Posts Tagged ‘budget cuts’

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.

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 ‚ÄúBest Existing Age-friendly Initiative in the World‚Äù 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 [email protected]

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 rememberРThe 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‚Äôs 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