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My Loved One Wants To Stay Home, But We Are Open To The Possibility Of Other Arrangements

We often make recommendations to local handymen to be able to make changes or adaptations to the home, and we certainly have numerous referral sources for medical and non-medical care in the York, Lancaster, and surrounding areas.  We are very lucky to have as many wonderful resources as we do, and we certainly like to take advantage of each and every one of them to allow people to remain in their home. 

One thing that has definitely become more of the norm recently is people moving into independent living communities such as 55-plus communities or personal care and assisted living facilities that have independent care options as well as the continuing care communities. 

One thing that we often hear from our clients after they move is that they wish they would’ve moved much sooner.  We often hear them explain that they believe that they wanted to remain home at all costs because they believed that that was the right thing for them but once they moved into a community, they realized the social aspects of living with others and being able to participate in community activities, bus trips, and other engaging and meaningful opportunities.  I have honestly never had a client come into my office who moved who said I shouldn’t have done that.  Typically it is I wish I would’ve done it sooner so that I could’ve enjoyed those opportunities much more.  

My advice to clients is that you should start looking at the options and opportunities while you are healthy and could enjoy them.  Start taking tours and talk to people who live in the communities to learn about the socialization opportunities that they offer.  

We believe in educating early and often so that people know what the options are available and  hope that this article sheds some light on the opportunities and possibilities that a community can offer you.  Not only will there be caregivers and ability to grow and to age in place, but also socialization aspects can oftentimes make people live longer and have them live a happy, healthy life towards the end.  

Both remaining at home and moving into a community offer different opportunities and fulfill different needs.  We encourage you to explore both options and to have an open mind about the possibilities of how both can provide you with opportunities and maybe your first reaction won’t be how you feel later in life.  If you would like to learn more about estate planning and elder law and how you can help your loved ones age in place or have them move to a community, please give our office a call at 717-845-5390. 

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New Statistics on Retirement Ages and Mortality Rates

Think Advisor’s recent article, “Americans Are Retiring Later, Dying Sooner and Sicker in Between,” notes that lifespans aren’t necessarily extending to offer equal time in the sun. Data released recently shows that the health of Americans is declining. In fact, millions of middle-age workers may experience shorter, less active retirements than those of their parents.

The U.S. age-adjusted mortality rate, which is a measure of the number of deaths annually, increased 1.2% from 2014 to 2015, according to the Society of Actuaries. It’s the first year-over-year increase since 2005, and only the second rise greater than 1% since 1980.

Entrepreneur-1340649_640Meanwhile, Americans’ life expectancy is stagnant, with millions of U.S. workers waiting longer to retire. The age when people can claim their full Social Security benefits is sliding up, from 65 for those retiring in 2002 to 67 in 2027. Nearly 33% of Americans age 65 to 69 are still working, along with almost 20% in their early 70s.

Postponing retirement can make financial sense: extended careers can make it possible to pay for retirements that last beyond age 90 or even 100. However, a recent study caution about this calculation, because Americans in their late 50s already have more serious health problems than people at the same ages did 10 to 15 years ago.

Death rates can vary from year to year, but research is showing that the health of Americans is deteriorating. Researchers say that an epidemic of suicide, drug overdoses and alcohol abuse have contributed to a spike in death rates among middle-age whites. Higher rates of obesity may also be a cause.

However, the declining health and life expectancy are good news for one group—pension plans. These plans must send a monthly check to retirees for as long as they live.

According to the latest figures from the Society of Actuaries, life expectancy for pension participants has gone down since its last calculation by 0.2 years.

A 65-year-old male can expect to live to 85.6 years. A woman can expect to live to 87.6. Because of these changes, the group calculates a typical pension plan’s obligations could drop by 0.7% to 1%.

If you have questions about your family estate planning needs and retirement planning, complete the short and we'll help point you in the right direction.

Reference: Think Advisor (October 23, 2017) “Americans Are Retiring Later, Dying Sooner and Sicker in Between”

 

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Lottery Scams are on the Rise

At first, you might think your prayers have been answered.

A recent woodtv.com article, “88-year-old nearly scammed by fake lottery, warns others,” tells the story of an elderly couple who love their home. Unfortunately, they are running out of money and may need to move. That’s why it was such a godsend when a letter came in the mail telling Betty that she’d won $4.5 million in a Madrid-based lottery.

Money-256319_640“It was stamped by the government, approved by the government,” Betty said. “I just figured, all these stamps, it’s got to be real.”

The letter from Portugal arrived weeks after she’d mailed a different ball-related game of chance, a Pick Quick card that had come in a Publishers Clearing House mailing. She thought the letter was notification that her Pick Quick card was a winner.

But this was different. The letter from “The Mega Lottery Picker 2017” explained that she’d have to give 5% of her winnings to a “promotions company” and they offered to wire the money to her bank account. How convenient, Betty thought.

Fortunately, before calling the lottery company with her banking information, she first called an attorney who she was already scheduled to meet the next day to talk about the couple’s finances. Betty thought there was no need to meet because she was now rich. But the paralegal she spoke with at the law firm was suspicious and asked Betty not to call the “lottery.”

After investigating, the law firm saw that it was a scam, much to Betty’s disbelief.

This scam isn’t uncommon. For example, the federal government is now prosecuting several Jamaicans in a telemarketing lottery scheme that allegedly bilked around 100 Americans out of more than $5.7 million. Many of the victims were elderly. There’s no evidence the letter Betty received is linked to the Jamaican scam.

The Federal Trade Commission offers the following tips to recognize a scam and to avoid being scammed.

  • There’s a fee to pay;
  • You must wire the company money;
  • You’re required to deposit a check sent to you;
  • They say they’re from the government;
  • It’s a bulk mail notice;
  • They call you, even though your number is on the Do Not Call Registry;
  • You get a text message about a prize; and
  • A review online shows complaints.

If you have any questions about estate planning and/or elder law for ourself or your family, we can help.  Just click here and give us a little information and we'll get back to you!

Reference: woodtv.com (June 30, 2017) “88-year-old nearly scammed by fake lottery, warns others”

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Who’s Living Longer?

People standing on globeThe average woman in Japan is now living to 87. But Trust Advisor’s article, “The Rich Are Living Longer And Taking More From Taxpayers, notes that many Americans are dying younger.

The Society of Actuaries has decreased its life expectancy estimates for 65-year-olds in the U.S. by six months, and the health of middle-aged non-Hispanic white Americans is deteriorating fastest.

These trends show a widening gap between wealthier and poorer Americans. The richest people in the U.S. are getting several years of extra life and are also reaping a financial reward for their longevity. These trends will be important with any changes to Social Security, Medicare and other programs. A mere tweak to one of these programs—like retirement age or benefit formulas—may impact the rich and poor quite differently. The researchers wanted to see how long Americans can expect to live based on their income, focusing on earnings in midcareer, from 41 to 51 and using Social Security data.

In 1980, a 50-year-old man in the wealthiest 20% of the income distribution could expect to live five years longer than a 50-year-old man in the lowest-income group. In 2010, the gap between them increased to 12.7 years. The poorest 20% of 50-year-old American men can now expect to live just past 76, six months more than the previous generation. The richest 50-year-olds should make it almost to 89—seven years longer than their parents’ generation.

An important result of this 13-year life expectancy gap is the fact that Social Security and Medicare are becoming a much better deal for well-off Americans. Thirty years ago, the richest and poorest retirees could anticipate roughly the same amount of benefits out of government programs. The richest received larger Social Security payouts by qualifying for higher checks and by living longer. The poorest got more out of government programs. Medicare benefits were about the same for each group.

Now as wealthier people live longer, they can expect to collect a lot more from Social Security over their lifetimes than the poor. In 1980, a wealthier 50-year-old could anticipate collecting $103,000 more than a poor American. Fast forward 30 years and the gap was $173,000. This shows that Social Security is becoming significantly less progressive over time, due to the widening gap in life expectancy.

Some theories about this notion cite rising levels of substance abuse, obesity, and suicide. Others look at how economic inequality drives health inequality. The cost of good health care has skyrocketed—even for those technically covered by insurance.

Your expected life span is a critical factor in your retirement planning and saving for retirement. The longer you live, the more valuable Social Security is to supplement your savings. Life expectancy trends also affect the long-term finances of entitlement programs like Social Security.

Reference: Trust Advisor (April 24, 2017) “The Rich Are Living Longer And Taking More From Taxpayers

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Answers to Your Medicare Questions

Bigstock-Senior-couple-standing-togethe-12052331Did you know about 10,000 people turn 65 every day?

Along with that incredible number, comes the challenge of understanding Medicare. Kiplinger’s recent post, “FAQs About Medicare” says that if you signed up for Social Security before age 65, you’ll automatically be enrolled in Medicare parts A and B and receive your card three months before your 65th birthday. Part A covers hospitalization and is generally premium-free. Part B covers outpatient care, such as doctors’ visits, x-rays and tests, and costs $134 a month for people who enroll in 2017 (or more for high earners).

Sign-up for others. Everyone who is not part of the group above, must take action to enroll or face a lifetime late-enrollment penalty (unless you’re still working and have employer coverage). Go to www.socialsecurity.gov to sign up anytime from three months before until three months after you turn 65, your “initial enrollment period”. This is true, even if you’re waiting to file for Social Security benefits.

If you (or your spouse if you’re covered by your spouse’s insurance) are still working for a company with 20 or more employees, the employer’s insurance is your primary coverage. Medicare is secondary and can fill any gaps in coverage. You don’t have to sign up for Medicare at 65, and you won’t have a late-enrollment penalty, provided that you sign up within eight months of leaving your job and losing work-based coverage (or losing coverage under your spouse’s insurance).

If you work for a large employer and like the coverage, you can delay signing up for Part B. However, the rules are different if you work for a company with fewer than 20 employees: Medicare generally becomes your primary coverage at age 65, and you must sign up for Part A and Part B while you’re still working. You can’t delay signing up for Part A if you’re already receiving Social Security benefits and were automatically enrolled in Medicare, despite the fact you’re still working.

Health savings account. You can still contribute to a health savings account after you turn 65, provided you haven’t enrolled in Medicare. If you’re able to delay signing up for Medicare Parts A and B, you can continue contributing to an HSA. Before you do, see about the HSA’s tax breaks, any employer contributions and other benefits that would be more valuable than the premium-free Part A coverage.

Retiree health insurance. At age 65, unless you (or your spouse) are still working and have current employer coverage, you should sign up for both Medicare Part A and Part B. Retiree coverage can fill gaps in Medicare (which would otherwise require Medigap and Part D policies or a Medicare Advantage plan), but it’s secondary to Medicare after age 65. It may also not kick in at all, if you don’t sign up for Medicare. Federal retiree coverage is an exception. It remains your primary coverage if you don’t sign up for Medicare, but you’ll pay a penalty if you decide to sign up for Part B down the road.

The late-enrollment penalty is 10% of the Part B premium for every year you should have had coverage. The penalty applies as long as you receive Medicare benefits.

Medigap. You may need Medigap insurance to pay deductibles and co-payments. Most people buy a Medicare supplement (Medigap) policy to pay those costs, plus Part D prescription-drug coverage since Medicare generally doesn’t cover drugs. Another option is to sign up for a private Medicare Advantage plan, which provides both medical and drug coverage. These policies are sold by private insurers and come in ten standardized versions. You get to go to any doctor or facility that is covered by Medicare. Private insurers sell part D prescription-drug plans. Medicare Advantage plans combine medical and drug coverage and may also provide coverage that isn’t available through Medicare, like dental and vision care.

Medicare high-income surcharge. If your adjusted gross income plus tax-exempt interest income is more than $85,000 for singles or $170,000 if you’re married and filing jointly, you’ll be subject to the Medicare high-income surcharge and pay extra for Part B. You’ll also have to pay extra monthly for Part D drug coverage.

Reference: Kiplinger (May 2017) “FAQs About Medicare”

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