Thursday, December 30, 2010

Medicare-You think you have paid your share-Wrong!

Consider an average-wage, two-earner couple together earning $89,000 a year. Upon retiring in 2011, they would have paid $114,000 in Medicare payroll taxes during their careers.But they can expect to receive medical services — from prescriptions to hospital care — worth $355,000, or about three times what they put in.. Many workers may believe their Medicare payroll taxes are going for their own insurance after they retire, but the money is actually used to pay the bills of seniors currently on the program.

The estimates by economists Eugene Steuerle and Stephanie Rennane of the Urban Institute think tank illustrate the huge disconnect between widely-held perceptions and the numbers behind Medicare's shaky financing. Although Americans are worried about Medicare's long-term solvency, few realize the size of the gap. The system has worked for 45 years, with occasional fine tuning. But the retirement of the baby boomers, the first of whom become eligible for Medicare in 2011, threatens to push it over the edge."With Medicare, we are all still making out like bandits, shoving all those costs to future generations," said Steuerle. "At another level, we know that this system is totally unsustainable." 
Read all about this in an article by AP press for Yahoo News. at 
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20101230/ap_on_he_me/us_medicare_money_s_worth

William Wombacher, your Central Illinois Certified Elder Law Attorney (CELA) and Social Security Disability lawyer
www.wombacherlaw.com

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Social Security Disability issues-Fibromyalgia Study shows Mindfulness Therapy no help

Fibromyalgia is a syndrome marked by widespread pain -- including discomfort at specific "tender points" in the body -- along with symptoms like fatigue, irritable bowel and sleep problems. It is estimated to affect up to 5 million U.S. adults, most commonly middle-aged women.The precise cause of fibromyalgia is unknown. There are no physical markers, like inflammation or tissue damage in the painful areas -- but some researchers believe the disorder involves problems in how the brain processes pain signals. Standard treatments include painkillers, antidepressants, cognitive-behavioral therapy and exercise therapy. However, many people with fibromyalgia find that their symptoms persist despite treatment. One reason, some researchers suspect, may be because standard treatments do not specifically address the role psychological stress and emotions can play in triggering pain.
The study, published in the journal Pain, looked at the effects of so-called mindfulness-based stress reduction -- a technique developed by researchers at the University of Massachusetts in 1979 that combines mindfulness meditation and gentle yoga postures.The technique is now available throughout the world -- in the form of an eight-week program of classes -- to help people manage general stress or health problems, including chronic pain.
For the new study, researchers led by Dr. Stefan Schmidt, of the University Medical Center in Freiburg, Germany, tested the program's effects among 177 women with fibromyalgia.They found that women assigned to the mindfulness program showed no greater gains in health-related quality of life than those assigned to a waiting list for treatment.That meant no significant improvements in either physical symptoms or emotional well-being.

Amy Norton writes about his for Reuters online service. Read about about at
http://www.reuters.com/article/healthNews/idUSTRE6BR3MN20101228
 
William Wombacher, your Central Illinois Social Security Disability law attorney
www.wombacherlaw.com 

Saturday, December 25, 2010

U.S. Phases Out Social Security Checks -Disability & Social Security Retirement

The U.S. government is phasing out paper checks for these benefit programs, under a Treasury Department rule finalized Tuesday. The Treasury expects the shift to save Social Security $1 billion over the next 10 years.
Under the final plan, anyone applying for benefits on or after May 1, will receive their payments electronically. People who already receive paper checks will need to switch to direct deposit by March 1, 2013.  

The government's new electronic-payment requirement has some exceptions. It has waived, for instance, for check-receiving recipients who are age 90 or older or approaching 90. Specifically, benefit recipients born before May 1, 1921, who would like to keep receiving paper checks will be able to do so under the final rule. In addition, the Treasury is touting its prepaid card, the Direct Express Debit MasterCard, for benefit recipients who don't choose direct deposit. More than 1.5 million beneficiaries have signed up for the card since it was introduced in 2008.

Read about this in the Wall Street Journal online
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704118504576034082131421922.html?mod=rss_Retirement_Planning

William Wombacher, Central Illinois Certified Elder Law Attorney (CELA) and Social Security Disability Attorney
www.wombacherlaw.com- 


Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Senior-on-Senior Financial Fraud

Jason Zweig and Mary Pilon write in the Wall Street Journal about the increasing frequency of Seniors taking financially advantage of other Seniors.In Louisiana,  Judith Zabalaoui, 73, pleaded guilty in February 2009 to five counts of mail fraud and is now serving an eight-year prison sentence after persuading at least 35 clients, many of them elderly, to invest in two nonexistent companies that promised "safe" returns of 13% to 26%. She had clients sign a power of attorney, giving her access to their funds—and spent more than $3 million of their money on her own expenses, including clothing and vacations, according to court documents. 

"That's a definite new trend," says Denise Voigt Crawford, the Texas securities commissioner. "We're seeing more cases of older people ripping off other older people. Someone joked that seniors ripping off their peers is becoming 'the new retirement plan.'" Some older financial advisers use their age as a selling point, telling clients they understand the challenges that older investors face. In many instances, say prosecutors, unscrupulous advisers also tout their professional designations, or credentials, as further evidence of their expertise. Ms.Zabalaoui, the Louisiana adviser, marketed herself as a CFP, say clients, even though her credential lapsed in 2000.

Read more about this at   
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704098304576021600313140180.html?mod=WSJ_PersonalFinance_PF4

William Wombacher, Central Illinois Certified Elder Law Attorney (CELA)   I'll help you!
www.wombacherlaw.com

Friday, December 17, 2010

NEW MEDICARE HOME HEALTH REGULATIONS: IMPROVEMENT IS NOT REQUIRED TO OBTAIN COVERAGE

As I have previously written, a very contentious issue with Medicare has been Medicare cutting off coverage for  home health care coverage when a patient is not improving. Medicare then classifies the patient as only needing custodial care as opposed to the skilled care which Medicare will provide coverage for up to the limits of the program. The Feds have been losing on this issue in Federal Court and are now responding.  The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) issued new regulations on November 17th regarding coverage for home health services. The new regulations clarify Medicare coverage for home health services, including physical therapy, occupational therapy and speech-language pathology services.The regulations are effective January 1, 2011; however, since they clarify rather than change coverage rules, they are also applicable to services prior to that time. To determine whether a service is skilled, and therefore coverable, the new regulations direct decision-makers to review accepted standards of clinical practice and to consider whether a professional is needed for the service to be safe and effective for the particular beneficiary.

These considerations, rather than the ability to improve, are the key factors to be considered in making coverage determinations. The rules state that they do not alter coverage, but rather provide additional detail for care planning, assessment, and reassessment. They should help advocates in their efforts to ensure that necessary services are covered, particularly for people with chronic conditions.

Read all about this and more at the website of the Center for Medicare Advocacy at   www.medicareadvocacy.org

William Wombacher , a Central Illinois Certified Elder Law Attorney (CELA). I'll help you!
www.wombacherlaw.com