When you are going through different stages of life, you have immediate concerns. You may not necessarily be looking ahead toward your senior years, and this is understandable.
At the same time, years are passing, and you can wake up one morning and come to the realization that you are not as young as you used to be. Matters that are of interest to senior citizens can suddenly become quite relevant as your retirement years start to peek over the horizon.
If you have questions about the eventualities of aging, you could obtain answers if you consult with an elder law attorney. These legal professionals are dedicated to the interests of senior citizens, and there are some very important elder law issues on the table at the present time.
Let’s look at some questions that you may want to ask an elder law attorney.
When will I qualify for Social Security and Medicare?
You gain eligibility for Social Security through the accumulation of retirement credits. In 2016, you get one credit for every $1290 that you earn. The maximum accrual is four credits per year, even if your earnings are in excess of $5160. Once you have 40 credits, you will qualify for Social Security.
The eligibility age depends upon the year of your birth. People born between 1943 and 1954 become eligible at the age of 66. The eligibility age then goes up by two months each year until it tops out in 1960 at the age of 67. The eligibility age for anyone born in 1960 or after is 67 at the present time, but these numbers could be changed via legislative mandate, so you should always stay abreast of the current state of affairs.
If you are willing to accept a reduced benefit, you do not have to wait until you reach the full eligibility age. It is possible to accept a reduced benefit at the age of 62, and you could also go in the other direction. You could delay the submission of your application, and this would result in an increased benefit when you do start to draw a Social Security direct deposit.
The age of eligibility for Medicare is 65, regardless of when you were born, and there is the same 40 retirement credit eligibility requirement.
Will Medicare cover everything?
Medicare will help, but there are out-of-pocket expenses to contend with. These would include monthly premiums, deductibles, and co-payments.
Another thing to understand about Medicare is that it does not pay for nursing home care. Nursing homes are very expensive, and most people will need living assistance eventually, so this is a very significant factor to take into consideration when you are looking ahead toward the future.
Is there a solution to the nursing home situation?
You are probably aware of the existence of the Medicaid program. This is another government health insurance program, and it does pay for long-term care.
However, this is a program that is only available to financially needy individuals, so there is a $2000 limit on countable assets. In spite of the fact that Medicaid is a need-based program, it pays for most of the long-term care that seniors are receiving.
Medicaid rules are complex, but if you take the right steps in advance, you can keep assets in the family and qualify for Medicaid if you need long-term care. It takes careful planning, but it can be done.
Are there any other important elder law issues that I should prepare for in advance?
Yes, there is another huge issue that you should discuss with an estate planning attorney in person. Elder financial abuse is an unsavory problem that is rising to the forefront of the legal consciousness. A study that was conducted by MetLife in 2011 estimated annual losses at $2.9 billion.
That is a big number, but a more recent study that was released last year by True Link Financial came up with the figure that blew the MetLife estimate out of the water. This study placed annual losses at an incredible $36.5 million.
This is the kind of thing where you may say “this will never happen to me,” but that’s probably what all of the victims thought. There are things that you can do to protect yourself, and you should certainly explore your options.
Attend a Free Seminar
We are going to be offering a number of estate planning and elder law seminars over the coming months. The seminars are free to attend, but we do ask that you register in advance. Visit our seminar schedule page if you would like to obtain more details and registration information.
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