Articles Tagged with bronx elder law attorney

As we continue to age, it can be difficult to admit when you are no longer able to handle personal affairs and financial matters on your own. There are a number of alternatives available to those seeking to have their affairs managed by another party, depending upon the individual’s mental capacity to comply with assigning these rights. Those providing caregiver services to the individual, commonly a loved one, may seek retaining legal guardianship of the elderly individual, assigning durable power of attorney and health care power of attorney to specific individuals, or establishing a trust.

Guardianship

Guardianship is a legal status given by the court to create a relationship between someone who is incapacitated or unable to care for themselves and a person determined to be suitable to administer and manage the incapacitated person’s affairs. In order to get a guardianship order, a person must file a petition with the court to review the case at hand. The court assesses the situation, the petitioner, as well as the elderly person to determine what will be the least restrictive method of guardianship. The appointment may include only managing financial affairs, but may also assign responsibility for day to day decision making including support, maintenance, and personal care.

Winter months are difficult on many of those who live in areas that experience great seasonal changes. The National Center for Health Services actually found that death rates are twice as high in the winter than the hottest part of summer. Not only do we have bundle up and face the chilling weather, there is also a major threat of seasonal illness.

Thus, it is not surprising that individuals have the highest risk of dying from natural causes in the end of December and beginning of January. In fact, one study showed that those who die from natural causes, circulatory problems, respiratory diseases, nutritional/metabolic problems, digestive diseases and cancer have a greater chance of dying between Christmas and New Years than any other time of year.

Not Just in America

The Social Security Administration recently released a list of changes to take place in 2017, which included the cost of living adjustment that we discussed in a previous article, as well as a new earnings test limits for those older adults who continue to work but qualify for social security. While the cost of living adjustment came out to a roughly $50 a year increase, the other changes listed by the Administration have encouraged many of those who receive their monthly benefits.

The Earnings Test

In order to provide the most equal distribution based on need, the Social Security Administration has come up with a test in order to determine how much in benefits an individual should be allotted. The earnings test applies to those older adults who have not yet reached their full age of retirement, which is 66 years old, and who are still working. For those beneficiaries who attain full retirement age after 2017, they can claim exemption of earnings up to $16,920 a year, or roughly $1,410 a month.

On February 10, 2016 the United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement (‘ICE’) announced in a policy document that appears to coincide with ranking ICE officials testimony before the United States Senate Special Committee on Aging that it recently launched ‘Operation Cocoon‘ to help curtail the use of “elderly citizens” unknowingly acting as drug couriers, or drug mules as couriers are sometimes referred to as, from foreign countries to the United States or to other foreign countries. While not part of the policy document released, typical of the victims of such scams is J. Byron Martin a 77 year old retired minister from Maine, who thought he was helping a fellow soul by transporting what he believed to be books from Peru to London via Spain.

It turned out that the books in issue had drugs secreted away in them. Mr. Martin’s son, Andy Martin of Henderson, Nevada testified that his father was never arrested in his 70 plus years on this planet prior to this episode. Mr. Martin is now serving a seven year sentence of incarceration in Spain. Senator Susan Collins presided over the hearing and indicated that the ensnared seniors are duped into transporting the drugs, those with the requisite criminal intent secret the drugs away in “chocolates, picture frames, tea, markers, canned goods, shampoo bootles, soap and wooden hangers.” The hearings were an effort to get the word out about this very serious danger. Both the Senate Committee on Aging and ICE operate a toll free number to report suspected scams. That number for ICE is (866) DHS-2-ICE; (866) 347-2423. The phone number for the Senate Committee on aging is (855) 303-9470.

RAW NUMBERS

        Throughout the twentieth century, the Federal government took various legal steps to positively impact the lives of senior citizens, the disabled and the elderly in general.  Throughout the 1930s a variety of retirement and pension programs were enacted, most significantly social security.  1952 saw the funding for social services programs targeted for the elderly and senior citizen population.  The 1960s saw a number of progressive social legislation enacted, with 1965 as a particularly important year, with the implementation of Medicare as well as the Older Americans Act.  The 1970s followed with many funding programs expanding the legislative enactments of the 1960s.  For example, 1972 saw the funding for a national nutritional program for the elderly, which is known today as meals on wheels, while in 1973 Congress funded grants for local senior community centers.

OLDER AMERICANS ACT  

For purposes of the prevention and coordination of the national response to elder abuse, the Older Americans Act, is perhaps the most significant and comprehensive federal law to deal with elder abuse.  Currently the Department of Health and Human Services, Administration on Aging manages the various programs flowing from the Older Americans Act.  It ensures that each state has a sufficiently strong adult protective services program and a Long Term Care Ombudsman Program, which acts as a voice for residents of long term care facilities in the jurisdiction.  These programs are necessary for the state to receive funding from the federal government.

Deferred income annuities are a financial product that, by definition, are paid in one premium and payout after at least one year after purchase. While they have been around for quite some time, although they are only beginning to come into their own as a part of a sound retirement strategy. Deferred income annuities are more colloquially known as longevity insurance, especially when purchased by retirees for when they reach 80 to 85 years of age. Much of the increase in sales for longevity insurance can be tied to an IRS bulletin formally published in The Federal Register on July 21, 2014 that allows for the recipient of the deferred income annuity to defer taxation until the age of 85. As with any formal federal rulemaking determination, there is a long period of time for study and public comment. As such, on February 2, 2010 the Departments of Labor and Treasury publicly requested comment on the issue of allowing for use of these annuities, with a second round with a specific regulation tied to it, that commenced on February 3, 2012.

HYRBRID ANNUITY

Traditionally there were generally two types of annuities. The first is the variable annuity with guaranteed benefits and the second type is the immediate annuity. The variable annuity with guaranteed benefits is wildly popular, with $39.8 billion in sales in just the first quarter of 2011 alone. Often these annuities do not encourage or sometimes even permit the beneficiary to tap into the annuity until years after the initial purchase.

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