Posts Tagged ‘elder index’

Medicare Open Enrollment Starts Today (Oct. 15th)

Wednesday, October 15th, 2014

Medicare Open Enrollment Starts Today (Oct. 15th)

Open Enrollment is happening now. From October 15th to December 7th you can make changes to your Medicare coverage.

What changes can you make?

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

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 supplement plan to cover the costs that Original Medicare does not pay for and enroll in a Part D plan for drug coverage.

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

If you are in Original Medicare and do not have a Part D plan, you can enroll in a Part D plan.

Why You Should Review Your Coverage

It’s important to review your coverage before making a decision. And remember just because your doctor and medications are covered in your Medicare Advantage plan, supplemental plan or drug plan this year doesn’t automatically mean they will be covered in the coming year. Research studies show that Medicare recipients can save money if they review their Part D coverage. Make sure to confirm cost, copays, coinsurance, covered providers, and prescription drugs. Here are a few things to consider:

  • Has your health changed in the last year?
  • Is your current plan still meeting all of your health needs?
  • How much have you paid out-of-pocket in the last year—and for what?
  • How is your plan changing for the coming year? How will that affect your out-of-pocket        costs?
  • Are there better options available to you now?

There are many ways you can get assistance with this process. You can contact Medicare directly at 1-800-MEDICARE or at www.medicare.gov

You can also contact your County SHIP (State Health Insurance Program) by calling 1-800-792-8820 or visit http://www.state.nj.us/humanservices/doas/services/ship/

NCOA (National Council on Aging) also has some useful information and tools. Like Medicare Quick Check, where you can answer some questions and you’ll get advice on choosing a new plan. Find it at https://medicarequickcheck.benefitscheckup.org/medicare-quick-check/?SID=543e7baa3cc91

In November, tune into Aging Insights to hear from the Senior Medicare Patrol of NJ, including Open Enrollment.

News-Open-enrollment-Oct-15th

Property Tax Reimbursement Program Deadline Extended

Friday, August 8th, 2014

 Property Tax Reimbursement Program Deadline Extended

More seniors can benefit from tax relief

Access to tax relief is still available for New Jersey residents. The filing deadline for applications to the Senior Freeze (Property Tax Reimbursement Program) has  been extended to September 15, 2014. The original deadline was June 2, 2014.

The NJ Elder Index indicates that 184,320 persons over age 65 who own their home in NJ have incomes below $48,204, which is well below the eligibility threshold for the Property Tax Reimbursement program which hovers around $80,000.  These are seniors who struggle each day to maintain their quality of life by trying to cover their basic needs. The Property Tax Reimbursement is a huge help to these seniors.

In order to be eligible for the reimbursement in 2014 these homeowners must have paid their property taxes by June 2013. The Division mailed reimbursement checks to eligible seniors and disabled residents who filed their 2013 applications by the original June 2 deadline in mid-July. Checks for eligible applicants who file 2013 applications after June 2 will be processed and delivered as quickly as possible thereafter.

For more information and details on how to apply visit: http://www.nj.gov/treasury/taxation/ptr/index.shtml or call 1-800-882-6597

EyeCare America

Tuesday, July 8th, 2014

You never know where you are going to find good information. This time we have to thank Abigail Van Buren, also known as, Dear Abby. A reader wrote in on the topic of eye care and how some people put off exams and tests due to insurance issues. Either lack of insurance or high out of pocket costs even with insurance; many of these people are seniors. The reader just happened to be an eye doctor and wanted to share information about a program that can help, EyeCare America. And luckily being the smart lady she is, Ms. Van Buren shared it in her column. So, we here at NJFA looked a little further into EyeCare America so we could share it with you.

EyeCare America is a public service program of the Foundation of the American Academy of Ophthalmology. Their mission is to preserve sight by raising awareness about eye disease and providing access to medical eye care.

By age 65, one in three Americans has some form of vision-limiting eye disease. To help address this growing need, EyeCare America provides eye care to US citizens and legal residents through volunteer ophthalmologists (Eye Doctor) at no cost to those who qualify. The exam is focused on eye disease and will not cover eye glasses, please see below for more details on what is covered in this program or visit the EyeCare America Website

EyeCare America facilitates eye care for U.S. citizens or legal residents who are without an Eye doctor. and who do not belong to an HMO or do not have eye care coverage through the Veterans Administration.

So, who qualifies for this help?

  • Those who are age 65 or older and who have not seen an eye doctor in three or more years may be eligible to receive a comprehensive, medical eye exam and up to one year of care at no out-of-pocket cost for any disease diagnosed during the initial exam. Volunteer ophthalmologists will waive co-payments, accepting Medicare and /or other insurance reimbursement as payment in full: patients without insurance receive this care at no charge.
  • Those who are determined to be at increased risk for glaucoma (by age, race and family history) and have not had an eye exam in 12 months or more may be eligible to receive a free glaucoma eye exam if they are uninsured. Those with insurance will be billed for the exam and are responsible for any co-payments. The initiation of treatment is provided, if deemed necessary by the doctor during the exam.

SERVICES THAT ARE NOT COVERED:

  • Additional services necessary for your care such as, hospitals, surgical facilities, anesthesiologists and medications, are beyond the scope of EyeCare America services. The ophthalmologist is a volunteer who agrees to provide only services within these program guidelines.

EYEGLASSES ARE NOT COVERED:

  • Some eye conditions may affect vision as though eyeglasses are needed, when what is actually needed is the medical care of an ophthalmologist, and not eyeglasses. EyeCare America provides this medical eye care, only. The program does not provide eyeglass prescriptions, eyeglass/refraction exams (the prescription part of exam) or cover the cost of glasses. If you are concerned about the cost of these items, please discuss this with the doctor BEFORE the examination.

For more information or to see if you qualify, visit the EyeCare America website at eyecareamerica.org

 

 

Heat and Eat Programs are Vital for our most Vulnerable Residents

Monday, June 9th, 2014

                                                                                               

Heat and Eat Programs are Vital for our most Vulnerable Residents    

The New Jersey Foundation for Aging (NJFA) works with a variety of partners to highlight the essential safety net programs for low income seniors. 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.  SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program- formerly Food Stamps) and LIHEAP (a subsidy program for utility assistance) are two such programs. 

The NJ Elder Index and related data presents the basic costs of living for single elder and elder couple households in NJ. The NJ Foundation for Aging developed this report in partnership with the national organization Wider Opportunities for Women. The NJ data indicates that 43 percent of NJ single elders and elder couples living the community do not have sufficient income or assets to cover their basic living expenses. The average statewide costs for a single elder renter living in a one bedroom apartment are nearly $28,000 annually but the average Social Security benefit for a woman in NJ is around $14,800 and slightly higher for a man at around 19,000.

However, many seniors actually receive significantly less than the average. This point was clearly illustrated in a recent letter to our office from a single 84 year old elder whose sole income is $761 a month from Social Security.  After her rent she only has $104 to cover her monthly expenses.  Her monthly SNAP benefit is crucial to her quality of life and wellness. Many NJ seniors who have worked and saved find they face a similar challenge with the widening gap between their costs and income. SNAP and LIHEAP benefits make the difference for thousands of our neighbors across NJ.

Cuts for both of these programs are now in place which will disproportionately hurt seniors and persons with disabilities. As advocates, we need to raise our voices to urge the restoration of these cuts by considering administrative changes for the LIHEAP, along with budgetary resolutions to assure that $3.2 million is available so that food stamps are available for about 177,000 families. It is also important to note that while these programs help low income seniors and low income families they also dramatically impact the local economy since it is estimated that every one SNAP dollar actually results in $1.70 that is actually spent locally.

These are essential programs for New Jersey’s low income residents and our economy.

 

Vulnerable Groups Linked by Need for Affordable Housing

Friday, May 23rd, 2014

Vulnerable Groups Linked by Need for Affordable Housing

The NJ Foundation for Aging (NJFA) recognizes that aging friendly and age sensitive issues are in reality ageless. In this spirit NJFA works with many partners including the Anti Poverty Network (APN).  This organization represents a wide array of groups and concerns. The intersection or cross tracking of concerns creates a dynamic profile impacting people of all ages. Across the board access to nutrition & health services, employment and affordable housing are essential quality of life ingredients.

Among the vulnerable populations whose lives are deeply impacted by these intersecting concerns are our state’s elders. A simple examination of income data makes this reality painfully clear. The NJ Foundation for Aging’s NJ Elder Index and Data Report indicates that 25 % of all seniors living in NJ rely on their Social Security benefit as their sole source of their annual income. The average annual cost of living for a single elder renting a one bedroom apartment reported in the index is slightly below $28,000 and the cost of living is even higher in Bergen and Passaic counties. This level is a significant challenge when we know the average Social Security for a woman in NJ is $14,848 (and this is the average meaning many women receive significantly less). More than 252,000 single elders and elder couples face the daily crisis of covering their basic expenses with inadequate income.

Public benefits can improve the quality of life for the elder receiving the average SS benefit of $14,848 (as their sole source of income) as well as those with even lower incomes. This elder would be eligible for SNAP, for congregate meal programs, for Farmers market coupons, for energy and utility assistance, for PAAD, and a low income subsidy for their Medicare premium. Even with all of these existing programs, however, they would still fall short in the ability to cover their basic costs.

Here is where the needs and the solutions collide. Affordable housing is the only benefit that helps this elder really narrow the gap between their costs and their income. As declared by the headline for a recent NJ Spotlight article, “Affordable housing remains out of reach for a majority of NJ Renters”. This is not new news, but the article cites data from the National Low Income Housing Coalition’s annual “Out of Reach” report. The NJ Foundation for Aging recognizes that affordable housing is needed for people of all ages so people do not age into poverty. Housing policy across NJ is sorely lacking and we need to offer a full portrait of those who would benefit from this important resource: children, low income families, adults, health care workers, seniors, and residents with special needs. Let’s make housing for all a priority.

 

SENIORS & PROBLEM GAMBLING

Friday, April 18th, 2014

April’s episode of Aging Insights talks about seniors and gambling. One of the guests is Jeff Beck, Assistant Director for Clinical Services, Treatment & Research, Council on Compulsive Gambling of New Jersey. Today we feature Jeff as a guest blogger. Please read his informative piece about seniors and problem gambling. If you or someone you know has a problem please call 1-800-GAMBLER.

                Gambling has become normalized in all walks of our society. Problem gambling is an equal opportunity addiction; it can affect any gender, ethnicity, age, or income. Seniors can be at risk for gambling problems and research suggests there is an increased vulnerability for our older population.

                A study in New Jersey in 2006 identified 2% of individuals over 55 as pathological gamblers, 4% as problem gamblers and 17% as at risk gamblers. Combined that indicates that 1 out of 4 seniors may be at risk for a gambling problem.  A 2005 Pennsylvania study found that 10.9% of those over 65 in primary care facilities were at risk gamblers, this means that there is a strong possibility that gambling can interfere with health, legal status, family relations, work, physical issues, cognitive issues or emotional issues. Gambling is recognized as the most identified social activity by individuals over 65, moneys spent on bingo and casinos exceed money spent on lunches, shopping, movies and golf combined. casino_slot_machine

                Seniors may be vulnerable to gambling problems for a variety of reasons. They may be isolated and lonely, gambling can be a form of social interaction, the bus trips or bingo games are a chance to get together with friends. Gambling can be an antidote to boredom, which may set in after retirement. The senior may be attempting to cope with big changes or losses in life, gambling can be a form of maladaptive coping.  Physical illness or cognitive impairment may result in excess gambling. Seniors may be less likely to recognize addiction; they may see themselves as having a money problem rather than a gambling problem. Gambling may also represent an emotional escape, an ability to forget one’s problems, at least for a little while.

Bingo Cards

                There are several signs of senior gambling problems.  Loss of interest and participation in normal activities with friends and family can signify a gambling problem.  Large blocks of time unaccounted for is another sign. A change in attitude and personality often accompanies a gambling problem. Gambling problems can be evidenced by the sudden need for money or the sale or disappearance of assets. The neglect of personal needs may be suggestive of a gambling problem. Secrecy and avoidance when questioned about time or money is also possible evidence of a gambling issue.

                Gambling disorders are now recognized as an addiction, help is available. Treatment is possible and one can live a good productive life. Free counseling may be available with a certified compulsive gambling counselor. There are many self-help groups in New Jersey that can assist with gambling problems. The first step is to admit there may be a problem and to seek out help. The Council on Compulsive Gambling of New Jersey operates a help-line at 1-800GAMBLER. There you can find someone who understands, a sympathetic ear that can provide you with information and resources that will allow you to stop or reduce your gambling. There need be no shame or guilt in admitting to a problem, that admission is actually a show of strength.  Today may be a great day to reach out for help at 1-800-GAMBLER.

NJFA’s 16th Annual Conference

Monday, April 14th, 2014

NJFA will hold its 16th Annual Conference on Wednesday, June 11th at the Crowne Plaza Monroe. The 2014 Keynote Speaker Jo Ivey Boufford, MD President of  The New York Academy of Medicine. Dr. Boufford will talk about the Age-friendly NYC initiative. 

Age-friendly NYC has consulted with thousands of older adults and enacted hundreds of low-cost improvements throughout the city including: the redesign of 600 intersections, commitments made by 1,000 local retail businesses, increased access to museums and universities and new creative transit options. In 2013, Age-friendly NYC was named the “Best Existing Age-friendly Initiative in the World” by the International Federation on Aging. The New York Academy of Medicine serves as the World Health Organization’s Collaborating Center on Aging, Urbanization and Globalization and advises cities and communities around the world on how to take on similar initiatives customized to the needs and strengths of their communities. Age-friendly Communities aim to complement essential health and social services by testing and spreading innovations to make the environment more accessible, affordable and welcoming to older people.

The 2014 conference workshop speakers will include policy makers, direct care & clinical practice specialists.

More details and registration information is available on our website, www.njfoundationforaging.org. Some sponsorships are still available, however, vendor space is sold out.  Questions? Please give us a call at 609-421-0206 or email at mchalker@njfoundationforaging.org

The New Jersey Foundation for Aging (NJFA) is a public charity with the primary goal to empower elders to live in the community with independence and dignity.

How to get your Credit Report

Thursday, January 23rd, 2014

We’ve all seen those funny commercials for credit reports and have probably read articles in magazines urging us to get our yearly free credit report. However, have you ever wondered why you need it? Or how to go about getting it? And how to avoid scams posing as free credit report services? Well, let’s try to answer some of those questions.

Knowing your credit score can help guard against identity theft. Identity thieves may use your information to open a new credit card account in your name. Then, when they don’t pay the bills, the delinquent account is reported on your credit report. Inaccurate information like that could affect your ability to get credit, insurance, or even a job. Since your credit report has information that affects whether you can get a loan — and how much you will have to pay to borrow money, you should check it annually to make sure it is accurate

The Federal Trade Commission enforces The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) which requires each of the nationwide credit reporting companies — Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion — to provide you with a free copy of your credit report, at your request, once every 12 months. A credit report includes information on where you live, how you pay your bills, and whether you’ve been sued or have filed for bankruptcy. Nationwide credit reporting companies sell the information in your report to creditors, insurers, employers, and other businesses that use it to evaluate your applications for credit, insurance, employment, or renting a home. You can see why it is important to receive your credit report to monitor these things yourself before applying for a loan, credit card, mortgage or even a new job.

To order your free credit report, visit annualcreditreport.com, call 1-877-322-8228. Or complete the Annual Credit Report Request Form and mail it to: Annual Credit Report Request Service, P.O. Box 105281, Atlanta, GA 30348-5281. Do not contact the three nationwide credit reporting companies individually. They are providing free annual credit reports only through annualcreditreport.com, 1-877-322-8228 or mailing to Annual Credit Report Request Service.

Here’s an important piece to remember– The law allows you to order one free copy of your report from each of the nationwide credit reporting companies every 12 months.

You may order your reports from each of the three nationwide credit reporting companies at the same time, or you can order your report from each of the companies one at a time.

Okay, so here is the part to make a note of to protect yourself from scams. Use only annualcreditreport.com to order your free credit report. That is the only site under the law- FCRA that is mandated to provide your credit report for free. Other websites that claim to offer “free credit reports,” “free credit scores,” or “free credit monitoring” are not part of the legally mandated free annual credit report program. In some cases, the “free” product comes with strings attached. For example, some sites sign you up for a supposedly “free” service that converts to one you have to pay for after a trial period. If you don’t cancel during the trial period, you may be unwittingly agreeing to let the company start charging fees to your credit card.

Some “imposter” sites use terms like “free report” in their names; others have URLs that purposely misspell annualcreditreport.com in the hope that you will mistype the name of the official site. Some of these “imposter” sites direct you to other sites that try to sell you something or collect your personal information. So make sure you type the url correctly and don’t enter your credit card information, exit the site if they ask for this information and then attempt to connect with annualcreditreport.com or call 1-877-322-8228.

The only information that you’ll be asked for to process your credit report is your name, address, Social Security number, and date of birth. If you have moved in the last two years, you may have to provide your previous address. To maintain the security of your file, each nationwide credit reporting company may ask you for some information that only you would know, like the amount of your monthly mortgage payment. Each company may ask you for different information because the information each has in your file may come from different sources.

While your credit report helps determine your credit score, these reports will not give you your credit score. For more information about your credit score visit- http://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0152-how-credit-scores-affect-price-credit-and-insurance#credit

For more details and to learn what steps to take if you do find inaccurate information on your credit report, please visit the Federal Trade Commission and read the article on Free Credit Reports http://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0155-free-credit-reports or call 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357)

 

What do you need to know?

Tuesday, December 10th, 2013

What do you need to know?

Are you looking for information on Veteran’s Benefits? Utility Assistance? Do you have questions about transportation? Are you interested in a new form of exercise? These interesting topics and many more are available by watching, Aging Insights on YouTube. Aging Insights is a ½ hour TV program that is produced monthly by NJFA.  Aging Insights provides programs that are relevant to boomers, caregivers and seniors. The goal is to connect them to community programs to address their unique needs and those of their families. 

In addition to being aired on multiple public access stations, you can view the entire library of 26 episodes on NJFA’s YouTube channel by visiting, www.youtube.com/njfoundationforaging The November program discusses the financial and health benefits available to veterans. However, there are many more informative and entertaining episodes to watch online.

After you’ve checked them out, be sure to visit our website at www.njfoundationforaging.org and click “online survey” to take the Aging Insights survey where you can tell us what you thought of the show and suggest future topics.

 

 

 

Medicare Open Enrollment ends December 7th

Wednesday, November 27th, 2013

Medicare Open Enrollment ends December 7th

Open Enrollment is coming to a close soon. Every year Medicare gives you the opportunity to review your coverage and make changes. This year the Open Enrollment period is October 15 to December 7.

This is when people with Medicare can change their Medicare health plan and prescription drug coverage for 2014. Information on 2014 plans has been available since the beginning of October. People with Medicare can call 1-800-MEDICARE or visit www.medicare.gov for plan information. If a person is satisfied that their current plan will meet their needs for next year, they don’t need to do anything.

What can you do during Open Enrollment?

From October 15 to December 7 you can

  • Join or switch a Medicare Prescription Drug Plan
  • Join or switch a Medicare Advantage Plan

During this period you should take time to review health and drug plan choices and choose the plan that fits your needs. Coverage begins on January 1, 2014.

Each year, Medicare Advantage and Medicare Drug Plans can change costs and coverage. Plans will mail an Evidence of Coverage/Annual Notice of Change to you. This notice gives details about plan coverage, costs, etc for the next year. Some plans may choose to leave Medicare and no longer offer the plan you have, meaning you’ll have to find a new plan during Open Enrollment. If this is the case your plan would have mailed you a notice of non-renewal.

To learn more about available plans visit- Medicare Plan Finder on Medicare.gov

You can also:

  • Visit your plan’s website
  • Refer to the Medicare & You handbook
  • Call 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227)
  • Or contact your State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP)  at 1-800-792-8820 or http://www.state.nj.us/humanservices/doas/home/sashipsite.html