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

 

Don’t Go Broke in a Nursing Home

Mr. Losavio is giving a workshop at Amber Terrace Assisted Living Tuesday January 12, 2016 at 4:00pm and 6:30pm and Thursday January 14,2016 at 4:00pm an 6:30pm.  Amber Terrace Assisted Living is located at 8585 Summa Ave., Baton Rouge, LA 70809.  Seating is limited so call ahead and reserve your seat 1-800-426-6104.

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.

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

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