Friday, May 23, 2014

International Elder Law and Policy Conference July 10-11 in Chicago

John Marshall Law School and Roosevelt University, both in Chicago, and East China University of Political Science and Law in Shanghai, are jointly sponsoring an International Elder Law and Policy Conference in Chicago on July 10-11.

Keynote speakers include Professor Israel Doron of the University of Haifa in Israel and Dr. Ellinoir Flynn and Professor Gerard Quinn, both from National Unviersity of Ireland, Galway School of Law.

Scheduled panel topics include:

  • Dignity and Rights of the Elderly
  • Elimination of Age Discrimination
  • Caregivers and Surrogate Decision Makers
  • Social Security, Pensions and Other Retirement Financing Approaches
  • Prevention of Elder Abuse
  • Access to Justice

Here's the link to the Registration website.

  •    

May 23, 2014 in Elder Abuse/Guardianship/Conservatorship, Ethical Issues, Health Care/Long Term Care, Housing, Programs/CLEs, Retirement, Social Security | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Planning Ahead: Extend Malpractice Insurance for Retiring Lawyers?

In part 6 of the ABA Journal's series on retirement issues, retiring lawyers are reminded that one important option is to purchase "extended reporting endorsements" (ERE) or "tail coverage" for existing professional liability insurance policies.  Such an endorsement permits a longer period to report  claims for coverage.  Mark Bassingthwaighte, an attorney and risk manager for Attorneys Liability Protection Society (ALPS) explains, "Tail coverage ... [is] not a new policy."  Rather, the existing policy explains the terms of any ERE coverage option, with the cost set as a fixed percentage of the expiring policy's premium. 

"'I recommend that the retiring partner talk with other partners and request to be kept in the loop within the applicable state statute of limitations for malpractice should the firm dissolve; even formalize an agreement that works best to protect all parties involved,' says Matt Lubaroff, ALPS director of client services. 'The firm's ERE can only be purchased at the time of dissolution, and for certain firms the best answer would be upon the first retirement.'"

Additional planning topics for retiring lawyers appear in "Retirement Reset" by Susan Berson in the May issue of the ABA Journal.

May 7, 2014 in Consumer Information, Legal Practice/Practice Management, Retirement | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Honor Older Veterans by Helping Them Access Services

Last Sunday, the Philadelphia Inquirer carried an Op-Ed by Patrick Murphy, an Iraq war veteran, and Karen Buck, executive director for SeniorLAW Center in Philadelphia.  Their words provide a welcome reminder, contrasting with the news I reported earlier today about allegations of inadequate care for veterans in Arizona.  In part they write:

"Experts estimate that 14 percent of the adult homeless population has served in the U.S. military. After valiant service, beterans deserve the most basic of human needs:  safe shelter, protection from abuse, enought to eat. 

 

What can we do to change this story for older veterans? 

 

First, know who the veterans are in  your daily life and thank them for their service.  Peace at home is a gift made possible by the harsh sacrifice of others; it's easy to take for granted.  Join  us in doing more by showing gratitude through action.

 

...Help connect an older veteran with the services he needs -- and encourage him to access them.  Many older veterans don't know what resources are available or they associate asking for help with weakness.  Yet, from the VA, they may be eligible for income supports, home-based or nursing home care, health care, burial assistance, education, and other benefits.  Nonprofits can help provide free legal assistance to address issues that arise over housing, family, health care, consumer issues, elder abuse, and financial exploitation.  Legal services rank among the top unmet needs of veterans, but we can all become advocates to help vets get the support they need and deserve."

As Patrick and Karen demonstrate, support for local legal service organizations in your area can be effective in helping veterans access key benefits, while also providing another important watchdog to help reduce or prevent the likelihood of fullblown VA scandals.

Experts estimate that 14 percent of the adult homeless population has served in the U.S. military. After valiant service, veterans deserve the most basic of human needs: safe shelter, protection from abuse, enough to eat.

What can we do to change this story for older veterans?

First, know who the veterans are in your daily life and thank them for their service. Peace at home is a gift made possible by the harsh sacrifice of others; it's easy to take for granted. Join us in doing more by showing gratitude through action.

Volunteering is one form of action. Help connect an older veteran with the services he needs - and encourage him to access them. Many older veterans don't know what resources are available or they associate asking for help with weakness. Yet, from the VA, they may be eligible for income supports, home-based or nursing home care, health care, burial assistance, education, and other benefits. Nonprofits can help provide free legal assistance to address issues that arise over housing, family, health care, consumer issues, elder abuse, and financial exploitation. Legal services rank among the top unmet needs of veterans, but we can all become advocates to help vets get the support they need and deserve.

Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/opinion/20140504_Don_t_forget_key_work_of_U_S__vets.html#qwbXm13qk5jXlIby.99

Experts estimate that 14 percent of the adult homeless population has served in the U.S. military. After valiant service, veterans deserve the most basic of human needs: safe shelter, protection from abuse, enough to eat.

What can we do to change this story for older veterans?

First, know who the veterans are in your daily life and thank them for their service. Peace at home is a gift made possible by the harsh sacrifice of others; it's easy to take for granted. Join us in doing more by showing gratitude through action.

Volunteering is one form of action. Help connect an older veteran with the services he needs - and encourage him to access them. Many older veterans don't know what resources are available or they associate asking for help with weakness. Yet, from the VA, they may be eligible for income supports, home-based or nursing home care, health care, burial assistance, education, and other benefits. Nonprofits can help provide free legal assistance to address issues that arise over housing, family, health care, consumer issues, elder abuse, and financial exploitation. Legal services rank among the top unmet needs of veterans, but we can all become advocates to help vets get the support they need and deserve.

Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/opinion/20140504_Don_t_forget_key_work_of_U_S__vets.html#qwbXm13qk5jXlIby.99

May 6, 2014 in Consumer Information, Health Care/Long Term Care, Retirement | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, May 5, 2014

You've Got a Friend (Or Do You?) as You Grow Older

In an article for the May issue of the Journal of Gerontology (Series B: Psychological Sciences), a team of international researchers present a report on "Benefits of Having Friends in Older Ages: Different Effects of Informal Social Activities on Well-Being in Middle-Aged and Older Adults." The article is technical, but the implications and conclusions of their research are persuasive. It seems that having "friends" is more important to life satisfaction for older adults than it is for middle-aged adults. And their research points to the importance of friendships rather than "just" relationships with spouses and children. The authors conclude:

"Our results have strong implications for mental health promotion in older adults, as they suggest supporting older adults in building and maintaining friend-based social networks, for example, by encouraging volunteering in old age in elder-helping-elder programs . . . or programs aiming at increasing informal social interactions, such as cultural programs, . . . university programs, . . . or occupational therapy programs." 

I suspect that one potential limitation of the study may be the difficulty in measuring whether a lowered feeling of "life satisfaction" is actually a trigger for withdrawal from friends and friendship-based activities, rather than being simply an outcome of not being engaged with friends. The "chicken or egg" question of cause and effect?  Nonetheless, the research does underscore the potential importance of engagement in increasing the long-range potential for positive feelings and mood. So call up your friends and invite them on an outing; don't wait for them to call you.

May 5, 2014 in Cognitive Impairment, Current Affairs, Retirement | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, April 17, 2014

FINRA Arbitration Awards Damages, But Also Attorneys' Fees Under California Elder Abuse Laws

An arbitral award in March 2014 by Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) ordered Signator Investors, Inc., a firm aligned with the John Hancock Financial Network, to pay an older couple and their elderly mother's estate $1.2 million for losses arising from failed retirement investments inappropriately marketed to them by a Signator broker. The award to the claimants included "compensatory" damages plus interest, and ordered rescission of all the claimant's investments in Colonial Tidewater Realty Partners.  The award also granted Signator's cross-claim against its former broker, James Robert Glover, for breach of contract, fraud and negligence as potential indemnification on the damage award.

As is true with most arbitration awards, the ruling on Docket No. 13-00579 (available via search at the FINRA website) is "bare bones," providing little in the way of explanation about which legal theories support the outcome. A detailed explanation is unnecessary for FINRA arbitration rulings, which cannot be appealed. 

The claimants, a husband and wife (both 70+) and the husband's mother (who died in 2012 at the age of 103), reportedly invested their entire retirement savings through Glover, who put them into securities not held or offered by Glover's brokerage company.  This practice is sometimes described as "selling away." Signator's defense that Glover's actions were therefore outside the scope of his authority with their company and not subject to their control or responsibility to supervise was implicitly rejected by the FINRA arbitrators.  News reports indicate some 40 other pending complaints connected to Glover's actions. Glover was sanctioned personally by FINRA in March 2013.

FINRA, created in 2007,  is the successor to NASD, the National Association of Securities Dealers, the former enforcement operation for member brokerage firms and exchange markets regulated by the Securities and Exchange Commission.  A single arbitral award of $1+ million through FINRA is interesting by itself.  For example, for the entire year of 2013, FINRA ordered a total of $9.5 million in restitution to harmed investors. 

But what caught my attention was the additional award of $453,970 in attorneys' fees for the claimants against Signator, "pursuant to California elder abuse statutes." The amount of the fees appears to be roughly 40% of the damage award.  Most securities claims are handled by attorneys on a contingency fee arrangement and a fee of 40%  of the award is not unusual in this challenging field.  Thus, even a successful claimant before FINRA may not be made whole, absent a contractual or statutory basis to claim attorneys' fees.  So the award of compensatory damages and interest, plus attorneys fees' is significant. 

Unlike many states, California has a comprehensive provision for attorneys' fees connected to civil actions for abuse of elderly or dependent adults, at Cal. Welfare & Institutions Code Sections 15657-15657.8, including Section 15657.5 providing for attorneys' fees where it is proven by a preponderance of the evidence that a defendant is liable for "financial abuse."   

April 17, 2014 in Current Affairs, Elder Abuse/Guardianship/Conservatorship, Ethical Issues, Retirement | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, March 24, 2014

ABA Webinar on Retirement Issues for Lawyers, Especially Young Lawyers

From January through March, the ABA Journal has run an interesting series of articles on retirement planning for lawyers, with clear messages for all age groups. Following that series, the ABA is hosting a live Webinar on "Retirement Expectations and Trends for 2014" on Wednesday, March 26.  The program is scheduled to begin at noon Eastern time.  The faculty, including Sally Hurme from AARP, Dean Deanell Reece Tacha from Pepperdine School of Law, and financial planning consultants, will

"...go beyond the basics of retirement and financnial planning to discuss other factors that can make your retirement what you want, including goal-setting; making the actual transition to retirement; determining whether a second or part-time post-retiremetn career is right for you; and dealing with the emotions of being retired.  Faculty will also provide guidance on the ethics of transitioning out of your practice, transitioning your clients, and selling your practice."

The 90 minute program is free for ABA members and $50 for the general public; no CLE credits are attached to the program.  Registration is here. 

March 24, 2014 in Current Affairs, Legal Practice/Practice Management, Retirement | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, March 6, 2014

New GAO Report on "Retirement Security: Trends in Marriage, Work, and Pensions May Increase Vulnerability for Some Retirees"

GAO-14-272T: Published: Mar 5, 2014. Publicly Released: Mar 5, 2014.

The decline in marriage, rise in women's labor force participation, and transition away from defined benefit (DB) plans to defined contribution (DC) plans have resulted in changes in the types of retirement benefits households receive and increased vulnerabilities for some. Since the 1960s, the percentage of unmarried and single-parent families has risen dramatically, especially among low-income, less-educated individuals, and some minorities. At the same time, the percentage of married women entering the labor force has increased. The decline in marriage and rise in women's labor force participation have affected the types of Social Security benefits households receive, with fewer women receiving spousal benefits today than in the past. In addition, the shift away from DB to DC plans has increased financial vulnerabilities for some due to the fact that DC plans typically offer fewer spousal protections. DC plans also place greater responsibility on households to make decisions and manage their pension and financial assets so they have income throughout retirement. As shown in the figure below, despite Social Security's role in reducing poverty among seniors, poverty remains high among certain groups of seniors, such as minorities and unmarried women. These vulnerable populations are more likely to be adversely affected by these trends and may need assistance in old age.

March 6, 2014 in Retirement, Social Security | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Friday, February 14, 2014

Call for Papers: Conference on Social Insurance & Life Cycle Events

Via University of Michigan Retirement Research Center, a call for papers connected to an upcoming conference:

With support from AARP, a conference on Social Insurance and Lifecycle Events Among Older Americans will be held on December 5th of 2014 in Washington, DC.

The conference will focus specifically on lifecycle events commonly encountered by older Americans, the responsiveness of current policies to those events, and new thinking about policies consistent with a changing political environment.

The conference will be organized into three sections dealing with the importance of:

  1. changing career/job patterns,
  2. changes in family structure, and
  3. health limitations.

Papers should focus on experiences and policies aimed at addressing Americans age 50 and older and highlight the experiences of different socio-economic groups, with a particular emphasis on the disadvantaged.

Funding is available for domestic travel to the conference for one author of each paper to be presented. It is anticipated that either a special issue of a scholarly journal or an edited volume will be produced based on papers delivered at the conference.

Paper proposals for the conference should be sent to Professor Kenneth Couch by March 15, 2014. Authors will be notified of acceptances by April 15, 2014. Drafts of papers to be presented at the conference will be due by the end of October. Additional details here. 

February 14, 2014 in Health Care/Long Term Care, Programs/CLEs, Retirement, Social Security | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Saturday, January 18, 2014

New report from SSA's Office of Retirement and Disability Policy addresses SS, SSI participation rates by African Americans

African Americans: Description of Social Security and Supplemental Security Income Participation and Benefit Levels Using the American Community Survey

Patricia P. Martin and John L. Murphy
Research and Statistics Note No. 2014-01 (released January 2014)

Intro/summary:  African Americans encounter significant economic disadvantages, making them a critical focus for social insurance programs. Examining how the African American population uses Old-Age, Survivors, and Disability Insurance (OASDI, or Social Security) benefits and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) payments clarifies the role these programs play in supporting at-risk populations.

Earlier research has explored various facets of the relationship between Social Security and African Americans. For instance, many studies investigate African Americans' low retirement benefit receipt rates relative to whites (Abbott 1977, 1980; Thompson 1975; Huntley 1979; Parsons 1980; Gibson 1987, 1991, 1994; Farley 1988; Hayward, Friedman, and Chen 1996; O'Rand 1996; Gendell and Siegel 1996; Choi 1997; Hendley and Bilimoria 1999; Gustman and Steinmeier 2004; Bridges and Choudhury 2007, 2009; Favreault 2010). Others examine the prominent role of children's benefits for African Americans (Newcomb 2003/2004; Tamborini, Cupito, and Shoffner 2011). This analysis contributes to that body of research by using a relatively new, publicly available, and comprehensive data source, the American Community Survey (ACS), to document the demographic and economic characteristics of African American OASDI beneficiaries and SSI recipients. It is designed to lay the groundwork for future detailed analyses of how African Americans interact with Social Security and related programs.

In this note, we first discuss the strengths of the ACS and the methodology of this analysis. Next, we present the demographic and economic characteristics of the African American population in the 2009 ACS. Then, we present ACS data on OASDI and SSI participation and benefit levels, comparing African American participants with overall participants in three age distributions: the full age range for which benefit statistics are available in the ACS (15 or older), working age (18–61), and retirement age (62 or older).

Access the article here.

January 18, 2014 in Discrimination, Retirement, Social Security, Statistics | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Monday, January 13, 2014

Supreme Court Accepts Cert on 401(k) Plan Investment Practices Case

Earlier today I posted about a new article on tightening scrutiny of investment plans and financial products marketed to seniors.  On the theme of liability for those who push completely unsuitable investments, I should add that the U.S. Supreme Court recently accepted cert on Fifth Third Bancorp v. Dudenhoeffer, where employees challenged the investment practices of their 401(k) plan administrators.  The issue is breach of fiduciary duties for continuing to encourage investment of employee retirement monies in the employer's securities despite the company's deepening involvement in the subprime mortgage market that drastically increased risk.  

The plan administrators argue that they are entitled to a "presumption of reasonableness" for investing in employee stock ownership plans (ESOPs) under ERISA law, citing 29 USC 1104(a)(2). The workers challenge application of such a presumption at the pleading stage. They assert continued recommendations to invest, rather than divest, combined with what they believe and allege was the plan administrators' knowledge of the risk, are sufficient to frame a cause of action for violation of fundamental fiduciary obligations under ERISA protections.  

I wish I could predict the Supreme Court's action means that employees and retirees will have a better chance of getting past motions to dismiss on pleadings in retirement plan cases.  Afterall, even a conservative such as Chief Justice Rehnquist rejected application of heightened standards at the complaint stage as grounds to dismiss civil rights cases, in Leatherman v. Tarrant County Narcotics (1993).  But, the fact that the Court accepted cert where the 6th Circuit actually ruled in favor of the employees makes me a little less than hopeful.   There is a split in the circuits, with, for example, the 2d Circuit ruling in 2011 in favor of plan administrators on similar allegations in In re Citigroup ERISA Litigation.

Lots of interesting blog commentary on this topic, including SCOTUS Blog.

AARP is filing an Amicus brief for the plaintiffs in the Dudenhoeffer case, as discussed by Drexel Law Professor Lisa McElroy in AARP's Blog.

January 13, 2014 in Federal Cases, Federal Statutes/Regulations, Retirement | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, January 9, 2014

NBER Bulletin on Aging and Health, 2013, Vol. 2 has been released


The National Bureau of Economic Research has released 2013/Vol. 2 of the Bulletin on Aging and Health.  The 2013 No. 2 Bulletin includes the articles below:

1)  The Value of Medicaid to Older Households
    by Mariacristina De Nardi, Eric French, and John Bailey Jones

2)  Who Uses the Roth 401(k)?
    by John Beshears, James Choi, David Laibson, and Brigitte Madrian

3)  Do Financial Incentives Induce Disability Insurance Recipients to Return to Work?
    by  Andreas Kostol and Magne Mogstad

Also:  Abstracts of Selected Recent NBER Working Papers

NBER Profile:  Michael Baker

View a printable PDF copy of the 2013 No. 2 NBER Bulletin on Aging and Health here.


The HTML version is available at the Bulletin's homepage.

January 9, 2014 in Health Care/Long Term Care, Medicaid, Retirement | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

ABA: "Road to Retirement" (Or Not) for Attorneys

The cover story for the January 2014 issue of the ABA Journal is "Road to Retirement: Ways to Make Retirement Anything but Resignation."  It is a surprisingly long piece, combining advice for younger workers with strategies across the decades, from late 20s to retirement, including the potential need for "life event adjusments."

Lots of interesting facts and quotes here, including observations on the theme of "reinvention" rather than retirement from Deanell Reece Tacha, "the 67-year old dean of Pepperdine Law School," now in her third year of law school administration, after serving 25 years as a judge on the 10th Circuit.   

The article notes the ABA estimates some 400,000 lawyers are presently age 62 or older. 

January 8, 2014 in Retirement | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Common misconceptions about Roth IRAs...

Via Bankrate:

Sometimes what you don't know can hurt you, especially when it comes to individual retirement accounts. For instance, if you don't know that contributions for the prior year can be made up until the April 15 tax deadline of the current year, you may be missing out.  Some misconceptions are innocuous while others can lead to serious tax blunders. Don't feel bad; even financial advisers get tripped up by the intricate rules of IRAs. Figuring out how the accounts work and what's allowed could be a full-time job. As a result, the list of things most people don't know about IRAs could fill a book.

This article list nine common misconceptions about IRAs--read about them here.

 

January 7, 2014 in Property Management, Retirement | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Monday, January 6, 2014

AALS Program Report: The Financial Challenges of Aging

Skating in NYC Photo (c) 2014 Katherine C. PearsonCatching up after a busy weekend at the Association of American Law Schools (AALS) Annual Meeting 2014 in New York City, I'm happy to report the presentations at the Section on Aging and the Law seemed to go smoothly and were well received, with a very engaged audience.  While the weather made travel to and from NYC a bit tricky, it also seemed to "encourage" strong attendance at sessions.  (I found myself skating even when not visiting the rink at Rockefeller Plaza!)

Section Chair Susan Cancelosi (Wayne State) was snowed out -- but I suspect Susan would be pleased by the reaction to the program she planned.  Thank you, Susan, for putting together the theme, securing speakers, making sure we were all on track, and creating a back-up weather plan.  We've decided you should be the moderator next year, if you don't mind!

Dick Kaplan (Illinois) led off the panelists, using his best "Dr. Phil" style to walk us through (both literally and metaphorically) the latest changes to Medicare triggered by the Affordable Care Act and other recent legislation.  Recognizing that many in our audience do not teach elder law or health care law, Dick offered information useful to all academics who "expect" to retire.  For example, recent information from the Employee Benefit Research Institute supported his forecast that a 65-year old person retiring in 2012 would need substantial saving just to cover out-of-pocket medical expenses, in the range of  $122,000 -$172,000 for men and between $139,000 - $195,000 for women (with projections also affected by prescription drug usage).  Dick reminded us that this figure does NOT include any costs for long-term care.  

Next on the panel was Laura Hermer (Hamline), who is new to our Section -- and a very welcome addition.  Using her health law background, Laura outlined the maze of programs, including state plan innovations and waiver programs under Medicaid, that may provide "long-term services and supports" (or LTSS -- the latest acronym that seems to be an intentional step away from a "care" model) for older persons.  Her presentation emphasized the shift to home or community based care, but Laura made clear that this shift depends heavily on unpaid care by family members. 

Incoming Section Chair Mark Bauer (Stetson) made effective use of visual images of 55+ communities in Florida to demonstrate his concern that exemptions from civil rights protections that permit age-restricted communities may not be matched by actual benefits for the older adults targeted as residents.  Mark stressed the percentage of housing that is not designed to match predictable needs for an aging population.  Examples included multi-story designs without elevators, steps into even ground-level units, and bathrooms without wheel-chair accessibility.  Mark's presentation expanded on his recent article in the University of Illinois' Elder Law Journal.

Speaking last, my topic was the latest state law developments tied to federal laws that authorize nursing homes to compel a "responsible party" to sign a prospective resident's nursing home contract.  States are creating potential personal liability for costs of care for family members, agents or guardians, or transferors or transferees of resources, if the resident is deemed ineligible for Medicaid.  Here are links to a copy of the slides I used for my  presentation on "Revisiting Nursing Home Contracts," as well as to a related short article I was invited to write for the Illinois State Bar Association's Trusts & Estates Section in December 2013.

The panel presentations were followed by great questions and observations from the audience, further highlighting the financial challenges of aging.  Plus, it was wonderful to see several new members volunteering to join the planning committee for future programs for the Aging and Law Section of AALS.  And welcome back to the board to Alison Barnes (Marquette Law).

January 6, 2014 in Consumer Information, Ethical Issues, Federal Statutes/Regulations, Health Care/Long Term Care, Housing, Medicaid, Medicare, Programs/CLEs, Retirement, State Statutes/Regulations | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Problems With Oversight -- or Eligibility -- for VA Benefit Programs: Revisiting a NYT Article

Professor Morgan blogged about this interesting NYT article earlier, but I want to highlight a portion of Jessica Silver-Greenberg's "Winning Veterans' Trust, and Profiting From It."   The article is especially critical of "actors" active in representing or promoting VA benefits for aging veterans, including "lawyers, financial advisers and insurance brokers."

"Questionable actors are capitalizing on loose oversight to unlock the V.A. money and enrich themselves, sometimes at veterans’ expense. The V.A. accreditation process is so lax that applicants provide their own background information, including any criminal records. But the V.A. has only four full-time employees evaluating the approximately 5,000 applications that it receives annually. Once people get the V.A.’s stamp of approval, they rarely lose it, even if a customer complains or regulatory actions mount. Last year, the V.A. revoked its accreditation for two of its more than 20,000 advisers."

But it is one thing to question the standards for accreditation for individuals to represent or assist applicants for VA benefits. It strikes me there is an irony to the fact that the VA requires accreditation in order to serve as a paid advisor, yet that very accreditation is, according to the article, apparently part of the problem.

It seems to me the history described in the article also suggests the very real importance of VA benefits to individuals, especially those struggling to afford long-term care, such as 86-year-old Henry Schaffer, who seems to be in that gray zone of just enough inome to be "ineligible" for VA benefits, but not enough income to afford to pay privately.  Thus, the arguable need for "planning."   The article has a mixed message, one that I tend to question, as the article seems to imply that the increased rate of usage of VA benefits is due primarily to improper benefit awards, secured by manipulative "players" rather than experienced consultants working within the rules.

I noticed that the comments to the article are as interesting as the article itself, pointing to the need for better public understanding of VA benefits (including the availability of benefits for spouses of former members of the service).  The comments highlight the consequences of close calls on ineligibility, and therefore also emphasize the need for qualified legal or other knowledgeable assistance.

January 1, 2014 in Ethical Issues, Federal Statutes/Regulations, Health Care/Long Term Care, Retirement | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, December 23, 2013

Sun City, Az: Grandchildren Remaking the Community

On the front page of the Sunday edition of the Arizona Republic, is a feature story on the "evolution" of Sun City, by writers Catherine Reagor and Lesley Wright.  Even though I grew up -- and rode horses --  on the edge of the original Sun City, one of the earliest, and arguably the most successful age-restricted retirement communities, I didn't know the history.  Some interesting details:

  • The original Sun City opened in 1960, the brainchild of developer Del E. Webb, who at first thought it might be challenging to sell homes to "older" adults, given the tradition of 30-year mortgages, as people thought " they might not live that long." But, on opening day, "thousands of people showed up to see the modest block-wall homes with carports that sold for $8,500 to $11,700, $600 more for air-conditioning."  (If you have ever visited the Valley of the Sun in August ... you can guess that added $600 was an easy sell.) 
  • Today there are three Sun Cities in the Phoenix region.  The median home price in the original community is still comparatively modest at $128,750, while Sun City Grand's median price is $240,000.  The median income for residents in the original community is $36,903, and for the "newer" community, median income is $55,000.
  • The communities have staved off attempts (and lawsuits) to open residence to younger individuals. At least one half of a couple must be 55 or older.   
  • In some instances, the residents of the first Sun City are now the granchildren of earlier residents.  And the legacy of homes may continue.  One resident was quoted as saying, "We plan to live here until the end and leave the house to our children...."

Sunshine and golf were highlighted in the original marketing, especially to snow birds from North Dakota, Minnesota and Wisconsin.  But the community has had to change to keep up with expectations, and the "community's improvement fund, started in 1999, pays for new amenities. Pickleball course recently were added, and gym were updates with new equiptment," thus pointing to the wider range of interests (and sun-awareness) of today's retirees.

December 23, 2013 in Housing, Retirement | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Working Paper: Older Adult Debt & Financial Frailty

From the University of Michigan Retirement Research Center, a paper on "Older Adult Debt and Financial Frailty" by  Annamaria Lusardi (George Washington Univ. of Business) and Olivia Mitchell (Wharton, Univ. of Penn.).  The authors compare data from three different time periods to analyze older persons' debt, debt management practices and corresponding potential for financial insecurity.  Key findings include:

  • Older Americans now on the verge of retirement are more likely to have substantial debt than in the past.  "Median debt for those age 56-61 has more than quadrupled, from about $6,200 in 1992 to $28,300 in 2008 (in 2012 dollars)."
  • Housing purchased with small down payments and subject to large mortgages are key reasons for higher debt for Boomer retirees.
  • Income, level of education, marriage status, race, number of children, health, were also factors identified as affecting risk of financial insecurity after retirement. 

One sentence that particularly stood out: "Baby Boomers are more likely to have engaged in expensive borrowing practices." 

December 12, 2013 in Property Management, Retirement, Statistics | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Woof to Wash’ laundry machine lets dogs help people with disabilities

Via Yahoo News:

A man from Leeds, England has invented a dog-controlled washing machine.  The "Woof to Wash" Harrietmachine has a bark-activated "on" switch. A special "paw" button allows the pooch to easily open and close the machine's door.  The inventor, John Middleton of U.K. laundry company JTM, intends for the "Woof to Wash" machine to make laundry an easier task for people living with disabilities by letting them delegate the trickier parts of the job to support dogs who have been trained to load and empty the machines.  "We developed this machine because mainstream products with complex digital controls seldom meet the needs of the disabled user," he said.  The Sheffield charity Support Dogs is training the animals to operate the new machines.

"People who are visually impaired, have manual dexterity problems, autism or learning difficulties can find the complexity of modern day washing machines too much," Middleton told Anorak. "I had been working on a single program washing machine to make things easier, and there was a lot of demand for it."

Read more here

November 26, 2013 in Cognitive Impairment, Health Care/Long Term Care, Retirement, Web/Tech | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Asia’s New Aging Rich Break Family Ties for Gilded Retirement

Via Bloomberg:

After P.S. Ramachandran turned 80, he and his wife decided it was time to stop living alone. Rather than take the traditional path of moving in with their son, the Ramachandrans chose an option once rare in India: a retirement community. “We wanted to be independent,” said Ramachandran, now 85, a former government official who moved to the Brindavan Senior Citizen Foundation’s retirement village overlooking the Nilgiri hills near Coimbatore city in southern India. “We have company and everything we need here, and activities to keep us busy as long as we’re physically able.”

Rising wealth from the region’s rapid growth in recent decades is changing the way many Asians grow old, breaking up the traditional family unit as children move to the cities or go abroad in search of better-paid jobs. The change is a new source of business for companies from India’s Tata Housing Development Co., Malaysia Pacific Corp. and Singapore’s ECON Healthcare Group, which are constructing retirement villages for the wealthy that offer cafes, tennis courts and yoga. The developers are following companies from adult-diaper makers to holiday operators that have swooped in on Asia’s silver economy, catering to the region’s growing cohorts of over-60s.

Excluding Japan, the market will be worth about $2 trillion by 2017 -- more than the current Indian economy -- according to Singapore-based market researcher Ageing Asia Pte. Filial Piety “Filial piety is still big in Asia, but it has less of a role now,” said Janice Chia, founder and managing director at Ageing Asia. “My grandparents were satisfied with staying home, watching a bit of TV, walking in the park and looking after the grandkids. But my parents want to travel, keep their minds active and don’t necessarily want to live with their children.”

Read more at Bloomberg.

November 23, 2013 in Housing, Other, Retirement | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Worse than Payday Lending? Loans that Tie Pensions to Repayment

Somehow I had missed this particular incarnation of predatory lending.  The National Consumer Law Center (NCLC) recently circulated a consumer impact statement on pension-based loan scams.  Often advertised as "cash advances," in reality the individual is agreeing to assign future pension payments to the lender, with repayment terms that include an outrageously high interest rate.  In 2011, NCLC and attorneys with the National Association of Consumer Advocacy were successful in a class action suit in state court in California, in which they challenged loans requiring "assignments" of military pay or pensions as violating federal law.  The court ordered restitution to the class members

The New York Times ran a 2013  feature on "Loans Borrowed Against Pensions Squeeze Retirees," by Jessica Silver-Greenberg, part of a series on "A Vulnerable Age," that examined financial traps that can face older adults, especially during a tight economy.  A sidebar to the article detailed an example of a loan to a disabled military veteran for $10,000, with a $353 monthly payment for 60 months, leading to total costs over the life of the loan of $21,180, representing an interest rate of 36.4%.   

November 21, 2013 in Consumer Information, Current Affairs, Elder Abuse/Guardianship/Conservatorship, Retirement | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)