Archive for October, 2011

Senior Citizens Advised to Review Medicare Part D Plan Selections Before December

Wednesday, October 26th, 2011

As the end of the year gets closer, it is a critical time for a senior citizen to review their Medicare Part D plan. Medicare has an open enrollment period from mid October to December 7 of this year to make all selections for 2012. Every year prices can fluctuate for a plan, so it is critical to weigh your options for deductibles, prescription prices, and the overall monthly premium.

Seniors should not delay in signing up for Medicare. Failing to join a Medicare drug plan at 65 years old or going more than 63 days without prescription drug coverage can cause Part D premiums to skyrocket and late enrollment penalties.

Individuals that are eligible for Medicare often have an average of two to three dozen Medicare Part D plans to choose from depending on their state of residence. Adequate research ahead of time and speaking to a skilled elder law attorney will help an individual plan for health care needs and costs as well as protect assets from being depleted.

U.S. News and World Report notes that Medicare Part D plans can often fluctuate in pricing every year from 4 to 14 percent increases, for example. Individuals with yearly income of $85,000 or higher will also see higher premiums. Senior citizens do not need this surprise that can affect their wallet and livelihood.

Retirees should check that the plan they pick for 2012 has the prescription drugs and pharmacy they need and the doctors they are used to going to at a reasonable cost. Beware of having to pay out pocket or being responsible for higher co-pays before the final selection is made.

Littman Krooks LLP counsels seniors and families to access government benefits as well as plan for health care needs and personal decisions. Our New York City, White Plains and Fishkill elder law attorneys and estate planning attorneys are accomplished in comprehensive planning for a senior’s golden years. To learn more about New York elder law, visit http://www.littmankrooks.com/elder-law/.

Get Legal Advice Before Selling the Family Home and Starting Nursing Home Care

Wednesday, October 19th, 2011

Entering a nursing home can provide highly sought-after services and around-the-clock care. Family members and loved ones can have the expertise of skilled staff that provides peace of mind for your elderly parent. But if proper planning for the monies involved in nursing home care and estate planning are not done in advance, it can put your loved one at risk financially.

Especially for seniors on Medicaid, there are important considerations to take before moving into a nursing home. Many seniors own a home, and depending on what is done with a home before moving into the nursing home can greatly affect their assets. Before deciding on selling the family home or transferring it to a family member, it is critical to speak to a qualified estate planning attorney.

Transferring a home can incur penalties unless the home is transferred to a spouse, disabled child, specific trusts, a sibling with an equity interest in the home, or a caretaker child. There are strict rules of how long siblings and caretaker children must have lived in the home prior to an individual going into a nursing home. If a transfer or sale of home is done incorrectly, it can hurt a person’s Medicaid eligibility and make them have to pay nursing home costs on their own. Some transfers also have a Medicaid penalty period that is equal to the value of the transferred asset divided by the state’s average pay rate for nursing home care.

After a loved one passes away and if the home is not properly accounted for, the state can come after an estate or put a lien on the home for benefits given for the senior’s care. Skilled Medicaid planning attorneys know how to protect assets, the family home, and keep loved ones from incurring unjust hardships.

New York law firm Littman Krooks LLP assists seniors and their families to plan for nursing home needs, estate planning and asset protection, and preservation of Medicaid and government benefits. Our New York City, White Plains or Fishkill Medicaid planning attorneys are a trusted resource for many New York families. To learn more, visit http://www.elderlawnewyork.com, http://www.littmankrooks.com/elder-law-medicaid-planning/ or http://www.littmankrooks.com/estate-planning/.

Estate Planning for Seniors Should Be Done Before a Life-Changing Event

Wednesday, October 12th, 2011

Senior citizens should be enjoying their golden years with their loved ones and not worrying about end of life care. But with more than 120 million Americans not having updated estate plans or any long-term financial plans, according to the National Association of Estate Planners & Councils, seniors are putting their assets and health at risk. National Estate Planning Awareness Week occurs Oct. 17-23 and reminds seniors and their loved ones to take the time to plan when you are healthy and able to get the care you deserve and enjoy the benefits of all the years of hard work.

A senior should take proactive steps to protect their assets, create a living will, and make their last wishes known to family members and their main doctors. These decisions are difficult, but planning ahead can provide more comfort and preservation of a person’s savings than if decisions are made when the senior is chronically ill or incapacitated. A recent study by the American Society of Clinical Oncology showed the substantial impact of out-of-pocket costs. Close to half of the patients had used all of their savings on health care, 49 percent had to borrow money to afford prescriptions, 30 percent did not even fill medications, and 20 percent decided to take less medications than their doctor advised. Anyone with a chronic illness should not have to make this choice as they compromise their health, savings and undoubtedly decrease their quality of life.

Individuals can take great steps to save money and lessen burdens on family members by meeting with a skilled estate planning attorney before a senior’s health takes a drastic turn for the worse. Adequate planning will help a senior confront challenges and death with dignity.

Littman Krooks LLP counsels seniors and families to access government benefits as well as plan for health care needs and personal decisions. Our New York City, White Plains and Fishkill estate planning attorneys and elder law attorneys are accomplished in comprehensive estate planning including income, tax guidance, and probate matters. To learn more about New York estate planning, visit www.elderlawnewyork.com.

Home Health Agencies Must Provide Adequate Care According to Doctor’s Orders

Wednesday, October 5th, 2011

Individuals who have a doctor’s orders to receive home health care cannot have these services suddenly cut or scaled back. Many elderly people need a certified home health agency to help with basic tasks after a hospital procedure or short-term rehabilitation stay. It has come to the attention of patient advocates and the New York State Commissioner of Health that some Certified Home Health Agencies (CHHA) are illegally stopping services or reducing the hours of care.

Unless a doctor has cleared the patient and has informed all parties in a sufficient manner, a CHHA cannot cut services without warning. If a CHHA is illegally doing this, they can receive violations for not adhering to state regulations and policies. Individuals and their loved ones can seek to have a fair hearing about the issue. Until a decision is made at the hearing, home health care must continue.

Some CHHAs are blaming the changes due to Medicaid payment cuts or state budget constraints. But state law specifically says that, “Agencies may not discriminate against a patient based on source of payment, and may not diminish nor discontinue services solely because of a change in the patient’s source of payment.” Around-the-clock care is still available for patients who receive a doctor’s orders for this type of care.

When patients are able to complete daily tasks on their own again and a doctor has approved this, a CHHA must follow defined procedures to discharge the patient from the home health care plan. This is also a critical component of the Medicaid home care procedures.

People who have had services unjustly cut or diminished need to contact a New York elder law attorney or New York special needs attorney. New York law firm Littman Krooks LLP excels in helping the elderly and people with special needs get their present and future needs upheld.

Our New York City, White Plains or Fishkill Elder Law and Special Needs attorneys have substantial experience in standing up for your rights. To learn more, visit www.elderlawnewyork.com.

Elder Abuse

Tuesday, October 4th, 2011

Joan Blackburn and Susan Ferlauto from Pace Women’s Justice Center discuss elder abuse.