Social Security Disability: Don’t Avoid Treatment

It is not uncommon for people that have physical or mental disabilities to avoid treatment. When the medical records are reviewed, you will find long time periods where the claimant did not see a doctor for examinations or treatments.

These gaps, in the medical records can cause significant problems in proving a Social Security Disability (SDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) claim. Without ongoing office visits, it will be difficult for a doctor to state whether your condition got better, worse or remained the same. It will be difficult for the Social Security Administration to assess your ongoing disability and determine its severity.  It will also be difficult for your treating doctor to assist you in providing an accurate diagnosis, determination of disability and plan for treatment.

Further, your medical treatment may require testing, treatment and therapy. All of these elements can also be used to prove your Social Security Disability case.

If you are seeing a doctor, you should continue to make and attend recommended office medical visits. You should also comply when your doctor prescribes testing, treatment and therapy.

Avoiding treatment can not only adversely affect your health and wellbeing, it can also hurt your claim with the Social Security Administration.

If you have any questions concerning Social Security claims, you should consult an experience Social Security attorney.

 

Kent S. DeJean

 

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Putting Off Getting A Will till You Fly? Think Again!

 

One of the biggest things that motivates people to our law firm to engage in estate planning or updating their wills is when they go on an airplane trip. The thoughts to traveling high in the air in a large aircraft scares people into executing wills and powers of attorney. The perception is that flying is very dangerous. However, human perception is sometimes not based in reality.

 

What is your probability of dying in a commercial airplane crash? According to statistics, you have a one in 3.5 million chance of being involved in a commercial airplane crash where at least one person dies (not necessarily you).

 

In comparison, statistics show that you have a one in 100,000 chance of dying in an automobile accident. That’s right. You are at least 35 times more likely to die riding in a car accident today than if you got on a commercial aircraft.

 

So, what is the moral of the story? Instead of waiting to estate plan when you are taking a trip on a plane, you should be much more worried about estate planning today if you are riding in a car. One should not put off estate planning or the execution of powers of attorney. Our health and/or capacity is not guaranteed. Plan today!

 

If you have any questions about wills, estate planning or powers of attorney, contact an experienced estate planning attorney.

 

Kent S. DeJean

New Medicaid Numbers

 

Community Spouse Resource Allowance $123,600
Resource Allowance for an Individual $2,000
Resource Allowance for a Couple
(Both husband and wife in a nursing home)
$3,000
Monthly Maintenance Needs Allowance $3,090.00
Monthly Personal Needs Allowance $38
Divestment Penalty Divisor $4,000
Maximum Home Exclusion $572,000

 

Wills Are Not Secrets!

One of the popular public myths is that wills are a big secret. From a practical stand point, this is not entirely accurate.

The fact that you have a will should not be a secret.

What is contained in the will can be a secret.

You should be very public about the fact that you have a will and where the will is located to those persons, who are named in the will.

You can be so secretive to the point that no one can find it. That defeats the whole purpose of having a will.

If you have any questions about wills, you should consult an experienced estate planning attorney. Kent S. DeJean

Free Senior Talk

There will be a Free Senior talk given at the Wyndham Garden Hotel 5600 Bluebonnet Blvd. Wednesday, March 28, 2018 at 9:30am, 12:00 and 4:00pm.  Call 225-892-9702 to reserve your spot.

My Application for Social Security Benefits Has Been Denied! What Do I Do?

Appeal as soon as possible! You should appeal your denial of benefits as soon as possible. For unfavorable decisions from the local office and the administrative law judge, you have only sixty (60) days to file an appeal.

If you don’t file an appeal within sixty (60) days, your decision will become final and you will not be able to appeal it. Your only other possible option will be to re-apply with the local office.

By not appealing, you could lose significant back payments for Social Security benefits.

You should also appeal right away because the appeal process already takes a long time before you will receive a decision. Every day, week and month that you delay is adding additional time to what is already a slow process.

Appeals sent by mail can be lost and misplaced. I recommend that clients hand deliver their appeal form to the Social Security office.  Make sure that the appeal form is stamped with a receipt date and make sure that you have them also stamp the receipt on your own copy. This way if the appeal is lost, you will have proof that you filed your appeal.

You do not have to have an attorney to appeal an unfavorable decision. However, I do recommend that should you obtain an unfavorable decision that you consult with an experienced Social Security attorney. Kent S. DeJean

 

WORKSHOP

Mr. Peter. J. Losavio, Jr.  is giving a workshop “Don’t Go Broke in a Nursing Home” on Thrusday November 12th , 2015 at 4:00 and 6:00 pm at Sunrise of Baton Rouge 8502 Jefferson Hwy., Baton Rouge, LA 70810.  To attend please call 1-800-426-6104 to reserve your spot.

Medicaid Estate Recovery: Barrier to Medicaid Enrollment

With more people becoming eligible for Medicaid, one question repeatedly comes up: “will receiving Medicaid coverage jeopardize my family home?” Depending on the circumstances, the answer can be complicated. But states can do much to make it less complex.

The fact is that states can recover against the estates of some Medicaid beneficiaries, but only after the beneficiary passes away, and only in certain circumstances. Federal law actually requires that states try to recover from the estates of Medicaid beneficiaries who received nursing facility services and/or home and community-based services when they were age 55 or older. In other words, federal law sets the floor for Medicaid estate recovery by states.

Complicating matters is that states have the option to recover for more than what is federally required. States may recover from individuals age 55 and older for any items or services covered under the state’s Medicaid plan. California is one of just a few states that has taken the option to recover for all covered services provided to individuals age 55 and older. Currently, a bill is moving through the state legislature to limit recovery to only what is federally required. Last year, a similar bill received unanimous support from the California legislature, but was vetoed by the governor due to budgetary concerns.

It is important to keep in mind that there are exceptions to when a state can recover and from whom it can do so. For example, Medicaid estate recovery cannot occur during the lifetime of a surviving spouse or when there is a surviving child under age 21 or a blind or disabled child of any age. Also, states must establish procedures for waiving estate recovery when it would cause an undue hardship. Yet many states do not have clear undue hardship policies, leading to increased denials and making it difficult for family members to figure out who qualifies for a hardship waiver and in which circumstances.

State policy makers should also realize that, for the next couple of years, states will not keep recovered claims for the Medicaid expansion population and after 2016 will still keep only a small amount. When states recover from the estates of former Medicaid beneficiaries, they return to the federal government the portion that represents the federal share of expenditures on an individual’s Medicaid covered services. Since services provided to the Medicaid adult expansion population are 100 percent federally funded for the first three years (2014-16), and almost fully federally funded thereafter, states will have to return to the federal government the full amount collected (and in future years close to the full amount). States are essentially serving as a collection agency for the federal government.

Many have identified estate recovery rules as a potential barrier to enrollment in Medicaid. Individuals may be hesitant to enroll in Medicaid because they own a home that they want to leave to their adult children when they pass away. Advocates must urge states to limit estate recovery to what is federally required, and advocate for clear exceptions policies to ensure that individuals and families feel comfortable enrolling in Medicaid and getting the care that they need.

The Lifestyle Choices That Affect Alzheimer’s Risk

There are no guarantees when it comes to aging, but a new study helps clarify the lifestyle choices that affect our risk for Alzheimer’s disease, for better and for worse. The team from the University of California, San Francisco culled thousands of previous studies on Alzheimer’s risk and protective factors, and arrived at 323 studies that provided high-quality data. They found, as other studies have, that there are some key elements that are largely within our power to integrate or avoid, in order to reduce the risk of the brain disease that affects some 5 million people in the U.S. today.
The factors that appear to be protective against Alzheimer’s include many of the things that we already know to be good for us: Eating a healthy diet; healthy intake of folate, vitamin C, and vitamin E; coffee consumption; fish consumption; light-moderate drinking; and staying cognitively active. There were also some links between medications and reduced Alzheimer’s risk, including estrogen, cholesterol lowering drugs (statins), blood pressure meds, and anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).
The nine factors associated with higher risk of developing Alzheimer’s were:
• Obesity
• Depression
• Carotid artery narrowing
• Low educational attainment
• High levels of homocysteine (a compound that builds up, in part when B vitamin levels are low)
• High blood pressure and low blood pressure
• Frailty
• Current smoking (in the Asian population)
• Type 2 diabetes (in the Asian population)

Many of the connections have been known for some time, but it’s helpful to have them confirmed by newer, large-scale analyses. Keep in mind, of course, that the study only arrives at correlations between these factors and Alzheimer’s – it doesn’t prove that one or more actually cause or prevent the other. And genetic factors still play a strong role in the development of Alzheimer’s. But the researchers say that assuming causality is at play, if the population avoided the nine risk factors listed above, up to two-thirds of Alzheimer’s cases could also be avoided. That’s quite a high percentage. We may not be able to do all good things for ourselves all the time, but when it comes to the brain, the more we can do, the better.

Alice G. Walton ,CONTRIBUTOR

. Medicare Premiums Expected to Rise Steeply for Some, Stay Unchanged for Most

Most Medicare enrollees can expect to pay the same amount for their Medicare Part B coverage (the portion of Medicare that pays for doctors’ services and outpatient care) in 2016 as they do this year ($104.90), according to estimates from the latest Medicare trustees report. But about 1 in 7 enrollees will face a dramatic increase. In 2016, about 70 percent of Medicare enrollees will be protected from an increase because of a “hold harmless” provision in federal law that says their Medicare premium cannot go up from one year to the next by more than the increase in their Social Security benefit. Government officials currently estimate there will be no cost-of-living increase in Social Security benefits next year because inflation has been so low. For about 30 percent of Medicare enrollees, premiums are expected to rise steeply. About 14 percent of enrollees will pay these premiums themselves. The rest will not be directly affected because they are enrolled in Medicaid or a Medicare Savings Program and their premiums are paid by their state. Three groups will see increases:
• People who newly enroll in Part B in 2016 (about 5 percent of Medicare enrollees);
• Medicare enrollees who do not receive a Social Security check — for example, enrollees who delay claiming Social Security benefits because they continue to work (about 3 percent of Medicare enrollees); and
• Higher-income enrollees (people with income above $85,000 or couples with income above $170,000) who pay higher premiums (about 6 percent of Medicare enrollees)

For these enrollees not protected by the hold harmless provision, the Part B standard monthly premium will be $159.30 in 2016, a 52 percent increase. Higher-income enrollees who pay higher premiums will also see a 52 percent increase; their 2016 monthly premiums will be between $223 and $509.80, depending on income. The rise is especially steep because the total increase in premium revenue required in 2016 will be spread among only the 30 percent of enrollees who are not protected by the hold harmless provision, rather than among all enrollees.