Posts Tagged ‘transportation’

How to Age Well: Planning Your Path, Part 1: Mobility and Transportation

Tuesday, April 23rd, 2019

By Mason Crane-Bolton

Where will you go? How will you get there? | Photo via pexels.com

 

There is no way to get aging “right”…But it does help to plan.

 

Something is happening each and every day across New Jersey. Across the United States. Across the entirety of the planet. We are all getting older.

 

Like it or not, each and every one of us is on a journey of aging. From the moment we are born until the moment we die, we are aging. We tend to think of aging as being something saved for an arbitrary age, like 50, 60, 65,…etc. We could list off the ages at which society (for one reason or another) has decided we’ve hit a certain benchmark in aging. Whether it’s Social Security benefits, Medicare enrollment, retirement, “senior citizen” discounts, or a screening your doctor now wants you to undergo, we tend to have these changes attached (or attach ourselves) to specific ages or with “being of a certain age.” We think of them as being times in our life when a monumental change has occurred, a mark of “aging.”

 

But the truth is, regardless of what arbitrary number might be assigned to program enrollments or coupons, we don’t age in random, sudden leaps. We age constantly and gradually. While this might make it tempting to wait to plan for your later years, you should plan now. No one wants to be caught unawares by changes as you age or a sudden health crisis, so it makes sense to plan for your later years as early as possible. Think of planning now as training for becoming an older adult.

 

What if you already consider yourself an older adult? That’s not to say this blog doesn’t apply to you too! It absolutely does—no matter where you are or where you consider yourself to be in your path of aging, it makes sense to plan now for the road ahead, whether that road is two days or twenty years from now!

 

Having plans in place will mitigate much stress and bad decision-making in emergency situations. Much heartache and avoidable stressed is caused by being forced to make difficult decisions in the heat of the moment; time spent worrying about what the best decision is and then wondering if the right decision is the one you made

 

What are some priorities to focus on? We’re so glad you asked. In this three-part series we’ll cover different aspects on how-to age well as we lead up to our 21st Annual Conference. If you’d like to register for the conference but haven’t yet, go to www.njfoundationforaging.org for more information.

 

This week we’ll cover: mobility and transportation.

 

Mobility

Whether or not you anticipate needing ambulatory aids like a wheelchair, walker, or cane, or already use one, mobility is a serious consideration for all of us as we continue to age. Because it’s impossible to guess how much your mobility may be impacted in the future (either through changes in health or sudden accidents) it’s best to come up with contingency plans for different scenarios. Ask yourself the following questions for differing levels of physical ability. For instance, how comfortable would you be in your current home if walking unaided was difficult? What if you needed to use a cane, crutches, walker, or a wheelchair?

 

If you live in a home with stairs or are looking to move, consider how your living situation might need to accommodate future needs. Would you be able to fit in a chairlift? Or an elevator? Are your stairs wide enough? Too steep?

 

Stairs are one of the most common considerations, but there are many others that are often forgotten. Would you be able to get into your bathroom if you needed assistance? How about your shower? Would your cabinets be difficult to use if you had limited range of motion in your arms? Could you open your drawers or doors if you hand limited hand strength?

 

Even if you’re unable to move or implement these changes now, plan for what you’ll do in the future if the need arises. Will you need to move or will you be able to retrofit your home? If you need to move are there places in your community you could easily move to or will you need to expand your search? Will you move or make these changes at a certain date in anticipation of future needs? Having a plan in a place will help you meet your needs without making a move or renovation more stressful.

 

If you’d like to find an aging-in-place specialist, you can use this link to find one in your area: Living in Place

 

Transportation

Whether you drive or not, you’ll likely need to consider how transportation will be impacted by aging as you get older. If public transportation is or will be your continuing form of transportation some considerations you may face are: distance to public transit routes, if public transit will serve your daily transportation needs, how you will get to and from transit stations, and any access or assistance you may need.

 

If you currently drive and plan to continue driving there are different considerations you’ll need to take into account. As age may affect your eyesight, hearing, and reflexes, it’s a good idea to regularly monitor any changes in your ability to drive or operate a motor vehicle. You may also want to consider regularly scheduling road tests to determine if your driving skills still meet the state licensing standards. Finally, it’s important to be willing to give up your keys if you need to. Although this can be a scary, frustrating, and emotionally and logistically difficult process for many, if driving has become dangerous for you or others, including drivers, pedestrians, animals, or property, it’s necessary to stop driving.

 

For many another option may be formal or informal car services. Although almost everyone will already be familiar with traditional car services and taxis, there are also newer services like Uber and Lyft (or GoGo Grandparent for those who don’t feel comfortable hiring an Uber/Lyft on their own) for a fee. Or you can call your area office on aging to see what services might be available in your area (you can call 1-877-222-3737 toll-free and be connected with your county’s office). If you’re fortunate enough to have relatives, friends, or caregivers nearby who can provide you with transportation, this is of course another option. Each of these options have different pros and cons. Private car services and taxis are generally the most expensive, but may be more reliable than other services or may give the riders more peace of mind. Services like Uber and Lyft have more price ranges, making them more affordable for many older adults, and you’re likely to find a ride any time day or night, but these services and the lack of consistency and accountability may make some people uncomfortable with using them. Lastly, volunteer services or the use of relatives/friends are wonderful and the most cost-effective of these transportation options, but riders may face limited availability of rides at times—however, you might form great friendships with your drivers!

 

There is no one solution to deciding how you will cope with mobility changes or transportation needs. Just as your life changes, so many the appropriate solution for you—having a plan, or even considering your current or future needs, is the first step to aging well.

 

Stay tuned for our next blog post, the second part in our “Planning to Age Well,” series: health, home and “after I’m gone.”


Mason Crane-Bolton is Communications Manager for the New Jersey Foundation for Aging. His writing has appeared in EpiphanyUU WorldTo Wake/To Rise, and others. 

Announcing NJFA’s 17th Annual Conference!

Thursday, March 26th, 2015

Announcing NJFA’s 17th Annual Conference!

NJFA will hold its 17th Annual Conference on Wednesday, June 3rd at the Crowne Plaza Monroe. The 2015 Keynote Speakers are James Firman, CEO of NCOA and Nora Dowd Eisenhower, Assistant Director of the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau Office of Financial Protection for Older Americans. Jim Firman will address the crowd in the morning. Heis recognized leader and advocate in the field of aging. Mr. Firman will discuss a variety of topics including key aspects of the political and legislative landscape, such as the White House Conference on Aging and the Affordable Care Act. He will also talk about NCOA’s work on Elder Justice, Economic Security, Benefits Check-up, Senior Hunger and evidence based programs.

Ms. Dowd Eisenhower will be the luncheon keynote speaker and will discuss the mission and structure of the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau (CFPB) and the specific role of the Office for Older Americans. She will also talk about CFPB tools/guides on financial decisions such as reverse mortgages or choosing a financial advisor. This will include two programs from CFPB that look at preventing elder financial exploitation and guides created for powers of attorney, etc.

The 2015 conference workshop speakers will include policy makers, direct care & clinical practice specialists. Topics include Dental Health and Oral Cancer Screenings, Addiction and Gambling in Older Adults, New Models of Care, Elder Bullying and more.

More information and registration can be found on NJFA‚Äôs website at www.njfoundationforaging.org Limited vendor space and sponsorships remain, call us at 609-421-0206, email at [email protected] or check out the website for details.

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.slide_01

Job hunting over 50

Friday, February 20th, 2015

Job hunting over 50

Looking for a new job over 50 might not sound like an easy task, but it is possible. And there are some steps you can take to increase your success.

Keep busy. Be a self starter. You can remain active by consulting, writing articles or blogs. It’s a mistake to take too much of a break. Keeping in touch with colleagues is also great. Keep them up to date on what you are doing and ask what is going on in their field. Networking can be a very beneficial thing, you can even look into attending networking meetings.

Be up to date. Email accounts with aol or yahoo are considered out dated. You may want to look into creating a gmail account (google) or using outlook. You want your email address to look professional and convey who you are, so no cute nicknames. Your email address should be your name and maybe something to indicate your profession or field of interest. For example, [email protected]

It’s good to be careful about your online persona, but being completely unable to find is not good either. An online job search expert, Susan P Joyce said, “the biggest mistake I see is older job seekers confusing privacy with invisibility”. You can create a Facebook account and/or a Linkedin profile where you can share information about yourself or things relevant to your line of work. Remember to keep it professional, no pictures of you getting drunk at a party or inappropriate posts like off-collar jokes.

You may be able to negotiate a few perks when offered a job for less money than you were hoping. Holding out for a job that pays more is not always the best move, that job may not be out there. It may be necessary to accept a job that is below your asking salary. However, you may be able to ask for more flextime, vacation days or another perk. Do some research on what jobs in your field of interest are paying, this will help you be prepared when asked what salary you are looking for.

It’s also good to be prepared in regard to your resume. It’s a good idea to ask for help from friends or family, but you can also get professional resume assistance. And keep it short, no one wants to read a five page resume. Recruiters get a lot of resumes, keeping it short and sweet is key, limit your work history to your most recent jobs. Highlight your skills. And proofread, nothing turns people off more than typos.

And don’t forget to check your wardrobe. If you’ve been working in a business casual environment, you may have to spend some money updating. Make sure your clothing fits and is not obviously out of date.

Do your research on any company you are interviewing with. You want to sound knowledgeable when you meet with them and you also want to be able to say why you will be a good asset. And be prepared to ask the interviewer questions too. Don’t say no if you are asked if you have any questions, come prepared with a few to ask.

Apply for a job even if you don’t meet all of the “job requirements”. I think this is good advice for job seekers of any age. Employers aren’t necessarily looking for someone to have all of the skills they list in a job description, if you meet a number of skills on the list and have other good qualities like a good work history you might be just the person they are looking for!

You can find assistance at

NJ Dept of Laborhttp://jobs4jersey.com/jobs4jersey/jobseekers/older/

Pathstonehttp://www.pathstone.org/services/training-and-employment-services/#Senior%20Training%20and%20Employment%20Services

Workforce 50http://www.workforce50.com/content/JobsByState/New-Jersey-Jobs.cfm

AARPhttp://www.aarp.org/work/job-hunting/?intcmp=FTR-LINKS-JOBRES-JOBHUNT

 

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, ‚Äúguaranteeing‚Äù a return that‚Äôs 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.

NJ Elder Economic Security Index

Tuesday, September 24th, 2013

In 2009 NJFA released the first NJ Elder Economic Security Index Report. This report provided the cost of living for people over 65 in NJ. Not only did it determine how much seniors need to meet their basic needs in NJ, but also broke down the data for all 21 counties in NJ.

 If you are not familiar with the Index, it breaks down the cost of living for NJ seniors in several categories- Housing, Transportation, Food, Healthcare and Misc. It also looks at these costs for both single elders and those living in a two person household. The Index goes even further to differentiate the costs for renters, homeowners with a mortgage and homeowners without a mortgage. With the release of the report in 2009 this opened the eyes of many policymakers and advocates as to the high cost of living for seniors. It also highlighted the issue of what senior’s income was compared to their cost of living. The accompanying Policy Brief also looked at the benefit programs and public supports that are available

In 2012 NJFA released an Index update. Not only did NJFA update the numbers but the new report also included a demographics study. The demographics study told us how many seniors in NJ were living below the Elder Index, not just in the state of NJ, but in each county as well.

Of single and two person households over 65 in NJ, 42.6% of them live below the Elder Index. Because the Elder Index is based on the costs for either a single elder or an elder living in a two person household, the demographic study misses those who are living in a household with 3 or more people.

If in 2012 42.6% of elderly single and two person households were living below the Index in NJ, what does that mean for 2013 and beyond? If we look at the change from 2009 (the first NJ Elder Index) and 2013, some seniors have seen more than a 30% increase in their cost of living. In 2009 the cost of living for a single senior renter in NJ was estimated to be $25,941. In 2013 its $28,860, that’s an 11.25% increase in costs without an increase in income. Some seniors may find it necessary to seek employment in retirement.

Not all seniors will be able to find employment or may not even be able to work. This is where benefit programs enter the picture. Programs like PAAD or Senior Gold can help cut the cost of prescription medications. Lifeline and LIHEAP can help them to pay their utilities bills. SNAP (formerly food stamps), Farmers Market Coupons and other nutrition programs will make it easier to access healthy foods. The highest cost for seniors is their housing. So naturally affordable housing would make the biggest impact for a senior who is below the index. However, affordable housing is difficult to come by. Many seniors are on multiple waiting lists, each kept separately without a way of sharing the information.

This is why NJFA continues to advocate for all services that may benefit seniors. In order to ensure that all of NJ’s seniors can live in the community of their choice, with independence and dignity.

To view the full Elder Index Report, please visit our website at www.njfoundationforaging.org/issues.html

 

 

 

 

Money saving tips

Friday, September 13th, 2013

Money saving tips

Here are some great tips for saving money. We gathered these from various sources, to learn more about each follow the links provided or contact a trusted financial advisor. 

Find your pension

To see if you or someone you know has an unclaimed pension-Search.pbgc.gov

Free credit monitoring

Creditsesame.com

Catch-up

If you are 50 or over you can contribute an extra $5,500 to your 401K plan as a catch up contribution in 2013

 Family ties

If adult children or grandchildren live with you it may mean special tax breaks. Ask your tax preparer about claiming dependents for family members you support.

Save on stamps

Paying bills online means not buying stamps

Free credit report

Don’t pay for credit reports. Get a free copy once a year from three companies- Equifax, TransUnion and Experian. Visit annualcreditreport.com

Selling your home?

The best day of the week to list your home for sale is Friday and the worst is Sunday. according to an analysis by a major real-estate brokerage firm. Listings on Fridays sell faster and for more money.

Save money on medications

Ask your doctor for free samples. Drug company reps drop them off all the time.

Skip the ER

If you have a non-life-threatening medical issue, like fevers, cuts, minor burns or headaches. Urgent care centers with walk-in features are more affordable and usually are open 7 days a week.

Grow it

If you put the stub of romaine lettuce in a glass of water and place it in a sunny spot it will grow back, the same is true of celery, spring onions and cabbage.

Weigh your options

If you need only a few vegetables or fruits for a recipe or meal, buying a small amount from the salad bar at your supermarket may be cheaper than buying a bag of precut vegetables.

Check it out

Instead of buying a book, why not visit your local library and borrow it.

Service advisory

If you get your car serviced at the dealer, ask to check for any service advisories. You might save on a repair that is covered.

Compare 401 (k) fees

Financial information company, BrightScope features free 401 (K) ratings directory that compares fees among plans. Check it out at brightscope.com/ratings

Falls Prevention Awareness Week, September 22-29, 2013

Tuesday, September 3rd, 2013

Falls Prevention Awareness Week, September 22-29, 2013

The Falls Prevention Workgroup and Division of Aging Services are promoting the 5th Annual Falls Prevention Awareness Week, September 22-29, 2013. Governor Christie declared September 23-29, 2013 Falls Prevention Awareness week with events happening throughout the state. The fall prevention workgroup is comprised of PTs, EMS personnel, health educators, etc. 

It is reported that more than one third of adults age 65 and older fall each year in the US. In New Jersey, an average of 194 people age 60 and over are treated in the ER or as inpatients due to a fall. Falls are the number one cause of brain injury in adults. as you can tell, falls are a serious problem.

The upside to this is that falls are preventable. And that is what Fall Prevention Week is all about, bringing awareness to the issue and helping people to prevent falls.

First things first, exercise is a good idea. It will increase your strength, flexibility and balance.

Make sure to get important exams, like an eye exam, yearly. Make sure your doctor and pharmacist review your medicines- both prescription and over the counter to make sure there are no side effects or interactions that could put you at risk. Also, there are some medications that can cause dizziness or weakness, so make sure you are aware if you are taking any with those side effects.

Wear the right footwear. You’d be surprised how many falls are due to this. Make sure your shoes fit properly and have non-slip soles.

You can do things around the house to make it safer as well. Remove clutter in your hallways and rooms. Make sure any wires or cords are out of the way. Make lights brighter, especially in stairways. Install bath grips or grab bars in your tub or shower. Limiting the use of area rugs is a good idea, but if you use them, make sure they are the kind with non-skid liners.

The best way to make Fall Prevention Awareness Week in NJ a success is by spreading the word.

Learn more at http://www.state.nj.us/humanservices/doas/services/fallprev/index.html

And be sure to check out the 24th Episode of NJFA’s TV Program, Aging Insights, which features exercises that help to promote strength and balance!

www.youtube.com/njfoundationforaging

Affordable housing is more important than ever for low income seniors and low income families.

Monday, July 1st, 2013

Affordable housing is more important than ever for low income seniors and low income families.

A recent Appellate Division’s decision provides an important opportunity for municipalities to utilize much-needed housing trust funds to address the chronic shortage of affordable housing for low-income seniors across the state in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. Many of these funds were specifically designated for the development of senior housing in the nine counties hardest hit by the storm. This includes 131 senior units in Monmouth County, 6 special needs unit for the elderly by Cerebral Palsy of North Jersey in Livingston, Essex County; and 5 senior rental by Catholic Charities in Harrison, Hudson County.

The court’s decision comes at a critical time in this state’s history with the high demand for affordable senior housing and the rising cost of living. In just three short years, the cost of living for seniors living in a one bedroom apartment on a fixed income in New Jersey has increased 8 percent, according to data released in 2012 by the New Jersey Foundation for Aging (NJFA).

The cost of living for a single renter over the age of 65 was $25,941 in 2009. That same renter, living in the same one-bedroom apartment, saw her cost of living quickly climb more than $2,000 to $27,960, by 2012. However, there was not a comparable rise in income or Social Security.  Seniors on fixed incomes have been plagued in recent years with rising expenses for housing, transportation and health care. In many cases this has resulted in a rise in senior hunger and even homelessness. Their highest cost is their housing expenses.

Twenty five percent of all seniors in our state rely on Social Security as their only income. So NJ seniors can least afford the trend in rising expenses. The result is a widening of the gap between basic living expenses and their income. The NJ Elder Economic Index details these costs for seniors in each of the 21 NJ counties. These details indicate how seniors are faring in the slow economy. The latest data shows that 250,000 seniors over the age of 65 in New Jersey – representing 42 percent of single and elderly couples living in the community – do not have the money to cover their basic costs. Sixty-four percent of people in this group are women.

The report, known as the NJ Elder Economic Index, indicates that the average Social Security for a woman being $14,848. But average living expenses for a one-bedroom apartment in New Jersey has reached the $27,960 mark. So how can we expect to call these the golden years if elders must choose between food, heat, shelter or prescriptions? Even if a person worked and saved for retirement this rise in costs are unprecedented and these elders are one step from their own ‘fiscal cliff’. The New Jersey Foundation for Aging wants to alert and connect elders to resources in their community that might ease the financial strain they may be feeling each day. 

A woman receiving $14,848 from Social Security as her sole income with the average costs of a one bedroom apartment at $27,960 is only 53% economically secure.  At this income level she would be eligible for several food and nutrition programs, as well utility assistance programs. These programs would improve her quality of life and enable her to use her income to cover more of her basic living costs, but she would still fall short of meeting her costs by 21%. The only public benefit program that would help her to close the gap is affordable housing. 

The most costly portion of an elder’s monthly expenses is their housing. More than 46 percent of their income must go towards their housing, taxes and utilities.  This highlights the need for more affordable housing. The state’s housing shortage has been documented for several decades. And the need for affordable housing in the community for people of all ages has only been further stressed by the recent storms and floods across the state. Public awareness is a key component to help local advocates, state policy makers, municipal leaders and planners address current and future needs. Where you live at age 65 or 70?  Persons over age 75 and older have even fewer income assets. Where will your parents live at age 85?

If these funds are not protected and utilized, Otherwise low-income seniors and low-income families will continue to be displaced by Sandy and homeless for many years to come. Each municipality’s affordable housing trust funds are needed now more than ever for the development of new housing because of the impact of hurricane Sandy. We cannot afford to be silent on this issue. Elders who have been active in their community who want to downsize need affordable housing options; working families who want good schools and safe streets need affordable housing; health care workers who want to be close to their work and patients need affordable housing. A healthy blend of housing types is crucial to nurture a community’s cultural and social vitality as well as its economic base. “NJ Strong” must include affordable housing options to serve it residents and to build back the local economy.

*this was submitted and printed as an op-ed in the Asbury Park Press on 6/19/13 by Grace Egan, Executive Director, NJFA

Did you know? NJFA is celebrating our 15th Anniversary this year!

Monday, May 13th, 2013

Did you know?

Did you know that NJFA is celebrating our 15th Anniversary this year! Yes, NJFA was incorporated in 1998. It’s got us thinking, “what have we accomplished in all that time?” Well, the answer is, quite a lot. And we’d like to tell you about it.

When NJFA was established in 1998 it was formed with a mission to promote innovative approaches in the delivery of services that enable older adults to live in the community with independence and dignity through grant making to address unmet needs and through increasing society’s awareness to influence public policy. NJFA still seeks to hold true to that mission today, 15 years later.

Here’s how we’ve been doing so far:

NJFA has provided 44 grants to programs serving NJ Seniors.

Those 44 grants total $380,000 given to programs that serve more than 25,000 seniors across NJ.

NJFA provides public awareness through, Renaissance Magazine with 100,000 readers and Aging Insights, a public access TV program with 400,000 viewers, now on NJFA’s YouTube channel at http://www.youtube.com/njfoundationforaging

Public Policy- NJFA’s 2012 NJ Elder Economic Index Update Project is a continuation of Policy Work that began in 2009 with the first Elder Index report. The 2012 report adds demographic information to the cost of living report. Data is available in for all 21 Counties.

NJFA also continues to make transportation a priority, following the policy report, “Safe Mobility at Any Age” in 2005, we continue to work with partners like the Voorhees Transportation Center, Motor Vehicle Commission and AAA Automobile Club.

Professional Development-  15th Annual Professional Conference, June 12, 2013 Conference, Jamesburg, NJ. A day-long conference for professionals in  the aging network. Over 200 attendees will hear Nationally recognized key note speakers and be a able to chose from sessions on evidence based best practices and new initiatives for seniors and caregivers in NJ.

So you see, NJFA has really done a lot in 15 years and we hope to continue being a leading force in promoting “Aging Well” in NJ. Visit us at www.njfoundationforaing.org to learn more.

How can you help? When you visit our website, click on the donate here page to make a donation online or print out a donation form and mail it to us at 176 West State St, Trenton, NJ 08608.

Have questions or want more info? Call us at 609-421-0206 or email us at [email protected], we‚Äôd be glad to tell you all about our work!

After all, none of NJFA’s work would be possible without the support of our donors, partners, funders and of course our Board of Trustees and Senior Executive Council members!

 

 

Go Direct

Thursday, December 20th, 2012

Go Direct

NJFA has done a number of blogs about Go Direct, a campaign alerting those who receive Federal Benefits (such as Social Security) that they must sign up for Direct Deposit for those benefits by March 1, 2013 as US Treasury will no longer issue paper checks after that date.

There are two options, direct deposit into your bank account or you may chose to receive your benefits on a pre-paid debit card. You can learn more at www.ssa.gov/deposit/

Today, we want to tell you that in this age of technology, scammers are finding more ways to target seniors. The Social Security Administration (SSA) reports that they have been receiving reports from identity theft victims that their monthly Social Security benefits had been sent to a different bank account or pre-paid debt card, without their knowledge or permission.

SSA and the Office of the Inspector General continue to investigate and track these cases. The incidents are related to widespread schemes, the same kind of fraudulent phone calls or emails targeting seniors that have been going on for years. Now, the scammers are using this personal information to re-direct direct deposit of Social Security benefits.

David Vinokurov of the Social Security Administration states, “to protect your identity, be wary of any calls or emails from people asking for personal information.” No legitimate company will make an unsolicited call asking for personal information like your Social Security number (SSN) or bank account. Mr. Vinokurov adds, “The Social Security Administration will never ask for your SSN, we have it.”

The SSA does not want anyone to fear signing up for Direct Deposit, they know it is a safe and convenient way for people to receive benefits. Unfortunately, scammers will always find a way to take advantage, so the best thing you can do is to closely guard your personal information. If you receive a call or email asking you for your bank account number, Social Security Number or other personal information, do not give it out. “Always pay attention to your bank statements and your credit reports” warns Mr. Vinokurov. You can receive a free credit report once a year, visit www.annualcreditreport.com to learn more.

Another safeguard through the SSA is that you can tell them that no changes may be made to your account unless you appear in person with ID, visit www.socialsecurity.gov/blockaccess

If you fear that your benefits may have been changed due to identity theft contact SSA immediately. For example, if you have not received your benefits and it is 3 to 4 days past your scheduled payment or if you receive a letter confirming a change to your direct deposit however you did not authorize this change, you should report the problem immediately to SSA.

To learn more about this type of fraud and how to report it, visit http://oig.ssa.gov/report-fraud-waste-or-abuse