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Malti Patel
 

SENIORS

WELFARE CONCERNS FOR ELDERLY IMMIGRANTS ADDRESSED

By MALTI PATEL - liftingthemists@gmail.com

Q. I just got a notice from Social Security that said my Supplemental Security Income (SSI) case is being reviewed. What does this mean?

A. Social Security reviews every Supplemental Security Income case from time to time to make sure the individuals who are receiving checks should continue to get them. The review also determines if the individuals are receiving the correct amounts.

Q. What is the definition of disability for children filing for Supplemental Security Income (SSI)?

A. Social Security has a strict definition of disability for children under the SSI program. A child is disabled if he or she:

  • Is not working at a job that they consider to be substantial work; and
  • Has a physical or mental condition (or a combination of conditions) that results in “marked and severe functional limitations.”  This means that the condition(s) very seriously limits his or her activities; and
  • The condition(s) has lasted, or is expected to last, at least 1 year or is expected to result in death.

To decide whether your child is disabled, they look at medical and other information (such as information from schools and from you) about his or her condition(s), and we consider how the condition(s) affects his or her daily activities. They consider questions such as:

  • What activities is your child not able to do, or is limited in doing?
  • What kind of and how much extra help does your child need to perform age-appropriate activities -- for example, special classes at school, medical equipment?
  • Do the effects of treatment interfere with your child’s day-to-day activities?

Go to http://www.socialsecurity.gov/pubs/10026.html for additional information on how they decide if a child under age 18 is disabled.

You can give us some of the information we need about your child by completing the online Disability Report. The Child Disability Starter Kit can help you to get ready to complete the report or prepare for the disability interview. 

Q. When I started receiving Supplemental Security Income (SSI) checks, I received a booklet that told me what I should report to Social Security. I misplaced the booklet. How can I get a new one?

A. Call Social Security's toll-free number, 1-800-772-1213 (if you are deaf or hard of hearing, call our TTY number, 1-800-325-0778), between 7 a.m. and 7.p.m., Monday through Friday, and ask for the booklet, Social Security -- What You Need to Know When You Get SSI." You also may download the booklet at www.socialsecurity.gov/pubs/11011.html. You can find additional information on SSI in the booklet, “Understanding SSI,” at www.socialsecurity.gov/notices/supplemental-security-income/index.htm.

Q. What is the relationship between SSI and Medicaid?

A. Medicaid is a jointly funded, federal-state health insurance program for low-income and needy people. It covers children, the aged, blind, and/or disabled and other people who are eligible to receive federally assisted income maintenance payments.

Thirty-two states and the District of Columbia provide Medicaid eligibility to people eligible for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits. In these states, the SSI application also is the Medicaid application. Medicaid eligibility starts the same months as SSI eligibility.

The following jurisdictions use the same rules to decide eligibility for Medicaid as SSA uses for SSI, but require the filing of a separate application: Alaska, Idaho, Kansas, Nebraska, Nevada, Oregon, Utah and Northern Mariana Islands.

The following states use their own eligibility rules for Medicaid, which are different from SSA's SSI rules. In these states, a separate application for Medicaid must be filed: Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Minnesota, Missouri, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma and Virginia. For information, visit http://www.socialsecurity.gov/work/ResourcesToolkit/Health/medicaid.html

Q. A few days ago, I saw a poster that advised individuals 65 or over with limited income and resources to apply for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) at any Social Security office. Next month I'll turn 65 and I thought I'd be eligible for SSI so I planned to apply until my neighbor told me I'd probably be turned down because I have children who could help support me. Is this true?

A. Whether you can get SSI depends on your income and resources (the things you own). If you have low income and few resources, you may be able to get SSI. However, if you are receiving support from your children, your SSI payment will be reduced. Support is any food, clothing or shelter that is given to you, or is received by you because someone else pays for it. 

These questions and answers are courtesy of Malti Patel, 1607 Wood Creek Lane, Allen, Texas 75002. Patel recently published a book “Lifting the Mists: A simple guide to a complex welfare system for elderly immigrants and their families.” Contact Patel at malti13@tx.rr.com to order the book.

 





Ramesh Parekh
INSURANCE: LONG TERM CARE INSURANCE (LTCI) - IMPORTANT INFORMATION BEFORE YOU BUY ONE
By RAMESH PAREKH, CPA

As many people know, Long Term Care (LTC) cost could be high and is escalating at a high rate. Lack of a Long Term Care Insurance (LTCI) protection can wipe out all net worth of many senior citizens. Some important and basic knowledge on LTC policy:

1. Selection of insurance company:

Financial strength - It is important to select a company with good financial strength so that it may be around for a long time when your claim may arise. There are independent agencies that rate insurance companies based on their financial strength such as A.M. Best.

Experience - Select a company with long and good record of payments of claims and customer care. Such an experienced company will generally have a better knowledge in premium rate setting and claim payments.

2. The policy :

LTC policies are quite complex in terms of coverage, options, exclusions and limitation. LTCI policies vary tremendously. Here are some aspects of policy you will need to consider:

Deductible - Elimination period - Could be 20, 30, 90, 120 days or longer period during which you must pay for nursing-home care out of your own pocket. The longer the elimination period, the lower the premium.

Coverage

How are long-term home care expenses covered? Will the policy pay a relative for the home care?

Does elimination period apply to home care?

Is there a waiver of premium during the care? When does the waiver clause start?

Does the policy pay less benefits for home care or assisted living facility than nursing home stays?

What are the exclusions and limitations in benefit coverage? How much coverage will you have? What will be daily/weekly/monthly and total benefit limits?

Is there an automatic inflation protection rider?

Is the inflation adjustments "simple" or "compound"?

Most states require companies to offer inflation protection. It is up to you to decide whether to buy that coverage.

You have to select the number of years for the benefit period. Insurers do offer lifetime coverage but the premiums can become unaffordable. Usually, the benefit period of 3-6 years is adequate.

3. Pricing :

Make sure that you can afford a premium without affecting your lifestyle or depleting your assets even if the premiums go up in future.

Most of the policies reserve the company's right to increase the premium in future.

Inquire about the past rate increases of the company.

Check out if there is a spousal discount for spouse/partner coverage

The decision to buy the LTC insurance is an important financial decision and lifetime commitment.

There are many experts in the field. I believe your best help will probably come from an insurance representative who specializes in long-term care insurance. A trusted insurance professional can help you in guiding through the maize of information on insurance companies, policy selections and help you determine what suits your needs the best.

For those who want to make decisions on your own, there are resources available. Shopper's Guide to Long-Term Care by National Association of Insurance Commissioners at www.naic.org or contact Florida Department of Insurance at www.floir.com

Ramesh Parekh, CPA, can be reached at (727) 461-9770 or e-mail ramesh.parekh@genworthrr.com or parekhconsulting.cpa@verizon.net





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