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WELFARE CONCERNS FOR ELDERLY IMMIGRANTS ADDRESSED
By MALTI PATEL - email@example.com
Q. When will I receive my check if the first of the month falls on a weekend? I have been receiving Supplemental Security Income (SSI) checks for several months and my check has always arrived on the first of the month. What happens when the first of the month falls on a Saturday?
A. For SSI recipients, if the 1st falls on a Saturday, Sunday, or legal holiday, the SSI check should arrive on the previous banking day.
Q. How does disposal of resources affect SSI eligibility?
A. To be eligible for SSI, a person must have $2,000 or less in countable resources. If the person alleges a transfer of resources, they must determine whether the resource transfer was valid. If the transfer was not valid, they may still count the resource toward the $2,000 limit. If the transfer was valid, the resource would no longer count toward the $2,000 limit.
Transfers of resources may occur through any of the following types of transactions:
Since Dec. 14, 1999, giving away a resource or transferring it for less than it is worth can make a person ineligible for SSI for up to 36 months. The number of months of ineligibility depends on the value of the resource that was transferred or given away and the compensation, if any, that the individual received for that resource.
Q. Can I receive SSI benefits while living in a nursing home? My mother receives SSI benefits. She may have to enter a nursing home to get the proper care she needs. How does this affect her SSI benefits?
A. Moving to a nursing home can affect your mother's eligibility for SSI benefits. Usually, a person cannot get SSI while in a public institution. When your mother enters or leaves a nursing home, residential institution, hospital, skilled nursing facility or any other kind of institution, Social Security must be notified.
Q. Can I leave the country for two weeks and still get SSI payments? I'm going to visit relatives in Mexico for two weeks this summer. Can I still get SSI payments while I'm there?
A. Your SSI usually will stop if you leave the United States for a full calendar month or 30 consecutive days or more. Since you are going to be away for only two weeks, your SSI should not be affected. However, it's important that you tell Social Security the date you plan to leave and the date you plan to come back. Then we can let you know if your SSI will be affected.
Q. Can a working SSI recipient lose his or her Medicaid coverage?
A. One of the biggest concerns SSI recipients have about going to work is the possibility of losing Medicaid coverage. Section 1619(b) of the Social Security Act provides some protection for these recipients. To qualify for continuing Medicaid coverage, a person must:
This means that SSI recipients who have earnings too high for an SSI cash payment may be eligible for Medicaid if they meet the above requirements. SSA uses a threshold amount to measure whether a person’s earnings are high enough to replace his/her SSI and Medicaid benefits.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org to order the book.
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.
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 email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org
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