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Aspects of Aging

Financial and Legal Issues

Kitty Tynan
New York Times
February 20, 2016
One-third of the women who become widows are under age 65, according to data from the Women’s Institute for a Secure Retirement, known as Wiser, a nonprofit organization dedicated to women’s financial education and advocacy. The Census Bureau reported in 2011 that the median age of widowhood was 59.4 for a first marriage and 60.3 for a second marriage. No one is ever prepared for such an event. But for many women, the road to financial hardship begins after their husbands die. 

New York Times
June 3, 2016

Her mother, who taught in a one-room schoolhouse in the hills of Kentucky a century ago, had some words of wisdom for Adna Bert Baldwin: A woman should be independent and have money to pay her own way.

Ms. Baldwin, 81, took that advice seriously. She married young, to her high school sweetheart, but followed in her mother’s footsteps, teaching elementary school students not far from Cincinnati for 27 years. The pension she earned when she retired two decades ago left her more secure than her mother, Adna Burns, who taught in an era when the idea of paid retirement was just emerging for teachers.



CNNMoney
August 5, 2016
Social Security added a new security measure this week: One must be able to text in order to access their Social Security account. This in effect will prevent those of us who do not text from getting their own information. In addition, the text/code changes every ten minutes. The new verification process was put in place so that the Administration complies with an executive order requiring federal agencies to provide more secure authentication for their online services, the agency said.

New York Times
September 3, 2016
Ageism in the workplace is toxic, and it hurts everyone. Age discrimination in employment is illegal, but two-thirds of older job seekers report encountering it


New York Times
August 3, 2016
Social security is a significant source of retirement income for most retirees. With so much at stake, it's little wonder so many Americans struggle with the decision of when to claim their Social Security.
New York Times
August 1, 2016
Older people are staying in the work force longer. After a longtime trend toward early retirement reversed during the 1980s, seniors’ employment has been rising steadily.


More Women in Their 60s and 70s Are Having 'Way Too Much Fun" to Retire
New York Times
February 11, 2017

The arc of women's working lives is changing according to two new analyses of census, earnings and retirement data that provide a comprehensive look at women's career paths.


Why You Should Get Around to Drawing Up a Will
New York Times
February 8, 2017

Fewer than half of adults have wills. While you can do it yourself online, it's probably best to consult a lawyer.


Rethinking Retirement for Longer Lives With Fewer Safety Nets
New York Times
February 27, 2017

With fewer traditional pensions available, retirement planning becomes more complicated and must start earlier.


Who Guards the Guardians? [Part 1]
Albuquerque Journal
November 26 - [ongoing]

Multipart series investigating possible abuses in the state's elder guardian system. Part 2Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, and Part 6 are available here. The series has been updated by articles March 12 and March 14, 2017. An article about the situation in neighboring states appeared on March 18 and one on a NM Supreme Court call for a formal review on March 25, 2017.. As the story continues, the Conservator is disputing the claims. And a state commission is taking the first steps to undo the secrecy involving senior guardianships. NOTE: these links are to pdf versions of the stories. No internal links will work. In more recent news, The New York Times reports on national efforts to reform the guardian system. And updates in New Mexico were reported on August 5 and an August 6, 2017 editorial.l. 


Declaring War on Financial Abuse of Older People
New York Times
April 14, 2017

A growing number of states have or are considering measures against the illegal or improper use of seniors' money, property or assets as well as fraud or identity theft targeting older people.


Senior Discounts Aren't Just for Seniors Anymore
New York Times 
May 12, 2017

Discounts may be available for those as young as 50. And there are apps to help you find them.


New Gene Tests Pose a Threat to Insurers
New York Times
May 12, 2017

Genetic tests for an increased risk of Alzheimer's, breast cancer, and other diseases are now available to consumers. Some people, after receiving their results, are signing up for long term care insurance. The industry, which is already financially threatened, is concerned that only those at risk will sign up, increasing their costs.


As Seniors Get Sicker, They're More Likely to Drop Medicare Advantage Plans
NPR
July 7, 2017

Medicare Advantage plans are supposed to provide better care because they coordinate care between providers. But they may prevent older and sicker patients from seeing the specialists they need. These patients are more likely to drop out of the plans. A recent GAO report suggests that high drop out rates may be an indication of substandard care, and urges further investigation.  


How the Medicaid Debate Affects Long-Term Care Insurance Decisions
New York Times
July 14, 2017

Even seniors with hundreds of thousands in savings may end up on Medicaid to pay for nursing home care. Budget proposals may reduce funding for Medicaid significantly and make care inaccessible.  Long-term care insurance, however, can be very expensive and may not be worth it.  Do your research about all of the alternatives.


The Ethics of Adjusting Your Assets to Qualify for Medicaid
New York Times
July 21, 2017

There are a number of legal ways you can reduce your assets in order to qualify sooner for Medicaid payments for nursing home care. Are they ethical? Your call. It may depend on your goals.


Three Things I Should Have Said About Retirement Planning
New York Times
July 21, 2017

The author of several books on planning for retirement modifies his advice slightly.


Are You Really Ready to Retire?
CNN
August 16, 2017

A financial "checklist" to help you decide if you can afford to retire now, or should consider working longer.


Estate Planning: Leaving a Home to Heirs While You're Still Alive
New York Times
August 25, 2017

Gifting a home to your heirs, or including it in a trust, may simplify settling your estate. But it's complicated, so get good legal and financial advice first.


Helping Women Over 50 Face Their Financial Fears
New York Times
September 1, 2017

Many women don't have the financial knowledge and skills they need as they get older. There are lots of ways to learn.


Legal Resources and Considerations for Seniors and Persons With Special Needs
JustGreatLawyers.com


Web site with advice and links to information on the variety of documents all seniors should have, as well as times when legal advice may be needed.


How the Elderly Lose Their Rights
New Yorker
October 9, 2017

"Guarding the Guardians" (above) is a well documented problem in New Mexico. This long essay demonstrates that it is a national problem, resulting in seniors losing their homes and their life savings to those who have been paid to "protect" them. 

Note that this is a long essay. The New Yorker is available in print at the library.


Secure Stages
Albuquerque Journal/Associated Press
October 15, 2017

Guidance on financial planning for various stages in life, covering ages 50 to 103. For those who are younger, an earlier article, One Step at a Time, starts financial planning at age 3.


Wringing Cash from Life Insurance
New York Times
October 13, 2017

Your life insurance policy probably has cash value. Sometimes, it's worth giving up the policy, stopping paying premiums, and taking the money.


New Reforms in Guardian Law Presented
Albuquerque Journal
November 18, 2017

In response to multiple scandals involving court appointed guardians (see above for New Mexico's problems), a series of model regulations has been developed by the Uniform Law Commission, a national organization. New Mexico could be one of the first states to adopt them. Proposed changes would include opening legal proceedings and changing visitation decision-making. A follow up article on December 10, outlines "The price to pay to fix NM's beleaguered guardianship system," estimating approximately $1million will be required to infuse more accountability and oversight into the system. Further articles on December 24 take two sides on the issue: The Road Ahead: Corrupt Guardianship System Needs Reform vs The Road Ahead: Critical Flaws Abound in Proposed Guardianship Laws. Another article discusses how families would have access to financial and medical records now sealed under guardianship rulings. 
 

Retirement Planning Should Include Long-term Care Costs
Albuquerque Journal/AP
November 15, 2017

In determining how much you will need for a comfortable retirement, don't forget to factor in the costs of long-term care. Medicare and Medicaid pay little or nothing toward the cost of either in home or resident care, which can amount to well over $100,000.


If You're 70 1/2, It's Time to Take Money From Your Retirement Account
New York Times
December 1, 2017

The Required Minimum Distribution has to be taken before the end of the year you turn 70 1/2, and every year thereafter. 


How Care for Elders, Not Children, Denies Women a Paycheck
New York Times
December 19, 2017

A growing number of women are being forced to leave the workforce to care for aging family members. Home care can be prohibitively expensive, so the only option is for a family member, almost always a woman, is to quit working, often during what should be her peak earning years. The result is a permanent financial loss, since she is giving up not only her salary but her payments into Social Security. Society has begun to talk about the need for affordable child care so that women can work; the need for affordable senior care is invisible but growing as the population ages.


Guardianship Reforms Near Finish Line
Albuquerque Journal
February 14, 2018

The New Mexico House approved changes to the guardianship laws, allowing for more family involvement than under the current system. If the changes pass the Senate and are signed by the Governor, they would go into effect July 1. In the mean time, problems with reporting requirements not being met continue. For more information on this issue, see above, particularly the Guarding the Guardians series. 


7 Ways to Judge a Retirement Community's Financial Health
New York Times
March 9, 2018

Before you invest a significant amount of money and move into a continuing care or life care community, investigate the financial health of the community and the company/organization behind it.


No Pension? You Can "Pensionize" Your Savings
New York Times
March 1, 2018

A growing number of retirees don't have traditional pensions. But there are ways you can create an "annuity" and regular monthly payments from other savings vehicles. 


Medicare Doesn't Equal Dental Care. That Can Be a Big Problem
New York Times
March 19, 2018

Medicare does not cover dental procedures, which are expensive, and few states include dental in Medicaid for poorer residents. Many Medicare recipients forego dental care, leading to tooth loss and severe health problems. A study suggests that an increase of about $7 per month would provide coverage for about 3/4 of the cost of dental care. And providing dental coverage might lower overall costs, since poor oral health can result in other health problems that Medicare ends up covering.


Life After Death? Here's Why You Should Have a Trust
New York Times
March 22, 2018

A revocable trust makes your estate available to heirs without the costs and delays of probate. It can also ensure that bills are paid if you are incapacitated. 


What It Was Like to Finally Write My Will
New York Times
April 3, 2018

Fewer than half of Americans have wills. A will smooths the way for your heirs, ensuring that your estate goes where you want. You can do it yourself - there are books and websites to help - if you have a simple and fairly small estate. Hiring a lawyer helps ensure that everything is covered. A lawyer will usually include medical directives, the creation of a medical power of attorney and other documents.


How Medicare's Conflicting Hospitalization Rules Cost Me Thousands of Dollars
National Public Radio
April 20, 2018

Under Medicare rules to prevent over billing, many patients can spend 48 hours in the hospital without being admitted (under "observation'). This can cause significant financial hardship if they are then discharged to a rehabilitation facility, because Medicare won't pay for read except for admitted patients. Legislation has been introduced to mandate that any time spent in the hospital count toward the minimum for rehab, but it hasn't gone far.


Nine Rights Every Patient Should Demand
New York Times
April 27, 2018

Medical bills are incredibly complicated. The author suggests we need a "medical bill of rights" to ensure that we aren't being overcharged. The rights include a plain English itemized bill, insurance against unexpected out of network bills (when the ER, for example, is contracted out by the hospital that your insurance company works with), accurate information about a stable network of providers, assurances that a disputed bill won't be sent to a collection agency, and others. 









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