Elder Law Blog

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2019 Annual Statistical Report on the Social Security Disability Insurance Program

Almost anything you want to know about Social Security Disability is at this link: https://www.ssa.gov/policy/docs/statcomps/di_asr/2019/index.html

If you have questions regarding how Social Security determines whether a condition is disabling, you can check the Social Security Blue Book at https://www.ssa.gov/disability/professionals/bluebook/AdultListings.htm

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So what is your property worth?

The answer to "what is my property worth" depends on how we look at the situation. If we're talking about fair market value, the traditional definition is stated in the IRS regulations. There, "fair market value" is defined as "the price at which the property would change hands between a willing buyer and a willing seller, neither being under any compulsion to buy or to sell and both having reasonable knowledge of relevant facts." Treasury Regulation 26 CFR 20.2031-1.

There are, however, other ways to value property. For example, the default value under Georgia's Medicaid rules is the tax assessed fair market value, which may be higher or lower than the amount someone would pay for the property.

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Medicare and You Handbook

If you have questions about what Medicare will and will not cover, the best place to look is usually in the annual Medicare and You handbook. You can find it at: https://www.medicare.gov/medicare-you-handbook.

Different versions, including large print and Kindle versions are available here: https://www.medicare.gov/forms-help-resources/medicare-you-handbook/download-medicare-you-in-different-formats

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Guide to Medicare Open Enrollment

The following links may help.

https://www.marketwatch.com/story/your-guide-to-medicare-open-enrollment-how-to-shop-switch-and-compare-plans-2020-10-12

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"'I'm very lonely and depressed' many nursing home residents say they feel like they are in prison."

We're certain this comes as no surprise, but here is an article talking about the effect of Covid 19 on nursing home residents:

https://www.marketwatch.com/story/im-very-lonely-and-depressedmany-nursing-home-residents-say-they-feel-like-they-are-in-prison-2020-10-12 

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Georgia Community-Based Services for Individuals Living with Developmental Disabilities

Please feel free to contact us with questions, but the following links are a good starting point. 

Georgia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities: https://dbhdd.georgia.gov/dd-community-based-services

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Survey of Nursing Home Residents Reveals Deep Emotional Toll of Social Isolation Under Covid-19

Read the article: https://altarum.org/news/survey-nursing-home-residents-reveals-deep-emotional-toll-social-isolation-under-covid-19?utm_source=Altarum+Updates&utm_campaign=4c1e4b504a-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2020_09_30_02_52&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_4220252dfe-4c1e4b504a-347744541 

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Congress caps Medicare Part B premium spike for 2021

Read the article: https://www.cnbc.com/2020/09/29/congress-may-limit-medicare-part-b-premium-increase-for-2021-.html 

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2020 Medicare Open Enrollment Period (October 15–December 7)

Medicare enrollment periods, including special enrollment, is discussed at https://www.medicare.gov/blog/medicare-enrollment-period-2020

During the open enrollment period, you can:

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Medicare - Deductibles an Co-Pays

The following link is usually updaetd annually, but it includes all 2020 co-pays and deductibles. You will need to scroll to the bottom of the page and open specific links to see co-pays for certain services: https://www.medicare.gov/your-medicare-costs/medicare-costs-at-a-glance 

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How to compare Medicare Supplement Policies

Medicare.gov has a page telling you which Medicare Supplement standardized plans offer which benefits. That page is located at https://www.medicare.gov/supplements-other-insurance/how-to-compare-medigap-policies.

A note on that page states: "As of January 1, 2020, Medigap plans sold to new people with Medicare aren't allowed to cover the Part B deductible. Because of this, Plans C and F are not available to people new to Medicare starting on January 1, 2020. If you already have either of these 2 plans (or the high deductible version of Plan F) or are covered by one of these plans before January 1, 2020, you’ll be able to keep your plan. If you were eligible for Medicare before January 1, 2020, but not yet enrolled, you may be able to buy one of these plan." In 2020, the Part B deductible is $198. 

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CDC Bans evictions through December 31, 2020

CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield signed a declaration determining that the evictions of tenants could be detrimental to public health control measures to slow the spread of SARS-Cov-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.

For more information on the order, please visit:

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DOJ Launches Transnational Elder Fraud Strike Force

The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) this month introduced a new initiative that will incorporate law enforcement efforts with other federal agencies to address fraud schemes that target the elderly. The Transnational Elder Fraud Strike Force will feature an amalgamation between the DOJ’s Consumer Protection Branch, U.S. Attorneys’ Offices for six federal districts, the FBI, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service and several other organizations. In addition to this partnership, each U.S. Attorney’s Office will have an Elder Justice Coordinator to assist with operations. FBI Director Christopher Wray said of the strike force: “We’re committed to keeping our elderly citizens safe, whether they’re being targeted door-to-door, over the phone, or online … Our new Transnational Elder Fraud Strike Force will give us additional resources and tools to identify and stop those who are targeting our senior communities.”

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As annuity sales soar, fraud claims have increased

Annuities are complex financial products which frequently earn the seller high commissions. Because commissions are high, salesmen frequently use high-presure tactics. A recent article in the Pittsburg Post Gazette discribes how many seniors are harmed by abusive sales tactics. 

“He never explained to us the penalties and fees we would have to pay,” Ms. Welsh said, adding that her husband, Thomas, 80, used to play basketball with their adviser. “We lost a lot of money on those transactions and he made a lot of money in commissions.”

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New Paper posted

We've posted a new paper titled Legal Considerations for Older Adults, Special Needs Individuals and Family Caregivers: 2018.

 https://www.mcguffey.net/pdf/Legal_Considerations_for_Family_Caregivers.pdf

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What does the Bakery case mean for disabled persons?

Hopefully, the answer is that it means nothing. However, religion has been used to justify intolerance since the dawn of time. An article describing historic discrimination of disabled persons concludes that virtually all major religions have, at one time or another, found a reason to relegate disabled persons to second class status. In Judaism, the source for discrimination was the Pentateuch's prohibition on those with defects approaching God. For Christians, it is a distorted view, taken from Matthew 9:2,7, that disability is the result of sin. Other religions find similar historic justifications. See M. Moore, Religious Attitudes toward the Disabled (2015), at https://infidels.org/library/modern/michael_moore/disabled.html.

Thankfully, most people don't think that way in modern times. However, one would need to have his or her head in the ground to ignore American culture is more and more defined by intolerance; we must be on-guard against anyone who discriminates against disabled persons. That's where the Masterpiece Cakeshop case could become relevant. In Masterpiece Cakeshop, Ltd et al. v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission, et al, ___ U.S. ____ (2018), at https://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/17pdf/16-111_j4el.pdf, the Supreme Court held that the Colorado Civil Rights Commission was wrong when it found that Masterpiece Cakeshop violated a gay couple's rights by refusing to bake a wedding cake based on the owner's religious belief that homosexuality is wrong. One reason why the Colorado Civil Rights Commission got it wrong was that it's ruling predated the Supreme Court's decision in United States v. Windsor (Obergefell), 570 U.S. 744, holding that States cannot prohibit LGBT couples from getting married. Another was the Commission's unequal enforcement of it's rule, allowing certain bakers to refuse to prepare cakes that disparaged LGBT marriage, whioe at the same time requiring that Masterpiece Cakeshop prepare a cake its owner thought offended his religious beliefs. State action must be neutral concerning religion.

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Nursing home residents have right to know what's going on with their care

Kathleen Audia is sixty three (63) years old this year. She has been hearing impaired since childhood, and lost total hearing when she was fifty-five (55). Her primary language is American Sign Language; she does not read lips well enough to understand more than a small portion of conversations.

In 2015, Kathleen fell. She had a deep cut to her head, called a laceration. Kathleen was admitted to a hospital and, after discharge (and after spending a few days at another facility), she became a resident at Briar Place Nursing and Rehabilitation (in Illinois). While at Briar Place, Kathleen was diagnosed with major depressive disorder, balance and gait issues, osteoarthritis, and low back pain.

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Euthanasia – Are we there?

On January 29, 2018, CNN reported that a British Court ruled in favor of doctors, and against parents, holding that doctors could withdraw life support for a severely disabled child. Baby Isaiah was born by emergency cesarean after his mother experienced a rupture in her uterus. At birth, he had no audible heartbeat or respiration, but was revived. Doctors argued it was not in Isaiah’s interest to prolong his life.

Euthanasia is the practice of intentionally ending life to releive pain and suffering. Technically, withdrawing life sustaining treatment is not considered euthanasia, but in most cases the withdrawal of treatment is at the patient’s request, not the government, not the medical community, and not insurers. The notion that a patient controls his or her own care, including the right to refuse treatment stems from Cruzan v. Director, Mo. Dep’t Health, 497 U.S. 261 (1990) and related cases.

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Look after your loved ones even if they are in a nursing home or ALF

On December 28, 2017, CNN reported the beating of an eighty-six year old man with dementia who was a resident in an assisted living facility. Apparently a younger resident accused the older gentleman of eating his cupcake. The younger resident then beat the older man more than 50 times during a two minute period. No staff were present at the time of the beating.The facility had been sanctioned for other incidents, with two administrators having been arrested on charges of neglect of the elderly.

It is critical that family members visitloved ones in a nursing home or assisted living facility. If you see irregularities, report them to the administrator. If the administrator does not correct the situation, report it to the local ombudsman. If that doesn't resolve the situation, speak with an attorney.

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Why I feel more like a nurse than a wife

 

A video clip from Dr. Phil shows him interviewing the wife of someone with a chronic illness, pointing out the strain on caregivers. One of the points made is that you can't give what you don't have, so you must make time to take care of yourself. The clip is available at the following link.

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