Sound familiar?

Have you heard this before?

If you’re starting to get mail from AARP its time to start looking at healthcare options for retirement or it’s that time of the year “open season” to be making choices. Unforutitly healthcare choices are always changing and you have to go back and re-evaluate your coverage and options every year, For example, The Part B premium remained steady (for most enrollees) at $104.90 from 2013 through 2016. It increased in 2017, although because the Social Security COLA was just 0.3 percent for 2017, Part B premium increases for 2017 were very small for most enrollees. Unless the enrollee’s income exceeds $85,000, net Social Security checks cannot decrease from one year to the next. So the maximum increase in Part B premiums (which are deducted from Social Security checks) is limited to the amount of the COLA. In my case, I did get raised from $104.90 in 2016 to $106.00 in 2016 and $110.00 in 2018 as well as a reduction in my social security check. As far as what I have read I should not have had any net decrease of my social security check under the  “held harmless” provision which states monthly social security checks should not be reduced. “If I am wrong Please correct me” and help me understand where my calculations were wrong or if I am misunderstanding the rule. In the meantime, if anyone has seen an increase of their Medicare and a decrease of the net social security check they receive you may want to get in touch social security to have them to straighten it out or at least explain why your check went down.

My plan on how to deal with my healthcare cost increase.

My insurance costs are  16% of my annual income which is good but I am lucky enough to be able to get it down to 8% by dropping my supplemental insurance which is the biggest chunk of insurance. I am a veteran but never took advantage of my VA benefits and by asking questions and filling out a one-time financial assessment after that the VA will get your information from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and Social Security Administration (SSA). How you are assessed is determined by your military service. and income using a banding system. What this amounts to for me is I have no co-pay to any VA services that require medical attention including regular wellness visits. The only thing I  pay for is my prescriptions which for me are two and I pay $5.00 per month for each which comes to $30.00 every three months under the VA. Under SSA Part – D prescription plan I pay $8.00 ever three months for one and nothing for the other so technically my VA prescription refills are more expensive but if you add in what I pay for Part-D for perceptions under Medicare I pay ($20.40 premium per month + $2.67 Rx) =  $276.80 per year. But under the VA I pay only $120.00 per year which is for prescriptions only. I could conceivably cancel Part-D and pay nothing for premiums which would be a savings of  $156.80 per year for prescriptions. Looking further If I canceled my Part-B I would save an additional $1,320 per year or $110.00 per month for a total annual savings of $1,476.80 or $123.07 per month so you see with a little creativity the savings mount up. But before you go canceling any insurance you need to understand 100% of the posable consequences.

Keep these things in mind and check with insurance providers as well as Medicare and the VA.

  • VA health coverage isn’t set in stone and isn’t the same for everyone. The VA assigns enrollees to different priority levels according to various factors, such as income and whether they have any medical condition that derives from their military service. If federal funding drops or doesn’t keep pace with costs, some vets in the lower priority levels may lose VA coverage entirely.
  • Having both Medicare and VA benefits greatly widens your coverage. If you need to go a non-VA hospital or doctor, you’re automatically covered under Part A and/or Part B — whereas, with VA coverage alone, you’d very likely end up having to pay the full cost yourself, even in emergencies.  This is an important point to consider if you live some distance from the nearest VA facility.
  • You may be subject to penalties in the future. If someday, when you’re well past 65, you happen to lose VA coverage or otherwise decide that you need Medicare and are not already signed up for Part B (or have insurance from a current employer), you would likely have to wait a while for coverage and you’d be liable for late penalties that are permanently added to your Part B premiums.

Its a lot to digest I know and I would not make any of my decisions without careful consideration and consultation with at least two experts at each department (VA, SSA, AARP, Medicare and insurance providers)

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Navigating the Healthcare System

If you’re starting to get mail from AARP
If you’re starting to get mail from AARP

Navigating the healthcare system can be a daunting and time-consuming task and it’s a little different for everyone. It will depend on your age, coverage, location, for example, someone in New York will pay a different premium than someone in Alabama. Here is a partial list of the Best & Worst States for Health Care visit WalletHub for a more comprehensive list, by services.

Source: WalletHub

 

Overall Rank
(1 = Best)
State Total Score ‘Cost’ Rank ‘Access’ Rank ‘Outcomes’ Rank
1 Hawaii 67.36 3 42 1
2 Iowa 66.62 2 19 13
2 Minnesota 66.62 5 11 8
4 New Hampshire 65.54 16 4 7
5 District of Columbia 65.47 1 6 37
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Let the Federal Trade Commission help you

If you have ever been ripped off by a scam or you suspect fraud call the FTC or file a report. To avoid being scammed visit the FEDERAL TRADE COMMISSION. By educating yourself you will be less likely to be taken’ These people that pull these cons are smart but you can be smart as well.

This is you. You’ve been ripped off, or you’ve spotted a scam. Don’t keep it to yourself. Take it to the Federal Trade Commission by filing a complaint. What kind of complaint? The Federal Trade Commission is the nation’s Consumer Protection Agency. So if a business doesn’t deliver on its promises, or if someone cheats you out of your money, the Federal Trade Commission wants to hear about it. Here are some complaint received by the FTC.

  1. I bought a phone card with 350 minutes of calling time, but it cut me off after 20.
  2. I’m getting bills for things I didn’t buy. I think someone stole my identity.
  3. The letter said I had won a sweepstakes, but I had to wire money to cover the taxes. I did and never heard from them again.
  4. I responded to an add on line for a free trail offer. But then I started seeing charges for it every month.
  5. I thought the email was from someone who saw my resume and wanted to hire me. But they asked for my bank account number. I reported it to the Federal Trade Commission.

Telling the Federal Trade Commission helps us stop ripoffs, scams, and fraudsters. Your complaints matter here. To file a complaint, just go to ftc.gov/complaint, and answer the questions. Or call That’s all there is to it.

If you’ve been ripped off or scammed, complain to the Federal Trade Commission. It can help put the bad guys out of business.

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Reverse mortgage and potential elder financial abuse

Reverse mortgage and potential elder financial abuse
Article Source

Photo by: Lotte Meijer on Unsplash

A reverse mortgage is a loan against the equity an elder has built up in their home. The loan is “reversed” because instead of making payments to the lender as in a traditional mortgage, the bank advances sums to the elder against the future sale of the property. These loans allow homeowners age 62 and older to convert a portion of their home equity into loan proceeds that can be used to supplement their retirement spending.

The advances can take the form of a lump sum, a credit line, or monthly cash advances or a combination of all three.

The amount of money the elder may borrow depends on:

  • their age
  • current interest rate
  • amount of fees charged
  • and the Maximum Claim Amount (MCA), which is currently $679,650 (eff. 1/1/18) or the appraised value of the home, whichever is less.

The Reverse Mortgage becomes due when:

  • the elder dies*
  • permanently leaves the home
  • fails to maintain the property
  • fails to pay their property taxes
  • fails to pay their homeowner’s insurance.

*If the surviving widow or widower is not on the deed, they may lose the home if they are unable to repay the debt when the Deedholder passes or leaves the home.

The vast majority of reverse mortgages are federally-insured Home Equity Conversion Mortgages (HECMs) that are backed by the Federal Housing Administration.
To ensure that the elder is informed before making the decision to take out a reverse mortgage, one of the requirements of the reverse mortgage is that the homeowner receives counseling from a HUD-approved counseling agency. The reverse mortgage counselors explain how reverse mortgages work, including payment options, costs, tax implications, benefits, and drawbacks. The counseling appointment can be in person or over the phone.

While a reverse mortgage can be helpful and provide financial relief for some seniors, there is potential for elder financial abuse and exploitation.
Reverse mortgage abuse is perpetuated by financial abuse predators that seek to take advantage of elders by manipulating and misleading them into acting against their own best interests.



Often the financial abuse predators are brokers, insurance agents, tax planners, family members or caregivers.
Sometimes the financial abuse predator is selling a financial product, like an annuity, or home improvements which the elder is persuaded to pay for with a reverse mortgage.
Sometimes, it’s a family member or caregiver that is attempting to swindle the proceeds from the elder.

I once met with an elderly client for a reverse mortgage closing. When I arrived, his caregiver met me at the door and as I introduced myself, she prompted him as he entered the room to cooperate and not give me a hard time. Suspicious, I asked him if he knew why I was there. He responded that I was there to “check up on him”, as if he thought I was there from Social Services. When I asked him if he had applied for a reverse mortgage, he had no idea what I was talking about. Turns out, his caregiver had requested it on his behalf after receiving a postcard advertisement and his reverse mortgage, had it been successfully closed, would have resulted in an initial $60,000 advance.
To the caregiver’s disappointment, I adjourned the closing. I promptly alerted the lender to the situation and I called the county’s Adult Protection Services to report the incident.

While elder abuse can take several forms: physical, psychological/emotional, neglect and financial, in Alameda County, more than 70% of reports of abuse are for alleged financial abuse.

©2018 Totally Notary All Rights Reserved.  Helen B. Wardale

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