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M4A WEEKLY NEWSLETTER
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M4A wants to remind consumers of all ages at all stages to START WITH M4A!  We are the first place to contact to get help, information, and resources. Our Aging & Disability Resource Center (ADRC) Specialists are always here to help!
In recognition of National Alzheimer's Disease Awareness Month AND National Family Caregiver Month, M4A is working with our partners to launch a special campaign during the month of November. We will be posting weekly articles and videos during the month and work with local groups on special activities.  

CHECK OUT OUR AL.COM ARTICLE FOR MORE INFORMATION BY ACCESSING THE LINK BELOW:


https://www.al.com/sponsor-content/?scid=134714&prx_t=ry8EAFs8sAXLkLA

New VA Pension Benefit Rules To Be Implemented 10/18/18

By Jan Neal, Jan Neal Law Firm LLC (M4A's Legal Service Provider)

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has finalized rules that were originally proposed in 2015 that will make it more difficult to qualify for VA pension benefits known as Aid and Attendance and Housebound Benefits. These new rules will change how much an applicant can own and how much an applicant can give away and qualify for benefits by establishing an asset limit, a look-back period, and asset transfer penalties for claimants applying for VA pension benefits that require a showing of financial need.

The VA offers Aid and Attendance as cash payments to low-income veterans (or their spouses) who are in nursing homes or who need help at home with everyday tasks like dressing or bathing.

Currently, to be eligible for Aid and Attendance, a veteran (or the veteran’s surviving spouse) must meet certain income and asset limits. The asset limits aren’t specified, but $80,000 is the amount an applicant is usually allowed to keep. However, unlike with the Medicaid program, there historically have been no penalties if an applicant gives away assets at any time before applying. That is, before now you could transfer assets over $80,000 before applying for benefits, and the transfers would not affect eligibility.

Not so anymore. The new regulations will resemble, to some extent, the existing Medicaid regulations in that the new VA rules set a net worth limit of $123,600, and applicants will be penalized for giving away property within three years of application. This net worth limit of $123,600 will include both the applicant’s countable (non-excluded) assets and his or her income, and net worth will be indexed to inflation in the same way that Social Security increases.

The net worth limit is calculated after first deducting property that will be excluded.  Excluded property includes an applicant’s house (up to a two-acre lot and additional acreage if it is not marketable), and it will not count as an asset even if the applicant is currently living in a nursing home.  Other exclusions from net worth include payment for medical care from their income, including the payments to assisted living facilities.

The regulations also establish a three-year look-back provision. Applicants will have to disclose all financial transactions they were involved in for three years before the application (similar to the Medicaid five year look-back). Applicants who transferred assets to put themselves below the net worth limit within three years of applying for benefits will be subject to a penalty period that can last as long as five years. This penalty is a period of time during which the person who transferred assets will not be eligible for VA benefits. There are exceptions to the penalty period for fraudulent transfers and for transfers to a trust for a child who is unable to provide “self-support.”

Under the new rules, the VA will determine a penalty period in months by dividing the amount transferred that would have put the applicant over the net worth limit by the maximum annual pension rate (MAPR) for a veteran with one dependent in need of aid and attendance. In 2018 that amount is $2169.67.

For example, assume the net worth limit is $123,600 and an applicant has a net worth of $115,000. The applicant transferred $30,000 to a friend during the look-back period. If the applicant had not transferred the $30,000, his net worth would have been $145,000, which exceeds the net worth limit by $21,400. The penalty period will be calculated based on $21,400, the amount the applicant transferred that put his assets over the net worth limit (145,000-123,600).  The transfer subject to penalty would be divided by the 2018 MAPR of $2169.67, resulting in a 9.86 month penalty ($21,400 divided by $2169.67 = 9.86).  The penalty begins to run on the first day of the month following the month of transfer.

The new rules go into effect on October 18, 2018. The VA will disregard asset transfers made before that date.

The new regulations may be read at https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2018/09/18/2018-19895/net-worth-asset-transfers-and-income-exclusions-for-needs-based-benefits

Scams against older adults: reporting to Congress


October 23, 2018 by Lois Greisman
Federal Trade Commission, Elder Justice Coordinator

You might have read media stories about older people losing lots of money to scams. It does happen – and FTC data show that when people over 80 report losing money, the amount they lose is a lot higher than the amount younger people lose. But that’s not the whole story. In fact, FTC data also show that people 60 and older are great at reporting the fraud they see – and can be great at avoiding it, too. Because, according to the FTC’s 2017 data, people 60+ are much more likely to report fraud than people in their 20s – but far less likely to say they lost money.

That’s an important part of a report the FTC just sent to Congress last week. The report, “Protecting Older Consumers 2017-2018: A Report of the Federal Trade Commission, also noted the top scams where older people are more likely than younger people to report losing money (tech support scams, business imposters, prizes/sweepstakes/lottery scams, romance scams, and family/friend imposter scams).

The report talks about what the FTC is doing about fraud against older adults – including some of our law enforcement: from a case challenging phony sweepstakes, to one challenging bogus tech support, to a case over alleged claims that a product could treat everything from arthritis to memory loss. And it covers our Pass it On campaign, which focuses on older adults and gives them the information they need to start a conversation about scams with family and friends.

The idea of Pass It On is central to the FTC’s work on older adults: talk about scams. Tell someone, because you’re less likely to fall for a scam that you’ve talked about. And then tell the FTC, because – in both cases – you might help someone else avoid that scam. And, like the cases mentioned above, we might be able to put a stop to it all together. So go to ftc.gov/complaint to tell your scam story.

Are you or do you know a caregiver looking for a Caregiver Support Group in Alabaster?  If so, M4A's Caregiver Support Program (Alabama CARES) hosts a monthly support group the first Thursday of each month. 

Please help M4A spread the word and share the flyer below with anyone who may be interested in joining this monthly group.
M4A HOLIDAY PROJECT UPDATE

The Columbiana Senior Center has been working hard to sew the Alzheimer's Activity Lap Blankets!  With the contribution of the novelty items by the Chelsea Community Center, the Columbiana senior sewing clubs have created the most beautiful lap blankets!! M4A is excited to distribute these to families during the Month of November.  If you know of a family who has been impacted by Alzheimer's disease or dementia in need of a blanket, please contact us and we will make sure they receive one!
 
The Medicare Open Enrollment Period is here. M4A's SHIP (State Health Insurance Assistance Program) can help you with your free plan comparison to ensure you have all the information you need to get the best coverage possible for 2019. We have several free open enrollment events scheduled in all five of our counties.  To find a location near you, please visit our website at www.m4a.org or contact Latoya Shelton, our SHIP Coordinator at 205-670-5770.

ATTENTION SHELBY COUNTY!!

Living Well Alabama is M4A’s Chronic Disease Self-Management Program that teaches valuable skills needed in the day-to-day management of chronic conditions.
 
We are currently in need of volunteers in Shelby County. Volunteers will work with Positive Maturity to serve as Living Well Alabama Program Ambassadors.
 
LWA Program Ambassadors will conduct LWA outreach and serve as peer support for workshop participants by making reminder phone calls, assisting with health surveys, and conducting support groups.
 
Ambassadors will be given volunteer training, materials, and will be reimbursed mileage.
 
Interested in learning more about how you can help others with chronic conditions? Contact LaRue Lockhart at 205-795-0143, 205-803-3211, or laruel@positivematurity.org
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                                     Alabaster, Alabama  35007
                                           
                               
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Middle Alabama Area Agency on Aging · 209 Cloverdale Circle · Alabaster, AL 35007 · USA

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