Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Learning About Your Rights: The Americans with Disabilities Act and Understanding Disability

Friday, May 18th, 2018

Learning About Your Rights: The Americans with Disabilities Act and Understanding Disability

Joe Zesski

Program Manager, Northeast ADA Center


For some people, disability is a word that has negative connotations. To them, disability is something to be avoided, a weakness, a stigma. They think someone who has a disability cannot make do for him or her self. But disability does not mean these things. Disability is part of the human experience. Disability can be a part of the aging process. According to the 2016 American Community Survey, In New Jersey 31 percent of people 65 and older has some type of a disability. And for those 75 and older, that figure rises to 45.8 percent.

Legally, the word disability can also have several different definitions depending on the context. Under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), disability is “a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits a major life activity; a record of such an impairment; or being regarded as having such an impairment.” Congress intended this to be a broad definition that applies to a wide range of individuals. It is quite different from the meaning of disability in Social Security, for example, where someone must not be able to engage in substantial work activity in order to receive benefits. Unlike Social Security, he ADA is a civil rights law; not a benefit or agency. It is designed to protect the rights of individuals who have a condition or circumstance that falls within its definition of disability. The ADA is intended to create an equal opportunity for people with disabilities in employment, in access to state and local government and its programs, and in access to public accommodations such as businesses and nonprofits open to the public.

At the upcoming 2018 New Jersey Foundation on Aging Conference, Mary Ciccone of Disability Rights New Jersey and I will share information about the legal rights of the disabled, including those covered by the ADA and NJ State laws. I will talk about the ADA’s impact and coverage, and its importance to older Americans. Many people are not familiar with the ADA and do not even realize that they have rights under the law. If someone can no longer see well enough to read, she may not know that she can ask the waiter at the diner to read the menu for her. Perhaps a gentleman who can no longer climb stairs must go to his town’s public works office located on the second floor of a building without an elevator. He may not realize that he can request to have someone meet him on the ground floor level. Or if that same gentleman goes to a senior center that is planning a trip to Atlantic City, the bus provider should have a vehicle with a lift available, as long as they are given notice for the need of one ahead of time. In these ways and others, people with disabilities have rights under the ADA, as well as some other laws. The presentation will discuss what disability means, how common it is, and the misconceptions surrounding the word. It will give an overview of the rights under the ADA as well as those in housing. It will provide resources for attendees to refer to when they want to find out more. And it will give an opportunity to ask questions of and to connect with two professionals who have years of experience in the disability rights field.


Excited about the session!? Register now!

The Village Movement

Monday, April 16th, 2018

The Village Movement
By Julie Dalton, Executive Director Gramatan Village, Bronxville, NY

The Village Movement is a nationwide trend of grassroots organizations that develop creative strategies to address local needs. The Village Movement started with Beacon Hill Village in Boston in 2002, and today there are 200 villages operating in 45 states and the District of Columbia serving 40,000 individuals and their families. Currently, another 150 villages are in the development phase. The village model arose out of community members’ desire to reside in their own homes while being able to access services that address their changing lifestyles. 

The village model is based on giving back, healthy lifestyles and staying connected to the community.
Villages are self-governing, self-supporting, grassroots membership-based organizations that provide options and choices. They are a single point of contact for access to referrals and volunteers.
Villages run on social capital and foster “neighbor helping neighbor”. Many programs employ a “volunteer first” model relying on the generosity of community volunteers to provide services such as transportation, running errands, and assistance with minor household chores.

Villages promote intergenerational connections bringing community members of all ages together. Community volunteers, many of whom are village members themselves

Rather than moving to an institutional setting, the preferred choice of older Americans is to live at home with support and affordable services. Villages consolidate and coordinate and create innovative strategic partnerships that leverage existing community resources.

Many villages refer to their preferred provider network when professional expertise is required to meet a member’s needs.

Villages recognize the importance of engaging members and provide a variety of social, educational and volunteer opportunities. Members choose which services and activities they desire.

Finding one’s purpose becomes even more important at later stages of life. Villages enable individuals to live a healthy and meaningful life.

The National Village Network was established in 2010 to support communities in establishing villages. This peer to peer network provides invaluable resources that enable villages to thrive.









The session at NJFA’s 20th Annual Conference will address the various village movement program models, highlight the key steps to establishing a village and will present the lessons learned from nearly 10 years of village operation.


Let’s Talk About It

Friday, April 13th, 2018

On Tuesday, June 12th NJFA will host it’s 20th Annual Conference. This year’s conference title is Models, Policies and Prescriptions for Healthy Aging. We have an agenda full of great presenters and topics, you can learn more by visiting our website.

NJFA is honored that our Luncheon Keynote will be presented by Dr. Alison Thomas-Cottingham. Please see the article below (click on the image for full article) written by Dr. Thomas-Cottingham from the Fall 2017 issue of Renaissance magazine. We hope that you can join us for this informative discussion and much more on June 12th.


Recent Developments in D.C. To Combat Financial Abuse of the Elderly

Thursday, March 15th, 2018

Recent Developments in D.C. To Combat Financial Abuse of the Elderly

by Robert M. Jaworski, Esq.

Financial abuse of the elderly is getting some attention in Washington these days, and, some say, it’s about time.  On February 22, 2018, Attorney General Jeff Sessions and law enforcement partners announced[1] the largest coordinated sweep of elder fraud cases in history.  In addition, it was reported[2] on March 13, 2018, that an elder fraud bill sponsored by Senate Aging Committee Chairwoman Susan Collins (R-Maine) was recently folded into the banking regulation bill (S. 2155) that is expected to be approved by the Senate in the near future.  Details concerning both of these developments are set forth below.

Nationwide Elder Fraud Sweep Coordinated by the Department of Justice

The cases, which include criminal, civil and forfeiture actions, involve more than 250 defendants from around the globe. They are charged with victimizing more than a million Americans, most of whom are elderly.  Of the defendants, more than 200 have been charged criminally.

The actions charged a variety of fraud schemes, including large scale mass mailing, telemarketing and investment frauds, as well as individual instances of identity theft and theft by guardians.  One case alone concerned a scheme that operated from 14 foreign countries and resulted in losses to American victims totaling more than $30 million.

Mass mailing schemes.  In each of the mass mailing schemes, fraudsters sent direct-mail letters to individuals falsely promising them that they had won cash or other valuable prizes.  All they had to do to claim their prizes was to send back a payment for what was represented as processing fees or taxes. The letters appeared to come from legitimate sources, typically on official-looking letterhead, and to have been personally addressed to each recipient. When an individual took the bait and sent the requested fee, the fraudsters simply kept the money.  No victim ever received a promised prize.  Worse yet, when people showed a susceptibility to these scams, the fraudsters repeatedly targeted and victimized them with other scams.

Other Schemes.  Other examples of elder financial exploitation schemes prosecuted by the Department of Justice include:

  • “Lottery phone scams,” in which callers convince seniors that a large fee or taxes must be paid before one can receive lottery winnings;
  • “Grandparent scams,” which convince seniors that their grandchildren have been arrested and need bail money;
  • “Romance scams,” which lull victims to believe that their online paramour needs funds for a U.S. visit or some other purpose;
  • “IRS imposter schemes,” which defraud victims by posing as IRS agents and claiming that victims owe back taxes; and
  • “Guardianship schemes,” which siphon seniors’ financial resources into the bank accounts of deceitful relatives or guardians;

The Department of Justice indicates that it has partnered with Senior Corps to educate seniors about these types of scams and prevent further victimization.  Senior Corps is a national service program administered by an independent federal agency, the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS).  You can access information on Senior Corps’ efforts to reduce elder fraud by clicking here.  If you suspect that you are a victim of a scam, you can file a report with the Federal Trade Commission by clicking here.  Finally, remember that the best way to avoid becoming a victim of a scam is to be skeptical of anything that sounds too good to be true.  It probably is too good to be true!  Check it out first.

Senator Collins Elder Fraud Bill

This bill, Senate Bill S-223[3], which is called the “Senior$afe Act of 2017,” strives to prevent elder financial abuse by encouraging financial institutions (including credit unions, insurance agencies, banks, investment advisers, and broker-dealers) and their employees to sound an alarm bell whenever they suspect that an elderly person is being financially exploited.  The bill seeks to accomplish this objective by immunizing these institutions and employees from potential liability in any civil or administrative proceeding for disclosing such suspicions.

This immunity, however, is subject to the following conditions:

  • The disclosure is made only to a State or Federal banking or securities regulator, a State insurance regulator, a law enforcement agency, and/or a State or local adult protective services agency.
  • The disclosing employee must be a supervisor or compliance officer employed by the financial institution at the time of the disclosure and have made the disclosure in good faith and with reasonable care.
  • The disclosing employee must have previously received training from the financial institution, appropriate to the employee’s job responsibilities, concerning (1) how to identify and report suspected exploitation of a senior citizen internally and, as appropriate, to government officials or law enforcement authorities, including common signs that indicate the financial exploitation of a senior citizen, and (2) the need to protect the privacy and respect the integrity of each individual customer of the financial institution.

Interestingly, New Jersey already has a similar law on the books, which dates back to 1998.  The New Jersey Foundation for Aging helped to educate concerned individuals and agencies about that law following its enactment.


Mr. Jaworski is a member of the NJFA Board of Trustees and an attorney with the law firm Reed Smith, LLP.  He specializes in providing banks and other financial institutions with advice and assistance concerning their responsibilities to comply with applicable federal and state laws and regulations, including, in particular, consumer protection laws and regulations.




MEDICARE — 2018 and Beyond

Tuesday, February 27th, 2018

MEDICARE — 2018 and Beyond

By Charles Clarkson, Esq. Project Director/VP, Senior Medicare Patrol of New Jersey Jewish Family Services of Middlesex County

New Medicare Cards

Starting in April 2018, new Medicare cards will be issued. These new cards will remove the Social Security numbers from the cards. This is a significant change for Medicare and it holds the promise of substantially reducing fraud, both in Medicare and in general. The cards will look similar to the current ones with some style changes (See photo).

When beneficiaries get their new cards, they should start using them. Not all beneficiaries will receive their new cards at the same time. A year has been allocated to issuing approximately 57 million new cards, through April 2019. There will be a transition period (through December 2019) when both the old and new Medicare cards can be used. Of course, beneficiaries will still have to protect their new cards.

The card will now contain a new Medicare number (called a Medicare Beneficiary Identifier) selected at random and made up of letters and numbers. This card allows access to Medicare services and should be protected at all times. Beneficiaries should leave their Medicare cards at home whenever possible and take them with them only when they need medical services.

The SMP of New Jersey is very concerned about fraud involving the new Medicare cards. We have already heard of cases when beneficiaries have been scammed into paying for the new Medicare cards. Remember, the new Medicare cards will be FREE. You do not have to do anything to receive the new card. Make sure that the Social Security Administration has your current address to ensure that the card is mailed to the correct address. Medicare or Social Security will not call you on the telephone. Do not give any callers any personal information if they call you about the new Medicare card, especially your checking account information to pay for the card. If you receive a suspicious call, just hang up.

Medicare beneficiaries will receive written explanations in the mail from the appropriate government agencies about the new cards. We can also expect an education campaign on television and radio to explain about the new cards.

For more information visit SMP online at or contact Medicare directly at


Monday, November 20th, 2017


The NJ Foundation for Aging has joined #GivingTuesday, a global day of giving that harnesses the collective power of individuals, communities and organizations to encourage philanthropy and to celebrate generosity worldwide.

Help the NJ Foundation for Aging (NJFA) to continue it’s mission of enabling older adults to age in the community with independence and dignity. Your support allows NJFA to continue to bring information and resources to seniors, boomers and caregivers via Renaissance magazine, Aging Insights (TV Program) and through our website and social media platforms. Additionally, your donations assist NJFA in creating learning opportunities for professionals serving older adults and caregivers with our Annual Conference and other educational forums.

Occurring this year on November 28, #GivingTuesday is held annually on the Tuesday after Thanksgiving (in the US) and the widely recognized shopping events Black Friday and Cyber Monday to kick off the holiday giving season and inspire people to collaborate in improving their local communities and to give back in impactful ways to the charities and causes they support.

Won’t you join the movement and support NJFA on #GivingTuesday?

Thank you for your support and have a VERY Happy Thanksgiving!


Wednesday, October 25th, 2017



Charles Clarkson, Esq. Jewish Family Services of Middlesex County, Project Director/VP, Senior Medicare Patrol of New Jersey


Every year between October 15 and December 7, during a period known as “Open Enrollment,” Medicare beneficiaries can make changes in their Medicare coverage. The Senior Medicare Patrol of New Jersey (SMP), a Federally funded program of the U.S. Administration for Aging, believes that if you know your options you can avoid being scammed and make the right choices giving you the best coverage at the least cost.

Why make a change?  Whether you have Original Medicare (Part A and/or B), Part D (prescription drug plan), or a Part C Medicare Advantage Plan, your plan can change.  Premiums, deductibles  and coverages can all change.  Even if they remain the same, your health or finances may have changed. SMP encourages all beneficiaries to re-visit their coverage and decide whether or not to change during Open Enrollment.

Beneficiaries have these choices:

  1. If you are enrolled in Original Medicare, you can change to a Medicare Advantage plan with or without drug coverage. These plans are private companies approved by Medicare and give you the services of Original Medicare. If you join a Medicare Advantage plan, you do not need (and are not permitted) to have a Medicare supplement insurance plan (also known as a Medigap policy) and if your Medicare Advantage plan has drug coverage, you will not need a Part D plan.


  1. If you are in a Medicare Advantage Plan, you can switch to another Medicare Advantage plan or drop your Medicare Advantage Plan.  If you decide to drop a plan and not switch to another plan, you will be enrolled in Original Medicare.  You should then consider enrolling in a Medicare supplement insurance plan to cover the costs that Original Medicare does not pay for and enroll in a Part D plan for drug coverage.


  1. If you are in Original Medicare with a Part D plan, you can stay in Original Medicare and switch your Part D plan.


  1. If you are in Original Medicare and do not have a Part D plan, you can enroll in a Part D plan.  If you join a Part D plan because you did not do so when you were first eligible for Part D and you did not have other coverage that was, on average, at least as good as standard Medicare drug coverage (known as creditable coverage), your premium cost will be penalized 1% for every month that you did not enroll in Part D.  You will have to pay this penalty for as long as you have a drug plan.  The penalty is based on the national average of monthly premiums multiplied by the number of months you are without coverage and this amount can increase every year.  If you qualify for extra help (low income subsidy), you won’t be charged a penalty.

Why change Part D plans?

Beneficiaries may want to change Part D prescription drug plans (PDPs) for a number of reasons:  (i) the PDP has notified the beneficiary that it plans to drop one or more of their drugs from their formulary (list of available medications); (ii) the beneficiary is reaching the coverage gap (donut hole) sooner than anticipated and may want to purchase a PDP with coverage through the coverage gap, if one is available; (iii) the PDP has notified the beneficiary that it will no longer participate in the Medicare Part D program;  (iv) the PDP will increase its premium or co-pays higher than the beneficiary wants to pay and a less expensive plan may be available and (v) a beneficiary is not happy with the PDP’s quality of service or the plan has received low rankings for a number of years.  For 2018 beneficiaries in New Jersey can expect to choose from a number of  PDPs. The plans are announced in late September or early October, 2017.

Compare plans each year.

Beneficiaries should remember that PDPs change every year and it is recommended that beneficiaries compare plans to insure that they are in the plan that best suits their needs.  When comparing plans, keep in mind to look at the estimated annual drug costs, i.e. what it will cost you out of pocket for the entire year, from January 1 through December 31 of each year.  Plans can be compared at the Medicare web site:  If you do not have access to a computer, call Medicare at 1-800-Medicare to assist in researching and enrolling in a new plan. Medicare can enroll a beneficiary over the telephone.  When you call, make sure you have a list of all your medications, including dosages.  Another resource for Medicare beneficiaries is the State Health Insurance Assistance Program (known as SHIP), telephone 1-800-792-8820.  SHIP is federally funded and can provide beneficiaries with unbiased advice.  Call SHIP to make an appointment with a counselor. You do not need to use a broker or agent who may not be looking out for your best interest. Brokers and agents are usually being paid to enroll you in certain plans.  Beneficiaries can also call the Senior Medicare Patrol of New Jersey at 732-777-1940.

Medicare Open Enrollment can also be a time of fraudulent schemes that can cost you money. The SMP wants you to be on the alert for scams involving new Medicare cards.  Back in the spring of 2015, Congress passed the “Doc Fix” bill which mainly dealt with the long standing problem of the Physician Fee Schedule.  At the same time, Congress sought to remedy the problem caused by having Social Security numbers on the red, white and blue Medicare ID cards.


The new cards will be rolled out starting in April of  2018.  Since it will take a period of time to mail new Medicare cards to all Medicare beneficiaries, there will be a transition period through December 31, 2018 when beneficiaries will be able to use either card.  All cards should be issued by April of 2019.  You should start using the new Medicare card once you receive it.  Make sure that the Social Security Administration and Medicare have your current address to insure that you get your new card.


This card change is both a blessing and a curse for Medicare beneficiaries.  By removing Social Security numbers, the change greatly decreases the financial havoc that a stolen Medicare card can cause, but it opens the door to scammers  presenting a golden opportunity to take advantage of Medicare beneficiaries.  Remember, there is never a charge for the new Medicare card.  Scammers already are calling  and scaring seniors into paying $300 or more for a new Medicare card and asking for their checking account information to pay for the new card’s fee.

What do you do when you realize that a scammer is calling?  Just hang up.  Do not be polite and just hang up.  Also, do not open any emails about the new Medicare cards even if they appear to be coming from a legitimate source, such as Medicare.  They are most likely scams.  Any questions about the new Medicare cards, call the Senior Medicare Patrol of New Jersey at 732-777-1940.







Hurricane Season- Be Prepared

Thursday, August 17th, 2017

Hurricane Season- Be Prepared


Hey, the tree is down, the power is out; are you ready? The August episode of Aging Insights addresses that question. On this program NJFA’s Executive Director, Grace Egan speaks with Melissa Acree Executive Director of NJ 211and Mike Weber, Emergency Preparedness Manager – Electric from PSEG. Register Ready is a program hosted by NJ 2-1-1 that enables people to self-identify and register that they may have difficulty in an emergency evacuating their home to safe place or to a shelter. Caregivers may also register their loved ones who have a physical or cognitive impairment. This information is then shared annually with the County Office of Emergency Management Office.

PSEG partners with NJ 2-1-1, Mr. Weber joined the interview and explained how PSEG prioritizes repairs in a storm. He highlighted the many first responders that PSEG regularly works with before, during and after a storm.

It’s now the peak of hurricane season. With that comes the threat of an active

September and the possibility of activity in October and beyond, according to AccuWeather meteorologists.

Hurricane season officially begins June 1, and generally, the peak is from mid-August to the end of September. During this time, conditions are ideal for strong and quick-moving tropical storms, hurricanes and depressions.

Check on the latest Aging Insights episode about emergency preparedness. Are you prepared? Does your utility company know your needs?


A few words from the Social Security Administration

Wednesday, June 21st, 2017

A few words from the Social Security Administration- Beneficiary Codes

The Social Security Administration (SSA) reports that following situation has occurred many times over the years: a client (or an organization) contacts SSA about a letter from SSA which contains a Social Security Number (SSN) followed by the letters “A”, “B”, “E” or other letters, and then asks me to explain what type of benefit is indicated by the letter following the SSN. As this seems to be a common question, SSA thought they should address the question publicly.

NJFA thought the information they shared was valuable and so we are posting it here to our blog.

Letters that come after a SSN are called “Social Security beneficiary codes.” A list of the Social Security beneficiary codes which includes the meaning of each code is located on SSA’s website at Social Security Online. By reviewing the Social Security website, you will find that the SSN followed by one of these beneficiary codes is actually a claim number. Social Security assigns a beneficiary code to a SSN after an application for Social Security benefits is filed. These beneficiary codes may appear on correspondence from Social Security or on Medicare cards. However, the codes will never appear on a Social Security card. For example, if the wage earner applies for benefits and his or her SSN is 123-45-6789, then the applicant’s claim number is 123-45-6789A. This number will also be used as the wage earner’s Medicare claim number, once he or she is eligible for Medicare. If the wage earner’s spouse subsequently files for benefits on the wage earner’s SSN, the spouse’s claim number is 123-45-6789B. A list of the most common Social Security codes and their meanings follow:

Code Identification
A Primary claimant (wage earner)
B Aged wife, age 62 or over
B1 Aged husband, age 62 or over
B2 Young wife, with a child in her care
B3 Aged wife, age 62 or over, second claimant
B5 Young wife, with a child in her care, second claimant
B6 Divorced wife, age 62 or over
BY Young husband, with a child in his care
C1-C9 Child – Includes minor, student or disabled child
D Aged Widow, age 60 or over
D1 Aged widower, age 60 or over
D2 Aged widow (2nd claimant)
D3 Aged widower (2nd claimant)
D6 Surviving Divorced Wife, age 60 or over
E Widowed Mother
E1 Surviving Divorced Mother
E4 Widowed Father
E5 Surviving Divorced Father
F1 Parent (Father)
F2 Parent (Mother)
F3 Stepfather
F4 Stepmother
F5 Adopting Father
F6 Adopting Mother
HA Disabled claimant (wage earner)
HB Aged wife of disabled claimant, age 62 or over
M Uninsured – Premium Health Insurance Benefits (Part A)
M1 Uninsured – Qualified for but refused Health Insurance Benefits (Part A)
T Uninsured – Entitled to HIB (Part A) under deemed or renal provisions; or Fully insured who have elected entitlement only to HIB
TA Medicare Qualified Government Employment (MQGE)
TB MQGE aged spouse
W Disabled Widow
W1 Disabled Widower
W6 Disabled Surviving Divorced Wife

Thanks to David Vinokurov District Manager – Trenton, NJ Social Security Administration for helping to keep us informed!


Fifty-Nine Percent of NJ’s Seniors Can’t Cover Their Basic Costs

Monday, May 1st, 2017

NJ Foundation for Aging

145 West Hanover Street, Trenton, NJ 08618

Phone 609-421-0206   Fax 609-421-2006  



                                                                        Press Release

For Immediate Release                                                                                                                      Contact:  Grace Egan, Exec. Director

May 1, 2017                                                                                                                                          Melissa Chalker, Program Manager


Fifty-Nine Percent of NJ’s Seniors Can’t Cover Their Basic Costs

Trenton—More than 549,000 seniors over age 65 live alone or in elder couple households. A report released by the NJ Department of Human Services details the cost of living for seniors over age 65 across all of NJ’s counties. By examining these costs a second report Living Below the Line 2017 indicates that “New Jersey’s statewide Elder Economic Insecurity Rate (EEIR) is 59%; nearly six in 10 New Jersey retired elder-only households’ lack sufficient annual incomes to insulate them against poverty as they age. While such insecurity affects elders of all backgrounds, New Jersey EEIRs vary greatly by household type, housing type, race, gender and location.  This data infers that 300,000 seniors who live alone or in an elder couple household do not have sufficient financial assets to cover their basic living costs. Sixty-six percent of these seniors are women. The Living Below the Line Report research notes that the “median annual incomes among NJ retired women vary greatly by race and ethnicity. Median income for White women elders ($18,817) is approximately $4,300 higher than median income for Black women elders ($14,521), $8,930 higher than median income for Hispanic women elders ($9,883), and $6,200 higher than median income for Asian women elders ($12,605)”.

The Data tell us that 30 % of all NJ seniors rely on social security as their sole income. “In addition, non-White seniors rely more heavily than White seniors on Social Security as a source of income, but have on average annual Social Security payments several thousand dollars lower than White seniors’ payments. Seniors of color may also face higher expenses, as they are more likely to be renters”.

It is crucial to connect NJ’s most economically challenged seniors to public benefit programs.  Food and nutrition programs not only offer quality food but also enable seniors to use their limited dollars to cover their other basic costs such as housing. These programs include SNAP formerly known as Food Stamps, congregate meal programs, home delivered meals, the USDA’s Farmers market coupons, etc. Another key support is NJ PAAD, NJ’s Prescription Assistance for the Aging and Disabled. These programs make the difference when seniors are faced with the daily challenge of paying the rent or buying food, paying for utilities or needed prescriptions.

Many NJ seniors who have worked and saved find they face a similar challenge with the widening gap between their costs and income. They are just one catastrophe away from living in poverty.  Connecting seniors to these essential programs can improve the quality of their lives and their overall health status. For a list of county resources go to

To read the two newly reports go to and look for the Final 2015 EESS Index Report and Living Below the Line 2017.

The New Jersey Foundation for Aging mission is promote policy and services that enable older adults to live in the community with independence & dignity. or call 609-421-0206