Medicare Launches Hospice Compare Website

Patients looking for hospice care can now get help from Medicare’s website. The agency’s new Hospice Compare site allows patients to evaluate hospice providers according to several criteria. The site is a good start, but there is room for improvement, experts say. Medicare’s comprehensive hospice benefit covers any care that is reasonable and necessary for easing the course of a terminal illness. Medicare launched the hospice compare website to improve transparency and help families find the right hospice provider. The website provides information on how hospices deal with treatment preferences, address a patient’s beliefs and values, screen and assess for pain Continue Reading

You Can Give Away More Tax Free in 2018

After staying the same for five years, the amount you can give away to any one individual in a particular year without reporting the gift will increase in 2018. The annual gift tax exclusion for 2018 is rising from $14,000 to $15,000. This means that any person who gives away $15,000 or less to any one individual (anyone other than their spouse) does not have to report the gift or gifts to the IRS. If you give away more than $15,000, you do not necessary have to pay taxes, but you will have to file a gift tax return (Form 709). The Continue Reading

Why Giving Your House to Your Children Isn’t the Best Way to Protect It From Medicaid

You may be afraid of losing your home if you have to enter a nursing home and apply for Medicaid. While this fear is well-founded, transferring the home to your children is usually not the best way to protect it. Although you generally do not have to sell your home in order to qualify for Medicaid coverage of nursing home care, the state could file a claim against the house after you die. If you get help from Medicaid to pay for the nursing home, the state must attempt to recoup from your estate whatever benefits it paid for your care. Continue Reading

Medicare’s Part B Premium Will Be Unchanged in 2018

The announcement of the 2018 Medicare premium is good news for some beneficiaries and bad news for many others.  The good news is that the standard monthly Part B premium, which about 30 percent of Medicare beneficiaries pay, will again be $134 next year, unchanged from 2017. But most Medicare recipients pay a lower premium because they have been protected from any increase in premiums when Social Security benefits remain stagnant, as has been the case for the last several years.  This year, that premium has averaged $109 a month, but due to the 2 percent Social Security increase for 2018, the premiums Continue Reading

HUD Makes Reverse Mortgages a Little Less Attractive

The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has announced changes to the federal reverse mortgage program. Citing the need to put the program on better financial footing, HUD will raise reverse mortgage fees for some borrowers and lower the amount homeowners can borrow. A reverse mortgage allows a homeowner who is at least 62 years old to use the equity in his or her home to obtain a loan that does not have to be repaid until the homeowner moves, sells, or dies. In a reverse mortgage, the homeowner receives a sum of money from the lender, usually a Continue Reading

Be Aware of the Kiddie Tax Before Leaving an IRA to Children

Grandparents may be tempted to leave an IRA to a grandchild because children have a low tax rate, but the “kiddie tax” could make doing this less beneficial. An IRA can be a great gift for a grandchild. A young person who inherits an IRA has to take minimum distributions, but because the distributions are based on the beneficiary’s life expectancy, grandchildren’s distributions will be small and allow the IRA to continue to grow. In addition, children are taxed at a lower rate than adults—usually 10 percent. However, the lower tax rate does not apply to all unearned income. Enacted Continue Reading

Boomers More Likely To Carry Mortgage Debt Into Retirement

Massachusetts elder law attorney John Gosselin was heavily quoted in a Banker & Tradesman article discussing Boomers likelihood to carry more mortgage debt into retirement. A Mortgage After Retirement Isn’t A Problem – It’s A Plan By Jim Morrison | Banker & Tradesman Staff Baby Boomers are more likely to have a mortgage when they retire than the generation born between the mid-1920s and the mid-1940s, according to new research from Fannie Mae. While that trend worries some economists, other experts say post-retirement debt can be a smart move. “The increasing prevalence of housing debt among older homeowners could compromise Continue Reading

Why You Should Use a Lawyer for Medicaid Planning

Many seniors and their families don’t use a lawyer to plan for long-term care or Medicaid, often because they’re afraid of the cost. But an attorney can help you save money in the long run as well as make sure you are getting the best care for your loved one. Instead of taking steps based on what you’ve heard from others, doing nothing, or enlisting a non-lawyer referred by a nursing home, you can hire an elder law attorney. Here are a few reasons why you should at least consider this option: No conflict of interest. When nursing homes refer Continue Reading

You Can Pay Your Medicare Premiums Online

Online bill paying has become a popular way to make paying bills easier, and now you can pay your Medicare premiums online too. If your bank allows customers to pay bills online, you can use that service to pay your Medicare premiums. To set up online bill paying, contact your bank. To make sure your bank processes your premium payments correctly, you’ll need to give the bank this information: The amount of your Medicare premium Your account number, which is your Medicare number without dashes (this number is on your red, white, and blue Medicare card) The biller’s name: CMS Continue Reading

Proving Age Discrimination Is Difficult

As baby boomers continue to work past retirement age, age discrimination lawsuits are becoming more common. Two out of three workers between ages 45 and 74 say they have seen or experienced age discrimination, according to AARP. However, experiencing it and proving it are two different things. The federal Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) forbids employers with 20 or more employees to discriminate against people who are age 40 or older. The law prohibits an employer from discriminating in hiring, firing, wages, job assignments, promotions, or any other aspect of employment. It is also illegal to harass employees based Continue Reading