Elder Law Update – September 2008

 

1. Bi-partisan Bill in the U. S. Senate Re: Nursing Homes:

A recent bi-partisan bill in the U. S. Senate would make arbitration agreements built in to nursing home contracts unenforceable because it is believed by the drafters of the bill that nursing home residents sign away their right to trial before an actual dispute has arisen with the nursing home. Arbitration is always permissible to parties who agree to arbitrate it after the dispute has arisen but mandatory arbitration built into an agreement at the time of signing the nursing home contract is wrong according to the pending bill.

2. Life Insurance Policies – Review the Beneficiary Designation.

Life insurance policies – review the beneficiary designations. In the context of planning for nursing home care, you should be aware of who the beneficiaries on a life insurance policy are. If the primary beneficiary of the life insurance policy is a nursing home resident and the insured dies first, all of the proceeds will go to the nursing home resident who may have to go off Medicaid until the insurance proceeds are completely spent for his care. That’s a waste of life insurance proceeds. Alternatively, if the person that is insured is the nursing home resident and his primary beneficiary is his deceased spouse and no alternate beneficiary is named, then on the death of the insured the proceeds may go to his probate estate which are subject to Medicaid recovery. Both of these situations can be avoided by properly designating the correct beneficiary on a life insurance policy.

3. Senate Bill Seeks to Expand Medicaid Coverage of Home and Community-based Care (An Alternative to Nursing Homes?):

Prior to leaving for the August Congressional recess, Senators John Kerry (D-MA) and Charles Grassley (R-IA) introduced the “Empowered at Home Act” (S. 3327), a bill that seeks to increase access to home and community based services by giving states new tools and incentives to make these services more available to those in need.

In a statement upon introduction of the bill, Kerry said, “Far too many elderly or disabled Americans can’t get the help they need in their home and community.
“Being able to live at home greatly improves quality of life because people can be with loved ones

and have the dignity that goes with greater independence,” said Grassley.
The bill has four points:
1. It seeks to improve the Medicaid Home and Community-based Services (HCBS) State Plan Amendment Option by giving states more flexibility in determining eligibility for which services they can offer under the program.
2. It would require that the same spousal impoverishment protections offered for new nursing home beneficiaries be in place for those opting for home and community based services.
3. It would offer tax-related provisions to support family caregivers and promote the purchase of private long-term care insurance.
4. It would provide grants for states to invest in organizations and systems to help ensure a sufficient supply of high quality workers, promote health, and transform home and community based care to be more consumer-centered.

4. Physicians:

Physicians are required in many states to report elder abuse. In most states physicians are required by law to report to the authorities any suspected elder abuse that they see in examining their patients. Unfortunately, it is believed that less than 2% of the elder abuse and neglect cases recorded each year are reported by physicians. Sometimes the physician is the only person that the elderly person sees outside of their home.

5. Social Security: 65 or 67?:

The American Academy of Actuaries is a group that advises policy makers on certain matters pertaining to financial issues, and advises that the Social Security retirement age be raised from 65 to 67 years. The reason is that life expectancies have increased from 60 years when Social Security was established in 1935 to 76 years according to today’s living standards.

6. Social Security Administration Announces a Retirement Income Calculator:

The SSA has created a new online calculator that will help you determine your social security benefits based on the facts pertaining to your actual work record. This can be valuable to people because by knowing what your social security benefits will be, it will help you determine what you need to be saving for retirement.

7. National Association of Area Agencies on Aging (N4A):

The National Association of Area Agencies on Aging (N4A) has produced an online tool designed to create search capability for senior housing for seniors and caregivers nationwide. This tool allows you to use a search database of more than 60,000 senior housing arrangements. Users of the database can review assisted living communities, nursing homes, residential care facilities, continuing care retirement communities and other independent living communities. This is a free resource.

P.S. Please contact our office for more information. You can reach us at (847) 563-4887. We would be happy to assist you with all matters pertaining to your VA benefits planning, estate planning, Medicaid planning needs, and long term care and nursing home needs.

P.S.S. On May 15, 2008, I conducted a workshop regarding VA benefits in Stone Park, Illinois. The response was strong. If you would like to make reservations for future VA workshops, please contact our office at (847)292-1220.

Also, don’t miss our other workshop: “5 Step Plan – How to Get Medicaid Coverage for your Nursing Home Care… Without Selling your Home or Leaving your Family Without a Dime” set for the following dates. Please contact our office at (847) 563-4887 to register.

September 3, 2008 at 4:00 pm

September 23, 2008 at 7:00 pm

Call (847) 292 1220 to make a reservation in our training room.

•- You don’t want to miss this workshop!

The “3 Phase” Lawyers

Legal Counsel Assisting You in the 3 Phases of Your Life:

•- Maturing Years

•- Senior Years

•- Post Death Years

“Educate to Motivate”

Anthony B. Ferraro

Attorney-CPA

The Law Offices of Anthony B. Ferraro, LLC

Columbia Centre I

5600 N. River Road, Suite 764

Rosemont, IL 60018

PH (847) 563-4887

FAX (847) 292-1221

Websitehttps://abferrarolaw.com/

Emailabferrarolaw@abferrarolaw.com

Note: Pursuant to federal regulations imposed on practitioners who render tax advice (“Circular 230”), we are required to advise you that any tax advice contained herein is not intended or written to be used for the purpose of avoiding tax penalties that may be imposed by the Internal Revenue Service.

This document is for discussion purposes only and is not intended to be, nor should it be, considered as legal advice. You should never attempt Medicaid planning, Estate planning, Probate, or Estate and Trust Administration without the advice of competent legal counsel.