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

 

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Don’t Delay in Getting A Powers of Attorney!

It is very common for people to put off executing powers of attorney. In fact, recent studies show that 80% of adults do not have an executed power of attorney. Most people think that powers of attorneys are for people that are sick or old.

In the real world, none of us are guaranteed capacity even today. An accident or health issue can take our mental or physical capacity away from us quickly without prior warning. We would be unable to take care of our own person and property. No one can predict when a person will lose capacity.

The execution of a valid durable powers of attorney is relatively quick, easy and fast. When a person fails to plan in advance, that person is “playing with fire”. Many learn the lesson the hard way. They wait until it is too late.  The family may be unable to get the power of attorney executed because the person has lost capacity. The family may have the person sign a power of attorney where capacity is an issue. This can lead to family disputes and/or challenges to the document.

If you have any questions concerning powers of attorney, living wills and advanced medical directives, you should contact an experienced estate planning attorney.

Kent S. DeJean

 

When can a someone get Social Security spousal benefits based on the record of their spouse?

A person may be eligible for a monthly benefit up to one half (½) of their spouse’s retirement or Social Security disability amounts. This spousal benefit is subject to limitations as to the total amount that can be paid to an entire family

A person who is sixty-two (62) years or older may be eligible for spousal benefits if the other spouse is drawing a retirement or Social Security disability.

Further, a person who is any age, may be eligible for spousal benefits if that person is caring for a child if the other spouse is drawing a retirement or Social Security disability benefit. That child must be younger than sixteen (16) years of age or disabled and that child must be entitled to benefits on the other spouse’s record.

Kent DeJean

 

 

Medicaid Eligibility & Spousal Retirement Accounts

 

 

Currently there are 31 states* where Medicaid treats a community spouse’s IRA account as a countable resource. Thus, before an institutionalized spouse can qualify for Medicaid benefits, the community spouse’s IRA account must be either protected or spent-down.

Protecting the Community Spouse’s IRA

The best way to protect the community spouse’s IRA account is to make it part of his or her community spouse resource allowance (CSRA). In 2015, with the maximum CSRA being $119,220, if a couple had total countable resources of $275,000 ($175,000 of which was in the community spouse’s IRA account) the community spouse would be advised to leave $119,220 in the IRA account. As for the balance of $55,780, the community spouse would further be advised to invest the amount into a tax-qualified DRA compliant immediate annuity (Tax-Qualified Annuity, or TQA).

Taxation and the Community Spouse’s IRA

The $119,220 remaining in community spouse’s IRA account would not be subject to income taxation. As for the funding of the TQA – which was accomplished by an IRA Direct Transfer (preferred method) or a 60-day IRA Rollover** – the funding transaction would not be subject to income taxation. However, as the community spouse receives the monthly payments from the TQA, he or she would be taxed on the payments received in the given year.

Eliminating the Remaining Spend-Down

As for the remaining spend-down of $100,000, the community spouse would be advised to invest the amount into a DRA compliant immediate annuity (DCIA). Since a DCIA involves after-tax dollars, unlike the TQA, which involves pre-tax dollars, only a small portion of each payment is subject to income taxation in the year of receipt.

One Annuity versus Two Annuities

For purposes of simplicity, some clients have requested to use only one annuity rather than the two detailed above. However, because the Internal Revenue Code does not allow qualified funds (pre-tax) to be mixed with non-qualified funds (post-tax), two annuity contracts are required.

Conclusion

At Krause Financial Services, we understand that Medicaid planning with IRAs is complicated. However, between our unique annuity product line and vast state-specific Medicaid knowledge, we are more than equipped to handle your most challenging cases. So, if you have a case involving a countable IRA, please do not hesitate to get in touch with us. We look forward to it!

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.

Don’t Go Broke in a Nursing Home

Mr. Peter J. Losavio, Jr. will be giving a seminar at the Zachary Branch Library Conference Room Tuesday October 20th @ 4:00pm and 6:00pm and Tuesday October 27th at 4:00pm and 6:00pm.  To attend this seminar call 1-800-426-6104 to reserve your seat.

What Employers Need to Know about the Affordable Care Act

The health care law contains tax provisions that affect employers. The size and structure of a workforce – small or large – helps determine which parts of the law apply to which employers. Calculating the number of employees is especially important for employers that have close to 50 employees or whose work force fluctuates during the year

The number of employees an employer has during the current year determines whether it is an applicable large employer for the following year. Applicable large employers are generally those with 50 or more full-time employees or full-time equivalent employees. Under the employer shared responsibility provision, ALEs are required to offer their full-time employees and dependents affordable coverage that provides minimum value. Employers with fewer than 50 full-time or full-time equivalent employees are not applicable large employers.

For more information on these and other ACA tax provisions, visit IRS.gov/aca.

BEWARE OF REVOCABLE LIVING TRUST

Many consumers are executing Revocable Living Trusts. They are being sold on this product on the promise to avoid a succession and probate.

Revocable Living Trusts do help the person avoid succession and probate. But, that’s all it does and this benefit may not be as valuable as one might initially think.

Some Revocable Living Trusts are expensive and may costs as much as a small uncontested non problematic succession. So the financial benefit that you get, may not be as great as you think.

What is important to remember is what Revocable Living Trusts do not do! Revocable Living Trusts are revocable. This means you can remove any property you put into that trust at any time.

Since you can remove the property from the trust, there is no asset protection. If you owe money, your creditors will be able to seize whatever assets you placed into the trust.

Also, you obtain no tax advantage to creating a Revocable Living Trust. You will continue to pay your taxes the same way you always have paid them.

Finally, placing property in a Revocable Living Trust does not shelter it from government entities for you to pay for your long term nursing home care. Medicaid and the Veteran’s Administration will count all property placed into a Revocable Living Trust just like you own it. There is a five (5) year look back period for Medicaid and there may also soon be a look back period with the Veteran’s Administration. You may be missing out on an opportunity to shelter your assets while you are healthy by placing your assets into a Revocable Living Trust.

To obtain additional information on legal and innovative estate planning strategies, you should always consult an experienced estate planning attorney. Kent S. DeJean

Top 10 Tips about Tax Breaks for the Military

If you are in the U. S. Armed Forces, special tax breaks may apply to you. For example, some types of pay are not taxable. Certain rules apply to deductions or credits that you may be able to claim that can lower your tax. In some cases, you may get more time to file your tax return. You may also get more time to pay your income tax. Here are the top 10 IRS tax tips about these rules:
1. Deadline Extensions. Some members of the military, such as those who serve in a combat zone, can postpone some tax deadlines. If this applies to you, you can get automatic extensions of time to file your tax return and to pay your taxes.
2. Combat Pay Exclusion. If you serve in a combat zone, certain combat pay you get is not taxable. You won’t need to show the pay on your tax return because combat pay is not part of the wages reported on your Form W-2, Wage and Tax Statement. If you serve in support of a combat zone, you may qualify for this exclusion.
3. Earned Income Tax Credit or EITC. If you get nontaxable combat pay, you can include it to figure your EITC. Doing so may boost your credit. Even if you do, the combat pay stays nontaxable.
4. Moving Expense Deduction. You may be able to deduct some of your unreimbursed moving costs. This applies if the move is due to a permanent change of station.
5. Uniform Deduction. You can deduct the costs of certain uniforms that you can’t wear while off duty. This includes the costs of purchase and upkeep. You must reduce your deduction by any allowance you get for these costs.
6. Signing Joint Returns. Both spouses normally must sign a joint income tax return. If your spouse is absent due to certain military duty or conditions, you may be able to sign for your spouse. In other cases when your spouse is absent, you may need a power of attorney to file a joint return.
7. Reservists’ Travel Deduction. If you’re a member of the U.S. Armed Forces Reserves, you may deduct certain costs of travel on your tax return. This applies to the unreimbursed costs of travel to perform your reserve duties that are more than 100 miles away from home.
8. ROTC Allowances. Some amounts paid to ROTC students in advanced training are not taxable. This applies to allowances for education and subsistence. Active duty ROTC pay is taxable. For instance, pay for summer advanced camp is taxable.
9. Civilian Life. If you leave the military and look for work, you may be able to deduct some job search expenses. You may be able to include the costs of travel, preparing a resume and job placement agency fees. Moving expenses may also qualify for a tax deduction.
10. Tax Help. Most military bases offer free tax preparation and filing assistance during the tax filing season. Some also offer free tax help after April 15.
For more, refer to Publication 3, Armed Forces’ Tax Guide. It is available on IRS.gov/forms at any time.

Powers of Attorney: Always Have A Plan B!

The decision on who should be your agent for your power of attorney is usually a fairly easy one. Most people will usually select their spouse or a close friend or family member. However, the more difficult question is who does a person want to serve as the successor agent in the event that the agent is unwilling or unable to serve.

It is strongly advised that you name a successor agent in the event that the agent is unwilling or unable to serve. Your agent may die, become incapacitated or simply not wish to serve for any reason. If your agent is unwilling or unable to serve, an interdiction proceeding will have to be filed to appoint you a guardian to administer your person and property if you failed to name a successor agent.

Therefore, always name a back up successor agent in your power of attorney. Never assume that an agent will be willing or able to serve as your agent when and if you lose capacity.

If you have any questions concerning powers of attorney, consult an experienced estate planning attorney. Kent S. DeJean