Tuesday, December 23, 2014

For First Time, Treatment Helps Patients With Worst Kind of Stroke, Study Says

After three decades of failure, researchers have found a treatment that greatly improves the prognosis for people having the most severe and disabling strokes. By directly removing large blood clots blocking blood vessels in the brain, they can save brain tissue that would have otherwise died, enabling many to return to an independent life.

About 630,000 Americans each year have strokes caused by clots blocking blood vessels in the brain. In about a third to half, the clot is in a large vessel, which has potentially devastating consequences. People with smaller clots are helped by the lifesaving drug tPA, which dissolves them. But for those with big clots, tPA often does not help. Until now, no other treatments had been shown to work.

The study, published online Wednesday in The New England Journal of Medicine and conducted by researchers in the Netherlands, is being met with an outpouring of excitement. One reason the treatment worked, researchers suspect, is that doctors used a new type of snare to grab the clots. It is a stent, basically a small wire cage, on the end of a catheter that is inserted in the groin and threaded through an artery to the brain. When the tip of the catheter reaches the clot, the stent is opened and pushed into the clot. It snags the clot, allowing the doctor to withdraw the catheter and pull out the stent with the clot attached.

Read about this in the New York Times in an article written by Gina Kolata on Dec 17.  at http://nyti,ms/1Ab0lv0 

William Wombacher, your Central Illinois Certified Elder Law Attorney (CELA) and Social Security Disability Specialist. I'll help you!   http://www.wombacherlaw.com
 
Serving Peoria, East Peoria, Peoria Heights, Pekin, Dunlap, Chillicothe, Morton, Washington, Metamora, Canton, Galesburg, Lacon, Henry, Bloomington, Normal and surrounding cites and counties of Peoria, Tazewell, Woodford, Fulton and  Knox Counties in Central Illinois.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Mental health problems continue to remain a major challenge in US

- 42.5 million of adults in America, 18.19 percent, suffer from a mental health issue.

- 19.7 million, or 8.46 percent, have a substance abuse problem.

- 8.8 million, or 3.77 percent of Americans have reported serious thoughts of suicide.

- The highest rates of emotional, behavioral or developmental issues among young people occur just west of the Appalachian Mountains, where poverty and social inequality are pervasive.

Meanwhile, there is a shortage of mental health care professionals — nationally there is only one provider for every 790 people, according to the report.

William Wombacher, your Central Illinois Certified Elder Law Attorney (CELA) and Social Security Disability Specialist. I'll help you!   http://www.wombacherlaw.com
 
Serving Peoria, East Peoria, Peoria Heights, Pekin, Dunlap, Chillicothe, Morton, Washington, Metamora, Canton, Galesburg, Lacon, Henry, Bloomington, Normal and surrounding cites and counties of Peoria, Tazewell, Woodford, Fulton and  Knox Counties in Central Illinois.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Lack of planning for Alzheimer’s

More than 15 million people care for loved ones suffering from Alzheimer's disease. Most people are aware of the emotional toll of caregiving, but another unwanted result might be personal financial loss by the caregiver. On average, a person suffering from Alzheimer's disease lives for eight to 12 years after diagnosis. Part of that time you may find yourself in a nursing home with costs approaching $6,000 per month.

The AgingCare survey found that 38 percent of Alzheimer's caregivers provide more than 30 hours per week in unpaid care. The survey polled more than 1,600 caregivers for family members suffering from Alzheimer's or another form of dementia. Almost two-thirds of caregivers are looking after a parent, and another fifth are caring for a spouse.

Caregivers specifically described their financial turmoil. More than half of the caregivers polled reported that their family finances had been strained as a result of the care, and around one-fifth polled had to take on a significant debt. In addition, caregiving for Alzheimer's patients also costs some caregivers their careers. Nearly 30 percent of caregivers had to reduce their working hours, 25 percent had to quit their job and 17 percent had to take a pay cut or unpaid leave.

The best plan to protect assets from nursing home costs is to buy adequate long-term care insurance. If you don’t have adequate long-term care insurance, the next best plan is the Medicaid Asset Protection Trust that protects assets from long-term care costs after five years. If this interests you the time to act is more than five years before you face this possibly otherwise you looking at crisis planning  with which the options are much more limited and your ability to protect assets is more limited. Call my office to discuss now.

You can read more about this in a blog written by

Bonnie Kraham: Cost of caregiving for those with Alzheimer's


William Wombacher, your Central Illinois Certified Elder Law Attorney (CELA) and Social Security Disability Specialist. I'll help you!   http://www.wombacherlaw.com
 
Serving Peoria, East Peoria, Peoria Heights, Pekin, Dunlap, Chillicothe, Morton, Washington, Metamora, Canton, Galesburg, Lacon, Henry, Bloomington, Normal and surrounding cites and counties of Peoria, Tazewell, Woodford, Fulton and  Knox Counties in Central Illinois.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Miscounting with Obamacare

The Obama administration’s overcounting of the number of people enrolled in Affordable Care Act health plans reveals how all the glitches in the government’s computer system have yet to be worked out.

Instead of the 7.3 million people that the government reported were enrolled in health insurance plans in September, congressional investigators discovered that the number was 6.97 million. A more recent estimate of 7.1 million should have been 6.7 million, Sylvia Mathews Burwell, Secretary of Health and Human Services, acknowledged Thursday.

The story behind the misstatements highlights the significance of continuing problems with invisible parts of the health law’s enrollment system, and the challenges the administration is likely to face in reporting enrollment numbers in the months ahead.

The inaccuracy, first reported Thursday by Bloomberg News, resulted when administration officials included enrollment in stand-alone dental plans in its count of people covered by the law. According to the department, 393,000 people had signed up for both types of plans, and thus were double-counted. 

William Wombacher, your Central Illinois Certified Elder Law Attorney (CELA) and Social Security Disability Specialist. I'll help you!   http://www.wombacherlaw.com
 
Serving Peoria, East Peoria, Peoria Heights, Pekin, Dunlap, Chillicothe, Morton, Washington, Metamora, Canton, Galesburg, Lacon, Henry, Bloomington, Normal and surrounding cites and counties of Peoria, Tazewell, Woodford, Fulton and  Knox Counties in Central Illinois.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Brooklyn Hospital Is Told to Keep Girl, 2, on Life Support Amid Organ Donation Fight

A judge on Monday ordered a Brooklyn hospital to keep a 2-year-old girl on life support for at least another day, as her parents argue over whether her organs should be donated.

Yet whether the child's organs will ultimately go to other children, as her mother wants, or be buried with her, as her father wants, poses a classic ethical issue: how to resolve conflict among the people who loved her and knew her best.

For now, everything is in a holding pattern. The hospital issued a brief statement on Monday, indicating it was providing “medical care, support and comfort to the family at this time of tremendous grief.”

Dr. Mayer, the critical-care expert, said that typically, in cases of conflict, doctors and ethicists tried to get everyone in a room talking. But he said that approach could be difficult in this case. “When it comes to donating organs, you need consensus,” Dr. Mayer said.

When the family does not reach consensus, he said, the organ donation does not go forward. “It’s not worth the amount of pain and agony and suffering that everyone will go through,” he said.

Read about this in the New Yok Times at http://ntti.ms/11ebPqX in a story wriiten on November 17

William Wombacher, your Central Illinois Certified Elder Law Attorney (CELA) and Social Security Disability Specialist. I'll help you!   http://www.wombacherlaw.com
 
Serving Peoria, East Peoria, Peoria Heights, Pekin, Dunlap, Chillicothe, Morton, Washington, Metamora, Canton, Galesburg, Lacon, Henry, Bloomington, Normal and surrounding cites and counties of Peoria, Tazewell, Woodford, Fulton and  Knox Counties in Central Illinois.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Think Twice Before Choosing Knee Replacement

There’s no doubt that knee replacements are increasingly popular. More than 600,000 such surgeries were performed in 2012, compared with about 250,000 just 15 years ago. But some new studies suggest that people may be electing to have the procedure prematurely and, perhaps worse, gaining limited benefit from it. According to figures from the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, the number of knee replacements in people between 45 and 64 soared by 205 percent between 2000 and 2012; among people 65 and older, the increase was only 95 percent.

The message is not that people should wait until their knees break down completely before replacing them. But they should question the need for surgery. “Ask your doctor how advanced your arthritis really is,” Dr. Riddle advises. If you do not have bone-on-bone arthritis, in which all of the cushioning cartilage in the knee is gone, think about consulting a physical therapist about exercise programs that could strengthen the joint, reducing pain and disability, Riddle says. Losing weight helps, too.

Read about this in the New York Times at http://nyti.ms/1v9ziW in a story written by Gretchen Reynolds.

William Wombacher, your Central Illinois Certified Elder Law Attorney (CELA) and Social Security Disability Specialist. I'll help you!   http://www.wombacherlaw.com
 
Serving Peoria, East Peoria, Peoria Heights, Pekin, Dunlap, Chillicothe, Morton, Washington, Metamora, Canton, Galesburg, Lacon, Henry, Bloomington, Normal and surrounding cites and counties of Peoria, Tazewell, Woodford, Fulton and  Knox Counties in Central Illinois.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Medicare Defers Request To Pay Doctors For End-Of-Life Counseling

Medicare has signaled a willingness to consider paying doctors who counsel patients on end-of-life decisions, though it's putting the issue on hold for now. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services rejected a request from the American Medical Association to adopt new billing codes for such advance care planning in a 2015 physician payment rule the agency released last week. Counseling people about what choices they would face for care when terminally ill was portrayed as a government effort to establish “death panels” during the bitter debate over the health care overhaul. (Young, 11/4

The American health care system is poorly equipped to care sensitively for patients at the end of life, a recent report from the Institute of Medicine found. But it is possible, through careful planning, for individuals to choose the kind of death they want. Consumer Reports has released a guide to end-of-life planning for families. The report offers tips for caregivers and individuals and profiles one man’s “beautiful death” at home. KHN staff reporter Jenny Gold interviewed author Nancy Metcalf about the report. (Gold, 11/14)

Read about this at http://www.kaiserhealthnews.org/ in an article written by Jenny Gold at Kaiser Health News


William Wombacher, your Central Illinois Certified Elder Law Attorney (CELA) and Social Security Disability Specialist. I'll help you!   http://www.wombacherlaw.com
 
Serving Peoria, East Peoria, Peoria Heights, Pekin, Dunlap, Chillicothe, Morton, Washington, Metamora, Canton, Galesburg, Lacon, Henry, Bloomington, Normal and surrounding cites and counties of Peoria, Tazewell, Woodford, Fulton and  Knox Counties in Central Illinois.

 


Wednesday, November 5, 2014

WHY SCRATCHING AN ITCH MAKES IT WORSE

Researchers have figured out what’s behind a vicious cycle: why scratching an itch makes you itch even more.

A new study with mice finds that scratching causes the brain to release serotonin, which intensifies the itch sensation. The same is believed to occur in people.

Scientists have known for decades that scratching creates a mild amount of pain in the skin, says senior investigator Zhou-Feng Chen, professor of anesthesiology, of psychiatry, and of developmental biology and director of the Center for the Study of Itch at Washington University in St. Louis.

“We always have wondered why this vicious itch-pain cycle occurs,” Chen says. “Our findings suggest that the events happen in this order. First, you scratch, and that causes a sensation of pain. Then you make more serotonin to control the pain. But serotonin does more than only inhibit pain. Our new finding shows that it also makes itch worse by activating GRPR neurons through 5HT1A receptors.”

Read more about this research in Washington University in St. Loius written by Jim Dryden.

 William Wombacher, your Central Illinois Certified Elder Law Attorney (CELA) and Social Security Disability Specialist. I'll help you!   http://www.wombacherlaw.com 

Serving Peoria, East Peoria, Peoria Heights, Pekin, Dunlap, Chillicothe, Morton, Washington, Metamora, Canton, Galesburg, Lacon, Henry, Bloomington, Normal and surrounding cites and counties of Peoria, Tazewell, Woodford, Fulton and  Knox Counties in Central Illinois.

Employer Health Care Plans will need to provide hospital coverage

Closing what many see as a loophole that could trap millions of people in sub-standard insurance, the Obama administration said Tuesday that large-employer medical plans lacking hospital coverage will not qualify under the Affordable Care Act’s toughest standard. It also offered relief to workers who may be enrolled in those plans next year.

The administration will rule that plans without “substantial coverage for in-patient hospitalization services” do not meet the law’s “minimum value” threshold, the Treasury Department said in a notice Tuesday morning. It will issue final regulations saying so next year, it said.

“It’s good news for employees,” said Sabrina Corlette, project director at Georgetown University’s Center on Health Insurance Reforms. “They shouldn’t be stuck with subpar coverage.”

Read about this at http://www.kaiserhealthnews.org/ in an article written by Jay Hancock at Kaiser Health News



William Wombacher, your Central Illinois Certified Elder Law Attorney (CELA) and Social Security Disability Specialist. I'll help you!   http://www.wombacherlaw.com
 
Serving Peoria, East Peoria, Peoria Heights, Pekin, Dunlap, Chillicothe, Morton, Washington, Metamora, Canton, Galesburg, Lacon, Henry, Bloomington, Normal and surrounding cites and counties of Peoria, Tazewell, Woodford, Fulton and  Knox Counties in Central Illinois.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Women With Diabetes Face Greater Heart Risks Than Men

The meta-analysis, published in Diabetologia, included 64 studies with 858,507 subjects and 28,203 heart attacks and other coronary events.

The reasons remain unclear, but the study’s lead author, Sanne A. E. Peters, an epidemiologist at University Medical Center Utrecht, suggested that the finding was not because of differences in treatment or physiological differences between the sexes in the effects of diabetes. Rather, it may be a result of the more severe deterioration of women before the onset of diabetes.

“It may be that women have to gain much more weight than men before they become diabetic,” she said. “So they may already be at higher risk for coronary heart disease at diagnosis, although there is no proof that this is true.

“Screening for diabetes should be different in women than in men,” Dr. Peters continued. “Coronary heart disease is sometimes considered a man’s disease, but women are at risk as well.”

Read about this in the May 22, 2014 New York Times article found at www. nyti.ms/1bjGXZ


William Wombacher, your Central Illinois Certified Elder Law Attorney (CELA) and Social Security Disability Specialist. I'll help you!   http://www.wombacherlaw.com
 
Serving Peoria, East Peoria, Peoria Heights, Pekin, Dunlap, Chillicothe, Morton, Washington, Metamora, Canton, Galesburg, Lacon, Henry, Bloomington, Normal and surrounding cites and counties of Peoria, Tazewell, Woodford, Fulton and  Knox Counties in Central Illinois.


Sunday, May 4, 2014

Coffee Tied to Lower Diabetes Risk

Drinking more coffee may decrease your risk of Type 2 diabetes, while cutting down may increase your risk, a new study has found.

Over a 20-year period, researchers periodically collected detailed information on diet, lifestyle and medical conditions in more than 120,000 participants. They found 7,269 cases of Type 2 diabetes.

After controlling for smoking, age, weight, physical activity, alcohol consumption and a family history of diabetes, they found that people who increased their coffee intake by more than an eight-ounce cup a day in a four-year period had an 11 percent lower risk of diabetes than those whose consumption remained steady. People who decreased their consumption by the same amount had a 17 percent higher risk. The report appears online in Diabetologia.

“It’s not the caffeine,” said the lead author, Shilpa N. Bhupathiraju, a research fellow at Harvard. “We know that. But coffee has a lot of antioxidants and other bioactive compounds” important in glucose metabolism. The effect has been found in previous studies with decaffeinated coffee, she said.

Read about this in in tha New York Times article dated May 1,2014 by Nicholas Bakalar at http://nyti.ms/1hh85Xg

William Wombacher, your Central Illinois Certified Elder Law Attorney (CELA) and Social Security Disability Specialist. I'll help you!   http://www.wombacherlaw.com
 
Serving Peoria, East Peoria, Peoria Heights, Pekin, Dunlap, Chillicothe, Morton, Washington, Metamora, Canton, Galesburg, Lacon, Henry, Bloomington, Normal and surrounding cites and counties of Peoria, Tazewell, Woodford, Fulton and  Knox Counties in Central Illinois.

Friday, April 18, 2014

ANTI-SEIZURE DRUG MAY TREAT ALCOHOLISM

The anti-seizure drug ezogabine may be a way to reduce excessive alcohol consumption, according to a new study with rats.

Published in American Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse, the research provides the first evidence that alcoholism can be treated by this newly discovered mechanism that helps to regulate brain activity known as Kv7 channel modulation.

This finding is of importance because ezogabine acts by opening a particular type of potassium channel in the brain, called the Kv7 channel, which regulates activity in areas of the brain that are believed to regulate the rewarding effects of alcohol,” says lead author Clifford Knapp, associate professor of psychiatry at Boston University School of Medicine. “This research indicates that drugs that open Kv7 channels might be of value in the treatment of alcoholism.”

Alcoholism is one of the leading causes of illness and death in the US, and has significant negative economic impact by limiting worker productivity and spiking health care costs.

Read about this at Futurity.org.  Futurity features the latest discoveries by scientists at top research universities in the US, UK, Canada, and Australia. The nonprofit site, which launched in 2009, is supported solely by its university partners in an effort to share research news directly with the public.

William Wombacher, your Central Illinois Certified Elder Law Attorney (CELA) and Social Security Disability Specialist. I'll help you!   http://www.wombacherlaw.com
 
Serving Peoria, East Peoria, Peoria Heights, Pekin, Dunlap, Chillicothe, Morton, Washington, Metamora, Canton, Galesburg, Lacon, Henry, Bloomington, Normal and surrounding cites and counties of Peoria, Tazewell, Woodford, Fulton and  Knox Counties in Central Illinois.




Wednesday, April 16, 2014

For Diabetics, Health Risks Fall Sharply

Federal researchers on Wednesday reported the first broad national picture of progress against some of the most devastating complications of diabetes, which affects millions of Americans, finding that rates of heart attacks, strokes, kidney failure and amputations fell sharply over the past two decades.

The biggest declines were in the rates of heart attacks and deaths from high blood sugar, which dropped by more than 60 percent from 1990 to 2010, the period studied. While researchers had had patchy indications that outcomes were improving for diabetic patients in recent years, the study, published in The New England Journal of Medicine, documents startling gains.

Researchers said the declines were the fruit of years of efforts to improve the health of patients with Type 2 diabetes. Doctors are much better now at controlling the risk factors that can lead to complications — for example, using medications to control blood sugar, cholesterol and blood pressure — health experts said. What is more, a widespread push to educate patients has improved how they look after themselves. And a major effort among health care providers to track the progress of diabetes patients and help steer the ones who are getting off track has started to have an effect.

Read about this in the New York Times on April 16, 2014 at Permalink


William Wombacher, your Central Illinois Certified Elder Law Attorney (CELA) and Social Security Disability Specialist. I'll help you!   http://www.wombacherlaw.com
 
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Sunday, April 6, 2014

Breast Cancer Drug Shows Results In Delaying Cancer Progress

Researchers say that a new type of drug can help prevent advanced breast cancer from worsening, potentially providing an important new treatment option for women. In a clinical trial, the drug cut in half the risk that cancer would worsen, or progress, researchers said here Sunday. The median time before the disease progressed or the woman died was 20.2 months for those who received the drug, compared with 10.2 months for the control group.

The drug, known as palbociclib, also appeared to prolong survival but not by a statistically significant amount. Those who received the drug lived a median of 37.5 months compared with 33.3 months for those in the control group.

Dr. Finn said, however, that a statistically significant survival benefit should not have been expected at this point because only 61 of the 165 patients in the trial had died. Also, patients can use other drugs after leaving the trial, which can dilute any effect of palbociclib.

Palbociclib slows the runaway proliferation of cancer cells by inhibiting the activity of two related enzymes involved in cell division — cyclin-dependent kinases 4 and 6.

Read about this in the New York Times on April 6, 2014 


William Wombacher, your Central Illinois Certified Elder Law Attorney (CELA) and Social Security Disability Specialist. I'll help you!   http://www.wombacherlaw.com
 
Serving Peoria, East Peoria, Peoria Heights, Pekin, Dunlap, Chillicothe, Morton, Washington, Metamora, Canton, Galesburg, Lacon, Henry, Bloomington, Normal and surrounding cites and counties of Peoria, Tazewell, Woodford, Fulton and  Knox Counties in Central Illinois.






Friday, March 21, 2014

Protein May Hold the Key to Who Gets Alzheimer’s

The memory and thinking problems of Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias, which affect an estimated seven million Americans, may be related to a failure in the brain’s stress response system, the new research suggests. If this system is working well, it can protect the brain from abnormal Alzheimer’s proteins; if it gets derailed, critical areas of the brain start degenerating.

It is one of the big scientific mysteries of Alzheimer’s disease: Why do some people whose brains accumulate the plaques and tangles so strongly associated with Alzheimer’s not develop the disease?

The research, published on Wednesday in the journal Nature, focuses on a protein previously thought to act mostly in the brains of developing fetuses. The scientists found that the protein also appears to protect neurons in healthy older people from aging-related stresses. But in people with Alzheimer’s and other dementias, the protein is sharply depleted in key brain regions.

Experts said if other scientists could replicate and expand upon the findings, the role of the protein, called REST, could spur development of new drugs for dementia, which has so far been virtually impossible to treat.REST appears to switch off genes that promote cell death, protecting neurons from normal aging processes like energy decrease, inflammation and oxidative stress.

But in people with Alzheimer’s, mild cognitive impairment, frontotemporal dementia and Lewy body dementia, the brain areas affected by these diseases contained much less REST than healthy brains.

Read about this in the Health section of the New York Times on March 19, 2014

William Wombacher, your Central Illinois Certified Elder Law Attorney (CELA) and Social Security Disability Specialist. I'll help you!   http://www.wombacherlaw.com
 
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Thursday, March 20, 2014

A Wedding in Intensive Care

In today’s outcome-driven, efficiency-obsessed medical world, it’s easy to forget that healing patients isn’t just about treating diseases and relieving symptoms. There are things doctors and nurses can do, meaningful interventions — like helping patients fulfill final goals or spend quality time with their families — that cannot be documented in a discharge summary or be converted into a blip on a screen.

There wasn’t going to be a happy ending. The patient had metastatic cancer and had just gone through her third unsuccessful regimen of chemotherapy. Now it seemed that everywhere we looked, we found disease.

Our team was used to dealing with all kinds of crises: Handling a last-minute wedding was not one of them. While having more than one opinion on a medical team regarding how best to manage a patient is fairly routine, we received no push back from anyone as we started to make arrangements for the wedding. Soon the whole medical team was involved. We sent a letter to the court to expedite the marriage certificate. A pastor and harp player were booked. The hospital cafeteria baked a chocolate cake, and the nurses brought in flowers. In just a few days, we were ready.

Read a story by a doctor about making sure his patient could be her daughter's wedding in the New York tomes onmarch 19, 2014.

William Wombacher, your Central Illinois Certified Elder Law Attorney (CELA) and Social Security Disability Specialist. I'll help you!   http://www.wombacherlaw.com
 
Serving Peoria, East Peoria, Peoria Heights, Pekin, Dunlap, Chillicothe, Morton, Washington, Metamora, Canton, Galesburg, Lacon, Henry, Bloomington, Normal and surrounding cites and counties of Peoria, Tazewell, Woodford, Fulton and  Knox Counties in Central Illinois.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Big Retirement Mistake: Thinking You Know When To Claim Social Security, When You Don't

In a just released survey of 55 and older workers, 24% say they are “very  confident” and another 53% described themselves as “somewhat confident” that they know enough to make that big decision.

The catch is, when the same folks took an eight question quiz about crucial Social Security rules, just 5% got all the answers right. Another 22% got 7 correct, while 45% got 3 or more wrong.  Workers can start their Social Security checks anywhere from age 62 until 70, but just  40% knew that the percentage increase in monthly benefits from a two year delay was somewhere between “11% and 20%”  (it’s  14%),  meaning most did not know the value of delaying Social Security, a crucial matter.  (The “full” Social Security retirement age for those born between 1943 and 1954 is 66, but you can claim Social Security retirement benefits anywhere from 62 to 70, with your monthly check increased for each month you wait; a worker gets a 76% higher benefit if he claims at 70 than he would at 62.  Essentially, by delaying your Social Security claim, you’re buying an inflation indexed annuity from Uncle Sam far more cheaply than you could purchase it from even a low-cost private annuity provider. The payoff to waiting has gotten even sweeter in recent years, due to rising life expectancy and falling interest rates, making it wise for most boomers to wait until well past 62 to start benefits.)

By Financial Engines’ figuring, there are thousands of different variations in the way a married couple could claim benefits and their lifetime income gains from an optimal strategy could exceed $250,000, says Chief Investment Officer Christopher L.  Jones. For a single, gains can be in excess of $100,000. Both numbers are huge when you consider the typical 60 year old only has about $125,000 in his 401(k), he points out.  Even if you’re well off, the potential payback is nothing to sneeze at.

Read more about this in an article from Forbes on March 11, 2014 by Janet Novack

William Wombacher, your Central Illinois Certified Elder Law Attorney (CELA) and Social Security Disability Specialist. I'll help you!   http://www.wombacherlaw.com
 
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Wednesday, March 12, 2014

New study ranks Alzheimer’s as third-leading cause of death, after heart disease and cancer

Alzheimer’s disease likely plays a much larger role in the deaths of older Americans than is reported, according to a new study that says the disease may be the third-leading cause of death in the United States.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention lists Alzheimer’s as the sixth-leading cause of death, far below heart disease and cancer. But the new report, published Wednesday in the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology, suggests that the current system of relying on death certificates for causes misses the complexity of dying for many older people and underestimates the impact of Alzheimer’s.

More than 5 million people in the United States are estimated to have Alzheimer’s. With the aging of the baby-boom generation, this number is expected to nearly triple by 2050 if there are no significant medical breakthroughs, according to the Alzheimer’s Association.The disease cost the nation $210 billion last year; that rate is expected to rise to $1.2 trillion by 2050.

Read about this in the Washington Post found at  http://www.washingtonpost.com/tara-bahrampour/2011/03/09/ABBj1nP_page.html

William Wombacher, your Central Illinois Certified Elder Law Attorney (CELA) and Social Security Disability Specialist. I'll help you!   http://www.wombacherlaw.com
 
Serving Peoria, East Peoria, Peoria Heights, Pekin, Dunlap, Chillicothe, Morton, Washington, Metamora, Canton, Galesburg, Lacon, Henry, Bloomington, Normal and surrounding cites and counties of Peoria, Tazewell, Woodford, Fulton and  Knox Counties in Central Illinois.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Allergies Are Everywhere

People hoping to find an allergy-free haven may be out of luck. A new study has found that no region of the United States is allergy-free, but the kind of allergy people are likely to suffer from varies by region, race and socioeconomic status.

Grass and ragweed sensitivities were higher in the West, mold allergy more common in the East. Positive tests for indoor allergens were higher in the East than the West, but there were almost no regional differences for peanut, shrimp, egg, dog, cat, rat and mouse sensitivities.

The most common positive tests among the adult group were for dust mites, grass and ragweed, with almost 20 percent of the population showing sensitivity to each. About 12 percent of people over 6 were sensitive to dogs or cats, and among the youngest children, milk and eggs were the most common positive tests. Inhalant allergies like ragweed and grass peaked in the teens and 20s, then decreased later in life.

Race and socioeconomic status also made a difference. Non-Hispanic blacks had the highest sensitivity to all tested allergens except Russian thistle and egg. Sensitivity to cockroaches and shrimp were associated with lower economic status, and dog and cat allergies were more common in higher income groups.

Read more about this at the New York Times on March 6, 2014

William Wombacher, your Central Illinois Certified Elder Law Attorney (CELA) and Social Security Disability Specialist. I'll help you!   www.wombacherlaw.com
 
Serving Peoria, East Peoria, Peoria Heights, Pekin, Dunlap, Chillicothe, Morton, Washington, Metamora, Canton, Galesburg, Lacon, Henry, Bloomington, Normal and surrounding cites and counties of Peoria, Tazewell, Woodford, Fulton and  Knox Counties in Central Illinois.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

The Tax Break You’re Missing Out On

Most workers are eligible to contribute up to $5,500 to an IRA in 2013 and get a tax deduction on the amount they save. A worker in the 25 percent tax bracket who contributes $5,500 to a traditional IRA this year would pay $1,375 less on his 2013 tax bill. But few people save enough to maximize this tax break.

An Employee Benefit Research Institute analysis of just over 1.6 million IRA accounts found that the average amount contributed in 2011 was $3,723. An IRA contribution of $3,723 will save you $930.75 if you are in the 25 percent tax bracket or $558.45 if you pay a 15 percent income tax rate. Taxes won’t be due on these traditional IRA contributions until you withdraw the money from the account.

People age 50 and older are eligible to contribute $1,000 more to IRAs than younger people, up to $6,500 in 2013. And the average IRA contribution does jump from $4,090 for 40-somethings to $4,780 among people in their 50s, Fidelity found. Once you turn age 70 1/2 you can no longer make traditional IRA contributions, but you can still save in a Roth IRA.

The ability to claim a tax deduction for your traditional IRA contributions is limited if you are also eligible for a 401(k) or similar type of retirement account at work. The IRA tax deduction is phased out for couples with a modified adjusted gross income over $95,000 ($59,000 for singles) in 2013. And couples who earn $115,000 or more ($69,000 for singles) are not eligible for this tax deduction if they also have a retirement account at work. If you are not covered by a retirement plan but your spouse is, the deduction begins to be phased out once your joint modified AGI exceeds $178,000 and is eliminated when your AGI hits $188,000.

IRA contributions for 2013 must be made by April 15, 2014. 

Read about this at US News website under retirement. 

William Wombacher, your Central Illinois Certified Elder Law Attorney (CELA) and Social Security Disability Specialist. I'll help you!   www.wombacherlaw.com
 
Serving Peoria, East Peoria, Peoria Heights, Pekin, Dunlap, Chillicothe, Morton, Washington, Metamora, Canton, Galesburg, Lacon, Henry, Bloomington, Normal and surrounding cites and counties of Peoria, Tazewell, Woodford, Fulton and  Knox Counties in Central Illinois.

Friday, March 7, 2014

One Third of Skilled Nursing Patients Harmed in Treatment

One-in-three patients in skilled nursing facilities suffered a medication error, infection or some other type of harm related to their treatment, according to a government report released today that underscores the widespread nature of the country’s patient harm problem.

Doctors who reviewed the patients’ records determined that 59 percent of the errors and injuries were preventable. More than half of those harmed had to be readmitted to the hospital at an estimated cost of $208 million for the month studied — about 2 percent of Medicare’s total inpatient spending.

The doctors found that 22 percent of patients suffered events that caused lasting harm, and another 11 percent were temporarily harmed. In 1.5 percent of cases the patient diedbecause of poor care, the report said. Though many who died had multiple illnesses, they had been expected to survive.

The injuries and deaths were caused by substandard treatment, inadequate monitoring, delays or the failure to provide needed care, the study found. The deaths involved problems such as preventable blood clots, fluid imbalances, excessive bleeding from blood-thinning medications and kidney failure.

Read about this in ProPublica in a March 3, 2014 story by Marshall Allen.

William Wombacher, your Central Illinois Certified Elder Law Attorney (CELA) and Social Security Disability Specialist. I'll help you!   www.wombacherlaw.com
 
Serving Peoria, East Peoria, Peoria Heights, Pekin, Dunlap, Chillicothe, Morton, Washington, Metamora, Canton, Galesburg, Lacon, Henry, Bloomington, Normal and surrounding cites and counties of Peoria, Tazewell, Woodford, Fulton and  Knox Counties in Central Illinois.


Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Retirees-- Should you forget the 4% savings withdrawal rule?

Based on studies of stock and bond returns since 1926, financial planners had settled on a benchmark for how much a retiree could spend each year without fear of running out of cash. It turned out that a person who invested half in stocks and half in bonds could spend 4% of his or her wealth in the first year, adjust that dollar amount for inflation in subsequent years, and still have money 30 years later. That worked in every historical 30-year period, as well as in most computer simulations based on the historical rate of return. Even drawing a hefty 5% worked more often than not. 

When Wade Pfau, a professor of retirement income at the American College for Financial Services, says both stocks and bonds are expensive, he isn't predicting an imminent crash -- the Ph.D. economist is a number cruncher, not a tea-leaf-reading market forecaster. But he argues that basic math suggests asset prices have less room to rise, meaning the long-run outlook is for lower returns ahead. 

"The probability that a 4% withdrawal rate will work in the future is much lower," he says. His new safe starting point: a 3% drawdown. That means that if you've saved $1 million, you're living on $30,000 a year before Social Security and any other sources of income you might have, not $40,000. Ouch. Remember that is just one man's opinion.



William Wombacher, your Central Illinois Certified Elder Law Attorney (CELA) and Social Security Disability Specialist. I'll help you!   www.wombacherlaw.com
 
Serving Peoria, East Peoria, Peoria Heights, Pekin, Dunlap, Chillicothe, Morton, Washington, Metamora, Canton, Galesburg, Lacon, Henry, Bloomington, Normal and surrounding cites and counties of Peoria, Tazewell, Woodford, Fulton and  Knox Counties in Central Illinois.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Investigators Make More Disability Fraud Arrests

This is what makes it tough for honest people that are disabled. There is a misperception that most people seeking disability benefits are dishonest. Several retired New York City police officers and firefighters were charged Tuesday in an alleged Social Security Disability Insurance fraud scheme that authorities said dates back at least 26 years and involves up to 1,000 fraudulent claimants.

Investigators in multiple states arrested 28 people, the second large-scale roundup in the broadening investigation in about seven weeks, a person familiar with the matter said. In early January, more than 100 people, mostly former police officers and former New York City firefighters, were arrested.

In Tuesday's arrests, 16 people were New York Police Department officers; four were members of the Fire Department of New York; one had worked at both agencies; one worked at the Department of Correction; and six held other jobs, officials said.

They allegedly made referrals to Raymond Lavallee, an 83-year-old attorney who served as an executive Nassau County District Attorney in the 1960s who authorities say was working with 89-year-old Thomas Dale, a former pension consultant, who authorities say prepared and submitted the disability applications.

Authorities noticed that many of the applications used identical phrases like "I have the TV on to keep me company" and "I'm unable to perform any type of work activity in or out of the house" and were written in the same hand writing.

Read about this in the Wall Street Journal on February 26, 2014. The article is written by Damian Paletta. 

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William Wombacher, your Central Illinois Certified Elder Law Attorney (CELA) and Social Security Disability Specialist. I'll help you!   www.wombacherlaw.com
 
Serving Peoria, East Peoria, Peoria Heights, Pekin, Dunlap, Chillicothe, Morton, Washington, Metamora, Canton, Galesburg, Lacon, Henry, Bloomington, Normal and surrounding cites and counties of Peoria, Tazewell, Woodford, Fulton and  Knox Counties in Central Illinois.

Reverse mortgages: Safer, but far from risk-free

Reverse mortgages are loans that people age 62 or older can take out against their home's equity. Backed by the Federal Housing Administration, the loan doesn't have to be paid back until the borrower either moves out or dies.

Yet, many borrowers have run into problems because they took their payment as a lump sum and spent the cash too freely. They didn't have enough cash to paytheir property taxes, insurance and homeowner's association bills and were forced to default.

New rules, which launched in October, discourage homeowners from taking lump sum payouts by reducing the payment a borrower receives if they take the entire amount immediately. Homeowners who choose the lump sum option could see their payouts reduced by 10% to 18%, depending on underwriting factors. So the payout on a$140,000 reverse mortgage would go down to $125,000 or so if the borrower chooses a lump sum.

Reverse mortgages are expensive. There's a 2.5% origination fee on the first $200,000 borrowed for some loans, an upfront mortgage insurance fee of 2%, and a host of other fees that can push the extra costs to $15,000 or more for a $200,000 loan.

The new rules now require lenders to make sure borrowers have sufficient enough income from Social Security, pensions and other savings in order to afford both living expenses and these charges. If borrowers run a risk of defaulting, they are required to fund escrow accounts to cover the property taxes and other routine expenses on the home.

Read about this at CNN Money on February 7, 2014

William Wombacher, your Central Illinois Certified Elder Law Attorney (CELA) and Social Security Disability Specialist. I'll help you!   www.wombacherlaw.com
 
Serving Peoria, East Peoria, Peoria Heights, Pekin, Dunlap, Chillicothe, Morton, Washington, Metamora, Canton, Galesburg, Lacon, Henry, Bloomington, Normal and surrounding cites and counties of Peoria, Tazewell, Woodford, Fulton and  Knox Counties in Central Illinois.


Wednesday, February 26, 2014

A Shortage of Caregivers


If you want fresh evidence of the caregiving crisis that lies in the not-too-distant future, look no further thanthe employment projections released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics late last year.

Topping the list of occupations expected to grow between 2012 and 2022 are personal care aides, in the No. 1 slot (580,800 new positions); home health aides, No. 4 (424,200 jobs); and nursing assistants, No. 6 (312,200 jobs).

All these workers provide similar services, helping clients — mostly seniors — bathe, dress, get up in the morning and perform other activities at home or in group homes, assisted living centers, rehabilitation facilities and nursing homes.

Filling paid caregiving jobs with immigrants is another option — indeed, already one in five direct care workers today is foreign born. But there is strong political opposition to increased immigration, which may limit the number of potential caregivers. Cultural and language differences can also complicate the caregiving relationship.

Read about this in the New York Times on February 26, 2014 by Judith Graham

William Wombacher, your Central Illinois Certified Elder Law Attorney (CELA) and Social Security Disability Specialist. I'll help you!   www.wombacherlaw.com
 
Serving Peoria, East Peoria, Peoria Heights, Pekin, Dunlap, Chillicothe, Morton, Washington, Metamora, Canton, Galesburg, Lacon, Henry, Bloomington, Normal and surrounding cites and counties of Peoria, Tazewell, Woodford, Fulton and  Knox Counties in Central Illinois.




Insurance, Not Injuries, May Determine Who Goes To Trauma Centers

Researchers at Stanford University looked at more than 4,500 trauma cases at 636 hospitals around the country to see what happened to critically injured patients brought to emergency rooms that aren’t designated trauma centers. They found that non-trauma centers were much more likely to admit patients who had insurance, whether it was private insurance or Medicaid coverage, than to transfer them to more skilled facilities.

“It’s the opposite of the overly aggressive transfer of a poor patient,” said Dr. Arthur Kellermann, the dean of the U.S. Military Medical School, and a trauma care expert who was not involved in the study. “This is actually suggesting that patients who have coverage for critical injuries may not be getting transferred as quickly as they should be.”

Getting to a designated trauma center matters for patients with serious injuries. Severely injured patients are 25 percent less likely to die at a trauma center than in a typical emergency room. It’s not just a matter of getting in the door at the closest hospital, but getting in the door at the right hospital, Dr. Kellermann said. “That’s the whole point of trauma centers. The expertise, the speed of response, the capacity to manage complex injuries is significantly better at major trauma centers. That’s the whole reason certain hospitals are designated trauma centers.”

The business of medicine too often dictates where patients are cared for, said Kellermann, and that includes whether a hospital admits patients or transfers them. “That decision should not be influenced by economics one way or the other. It should be influenced only by what’s in the best interest of patients,” he said.

Read about this in Kaiser Health News on February 19, 2014.

William Wombacher, your Central Illinois Certified Elder Law Attorney (CELA) and Social Security Disability Specialist. I'll help you!   www.wombacherlaw.com
 
Serving Peoria, East Peoria, Peoria Heights, Pekin, Dunlap, Chillicothe, Morton, Washington, Metamora, Canton, Galesburg, Lacon, Henry, Bloomington, Normal and surrounding cites and counties of Peoria, Tazewell, Woodford, Fulton and  Knox Counties in Central Illinois.