Posts Tagged ‘Affordable Care Act’

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)

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

More Money Tips

Wednesday, October 2nd, 2013

More Money Tips

Fraud and Abuse

If you have not done so already, adding yourself to the Do Not Call Registry can limit the number of mail and phone calls you receive from marketers. Contact the Do Not Call Registry at 1-888-382-1222 or visit www.donotcall.gov

For more information on stopping unwanted mail and phone calls visit the Federal Trade Commission online at www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0260-stopping-unsolicited-mail-phone-calls-and-email

You’ve seen many ads and articles stating that a Reverse Mortgage can help you, and for some people it is a wise choice. NJFA’s Renaissance magazine has published articles outlining what you should know when considering a Reverse mortgage. You must be 62 or over to qualify and a counseling session is required.  A reverse mortgage is borrowing against the equity of your home. You must stay current with your property taxes while you live in the home and the money will have to be paid back when you or your heirs sell the home. More information can be found at www.fdic.gov/

Always be on the lookout for fraud. Here are some warning signs to be aware of:

  • An unsolicited phone call, email or other request that you pay a large amount of money before receiving goods and services.
  • An unexpected email or call requesting your bank account number, perhaps one asking you for the information printed at the bottom of your checks.
  • An offer that seems too good to be true, like an investment, “guaranteeing” a return that’s way above the competition.
  • Pressure to send funds quickly by wire transfer.

Protecting your important documents is important. Keeping them in a safe place should also include protecting them from water damage by keeping them in an airtight and waterproof container.

The NJ Division of Consumer Affairs provides valuable information and resources to protect you. Their website features information about cyber fraud, how to determine if an investment opportunity is real and also a way to check if a charity is legitimate and other consumer warnings. Visit them online at www.njconsumeraffairs.gov or call them at 1-800-242-5846.

Aging Insights and You- Fall Prevention

Thursday, August 29th, 2013

                                                           Press Release

Aging Insights and You– Fall Prevention 

Trenton– 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.  The strategies to age well are voluminous.  Consequently, the Foundation uses several outreach and educational tools to highlight resources to age well.  For example, Aging Insights is a ½ hour TV program that is produced monthly by the Foundation.  September is Fall Prevention Month. The September program touches on ways to stay strong and healthy in order to avoid falls as well as other medical ailments.

Over the last two years an expansive range of shows have been produced by the Foundation. Utility assistance will be discussed in October to get folks ready for the winter heat season.  Other topics have included pet health, driver safety, community transportation, fitness, money management, foreclosure prevention and County resources.  Why so many topics?  Grace Egan, the Executive Director indicates “that these are topics relevant to boomers, caregivers and seniors. Our intent is to connect them to community programs to address their unique needs and those of their families”.  NJFA seeks sponsorships to underwrite these community education TV programs that are broadcast more than 300 times a month across NJ. The show is broadcast to an area of more than 6 million residents. Sponsorship opportunities are listed on the NJFA website www.njfoundationforaging.org

NJFA is pleased to announce the release of the 24th episode of Aging Insights, the Foundation’s TV program. This episode, Balance for Body and Mind, will be broadcast in September 2013. The program is available to public access stations and may also be seen on NJFA’s YouTube channel, www.Youtube.com/njfoundationforaging 

This episode is hosted by NJFA Program Manager, Melissa Chalker and she is joined by Siobhan Hutchinson, a Holistic Health Practitioner and Tai Chi Chih instructor and Romy Toussaint, a yoga instructor. Both guests share information about their respective practices, provide tips, as well as discuss the benefits of each. A demonstration of both Tai Chi Chih and Yoga can also be seen in this episode. Please visit NJFA’s website to take the new online survey for Aging Insights. We want to know what you think of the show and what topics you’d like to hear next!

On the set from left to right: Melissa Chalker, Siobhan Hutchinson, and Romy Toussaint

To learn more about the work of the Foundation visit www.njfoundationforaging.org or call 609-421-0206. The New Jersey Foundation for Aging was established in 1998, its mission is promote policy and services that enable older adults to live in the community with independence and dignity.

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New Rules for Durable Medical Equipment in New Jersey

Wednesday, July 10th, 2013

New Rules for Durable Medical Equipment in New Jersey

If you are a beneficiary with Original Medicare (a person who has Parts A and B of Medicare and not a Medicare Advantage plan) who uses  or plans to use certain durable medical equipment and supplies, such as oxygen, walkers, or wheelchairs, you should know about the new rules that started on July 1, 2013 in New Jersey.  The Durable Medical Equipment, Prosthetics, Orthotics, and Supplies (DMEPOS) Competitive Bidding Program is an attempt to save money for taxpayers and people with Medicare and may change the suppliers people with Medicare will need to use.

Most counties and zip codes in New Jersey will now be a part of this competitive bidding program.  You can check if your zip code is in a competitive bidding are by going to a fact sheet at http://www.cms.gov/Outreach-and Education/Outreach/Partnerships/Downloads/DMEPOSBeneFactSheetMarch2013.pdf

As of July 1, people with Original Medicare who live in or travel to one of these areas and need the items listed below will need to get these items from an approved contract supplier if they want Medicare to cover these supplies, unless their current suppliers decide to become grandfathered suppliers (non-contract suppliers that choose to continue to provide certain rented medical equipment or oxygen under the terms of the program). 

Beneficiaries will need to find out which suppliers are Medicare contract suppliers to make sure Medicare will  pay for their medical equipment or supplies. You can find out if a supplier is a contract supplier for the program by visiting http://www.medicare.gov/supplierdirectory/search.html or by calling 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227). 

The competitive bidding program will only cover certain categories of products.  The 8 product categories that are included in the program are:

1.         Oxygen, oxygen equipment, and supplies;

2.         Standard (power and manual) wheelchairs, scooters, and related  accessories;

3.         Enteral nutrients, equipment, and supplies;

4.         Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) devices, Respiratory Assist Devices (RADs) and related supplies and accessories;

5.         Hospital beds and related accessories;

6.         Walkers and related accessories;

7.         Support surfaces (Group 2 mattresses and overlays); and

8.         Negative Pressure Wound Therapy pumps and related supplies and accessories.

In addition to the categories of items listed, Medicare will be starting a national mail-order program for diabetic testing supplies at the same time.  The national mail-order program will include all parts of the United States, including the 50 States, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the US Virgin Islands, Guam, and American Samoa.  With this national mail-order program, people with Original Medicare will need to use a contract supplier for diabetic testing supplies delivered to their homes.  If these supplies are not delivered to a beneficiary’s  home, a beneficiary can go to any retailer that provides these supplies, but they may pay more. 

To assist beneficiaries, Medicare mailed information to people in the competitive bidding areas who use the items included in the program, in addition to those who use diabetic testing supplies across the country.  Approximately 5.7 million people with Medicare have been sent a letter and information.  You can review the letters, introductory brochure, national mail-order program fact sheet and other program education materials by visiting http://www.cms.gov/Outreach-and-Education/Outreach/Partnerships/DMEPOS_Toolkit.html.

Should you have any questions, please contact the Senior Medicare Patrol of New Jersey at 732-777-1940.  You can also contact the State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP) at 1-800-792-8820.

Building on Wisdom: NJFA’s 15th Annual Conference

Thursday, April 11th, 2013

Press Release

For Immediate Release                                                                      Contact:  Grace Egan

April 11, 2013                                                                                                  Melissa Chalker

                                                                                                                         609-421-0206

Building on Wisdom: NJFA’s 15th Annual Conference!

NJFA will hold its 15th Annual Conference on Wednesday, June 12th at the Crowne Plaza Monroe. This year’s conference, titled, Building on Wisdom will feature two nationally recognized keynote speakers.

The morning keynote presentation will be given by Dr. Mike Magee, President of Positive Medicine, Inc. Dr. Magee is committed to transforming powerful health visions into action. Recognized as a visionary leader of the home-centered health care movement and lifespan planning records, he has advised the Institute of Medicine on these topics. Dr. Magee is the author of 10 books including, Home Centered Health Care, Positive Leadership and Healthy Waters.

The luncheon keynote address will be given by reporter and editor, Patricia Cohen, who has worked for the New York Times, Washington Post, Newsday and Rolling Stone Magazine. Ms. Cohen published, In Our Prime: The Fascinating History and Surprising Future of Middle Age, a New York Times notable book.

The day will also include breakout sessions with great topics like, Financial Literacy, Sex and Aging, POSLT and End of Life decisions, as well as an update on the Comprehensive Medicaid Waiver. We hope you can join us for this informative, day-long conference!

Participants may register by email, by mail or by fax.  For more information about the conference visit: www.njfoundationforaging.org/events.html or call us at 609-421-0206.

  To learn more about the work of the Foundation visit www.njfoundationforaging.org or call 609-421-0206. The New Jersey Foundation for Aging was established in 1998, its mission is promote approaches in the delivery of services that enable older adults to live in the community with independence and dignity.

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Reverse Mortgage – Things to think over

Thursday, March 21st, 2013

Reverse Mortgage – Things to think over

In the Feb/Mar issue of Renaissance Magazine, NJFA featured an article about Reverse Mortgages. You can see the article (and the whole magazine) at www.njfoundationforaging.org/ren.html 

In the article, NJFA Board Member, Robert Jaworski, who is also an Attorney at Reed Smith in Princeton, covers all the bases for those considering a Reverse mortgage. As with any decision, there are many things to consider when determining if this is right for you.

One issue that has recently come to our attention via a few news articles has to do with married couples. If both parties are not listed on the document there can be difficulty when the person who did sign passes away. It is also important to note that both parties must be 62 or older to be listed on the reverse mortgage documents.

In one such story in the Washington Post recently, a woman in her 90’s was facing foreclosure because of this very issue. Even though both she and her husband were listed on the deed to the home, only her husband’s name and signature appear on the reverse mortgage documents.

It is clear that upon the death of the person who took out the reverse mortgage loan, the debt must be paid. However, the spouse living in the home should be spared that expense. But according to HUD, who oversees the programs, this is not the case if the spouses name does not appear on the documents.

But under a controversial policy that is drawing national scrutiny and at least one major lawsuit, HUD — the agency that runs the reverse mortgage program — now insists that when a spouse dies, and the surviving spouse’s name is not on the loan documents, the full mortgage balance becomes due and payable. If a relative or the surviving spouse cannot purchase the house and pay off the debt, the loan may be subject to a foreclosure sale. HUD’s reverse mortgage program, run through the Federal Housing Administration (FHA), has been big business. There were 582,000 loans outstanding nationwide as of November 2011, according to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which issued a critical evaluation of the program last year. Reverse mortgages are restricted to seniors 62 years or older. The program allows homeowners to tap into equity and pull out money for use in their retirement years. As long as they pay their property taxes and hazard insurance, generally they don’t have to repay any of the money until they move out, die or sell the house.

The policy change on surviving spouses that has snagged a few of the people we’ve read about was not adopted until late 2008, That change has been challenged in a federal lawsuit filed by AARP, the seniors advocacy group. On behalf of two widows and one widower who were threatened with foreclosure, AARP charged that HUD disregarded clear statutory language that allows surviving spouses to remain in their homes even if their name is not on the documents. In an appellate court ruling last month, U.S. Circuit Judge Laurence H. Silberman said that the court was “somewhat puzzled as to how HUD can justify a regulation that seems contrary to the governing statute.”

This post is not intended to scare anyone or to suggest that a reverse mortgage is not a good option for some people, it is merely another fact to consider when looking into a reverse mortgage.

Be sure to question your broker and consider all parties living in the home before signing on the dotted line.

Here are some resources to answer any of your questions:

http://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0192-reverse-mortgages;

http://www.aarp.org/money/credit-loans-debt/reverse_mortgages/;

  • The National Council on Aging

http://www.ncoa.org/calendar-of-events/webinars/reverse-mortgage-use-your.html or (800) 510-0301.                                                

  • NovaDebt

http://www.novadebt.org/housing_counseling.taf or 1-866-472-4557

 And here is a link to the article referenced :

http://www.dailyherald.com/article/20130201/entlife/702019968/

 

 

Did you know? Family Leave Insurance

Friday, February 8th, 2013

Did you know? Family Leave Insurance

Imagine this scenario- your mom lives alone and has a hip replacement. Who is going to help her while she recovers? Chances are you’ll have to take time off of work to do so. But there may be some help available to ease your financial concerns.

NJ passed the Paid Family Leave Act in 2008 to help family caregivers with caring for a seriously ill family member or a new born.  In 2011, 4,587 people received benefits from this program for caring for a spouse or other family members.  This represents about 20% of the claims while the balance of 80% are related to bonding with a child or care of a sick child. The average length of care was 4 weeks and the estimated benefit was about $1,800.

This support comes from the employee’s payroll disability withholdings.  You have already set this money aside to address a future need like taking care of a sick child, spouse or parent. There are forms to complete and information to get, but so many people are caregivers and temporary leave their jobs this modest amount of support can give a caregiver some peace of mind- while they do the yeoman’s job of providing care for a loved one.

So, how does it work?

You can claim Family Leave Insurance benefits to care for a family member with a serious health condition. There is a very comprehensive application which will also necessitate a health care provider certifying the condition. You will see a link below to get the form online.

Care leave may be taken for six consecutive weeks, intermittent weeks or 42 intermittent days during a 12 month period beginning with the first date of the family leave insurance claim.

Family member means your spouse, domestic partner, civil union partner, parent or child.

The child must be your biological or adopted child, foster child, stepchild, legal ward or the child of your domestic or civil union partner. The child must be less than 19 years old or if older than 19 years of age must be incapable of self-care because of mental or physical impairment.

You must give your employer reasonable advance notice unless:

  • You need to take family leave unexpectedly or
  • The time of the family leave changes for reasons you could not    foresee.

 If you claim family leave benefits intermittently, you must give your employer 15 days notice.

You may access the application by going to http://lwd.state.nj.us/labor/forms_pdfs/tdi/fl1.pdf

Other important contacts:

Division of Temporary Disability Insurance Customer Service Section (609) 292-7060.

Hearing impaired individuals may contact our office by: Telecommunication Device for the Deaf (TDD)-(609) 292-8319, New Jersey Relay Service: TT user 1-800-852-7899, Voice User: 1-800-852-7897

Important: Please allow fourteen (14) days processing time before inquiring about your claim.

Division of Temporary Disability Insurance FAX number: (609) 984-4138

For additional information about the Family Leave Insurance Program, visit at:

www.nj.gov/labor

To get additional help or information you may contact the NJ Time to Care Coalition by going to their website or calling their toll free number.  http://www.njtimetocare.com  or 1888-NJ GET WELL, 1-888-654-3893

The Affects of Sandy for Seniors

Wednesday, December 12th, 2012

The Affects of Sandy for Seniors

NJFA has partnered with NCOA on a few occasions to share a common message or service. NCOA’s One Away campaign has been something that NJFA has tweeted or facebooked about because we understand that many seniors (and many families) are one illness, one accident, on job loss away from a financial crisis. Now, as it turns out, they were just one hurricane away from financial disaster.

Before Sandy hit New Jersey, we knew there seniors who were living solely on Social Security. Many of them wondering by the end of the month how they’d make do until their next check. Sometimes, making a choice between food or medication or heat. NJFA has been aware of and worked on advocacy efforts for these seniors who are living on the edge of poverty.

NJFA’s 2012 Elder Index Update report shows that more than 25% of NJ seniors have difficulty closing the gap. We know that basic expenses in NJ for a single elder, in a one bedroom apartment are $27,960 a year. To read more of this report visit, http://www.njfoundationforaging.org/NJElderEconomicIndex2012.pdf

Certainly, seniors were among those affected by “Super-Storm” Sandy. Being displaced from their home, losing their belongings, are all things that may have pushed those living on the edge, over it. Those seniors may now be faced with not only how to stretch their dollars, but where to find dollars to replace their belongings or their home.

As we continue to hear stories about the people dealing with the recovery from the storm, we will see people like, Robert Ford, a disabled Vietnam veteran, whose family’s story of trying to save his home and keep him in it, was featured in the Asbury Park Press on Dec. 3rd. http://www.app.com/viewart/20121202/NJNEWS/312020047/Sandy-Highlands-veterans

In the article, you can read about how the family is struggling to find ways and money to rebuild the home and get Mr. Ford back where he wants to be. But it is not so easy for people that were barely making ends meet before the storm.

There are probably also many New Jersey seniors, who like Elaine of Maryland, who was featured in a video about senior hunger put out by the National Council on Aging, had her home flooded and wonders now how she’ll pay for the damage as well as continue to buy food, medication and pay for her heat. http://www.ncoa.org/get-involved/this-holiday-season-give-a.html

To find out about public supports and other programs that might help seniors in need contact your County Office on Aging, http://www.njfoundationforaging.org/services.html