According to a recent survey described by Benefits Pro, many middle class seniors (those with monthly incomes of less than $100,000) will not be able to retire by age 65. In fact, 25% of them say they won’t be able to retire until they’re 80.

With the economic downturn that began four years ago, more and more elderly people are punching time cards and collecting pay checks well into their 70s and beyond. The Benefits Pro article even mentions one woman in particular who is 95 and still working to make ends meet.

Do you have questions about your retirement plan? Call the Senior Legal Hotline to speak with an advocate from the Western States Pension Assistance Project (800-222-1753).

A recent Wall Street Journal article details the tactics of debt collectors who, despite a debtor having passed away, continue to pursue collection from surviving spouses and others who they feel they can convince to pay them.

Even though the survivors have no legal obligation to pay the debts of the deceased, many debt collectors mislead these people into believing they do have to pay. The Federal Trade Commission is apparently not willing to offer meaningful relief, and many widows and widowers are having to resort to lawsuits against the debt collectors.

One debt collection company’s website states the following: “Handled appropriately, we believe that our Account Representatives can create a positive emotional experience with survivors.”

Not so, according to one of the individuals profiled in the WSJ report, whose mother recently died: “The abuse has gotten so bad that every day I think about just paying,” she said, after receiving 200 calls from debt collectors following her mother’s passing.

As described in the Los Angeles Times, a new California law that is scheduled to take effect Jan. 1 will impose strict regulations on those who sell annuities to seniors, as well as substantial fines and other penalties for those who violate the statute.

The new law will require sellers of annuities to verify that the product they are selling to a specific senior will provide a “tangible net benefit” to the purchaser.

The legislation comes in response to the prevalence of annuity insurers that sell inappropriate and, in many cases, purposefully-disadvantageous financial products to unwitting seniors.

According to the Sacramento Business Journal, a federal judge in Oakland issued a temporary restraining order to freeze potential cuts in hours for the state’s In-Home Supportive Services (IHSS) workers.

The cuts were scheduled to take effect on January 1 after state lawmakers approved them on the condition that if certain state revenue targets were met by mid-December, the cuts would not take effect. According to the Business Journal, however, the likelihood of those revenue targets being met is slim.

The restraining order will remain in effect until a hearing on December 15 to further discuss the issue.

The California Senior Legislature convened in October for its 31st annual legislative session and announced its top 10 state legislative priorities, as well as its top four federal legislative priorities for the 2011-2012 calendar.

According to the Times Standard, the top state priorities include a new “Silver Alert” system that would be modeled after the current Amber Alert system statewide, to notify the public of missing seniors such as those with Alzheimer’s who may have wandered away from home.

Other top state priorities include increased transparency for reverse mortgage transactions, widening the mandatory reporting requirements for suspected financial elder abuse to include money transfer service providers, and enhanced punishment for identity theft perpetrators.

The federal priorities include the expansion of Medicare coverage to dental services, and an increase of the Social Security burial benefit to $495.

According to the California Healthline, the Department of Health Care Services’ Partnership for Long-Term Care has launched a new website,, to help seniors across the state prepare to meet their long-term care needs.

The new website was created after research found that nearly two-thirds of all seniors in California will eventually need long-term care, but few have actually prepared for it.

The San Jose Mercury News reports that Bay Area senior advocates and local lawmakers will meet this week to discuss the widening gap between the needs of elderly citizens living in poverty and continuing budget cuts to crucial senior health programs around the state.

The Mercury News article mentions that California’s senior population is expected to double over the next 25 years, and in a time of severe cuts to much-needed programs, something must be done to curb what could be a devastating period for seniors over the next several years if conditions do not improve.

SCAN Health Plan and the California Commission on Aging (CCOA) will release a report in mid-December on how senior centers around the state are using ingenuity and creativity to provide services to seniors despite deep cuts in senior programs and a generally difficult economic environment.

The report, when officially released, will be available at

AB 138 was passed into California law recently, requiring the use of a new index of senior needs to be consulted when the government makes decisions about allocating resources and funding for senior programs around the state.

The Elder Economic Security Standard Index (“Elder Index”) will now be used in California rather than federal poverty guidelines, so that seniors, who are in many ways more vulnerable than the general population, have their needs met more appropriately when funding decisions are made in Sacramento.

The full text of the bill can be found here.

According to a Los Angeles Times article, lawyers representing 35,000 low-income seniors in California who stand to lose much-needed services when the state moves forward with a plan to close adult day health care centers across the state, reached a settlement that would preserve services to seniors most vulnerable to going into nursing homes without the centers.

The settlement provides for the establishment of “Community-Based Adult Services,” which would provide assistance similar to that received in the adult day health care centers.

The settlement also provides for a postponement of the adult day health care center closures, from Dec. 1 to the end of February.