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Harikrishna Majumdar
WELFARE CONCERNS FOR ELDERLY IMMIGRANTS ADDRESSED
By HARIKRISHNA MAJMUNDAR - haripremi@hotmail.com

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Q: I am earning $1,500 per month. I have to pay rent for my apartment, Social Security tax and other day-to-day expenditure. I am daily in want of funds. On the other hand, my neighbor who does not earn and stays with his rich son, gets plenty of money from SSI (Supplemental Security Income), is medically covered, does miscellaneous baby sitting work of and on, and gets free medical help. How is it that the laws are so unjust?

A: Your friend getting public assistance has a status of a second-class citizen. He has to suffer a lot of privations and is under constant fear that his public assistance may be reduced or stopped at any time. This is a free country and yet he is not getting advantage of the dignified laws of this country. Remember that a bald man has less hair to comb but more face to wash. That is the basic principle of life. Leave your job, be without any resources and you will get public assistance with all the discomfort attached to it.

Q: Once we go to India, it is difficult to come back within 29 days. My friend who came back after 32 days had to suffer a lot to get his public assistance restored. The literal interpretation and execution of the rules does defeat their purpose. Why don’t you do something to make the rules rational?

A: The welfare rules were put into effect in 1996. They were to be revised in 2002. However, because of 9/11, the revision was postponed. People suffer and have a mentality of "beggars are not choosers." Unless those who suffer silently raise their voice in mass protest, it is difficult to remove the obvious flaws.

Q: I am a citizen. My parents got a visitor’s visa after eight years of struggle with the immigration department. I have heard that you advise elderly and disabled people not to come to this country either as a visitor or on green card. My parents want to stay with me. What is my risk. Will I be responsible for their medical expenditure?

A: If you ask my personal opinion, I would request you to wait for the change of the party rule from Republican to Democrat. Though we don’t expect a big change in rules even if the Democrats get majority in the House and the Senate, at the least there would be some relief. Please wait and hope for that. At present, you shouldn’t take a risk by inviting your parents.

Q: My friend aged 47 years suddenly expired due to heart failure. He had a small job. In India, if the principal earner dies, his widow is given a job by the government, especially when she has no children. Do you see any hope for immediate public assistance?

A: She can get public assistance if she had minor child to bring up. Otherwise, she has to wait till she reaches the age of 62. However, non-profit organizations helping people with low income are always present in every state. Please let her approach Catholic charities. Church people are always ready to help.

Q: If I change my residence to California, will you help me to get public assistance?

A: The special rules in California are fast changing on the lines of other states. Crows are black everywhere. However, I have a good networking in California, especially with the motel owners. I am therefore inclined to invite you to California, especially to the suburbs of San Fransisco. I shall try my best.

These questions and answers are courtesy of Harikrishna Majmundar of California, author of “Mapping the Maze: A Guide to Welfare for Elderly Immigrants.” He has advised several hundred welfare applicants. A copy of this 2003 published book is available for a suggested donation of $10, plus $2 postage, from H.J. Majmundar, c/o Niral S. Dwivedi, 15915 Farrington Drive, Tampa, FL 33647 or call (813) 978-1200 or (813) 978-4996 if you have a question.






Bijan Mohseni
RETIREMENT PLANNING: BABY BOOMERS ARE SHIFTING THEIR PRIORITIES
By BIJAN MOHSENI

PICTURING THEIR RETIREMENT – PART 2

Affluent baby boomers have shifted their financial focus toward the future and retirement planning, according to the latest AXA Nest Egg Study, commissioned by AXA Financial Inc. The study, which was first conducted in 1993, revealed there is a new focus on retirement planning, an increase in financial sophistication and a greater belief in the American dream of success among baby boomers compared to 10 years ago.

Sources of retirement income

Once in retirement, what do baby boomers see as their source(s) of income? An increased number of baby boomers placed a high importance on their employer’s pension plan (57 percent in 2003 vs. 40percent in 1993) and privately created financial plans (49 percent in 2003 vs. 33 percent in 1993) as sources of retirement income. Indeed, those who have prepared well financially for retirement are most likely to place a high importance on a privately created financial plan as a source of retirement income with many citing this as the most important source.

Although respondents did not characterize Social Security as a key source of retirement income, they did indicate that it had some importance in planning for retirement (56percent in 2003 vs. 44percent in 1993). Those who have prepared poorly for retirement are most likely to rely on Social Security and most likely to believe they will have to sell their home to maintain their lifestyle in retirement.

These findings are mirrored in respondents who reported not having a financial plan. In AXA’s 2003 Nest Egg Study, those without a financial plan were more likely to rely on Social Security (11 percent of those with a plan vs. 24 percent of those without a plan) and were likely to say that they expect to sell their home in retirement (17 percent of those with a plan vs. 23 percent of those without a plan).

On their own

As they age, chances will increase that married baby boomers may find themselves on their own. In the AXA 2003 Nest Egg Study, a large majority acknowledges that their own lifestyle would decrease upon their spouse’s death (87 percent) and that their spouse’s lifestyle would decrease upon their death (82 percent). Women especially believe their lifestyle would be severely diminished upon their spouse’s death – 19 percent vs. 3 percent for men.

Respondents with less than $100,000 in household income who do not have a financial plan are more likely to believe that their spouse’s lifestyle would decrease severely (2 percent of those with a plan vs. 14 percent of those without a plan) upon their own death.

Looking to the future

Despite the political and economic events of recent years, nearly three-quarters of respondents to AXA’s 2003 Nest Egg Study believe “the American dream of success is alive” (74 percent). This increased by 17 percent from 1993, when 58 percent believed this to be true. And as with generations before them, more baby boomers believe the future will be better for their children with 53 percent believing it is realistic to think that their children will be better off than they are (an increase from 41 percent in 1993).

In closing

As the baby boom generation continues to mature, financial needs, goals and expectations will evolve and change. Results from AXA’s 2003 Next Egg Study indicate that this process is under way. Preparing financially for retirement has become significantly important for the generation that declared it would never trust anyone over 30. Having adequate resources in retirement has replaced paying for the children’s college education as the single greatest economic concern for a considerable portion of baby boomers. Compared to 1993, more baby boomers expect to assign a higher priority to providing a financial base for retirement.

Yet, some things haven’t changed. In both 1993 and 2003, more than 60 percent of respondents reported that they had a formal financial plan. Results further indicate that having a plan means a greater likelihood of achieving financial goals.

Overall, baby boomers seem to be anticipating retirement and have begun to face the task of building a nest egg for their future.

Bijan Mohseni of the Business Planning Group of Tampa offers securities through AXA Advisors, LLC (member NASD, SIPC) and annuity and insurance products through an insurance brokerage affiliate, AXA Network, LLC and its subsidiaries. He can be reached at 4890 W. Kennedy Blvd., Suite 800, Tampa, FL 33609 or call (813) 282-9088.



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