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A. GETTING THE BEST JOB YOU EVER HAD!
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A. GETTING THE BEST JOB YOU EVER HAD!
What would you be doing, and where would we be if you had a magic wand?" THAT is the question you should ask yourself before you retire.
Next question: How much have you saved? $20,000? Perhaps your retirement will be spent working like most Americans do, but that doesn't mean it has to be "greeter at Wal-Mart."
There are many things one can do for revenue generation. Do you belong to clubs and organizations active in the things you care about deeply or are interested in for fun? Why not? Join them now! When you retire you may find work there, too. Many non-profit organizations have part-time positions available. It might not be front line, cutting edge work. but your efforts are helping a worthy cause. What do YOU want to do? Are you interested in animal rescue? Are you interested in environmental activities? Do you have experience with children and want to help the less fortunate in our society? There are a number of web sites that will match employers with retirees looking for work. Others post thousands of jobs where you can find that your specific skills are in need. The employer gets your knowledge, common sense, and experience. You get a job doing something you like and are interested in. It might be the best job you ever had!
Of course, there are many other organizations, and you can find them by searching on the Internet. You also have local organizations to check with. The local senior center isn't just for bridge anymore!
Still don't think you can do what you want and pull it off in retirement? What about a little education? Check the Senior Resource web site for a list of institutions and state requirements for free or reduced-fee education for senior citizens. Talk to organizations you think you might want to work for and ask them about the skills and training they typically look for in a new hire. Look for classes in your area of interest, take them, put the education on your resume. One good sign employers look for when hiring employees is their recent continuing education. It means you have an active mind, ready for a new challenge.
So let's assume for the moment you HAVE been saving! What do YOU want? Some people want to stay put right where they are and be active in their community-Bravo! Others want to travel to Europe and buy a villa outside of Tuscany. You likely CAN do what you want, especially if you are still working-just do the math and work out the budget! It is surprising how liberating a little mathematics can be. Sure, you might trade dinners out today for a life in the Bahamas later, but it will be your choice, so it won't be a problem. Do the math, make a budget, set your goals, review them often-even daily-and make your retirement dreams come true.
Do you want to travel? Sail the world on your own yacht? Some seniors purchase a large motor home and travel full-time. Many sell their home, move to a less expensive location and smaller home or condominium. Why not do that and travel, too? If you contemplate such a traveling lifestyle, be sure and read up on the experiences of other seniors who have done the same. Each lifestyle change has its own risks and variables to be considered. Often, relocating to your favorite vacation village isn't a good residential choice. Places that are great to get away to can be a bit isolated a year after your address changes to that "quiet, peaceful spot." If you are active in your community now, remember those connections will be broken and you'll be looking for new ones. And be sure to do your homework when considering a new neighborhood. Remember-YOU'RE the "new guy." When in Rome, do as the Romans do.
One thing to remember-often retirees move when they stop working full-time and then move back home a few years later to where their support network of family and friends remain. You'll want to consider issues like long-term healthcare, family ties, friends and relations when you are making your plan. Some people plan such dual moves ahead of time and are ready for it when health matters dictate the change. That's fine, of course. Do your dreaming. Do your math. Do your homework. Make your plan. Then get on with a fantastic retirement!
Additional financial information for seniors can be found at:
B. PROTECTING AGAINST HEALTHCARE FRAUD
You know those invitations to "get rich on the coming Internet wave" that you receive in the mail? Or perhaps it's a brochure for "the greatest home business opportunity ever"? How about the "home based mailing service business you can start in your spare time"?
Generally these are fraudulent come-ons meant to separate senior citizens from their cash in exchange for a handful of booklets that describe a business all but impossible for a senior citizen to actually pursue, let alone profit from. Confidence scams are as old as civilization. They just change to keep up with the times. If it sounds too good to be true, it is...right?
Recently in Southern California and in Florida some of these folks have gotten very crafty. These groups don't bother with your wallet anymore-they go to where the "real dollars" are, and to where the oversight is traditionally weak. Unlike your kitchen table where you can sit in a relaxed environment and measure the claims and purported benefits of a sales pitch, Medicare is far easier to scam for these criminals.
The frauds generally work in three phases. First, by getting you excited over the very real benefits a motorized scooter or wheelchair would bring to the life of a mobility-impaired person, or perhaps a scientifically advanced artificial limb. Stage two of the scam is to overbill Medicare for the equipment. The third phase in the scam. You never see your motorized scooter! Or, you might not have needed one, but they bill Medicare for it anyway on your behalf. You probably never even knew they were ordering it for you, let alone informing your doctor. For that matter, there may not even be a living person meant to ever receive the durable medical equipment Medicare is paying for! This fraud costs the Medicare system-a government program successfully helping millions of Americans every year-billions of dollars in losses. Given the stretched budgets indicative of our nation's current financial position, this is a criminal problem that is a severe threat to senior citizens who depend upon Medicare services, in many cases, for their very lives.
Well, Medicare is fighting back, and fighting well. The Secretary of Health and Human Services, Mike Leavitt, has announced a major effort to protect you against these crimes. Fraudulent suppliers of durable medical equipment are the focus of this anti-fraud effort. The campaign is unique in its simplicity and should be highly successful as a result.
It's simple: if a business bills Medicare for these devices and services, they simply need to reapply. The fraudulent operators follow common profiles that are easily spotted in the re-application process. This campaign is focused on two major hot spots for this type of fraud: Florida and Southern California.
Under the new initiative the CMS (Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services) are requiring suppliers of durable medical equipment to reapply for the right to bill Medicare. Letters are being sent out to request these businesses to resubmit applications for participation in Medicare billing. Those who fail to report having owners, partners, directors, or managing employees who have committed a felony within the past ten years, those who fail to respond in 30 days, and those who fail to report a change in address or ownership will have their billing privileges revoked.
To back up the program "boots on the ground" have been, and continue to visit these businesses, revoked billing privileges as required. Starting in January 2006 the National Supplier Clearing House (the national enrollment contractor for durable medical equipment, prosthetics, orthotics and supplies), Medicare/Medicaid conducted over 1400 inspections of such businesses in South Florida. By October of the same year over 600 of them had their Medicare/Medicaid billing privileges revoked. In August of 2006 the Los Angeles area was checked. Four hundred and one businesses were visited and by April of 2007, 95 of them had their billing privileges revoked.
Want to get involved? You can read a thorough report form the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services here: http://www.hhs.gov/news/facts/medicarefraud/
You can find out how to volunteer to help at the "Senior Medicare Patrol Program" with the U.S. Administration on Aging here: http://www.aoa.gov/smp/
Additional health information for seniors can be found at:
C. PROTECTING BENEFITS AND YOUR BANK ACCOUNT FROM ILLEGAL GARNISHMENTS!
Imagine this scenario: You live on your monthly social security payment, your SSI, or your veterans benefits. You or your spouse becomes ill and goes to the hospital for treatment. During the course of recovery you fall behind in your bills. Maybe while you are being cared for a missed bill goes unpaid and ends up in collection. Perhaps a charge with the hospital or doctor is disputed, but they send it to collections anyway. Perhaps years ago you decided that since you weren't driving anymore you would sell your car and pay off all of your bills, but missed one that is still out there in collections. Perhaps your loving caregiver isn't the most efficient person in the world and a recurring bill is repeatedly thrown away for lack of understanding, or an assumption that it is junk mail.
Then your government benefits suddenly are garnished and your bank account is frozen. The bank won't help. The collection agency's law firm won't help unless you pay the amount they are asking for in full, regardless of your dispute with the billing company, hospital, or doctor. You have nowhere to turn and don't know what to do about it, even though the garnishment is illegal.
Section 207 of the Social Security Act (42 U.S.C. 407) protects social security benefits from assignment, levy, or garnishment. The Social Security Administration isn't responsible for protecting your payment once it reaches you or your account. Your benefits are still protected under section 207 of the Social Security Act; however, you need to be sure the funds can be identified as Social Security, S.S.I., or veterans benefits. For example, if only social security benefits are deposited into a particular bank account the bank can more easily recognize that a garnishment order can be refused, and take action. They are just doing their job when they get a garnishment order, so help them understand your particular situation.
The law does have exceptions to the sanctity of your benefit payments-all for our society's interests, of course:
Federal Tax Indebtedness:
The illegal garnishment of social security, S.S.I., and/or veterans benefits-and the resulting incorrect freeze of the beneficiary's bank account is happening all over America today. It is a combination of the lack of needed oversight, legal and illegal corporate collections activity, and lack of willingness by banks to be responsible for tracking where payments come from. It keeps happening for a variety of reasons and it needs to be addressed in congress. Until then-take the steps to protect yourself.
Step1. Evaluate your bills. This sounds fancy, but it is a simple activity. Just make a list of your financial responsibilities, payee addresses, and the usual billing amount you pay. Next, be sure the people who should know (a caregiver, your spouse, adult children, etc.) DO know where your list is, and what it contains. Next, check your bank statements, or call the companies sending bills to your mail and make sure you are up to date in your payments. Do you have bills coming that are not on the list? Why? Do you think you are all paid up? The billing company obviously doesn't know it, or they wouldn't send the bill! Or, it could be a scam looking for the unsuspecting senior to just pay the bill. Do you have a financial obligation that you just plain gave up on because the bill was generated during a time of crisis, is one that you disagreed with, or perhaps is a bill that you just can't afford to pay anyway? If you're not paid up, make a plan to pay off the debt over time with the billing company, and do so. This can prevent a small outstanding amount, long forgotten, from triggering a collection action, lots of nasty fees, and the associated bank account freeze that can be a big problem to clear up.
Step 2. Segregate your income. Even though it is against the law to garnish social security, SSI, and veterans benefits, it still happens all the time. Make sure that your social security payments, SSI, and your veterans benefits are deposited into an account that ONLY holds such payments. Other income, if you have it, should be sent to a separate account. Why? Because it is easier to prevent your bank account from being frozen and garnished if you keep these benefit payments in a segregated account, separate from any other funds or income that you might have. Speak with your branch manager about your bank's policy on garnishing accounts that have only protected benefits being deposited into them, and follow up if action (such as filing a form with your bank) is required to protect yourself from garnishment.
Step 3. If you think you might have a bill already in collections and the company won't negotiate with you in good faith, take a few steps to protect yourself from garnishment of your accounts and your social security or veterans benefits. Do you have a small local bank in your area? Open an account with the minimum deposit and redirect your direct deposit to that account, leaving your old account at the big national bank open with a few dollars in it. Bill collectors look to the large banks to do their bidding for them. They can ask Bank of America, or Washington Mutual to garnish any account you have-and the bank will comply given the collectors have filed the correct legal documents. But the bill collector probably isn't going to ask the local community bank you've just opened an account with to do the same... they are walking on the path of least resistance and focus on the giant banks first. Did you get a garnishment warning in the mail? Some states require such a notice be sent before the garnishment takes place and your account is frozen. If you get such a notice go immediately to the bank THAT DAY and withdraw all of your funds. Contact social security and stop the direct deposit of your social security check, or redirect it to your new, local community bank checking account.
Step 4. Get legal assistance. If you are on a fixed income such as social security payments provide, you likely qualify for free legal advice. Non-profit legal services organizations such as Legal Aid will help you lift a garnishment of your social security payments, or may be able to head one off if you act in time. Staffed by well-meaning and hard working qualified individuals, these organizations will advise you of your rights, and provide quality services for little or no charge to you, as a service to the community. Pro bono legal advice is a long and honorable tradition in the legal community and it is proud to provide such services to those of limited means who qualify.
Know your obligations, take pro-active and protective action, include the caregivers in your life when you are taking these precautions, and you won't have to worry about losing your social security or veterans benefits to income garnishing bill collectors!
Additional financial information for seniors can be found at:
D. DID YOU KNOW...?
State-by-State Aging Plan
If your state has prepared a similar plan, please let us know and we
will spread the word.
Criminals route stolen packages through innocent consumers in inventive ways. If an unexpected package is delivered to your home, be very careful. If you agree to return the package, you might unwittingly be helping a criminal.
The most common ruse is called a "call-tag" scam. The scam relies on retailers' ability to initiate and pay for shipping returns by calling their delivery firm and issuing a "call tag" for merchandise. It's easy for consumers, because a delivery driver simply arrives, rings your bell, and takes back the "misdelivered" item.
A key step for consumers who have received unexpected packages is to get in touch with the merchant that shipped the item. Even if the merchant calls you, it is best to find the merchant's phone on the internet and call them. Explain the situation and get instruction on how to handle the problem. If a fraud is active they will let you know.
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E. THOUGHTS FOR THE MONTH
We present here some words from those with a birthday this month.
More "Thoughts" at: http://www.seniorresource.com/thought.htm
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F. FREE THINGS
America the Beautiful - National Parks and Federal
Recreational Lands Pass - Senior Pass
G.SPECIAL SURFING SITES
Your Disease Risk
The site began as the Harvard Cancer Risk Index, a pen-and-paper cancer risk assessment tool first put together in the mid 1990s by the Risk Index Working Group at Harvard University. In 1999, the Risk Index was adapted to the Web as Your Cancer Risk. Then, to give even greater emphasis to the importance of healthy behaviors, Your Cancer Risk was expanded to include assessments for heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and osteoporosis. The expanded site was renamed Your Disease Risk.
Throughout development, sound science has been top priority. The detailed scientific framework used to develop the Harvard Cancer Risk Index and Your Cancer Risk was also used in the development of Your Disease Risk.
Get your more medical information at:
Low-Cost Senior Education
H. OH MY AGING FUNNY BONE
Under the Bed
"Just put yourself in my hands for two years," said the psychiatrist. "Come to me three times a week, and I'll cure your fears."
"How much do you charge?"
"A hundred dollars per visit."
"I'll sleep on it," said the man.
Six months later the doctor met the man on the street. "Why didn't you ever come to see me again?" asked the psychiatrist.
"For a hundred buck's a visit? A bartender cured me for ten dollars."
"Is that so! How?"
"He told me to cut the legs off the bed!"
Definitions We Live by
Visit 1000's of jokes of interest to people who have lived a long and
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This issue has been edited by Betsy Day (Betsyjday@aol.com).
Aging in Place