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Meet the Team: Christine Oyler

Christine Oyler joined Bellomo & Associates, LLC in April of 2016 in the Medicaid Department.  She graduated from York College of Pennsylvania with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Nursing.  Christine’s previous work experiences consist of working as an RN in Labor & Delivery, a LTC facility with adults that have neuromuscular disorders and as an Infection Control Practitioner.

Christine shares Bellomo & Associates belief that education empowers people to make the best choices for themselves and their families and this is why she loves providing workshops educating individuals on Medicaid.  She loves being able to help assist others through the Medicaid process. Christine loves spending time with her family.  She also enjoys taking daytrips and traveling, especially to the beach and Disney World!

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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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Taking Care of an Elderly Parent Can be a Full-time Undertaking

Old lady gardening“Each year over 43 million Americans provide unpaid care to a family member, usually a parent.”

Adult children who care for an elderly parent will typically be asked to oversee and provide medical care and finances. However, sometimes the caregiving goes far beyond this.  As a result, many adult children caregivers fail to think about the financial impact that this can have on their own monthly budgets and retirement funds.

MarketWatch’s article, “Read this before becoming your parents’ caregiver,” reports that, in many instances, the adult child caregiver is still able to maintain a full career and family life. However, in certain situations, the family member who’s assumed the role of a full-time caregiver must reduce his or her work hours or forego a promotion because of the time commitment. In the majority of situations, we see adult children answer the call of caregiving in a crisis when there’s an imminent need. A short-term assignment can be doable for a professional with his or her other family and personal responsibilities, but when the duties last longer, he or she will realize there isn’t enough time or resources to do it all.

A caregiver needs to take the actions necessary to help without putting his or her own family’s financial future at issue. When there are siblings and other family members involved, it is necessary to communicate realistic expectations of what areas of care are needed, responsibilities, time commitments and whether there will be any financial compensation.

A Personal Care Agreement can be a good guideline.  It will help to detail which individuals are responsible for various aspects of care, the amount of time required and any compensation. The biggest question that people have about this agreement, is how to get paid to be a family caregiver.

A Personal Care Agreement can give an adult child caregiver the peace of mind and security that he or she won’t suffer undue financial consequences, as well as provide clear details for other family members as to the expectations when assuming these important caregiving responsibilities.

This agreement can help avoid some of the misunderstandings that can occur when many siblings and loved ones are trying to help (or fail to pitch in). It also can protect a family member who is losing his or her own income and time to provide caregiving. This is because reduced hours or an exit from the workforce to care for a loved one, can have a major personal financial impact. In addition, the time for a personal and immediate family life with one’s own spouse and children can nearly evaporate with caregiving demands.

You can work with an Elder Law attorney to draft a Personal Care Agreement. Having an attorney review your Personal Care Agreement can even help to confirm that care payments were a legitimate and necessary expense, rather than a way to conceal assets from Medicaid.

Reference: MarketWatch (February 22, 2017) “Read this before becoming your parents’ caregiver”

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Retirement in Special Needs Families

Bigstock-Elder-Couple-With-Bills-3557267The big challenge for many Special Needs Families is balancing the financial needs of retirement with the long-term needs of a child with a disability. Those latter needs typically will outlive the parents.

Morningstar’s recent article, “Retirement Planning for Special-Needs Families,” explains that the need is growing. One in every five Americans has a disability, and 20 million families have at least one family member who has a disability, says the National Disability Institute. The costs can be extremely high, with the lifetime cost of caring for a person with autism ranging from $1.4 million to $2.4 million, according to an advocacy and research group. Lifetime costs are similar for people affected by other severe impairments.

While government benefit programs provide some assistance, the eligibility rules vary depending on when a disability is incurred. There’s a set of rules for people disabled as children (prior to age 22) and another for those disabled at older ages. Here some key topics for consideration and action:

  • The care plan should include the safety of the child, along with aspects of life fulfillment, including work, learning and play.
  • Projected cash flow needs will depend on the type of disability, the capability of the individual needing care and the level of care needed.
  • Investment allocations. Families who have a child with special-needs should be more conservative in how they allocate their retirement portfolios, and maintain a higher level of cash.
  • Government benefits include Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.
  • Families need to understand all of the government rules on asset and income limits for a person with disabilities.
  • A Special Needs Trust is a critical part of a family retirement plan.
  • Beneficiary designations must be structured properly, because inheritances can jeopardize government benefits eligibility.

Quality planning is complicated. Families who have children with special-needs should consult with an experienced special needs trust attorney.

Reference: Morningstar (January 17, 2017) “Retirement Planning for Special-Needs Families”

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