Drugs, Food and Numbers Recent Developments for Seniors

A smorgasbord of changes, updates and general gossip.

New Medicare Cards.

The government has started mailing these out to the 59 million Medicare recipients.  The old cards used the enrollee’s social security number; the new cards contain an 11-digit identification number that will now be used for Medicare services.  The cards are being mailed to the enrollee’s address on file with the Social Security Administration, so seniors should make sure that the SSA address is up to date. Be aware that the scammers are already out in force. Things to keep in mind:  there is no fee or activation process with the new card and no one from the government is going to call you and ask for personal or financial information to process a “refund.” News for Seniors to keep in mind.

Executors and the CFPB. 

New rules, effective April 19, 2018, will make it easier for executors and family members to deal with mortgage servicers when someone dies.  Some mortgage companies were refusing to give information about existing loans to executors and family members after the homeowner divorced or died.  As a result, homes were being foreclosed upon.  The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau amended its rules to require the mortgage servicers to extend the same foreclosure protections to the family member or executor, termed a “successor in interest.”

End-of-life decisions about food.

A battleground is opening up over assisted feeding.  Several recent cases have involved dementia patients who were spoon-fed against their documented wishes because they continued to open their mouths when food was placed against their lips.  One New York agency has approved a form that allows a person to authorize withholding of “comfort feeding.” So far, the courts, legal scholars and ethicists are lining up against withholding food and drink.

In the Majority. 

The year 2030 is projected to be a milestone, and it is not a good thing.  The Census Bureau announced that in 2030, for the first time, senior citizens will outnumber children.  The hardest hit may very well be state and local government retirement systems, which have $1.6 trillion less than what they need to cover promised benefits.  Even more worrisome, by 2060 nearly one in four Americans will be of retirement age.

Social Security not, gasp, helpful.

The Social Security Administration has been chastised for failing to inform widows (and widowers) about a claiming strategy known as “filing a restricted application.” This applies when a widow who has not yet reached 70 is entitled to claim survivor benefits.  She can file a restricted application to claim the survivor benefits and delay applying for her own benefits until age 70.  The money lost can be substantial; in one case a widow was underpaid by $13,000.  The Inspector General report noted that 82% of widows and widowers were adversely affected.

Drugs and Nursing Homes.

Review patient medications – a new report states that there is a overuse of psychotropic drugs in nursing homes to subdue patients.

Virginia Hammerle received her JD from SMU in 1982. Find more articles at hammerle.com.  To receive the monthly email newsletters, send your requests to legaltalktexas@hammerle.com