529 Education Savings Plan – How Can I Help with My Grandchild’s College Tuition?

529 Education Savings Plan – To assist with college tuition for younger children or grandchildren, you may want to defer the receipt of funds, until the child or grandchild needs to pay for tuition down the road. You can make a gift into a custody account or into a trust that qualifies as a current gift under the Uniform Gifts to Minor’s Act, or you can fund a Qualified Tuition Plan under IRC Section 529.

Forbes’ recent article entitled “Estate Planning Primer: Qualified Tuition Plans” explains that there are two kinds of 529 education savings plan programs: prepaid plans and savings plans. The advantage of a 529 plan over a Unified Gift to Minors Act plan is that the earnings on the assets in the 529 plan aren’t taxed, until the funds are distributed. The distributions are also tax-free up to the amount of the student’s “qualified higher education expenses.”

Prepaid Programs: Some colleges let you buy tuition credits or certificates at the current tuition rates, even though your grandchild won’t be starting college for several years. This allows you to lock in today’s rates for her enrollment some years later. This move can resultant in substantial savings, since tuition continues to rise at most institutions.

Savings Programs: Similar to a Traditional IRA or a Roth IRA, tuition amounts covered by a 529 education savings plan are dependent on the investment performance of the money you have in the plan. If it grows, more cost can be covered. But if it declines, less will be covered. Therefore, it is good to be conservative, if the need for distributions is nearing soon.

Qualified Higher Education Expenses: Tuition (including up to $10,000 in tuition for an elementary or secondary public, private, or religious school), fees, books, supplies, and required equipment, as well as reasonable room and board are qualified expenses, if the student is enrolled at least half-time. Distributions in excess of qualified expenses are taxed to the student, if they represent earnings on the account. A 10% penalty tax is also imposed.

Beneficiary: The beneficiary of the program is specified when you start the funding. However, you are able to change the beneficiary or roll over the funds in the program to another plan for the same or a different beneficiary without income tax liability.

Eligible Schools: Any college, university, vocational school, or other post-secondary school eligible to participate in a student aid program of the Department of Education will be eligible schools for these programs.

The contributions made to the qualified tuition program are treated as gifts to the student. They qualify for the annual gift tax exclusion ($15,000 per person per year for 2020) adjusted annually for inflation. If your contributions in a year exceed the exclusion amount, you can elect to take the contributions into account over a five-year period starting with the year of the contributions.

Note that you may not be able to make the distributions from the program when a very young (or unborn) beneficiary goes to college, so name an alternative custodian, perhaps a parent of a grandchild, to make distributions for you.

Reference: Forbes (Aug. 5, 2020) “Estate Planning Primer: Qualified Tuition Plans”

 

Comments Off on 529 Education Savings Plan – How Can I Help with My Grandchild’s College Tuition?
Why Can’t Doctors Recognize Lewy Body Dementia ?
Wooden block with a question mark. Asking questions, searching for truth. Riddle mystery, investigation and research. FAQ - frequently asked questions. Search for information. Q&A

Why Can’t Doctors Recognize Lewy Body Dementia ?

Considerable’s recent article entitled “The second most common type of dementia often goes unrecognized” reports that in one study, nearly 70% of people diagnosed with Lewy body dementia visited three consultants before receiving the diagnosis. For 33% of people with the disease, getting the correct diagnosis took over two years.

The word “dementia” describes a condition affecting a person’s memory and thinking that is a decline from how they used to function. It is severe enough to affect their daily life. Alzheimer’s disease dementia and Lewy body dementia are the two most common types. Lewy body dementia derives its name from the abnormal protein clumps that are seen on autopsies of the brains of people with Lewy body.

A diagnosis of Lewy body dementia comprises two different conditions: dementia with Lewy bodies and Parkinson’s disease dementia. With Lewy body, an individual develops memory and thinking problems before or at the same time as he or she develops movement problems that mirror Parkinson’s disease. In Parkinson’s disease dementia, one who has experienced Parkinson’s disease movement problems for years then also develops trouble with memory and thinking.

The two conditions have many common features. With the memory and thinking problems and movement problems, patients with these conditions can have fluctuations in their alertness and concentration, hallucinations and paranoia, acting out dreams during sleep (known as “REM sleep behavior disorder”), low blood pressure with standing, daytime sleepiness and depression and other symptoms.

The correct diagnosis is vital for patients and families. The diagnosis of Lewy body dementia is frequently missed, because of lack of awareness by physicians, patients, and their families. Research also reveals that the first diagnosis is commonly incorrect. Roughly 26% of people later diagnosed with Lewy body were first diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, and 24% were given a psychiatric diagnosis like depression.

With the correct diagnosis, patients and families can seek out resources, such as the Lewy Body Dementia Association, an organization dedicated to helping people living with this disease. This group provides education on Lewy body, helps patients and families know what to expect, connects patients and families to support and resources and helps them find research opportunities.

Reference: Considerable (Aug. 14, 2020) “The second most common type of dementia often goes unrecognized”

 

Comments Off on Why Can’t Doctors Recognize Lewy Body Dementia ?

A Four-Decades Longest Social Security Scam Finally Ends

In one of the Longest Social Security Scam of its kind, a 76-year-old small business owner in Oregon has been collecting his deceased aunt’s Social Security checks and even her stimulus payment from the Treasury Department issued in May, as reported by AARP in the article “Nephew Allegedly Cashed Dead Aunt’s Social Security Checks for More Than 40 Years.” The nephew, George William Doumar, also collected his own Social Security benefits, telling authorities, “it was nice to have the extra money coming in every month.”

Both Doumar and his aunt, who is not named, lived in Brooklyn. She never married and had no children. Before she died, back in 1971, she named her nephew her sole beneficiary of her life insurance policy. Until July 14, he was getting both his and his aunt’s monthly checks. When interviewed at his home by federal agents, he slumped and said, “that’s a long story … what happened was, well, she’s passed and yes, I’ve been collecting her Social Security.”

Here is what has emerged in this bizarre story of the longest social security scam:

At age 65, the aunt applied for Social Security, but her wages in 1970 made her ineligible to receive benefits. By August 1977, the Social Security Administration initiated retirement benefits, using her initial benefit application. The first retirement check went out to her in September 1977—after she’d been dead for more than six years.

She had lived in a nursing facility in Brooklyn from about 1969 until her death in 1971. Doumar also lived in Brooklyn and says he doesn’t recall how he obtained regular possession of the checks. He also said that at one point, he reported her death to the SSA, but there are no records of her death being reported.

At first, he cashed her checks at a New York business he owned, but he moved to Oregon in 1989. He forged her signature to add her name to a joint checking account he had with his wife in Oregon. The Social Security checks were mailed to the business he owned.

In February, when government staffers deemed that the aunt would have been 114 years old, they became suspicious. No updates had been made to her account in more than 30 years, except for the address change.

Doumar is facing felony charges, and authorities plan to seek restitution for the amount he stole: $460,192.30. Minus the stimulus check, that’s about $912.50 a month, for nearly 42 years.

It might have been nice to have the extra money, but not to be facing the possibility of 10 years in prison and a $25,000 fine, in addition to paying back the money owed to the Social Security Administration.

Reference: AARP (Aug. 14, 2020) “Nephew Allegedly Cashed Dead Aunt’s Social Security Checks for More Than 40 Years.”

 

Comments Off on A Four-Decades Longest Social Security Scam Finally Ends

How does Medicare Coverage Work?

Actually, far from covering all your healthcare needs, Medicare coverage may leave you with thousands of dollars in expenses for which you’ll be responsible.

The recent article in The Mooresville Tribune entitled “3 Reasons Medicare Coverage Isn’t as Comprehensive as You Think” provides three reasons why:

  1. Medicare has expensive deductibles and coinsurance. There are different parts to Medicare. Part A covers hospital care. Part B pays for outpatient care. Each one has deductibles and some coinsurance expenses. Let’s look at these examples:
  • Medicare Part A has a $1,408 deductible per benefit period this year. If you are in the hospital more than 60 days during a benefit period, you’ll owe coinsurance costs starting at $352 per day, based on how long you remain in care.
  • Part B has a $198 deductible in 2020, and you’ll pay coinsurance costs of 20% of the Medicare-approved amount for medical services after you meet the deductible. You’ll also owe monthly premiums.
  • Part C (Medicare Advantage) takes the place of traditional Medicare (Parts A and B) with private insurance. Coinsurance, copay and premium costs vary by plan.
  • Part D (prescription drug coverage) has several plans with varying premiums and coverage rules.

As a result, with only Parts A and B, you could wind up paying thousands of dollars out of pocket. That’s especially true, if you’re hospitalized for a long time during the year or if you need extensive outpatient care.

  1. Coverage exclusions. In addition, there are some items of care that Medicare doesn’t cover at all. For example, Medicare doesn’t cover routine dental care, eye exams, contacts, hearing aids or glasses.
  2. Medicare doesn’t cover long-term care in most circumstances. A major Medicare exclusion is long-term care insurance. Medicare covers care in a skilled nursing facility under a few circumstances, such as after a long hospital stay when you need assistance from a medical professional to recover. However, the program doesn’t pay for “custodial care,” either at home or in a nursing home. Thus, if you require someone to help you with routine aspects of daily living, like getting dressed, eating, or using the bathroom, you’ll have out-of-pocket costs.

It’s important to know that long-term care can be very costly. The median monthly costs of home health aides are roughly $4,300, and a semi-private room in a nursing home costs about $7,500 in 2019, according to Genworth. Since Medicare won’t pay for any of this in most circumstances, you’ll need another way to pay for it.

Don’t assume that Medicare will cover all your needs as a retiree. So, prior to retirement, examine what Medicare will actually cover. That will help you determine the amount you’ll need to save for healthcare costs. You can also consider Medigap or Medicare Advantage Plans or look into long-term care insurance.

Reference: Mooresville Tribune (Aug. 10, 2020) “3 Reasons Medicare Coverage Isn’t as Comprehensive as You Think”

 

Comments Off on How does Medicare Coverage Work?

Some Common Drugs May Increase Chances of Dementia

Research conducted in 2019 has strengthened the connection between dementia and a common class of drugs used to treat a variety of symptoms.

Anticholinergics are a type of medication that blocks the action of acetylcholine. That’s a chemical messenger (or “neurotransmitter”) in the brain that help coordinate breathing, digestion, urination and other functions.

Anticholinergics can treat a variety of ailments, including urinary incontinence.

Considerable’s recent article entitled “These common prescription drugs could boost your risk of dementia” reports that anticholinergics include a roster of drugs for depression (such as Paxil), psychosis (such as Thorazine), Parkinson’s disease (such as Cogentin) and bladder disorders (such as Ditropan).

The 2019 study found a nearly 50% increase in chances of dementia in those people who received more than 1,095 daily doses of these drugs in a 10-year period.

The research was published in JAMA Internal Medicine.

The study, sponsored by the University of Nottingham, monitored 284,343 patients age 55 and older between 2004 and 2016. The researchers examined the total standardized daily doses (TSDDs) of anticholinergic drugs during that time period.

The researchers said that this was the equivalent to a senior taking a strong anticholinergic medication daily for at least three years.

Researchers looked at each person’s anticholinergic exposure and found the most frequently prescribed anticholinergic drugs were antidepressants, drugs to treat vertigo, motion sickness or vomiting and an overactive bladder.

The researchers at the University of Nottingham discovered that some other anticholinergic antihistamines and gastrointestinal drugs failed to correspond to a higher incidence of dementia.

The UK study shows a correlation between these specific anticholinergic drugs and increased chances of dementia. However, the researchers cautioned that seniors shouldn’t stop taking any medications without talking with their doctor.

Reference: Considerable (July 1, 2020) “These common prescription drugs could boost your risk of dementia”

 

Comments Off on Some Common Drugs May Increase Chances of Dementia

Protection from Long-Term Care Insurance Fraud

Long-term care (LTC) insurance is an important issue. However, making matters harder for many seniors is the prospect of long-term care insurance fraud.

The Street’s recent article entitled “How to Protect Yourself and Your Family From Long-Term Care Insurance Scams” say this is a major issue with the skyrocketing costs of long-term care services and the growing need for long-term care financial help. Long-term care insurance fraud comes in many types:

Faulty policies: Unsuitable long-term care policies can favor maximum profit over a senior’s specific health care needs. These policies may have super-high premium costs, and insurers that try to sell two overlapping long-term care insurance policies when one is enough.

Upgrades: Scammers will try to “churn” a LTC customer, by asking them to cancel their current policy and sign a new, more expensive one that offers nothing better than the old policy. This is really poor because when an existing insurance policy ends, the premiums paid out on the old policy are forfeited. A senior’s pre-existing conditions that weren’t considered under the old policy may also increase the price on the new policy.

Phony policies: Criminals may also try to attempt to sell seniors fake policies that accept the customer’s premiums, but don’t pay out any cash when the insurance is needed in the future. LTC insurance consumers should always monitor the state’s insurance department to validate an insurer, before signing up and be certain that the company is licensed to sell insurance in the state.

Falsely representing benefits. LTC insurance scams also can have other traps that can result in non-coverage. LTC insurance fraud can include fraudulently representing the benefits of a policy and high-pressure tactics to force seniors into purchasing expensive policies.

To thwart this LTC insurance fraud, seniors and family caregivers can join forces and think like a team to be informed about long-term care decision making.

Family discussions are a good idea, but also think about a third-party facilitator to help remove any politics and keep the conversation focused on the financial health of your parent.

Create an effective, sustainable LTC strategy, whether on your own, or in a family setting, by being aware of fraud.

Reference: The Street (May 15, 2020) “How to Protect Yourself and Your Family From Long-Term Care Insurance Scams”

 

Comments Off on Protection from Long-Term Care Insurance Fraud

Baseball Champion Orlando Cepeda Sues Daughter-In-Law, denies having Dementia

Eighty-two-year-old Giants great Orlando Cepeda filed a lawsuit against his daughter-in-law Camille Cepeda alleging elder financial abuse, fraud and infliction of emotional distress, as reported in the article “Giants great Orlando Cepeda denies having dementia, sues daughter-in-law for fraud” from the San Francisco Chronicle. He also accused her of negligence in handling his finances, after giving her power of attorney in 2018.

Orlando Cepeda accuses Camille of spending his money on personal expenses, including lease payments on a $62,000 Lexus, a Louis Vuitton handbag, expensive wine and taking out at least $24,000 in cash from his accounts. It also claims that she has placed all of his baseball memorabilia in a storage locker and will not give him the key or the location of the locker. That includes his National League Most Valuable Player trophy, which he wants back.

This is the latest news from a dispute that began after the Hall of Famer married his second wife, Nydia. They had two of Orlando Cepeda’s four sons, including Ali Cepeda, who is married to Camille. The parents are now not speaking to their son, and some of the brothers, four in total, have taken sides and are not speaking to each other.

Orlando Cepeda granted his daughter-in-law power of attorney in April 2018, two months after he suffered a heart attack and irreversible brain damage caused by oxygen deprivation. She was to have access to his accounts and pay his bills. Before the heart attack, she had handled his financial and business affairs.

On May 29, Camille filed a petition with the court seeking conservatorship of Cepeda, stating that he has dementia and cannot make his own financial decisions. Two of Cepeda’s sons, including Camille’s husband Ali, filed papers supporting her petition.

In Orlando Cepeda’s response, he cited two neuropsychological reports, including one done in May, that declared that he was fit to make his own medical decisions and understands all but the most complex financial issues. Cepeda says that his daughter-in-law filed for conservatorship to cover up the fraud that he is alleging in the lawsuit. He says that he does not need a conservator, and if anyone should have that role, it would be his wife Nydia.

The lawsuit filed by Cepeda offers a glimpse into why he believes she wants conservatorship, saying he doesn’t have the capacity to understand the nature and consequences of his remarriage, nor his decision to remove Camille as power of attorney and grant it to Nydia.

The suit alleges that Camille was opposed to the marriage from the start and even suggested they stage a fake ceremony that would not be legally sanctioned.

Cepeda’s lawsuit seeks damages, legal fees and demands that Camille return his memorabilia and all financial records she has allegedly refused to provide to account for how she handed his money. The suit also cites a $62,000 withdrawal to pay Cepeda’s tax bill, which was not actually paid. The filing says she was negotiating with the IRS, but she will not provide the documentation that he needs to settle with the government. Nor did she pay a medical bill for $6,800, although she did cash a check from the insurance company that was sent to pay for it.

Orlando Cepeda remains hopeful that the entire matter may be settled, before the case returns to court.

“It’s very painful,” Cepeda told a reporter. “I love my family. I love my kids. But this is life. You have to do what you have to do.”

Reference: San Francisco Chronicle (June 26, 2020) “Giants great Orlando Cepeda denies having dementia, sues daughter-in-law for fraud”

 

Comments Off on Baseball Champion Orlando Cepeda Sues Daughter-In-Law, denies having Dementia

North Dakota – End-Of-Life Care Visits and COVID-19 ?

End-Of-Life Care Visits and COVID-19 – Since implementing the restrictions in March as the pandemic spread, the State of North Dakota has exempted hospice providers and other end-of-life care clinicians from its regulations restricting access. However, the new definition broadens the types of individuals who can still access those facilities, says Hospice News’ recent article entitled “North Dakota Redefines Nursing Home End-of-Life Visits During Pandemic.”

“Our knowledge about the coronavirus and data on its local impact across our state continues to grow,” said North Dakota Department of Human Services Executive Director Chris Jones. “We appreciate the opportunity to work with the Task Force on Reuniting Residents and Families, the North Dakota Long-Term Care Ombudsman and our colleagues in the North Dakota Department of Health to develop common sense guidelines that reflect new information and are responsive to the needs of individuals and their families.”

Under the state’s new definition, the term used by the state, “compassionate end-of-life care visitation,” now will add social visits for skilled nursing or assisted living residents, who are showing signs or symptoms of psychosocial or medical decline from isolation that exceed normal parameters.

The expanded definition comports with recent guidance to states from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS).

North Dakota’s revised state guidelines stipulate that these situations are only permitted on a very limited basis. They shouldn’t be thought to be routine. The decision to permit these types of visits would be made by the resident’s clinical interdisciplinary team. Facilities must report these cases to the state’s Vulnerable Population (VP3) Task Force.

Nursing homes have been particularly attacked by COVID-19 in the pandemic. More than 111,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases to date have happened among residents of skilled nursing facilities, in addition to more than 76,000 suspected cases, according to the U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS). These infections have resulted in more than 30,000 deaths.

More than 50% of hospice provider respondents to a Hospice News reader survey said that they thought their organizations would benefit from the states’ “reopening,” compared to 30% of respondents who said it would have a negative impact.

Fewer than 20% thought removal of restrictions wouldn’t impact their clinical or business operations.

A major factor in these results was the expectation that it would become less difficult for hospices to access patients receiving care in nursing homes or assisted living facilities.

Reference:  Hospice News (June 30, 2020) “North Dakota Redefines Nursing Home End-of-Life Visits During Pandemic”

 

Comments Off on North Dakota – End-Of-Life Care Visits and COVID-19 ?

Gene Role May Be a Link between Dementia and the Coronavirus

Dementia and the Coronavirus – The study in Great Britain is the latest to suggest that genetics may play a part in why some people are more vulnerable to COVID-19 than others. It may also help to explain why people with dementia have been hard hit.

“It is not just age: this is an example of a specific gene variant causing vulnerability in some people,” said David Melzer, a professor of epidemiology and public health at Exeter University and a co-author of the study.

The Guardian’s recent article entitled “Research reveals gene role in both dementia and severe Covid-19” explains that the study published in the Journal of Gerontology: Medical Sciences reports how researchers analyzed data from the UK Biobank, where genetic and health data on 500,000 volunteers aged between 48 and 86 has been collected.

The researchers focused on a gene called ApoE which gives rise to proteins involved in carrying fats around the body and can exist in several forms. One such variant, called “e4”, is known to impact cholesterol levels and processes involved in inflammation, as well as increasing the risk of heart disease and dementia.

They found 9,022 of almost 383,000 Biobank participants of European ancestry studied had two copies of the e4 variant, while more than 223,000 had two copies of a variant called “e3”. The former have a risk of Dementia and the Coronavirus are up to 14 times greater than the latter.

The researchers then studied positive tests for COVID-19 between March 16 and April 26, when testing for the coronavirus was primarily done in hospitals, suggesting the cases were severe.

The results showed that 37 people who tested positive for COVID-19 had two copies of the e4 variant of ApoE, while 401 had two copies of the e3 variant. After considering factors such as age and sex, the researchers say people with two e4 variants had more than twice the risk of severe Covid-19 than those with two e3 variants.

One professor observed that it is possible that the role of ApoE in the immune system is important in the disease. Future research on Dementia and the Coronavirus may be able to harness this to develop effective treatments.

Reference: The Guardian (May 26, 2020) “Research reveals gene role in both dementia and severe Covid-19”

 

Comments Off on Gene Role May Be a Link between Dementia and the Coronavirus

Increasing Medicare Scams in the COVID-19 Pandemic ?

Medicare scams in the COVID-19 pandemic. Motley Fool’s recent article entitled “Seniors, Be Wary of These Medicare Scams During COVID-19” discusses some red flags you should look out for to avoid being a victim.

  1. Callers requesting your Medicare number. Medicare typically won’t call beneficiaries and randomly ask them to verify their benefits. If someone calls you and requests your Medicare ID number, don’t give them your information.
  2. Callers requesting your Social Security number. If a bad guy gets your Social Security number, he can do a number of things with that information, any of which will create headaches for you. This includes opening a credit card in your name and charging a lot of expenses on it. If you get a caller who says he’s a Medicare representative who needs your Social Security number to process a health claim, don’t give it to him.
  3. Email or phone calls asking you to send money. Medicare doesn’t sell prescriptions over the phone or ask seniors to pre-pay for services. If someone calls asking you to send money or give out credit card information, it’s a bogus caller.
  4. A promise for early access to a COVID-19 treatment or vaccine. Right now, there is no COVID-19 vaccine. There is also no mail-order treatment that you can stock up on to protect yourself in case you’re struck with the virus. Therefore, don’t believe a caller who says he’s from Medicare and is offering you a chance to get in on a groundbreaking medication. Don’t pay him or share your Medicare ID number during that conversation. When an effective vaccine is available, Medicare will pay for it and let you know how to get it.
  5. Someone at your door claiming to be from Medicare. Medicare doesn’t have sales reps. Therefore, if someone says they’re from Medicare, lock the door and demand that that person leave immediately. Call the police, if you need help.

When a lot of seniors are worried, isolated, and in financial straits, they don’t need to fall victim to Medicare Scams in the COVID-19 Pandemic. Be prepared and be aware of what common fraud attempts look like. That way, you’ll be in a good position to protect yourself.

If you receive a suspicious email or phone call, report it at 1-800-MEDICARE. This might prevent another senior from falling victim to Medicare Scams in the COVID-19 Pandemic in what could be an extremely dangerous trap.

Reference: Motley Fool (May 25, 2020) “Seniors, Be Wary of These Medicare Scams During COVID-19”

 

Comments Off on Increasing Medicare Scams in the COVID-19 Pandemic ?