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

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Q: I am not a U.S. citizen. I entered on a green card after Aug. 22, 1996. Is there any way by which I can get free medical aid? Help? I am more than 65 years of age. I have no income or resources in USA or in any other part of the world.

A: If you have stayed in the U.S. for about five years without a break of more than six months, you may apply for Medicare A/B before March 31, 2006.

Q: I am a green card holder. I had entered the U.S. before Aug. 22, 1996. Last year, when I had gone out of the States for more than 29 days, my welfare benefits were suspended. After I came back, the Social Security Administration (SSA) refused to resume my welfare benefits because I have an old house in Mumbai. Before I came here, I used to stay in that house from 1960 onwards. I do not want to sell the house before getting U.S. citizenship. If I applied against the SSA’s decision, what are they chances of my success?

A: You may have to sell the house unless someone is staying there and you have to go to court to get him/her vacated.

Q: I am a naturalized U.S. citizen. After an absence of 18 months from the U.S., I have returned. I am told that as I was out of the country for more than six months, I cannot get my welfare.

A: That is not true. A six-month clause is applicable to U.S. citizens. You may however have to satisfy the administration about your income/resources in any part of the world before you become eligible for welfare benefits.

Q: I used to stay with my son and pay my share of total household expenditure in a rented accommodation. After my son shifted to a bigger house with a large mortgage payment, I wasn’t in a position to pay my share of expenditure. Is there any of restoring my full SSI (Supplemental Security Income)? I am embarrassed that I cannot pay when my son’s expenditure has gone up so much.

A: First, you should pay as much as you can afford to pay, keeping only $25 with you as your personal expenditure. You may then apply for full SSI as if you are paying your share. There is a remote possibility of the administration paying you as before. E-mail me if you have any problem.

Q: My wife is 58 years old. She is disabled but the SSA says that she is fit to work. She does not know English and has not done any genuine employment in her life. Is there any way by which she can get at least free medical help?

A: If the rules are applied correctly, medical aid is an entitlement and a disabled person shouldn’t be refused even if she has entered the U.S. after Aug. 22, 1996.

Q: My daughter in California sponsored both my wife and me. Both of us are more than 65 of age and have no income/resource in any part of the world exceeding the prescribed limits. Everything went well till my daughter shifted to Florida. Since we have completed six years after acquiring our green cards, can we get free medical benefits in Florida like we had in California? Does the ‘grandfather clause’ not apply in our case?

A: No. Florida does not give free medical benefits to new entrants (those who entered after Aug. 22, 1996). You may however try for Medicare A/B if you have not been out of the U.S. at any time for a period exceeding six months.

Q: I have been a green card holder since 2000. I have a house in India, the market price of which is $20,000. If I transfer that house to my daughter who is in India, can I get SSI and other welfare benefits?

A: You may have to wait for three years more to get SSI even if you acquire U.S. citizenship. You can get medical aid after getting U.S. citizenship. A transfer of the house to your daughters, with a specific instruction that it is for the benefit of your wife, may avoid the three-years waiting period. Please discus this matter with the SSA.

Q: I am on SSI. Since my wife is illiterate and cannot acquire U.S. citizenship, I want to buy a gas station and train her for that work. For this purpose, I want to borrow from my friend. Will my SSI be discontinued?

A: It depends upon the profit/income you derive from the gas station. If the gas station is in the name of your wife, and you borrow the money on her name, a small income from the gas station will go toward her maintenance expenditure. Your SSI will not be reduced or discontinued.

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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