Elder Law Blog

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Subcategories from this category:

Elder Abuse

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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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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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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What it takes to become a Certified Elder Law Attorney

Have you ever wondered what's different about a Certified Elder Law Attorney and other lawyers? The following article describes the rigorous examination, which is only one element of the process.

http://www.nelf.org/the-cela-exam-no-harder-than-it-needs-to-be/ 

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Is a husband liable for his wife's debts (or vice versa), Part 2?

Recently, the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals decided a case (Key Equipment Finance, Inc. v. Overend) that causes us to revisit the question of spousal liability. We care because the 11th Circuit (a federal appeals court) covers Georgia, and the case involved a question of Georgia law.

George Overend borrowed money from KeyBank to finance the construction of a medical imaging center. After he borrowed money, he transferred a one-half interest in his home to his wife's revocable trust. Overend's business venture went bankrupt, and when KeyBank tried to collect it's money, KeyBank argued that it could set-aside the homeplace transfer as a fraudlent conveyance.

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Is a husband liable for his wife’s debt (or vice versa)?

Many families assume that one spouse is liable for the other’s debt. In Georgia, that’s typically not the case. O.C.G.A. § 19-3-9 specifically provides that the separate property of each spouse shall remain the separate property of that spouse, except in limited circumstances.

In Walton Elect. Membership Corp. v. Snyder, 226 Ga. App. 673 (1997), a creditor attempted to collect from one spouse a debt owed by the other. Specifically, Deborah Patton had a contract with Walton Electric to provide electricity. Later, she moved in with Howard Snyder, who also had his own contract with Walton Electric. When Howard and Deborah got married, Deborah had an unpaid, past due balance with Walton Electric. After Walton Electric discovered Howard and Deborah were married, it added Deborah’s past due bill to Howard’s account. Howard objected and refused to pay the bill. Walton Electric then disconnected Howard’s power, so Howard sued. In finding that Howard was right, and that he was not liable for Deborah’s debt, the Georgia Court of Appeals cited to O.C.G.A. § 13-5-30. There, Georgia law provides that a promise to answer for another’s debt must be in writing, and signed by the person undertaking the debt. Further, in the Snyder case, the Court found that the contract must be an original obligation. What is that important? Walton Electric tried to claim that Howard signed a membership agreement when he joined Walton Electric. Ordinarily, if a married couple joins, they become joint members. However, Howard joined Walton Electric as a single person and Walton Electric was not authorized to unilaterally change the agreement just because he was married. To create a joint obligation, a new contract, with new consideration, would be required if Howard was to become liable for Deborah’s debt.

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Social Security Increase payments by .03% for 2017

Woo-hoo!!! Social Security has increased its payments for 2017 by --- wait for it --- .03% for 2017. That means someone who was on SSI and received $733 per month in 2016 will receive a $2 per month increase in 2017. With monthly benefits soaring to $735 per month, we remind you "don't spend it all in one place!" Meanwhile, the payroll amount subject to Social Security taxes has increased to $127,200.

http://blog.ssa.gov/an-increase-in-social-security-benefits-in-2017/

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Wages for Home Care Aides Lag as Demand Grows

"Home care aides, mostly women and mostly minorities, represent one of the nation’s fastest-growing occupations, increasing from 700,000 to more than 1.4 million over the past decade. Add the independent caregivers that clients employ directly through public programs, and the total rises to more than two million." Unfortunately, wages have been stagnant. One can only speculate regarding what this means as more Americans are living beyond their health. Beyond the wage issue, there is a labor capacity issue. Americans are aging at a rate that outpaces our ability to provide care AND fill other higher paying jobs. The immigration debate, which is front and center in this year's election, ignores the reality that American will either need to import labor to address it's long-term care needs, or we might need to begin exporting our elderly so they can get care.

P. Span, Wages for Home Care Aides Lag as Demand Grows, http://www.nytimes.com/2016/09/27/health/home-care-aides-wages.html?_r=0

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