 58% had access to both. 12% had access to only medical benefits and 7% had access to only retirement benefits. Of lowest wage workers, only 1 in 4 has access to both retirement and medical benefits. Of highest wage workers, 19 in 20 have access to both retirement and medical benefits. Union workers have higher rates of access to both benefits than nonunion workers.
For free legal assistance with pensions or retirement benefits, contact the Western States Pension Assistance Project.
According a recent NPR report, the people most susceptible to fraud and scams are the elderly. Older adults are more likely to be victims of fraud than the general public. A UCLA study, cited in the report, found that older adults may not process the cues of untrustworthiness as well as younger adults. Incorporating findings from an AARP survey, the average age of 723 fraud victims analyzed in the survey was 69. Read the article here. Free information on financial protection is available at the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau’s Office of Financial Protection for Older Americans – click here for more information.
The best time to claim your Social Security benefit depends on your individual situation but for the majority of Americans, waiting until normal retirement age is a smart move. According to a recent NPR story, avoiding the temptation to start collecting Social Security benefits before normal retirement age makes sense for most seniors. If you take your Social Security benefit at age 62 instead of age 66, you will take a 25% cut for the rest of your life. For married couples, it may be advantageous for the highest earner to delay taking benefits to lock in the largest possible survivor benefit. You may be able to claim benefits on an ex-spouse if you were married to the spouse for at least 10 years. For more information, read the article here.
The Gerontology Institute at the University of Massachusetts Boston’s McCormack Graduate School of Policy and Global Studies released a report on the The National Economic Security Standard Index. According to the report, in no state does the average Social Security benefit cover basic expenses for elders. Housing costs are the greatest expense for most elders, followed by health care expenses. Poverty rates for women (11%) are higher than those for men (7%). 65% of households with incomes below the poverty level are headed by an older widowed or non-married woman. Poverty rates are higher for Blacks (18%), Hispanics (19%), and Asians (13%) than they are for non-Hispanic whites (7%). Read the report here.
Insurance companies and financial institutions are targeting seniors in an effort to sell annuities. Annuities promise guaranteed payouts but seniors should be cautious of the fees and obligations involved. According to a recent NPR story, Annuities Explained: The Choices And Red Flags, seniors should watch out for surrender fees (fees one pays to cancel an annuity contract or withdraw funds early), buybacks and “free lunch” seminars. Read more here. If you have an employer-based annuity, contact the Western States Pension Assistance Project for free legal assistance.
california grandparents caring for their grandchildren more likely to live in poverty than other adults
According to recent studies by Child Trends, the national number of children living in a grandparent’s household rose from 4.6 million in 2005-2007, to 5.2 million in 2008-2010. Among all grandparent caregivers, the rate of poverty in 2008-2010 was twice that for all adults 35 and older. In California, between 2008 and 2010, 1,057,000 grandparents lived with grandchildren and 303,000 were primarily responsible for the care of these grandchildren. During this time period, grandparents served as the primary caregiver for 301,000 California children (3.2% of children in California). This is an increase from the 274,000 children cared for by grandparents between 2005-2007 (2.9%). Between 2008 and 2010, California grandparents with primary responsibility for their grandchildren were 49% more likely to live in poverty than adults age 35 and older (15.5% vs. 10.4%). 1 in 8 of these primary caregivers spoke English less than “very well.” The studies can be found here and here.