Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Number of Americans With a Disability Reaches 54.4 Million

About one in five U.S. residents - 19 percent - reported some level of disability in 2005, according to a U.S. Census Bureau report released today. These 54.4 million Americans are roughly equal to the combined total populations of California and Florida.

      Both the number and percentage of people with disabilities were higher than in 2002, the last time the Census Bureau collected such information. At that time, 51.2 million, or 18 percent, reported  a disability.

        Among those with a disability, 35 million, or 12 percent of the population, were classified as having a severe disability, according to Americans With Disabilities: 2005

      Nearly half (46 percent) of people age 21 to 64 with a disability were employed, compared with 84 percent of people in this age group without a disability. Among those with disabilities, 31 percent with severe disabilities and 75 percent with nonsevere disabilities were employed. People with difficulty hearing were more likely to be employed   than those with difficulty seeing (59 percent compared with 41 percent).

      A portion of people with disabilities — 11 million age 6 and older — needed personal assistance with everyday activities. These activities include such tasks as getting around     inside the home, taking a bath or shower, preparing meals and performing light     housework.  

Other important findings:

  • Among people 15 and older, 7.8 million (3 percent) had difficulty hearing a normal conversation, including 1 million being unable to hear at all.  Although not part of the definition of disability used in the report, 4.3 million people reported using a hearing aid.
  •     Roughly 3.3 million people, or 1 percent, age 15 and older used a wheelchair       or similar device, with 10.2 million, or 4 percent, using a cane, crutches or walker.    
  • Nearly 7.8 million people age 15 and older had difficulty seeing words or letters in ordinary newspaper print, including 1.8 million being completely unable to see.
  •     More than 16 million people had difficulty with cognitive, mental or emotional       functioning. This included 8.4 million with one or more problems that interfere       with daily activities, such as frequently being depressed or anxious, trouble       getting along with others, trouble concentrating and trouble coping with stress.    
  • The chances of having a disability increase with age: 18.1 million people 65 and older, or 52 percent, had a disability. Of this number, 12.9 million, or 37 percent, had a severe disability. For people 80 and older, the disability       rate was 71 percent, with 56 percent having a severe disability.   
  • Among people 16 to 64, 13.3 million, or 7 percent, reported difficulty finding a job or remaining employed because of a health-related condition.   
  • Among people 25 to 64 with a severe disability, 27 percent were in poverty,       compared with 12 percent for people with a nonsevere disability and 9 percent       for those without a disability.   
  • Median monthly earnings were $1,458 for people with a severe disability,  $2,250 for people with a nonsevere disability and $2,539 for those with no disability.   
  • Parents reported that 228,000 children under age 3, or 2 percent, had a disability. Specifically, they either had a developmental delay or difficulty moving their arms or legs. In addition, there were 475,000 children 3 to 5 years, or 4 percent, with a disability, which meant they had either a developmental delay or difficulty walking, running or playing. 
  • There were 4.7 million children 6 to 14, or 13 percent, with a disability.  The most prevalent type was difficulty doing regular schoolwork (2.5 million, or 7 percent).
   The Survey of Income and Program Participation produces national-level estimates for the U.S. resident population and subgroups, and allows for the observation of trends over time, particularly of selected characteristics such as income, eligibility for and participation in transfer programs, household and family composition, labor force behavior and other     associated events.

Source:  US Census Bureau, http://www.census.gov/Press-Release/www/releases/archives/income_wealth/013041.html

December 23, 2008 in Statistics | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Senior hotline newsletter now on line

The Center for Elder Rights Advocacy, the new technical assistance for senior legal helplines and a partner in the National Legal Resource Center, is producing an electronic newsletter, The Legal Helplines Connection,  every other month to keep you informed of what is happening in the world of legal helplines.

To view the  Legal Helplines Connection  please go to:

December 23, 2008 in Other | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Friday, December 19, 2008

Cost of 12 days of Christmas up 11% from 2007


I have to say, though, I can't figure out how they came up with only $52 for eight maids a-milking.  Talk about a wage gap...

December 19, 2008 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, December 18, 2008

GAO recommends improvements in SSA's collection of disability related medical reports

The timely collection of relevant medical evidence from providers, such as physicians and psychologists, is key to the Social Security Administration (SSA) process for deciding whether an estimated 2.5 million new claimants each year have impairments that qualify them to receive disability benefits. The initial determinations are generally made by state agencies called Disability Determination Services (DDSs). We evaluated: (1) the challenges, if any, in collecting medical records from the claimants’ own providers and ways SSA and the DDSs are responding to these challenges; (2) the challenges, if any, in obtaining high-quality consultative exams and ways SSA and the DDSs are responding to these challenges; and (3) the progress SSA has made in moving from paper to electronic collection of medical evidence. We surveyed 51 DDS directors, visited 5 state DDSs, reviewed sample case files, and interviewed officials with SSA, DDSs, and associations for claimants and providers. \

What GAO Recommends

GAO recommends SSA identify DDS evidence collection practices that may be promising, evaluate their effectiveness, and encourage implementation of successful practices in other states, as applicable. To do so, SSA should cost-effectively compile and assess additional data on the collection process. SSA should also work to identify and address barriers to expanded use of its online medical evidence submission options.

December 18, 2008 in Social Security | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

New credit card rules will help some seniors

In the most sweeping changes to credit cards in decades, federal regulators on Thursday approved new rules to crack down on so-called unfair and deceptive practices by card issuers, such as raising interest rates on existing debt.  The rules, issued by the Office of Thrift Supervision and expected to be approved later Thursday by the Federal Reserve and the National Credit Union Administration, come at a time when the economy has plunged into recession, and loan delinquencies and charge-offs are swelling as borrowers struggle to pay their bills.

The rules, which take effect in July 2010, will let credit card companies raise interest rates only on new credit cards and future purchases or advances, rather than on current balances.  They also restrict such lender practices as allocating all payments to balances with lower interest rates when a borrower has balances with different rates.

Source/more:  USA Today, http://www.usatoday.com/money/perfi/credit/2008-12-17-credit-cards-new-rule_N.htm

Credit card debt is a leading cause of senior bankruptcy filings, see http://www.consumerlaw.org/initiatives/seniors_initiative/credit_1.shtml

December 18, 2008 in Other | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Elder law pioneer Ann Pecora dies at age 62

Anne Pecora, a pioneering academic in the elder law arena, died Monday Dec. 15.  Ann was the founder and director of the Elder Law Representation Project of Baltimore City during 1975-92 as a clinical law program at the University of Baltimore School of Law, which became the basis for UB Law School's clinical law program.  She was truly a leader in the development of elder law Maryland, and she published several articles on guardianship and related matters in national law reviews (University of Arkansas, Villanova, Univerity of Illinois Law School's The Elder Law Journal) during the early 1990s, continuing as a Professor of Law at UB until her retirement in 2006.  Anne was 62. 

Sent by Bob Rhudy.

December 18, 2008 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Not elder law: Found! World's oldest spider web

Web he tiny tangled threads of the world's oldest spider web have been found encased in a prehistoric piece of amber, a British scientist said Monday. Oxford University paleobiologist Martin Brasier said the 140-million-year-old webbing provides evidence that arachnids had been ensnaring their prey in silky nets since the dinosaur age. He also said the strands were linked to each other in the roughly circular pattern familiar to gardeners the world over.  The web was found in a small piece of amber picked up by an amateur fossil-hunter scouring the beaches on England's south coast about two years ago, Brasier said. A microscope revealed the existence of tiny threads about 1 millimeter (1/20th of an inch) long amid bits of burnt sap and fossilized vegetable matter.  While not as dramatic as a fully preserved net of spider silk, the minuscule strands show that spiders had been spinning circle-shaped webs well into prehistory, according to Simon Braddy, a University of Bristol paleobiologist uninvolved with the find.  "It's not a striking, perfect web," Braddy said. "(But) this seems to confirm that spiders were building orb webs back in the early Cretaceous" — the geological term for the period of time between 145.5 and 65.5 million years ago when dinosaurs and small mammals shared the earth.

Source/more:  AP, http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5hlHHs2eR2ge36n9B8CqDnn17670AD953EC280

December 16, 2008 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

This just in: 2008 No. 3 NBER Bulletin on Aging and Health

Available at http://www.nber.org/aginghealth/2008no3/2008no3.pdf

TOC:  The 2008 No. 3 Bulletin includes the articles below:

1)  The Past and Future of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act     by David Neumark     http://www.nber.org/aginghealth/2008no3/w14317.html   

2)  The Relative (In)Efficiency of the U.S. Health Care System     by Alan Garber and Jonathan Skinner     http://www.nber.org/aginghealth/2008no3/w14257.html

3)  Do Discount Rates Affect Behaviors Like Saving and Smoking?     by Christopher Chabris, David Laibson, Carrie Morris, Jonathon Schuldt, and Dmitry Taubinsky

NBER Profile:  Amy Finkelstein, http://www.nber.org/aginghealth/2008no3/finkelstein.html

Abstracts of Selected Recent NBER Working Papers

December 16, 2008 in Other | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

GAO report recommends improvements to Part D beneficiary information strategies

In Medicare Part D, enrollees in stand-alone prescription drug plans (PDPs) are allowed to switch plans during an annual coordinated election period (AEP) set under law from November 15 to December 31, with new coverage effective January 1. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) required that plan sponsors send an Annual Notice of Change (ANOC)—using either its model or a nonmodel format—before the 2008 AEP. Among other things, GAO examined: (1) stakeholders’ views of the model ANOC and CMS’s efforts to assure its effectiveness, and (2) how the scheduling of the AEP affects the enrollment process for beneficiaries switching PDPs. Among the largest PDP sponsors, we selected eight to interview along with other stakeholders involved in the AEP. We also obtained and analyzed data from CMS.

What GAO Recommends

To improve the AEP, GAO recommends that CMS strengthen its evaluation of its model materials by reviewing alternative formats to communicate plan changes. Additionally, Congress should consider authorizing the Secretary of Health and Human Services to amend the AEP schedule to include a processing interval between the end of the AEP and the effective date of new coverage. In commenting on our draft, CMS stated that it concurs with our recommendation and will consider reviewing other ANOC formats.

Read the report:  http://www.gao.gov/new.items/d094.pdf?source=ra

December 16, 2008 in Medicare | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Monday, December 15, 2008

Vol. !, Issue 1 of Canadian Journal on Elder Law published

The Canadian Centre for Elder Law, a Division of the British Columbia Law Institute, has released the first issue of the Canadian Journal of Elder Law (CJEL). The journal is the first Canadian peer‐reviewed journal focused on elder law issues, and its goal is to promote the scholarly exploration of issues of law and aging. The CJEL publishes manuscripts on law reform, elder law issues, the intersection of law and policy, and other issues of key consideration for lawyers practising in this area of law.

The scope of this journal makes it an excellent resource for heath care providers, academics, and lawyers engaged in the areas of wills, estates, trusts, pensions and benefits, health law, family law, long‐term care, guardianship, and interjurisdictional

This issue of the CJEL has a varied selection of articles. From the tensions between the rights of care recipients and providers in Australia, to the practice of predatory lending in Canada, the journal canvasses some of the most pressing issues in Canada and around the world. The journal also contains a case comment, and the student paper about class action suits relating to long term care. Article abstracts are available on our website at http://www.bcli.org/cjel.

To place an order please contact us at cjel@bcli.org

December 15, 2008 in Other | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Did you know: Monthly Social Security Bulletin: the scholarly journal of SSA

Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 68 No. 3

Printed copies of this document are scheduled for release in late December 2008.
The Effects of Wage Indexing on Social Security Disability Benefits
by L. Scott Muller

Researchers David Autor and Mark Duggan have hypothesized that the Social Security benefit formula using the average wage index, coupled with a widening distribution of income, has created an implicit rise in replacement rates for low-earner disability beneficiaries. This research attempts to confirm and quantify the replacement rate creep identified by Autor and Duggan using actual earnings histories of disability-insured workers over the period 1979–2004. The research finds that disability replacement rates are rising for many insured workers, although the effect may be somewhat smaller than that suggested by Autor and Duggan.

Cohort Differences in Wealth and Pension Participation of Near-Retirees
by Irena Dushi and Howard M. Iams

This article examines pension participation and nonpension net worth of two cohorts of near retirees. Particularly, the authors look at people born in 1933 through 1939 who were ages 55–61 in 1994, and the more recent cohort consisting of people of the same age in 2004 who were born in 1943 through 1949. Data are from the Health and Retirement Study, a longitudinal, nationally representative survey of older Americans.

Robert M. Ball: A Life Dedicated to Social Security
by Carolyn Puckett

With the death of Robert Myers Ball at age 93 on January 29, 2008, the Social Security program lost one of its most committed supporters. In 2001, Ball's biographer, historian Edward D. Berkowitz, described Ball as "the major non-Congressional player in the history of Social Security in the period between 1950 and the present."

Remembering Mollie Orshansky—The Developer of the Poverty Thresholds
by Gordon M. Fisher

In a federal government career that lasted more than four decades, Mollie Orshansky worked for the Children's Bureau, the Department of Agriculture, the Social Security Administration, and other agencies. While working at the Social Security Administration during the 1960s, she developed the poverty thresholds that became the federal government's official statistical measure of poverty; her thresholds remain a major feature of the architecture of American social policy and are widely known internationally.


Several features from our Web site are also reprinted in the Bulletin each quarter.  These include

December 15, 2008 in Social Security | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Friday, December 12, 2008

GSU seeks attorney to work on health disparity issues

The Georgia State University College of Law seeks an attorney to work as a Health Disparities Fellow  in a community collaboration called the Health Law Partnership (HeLP), under a grant received under the Georgia Health Equity Initiative of the Georgia Dept. of Community Health.  HeLP provides public health legal services and educational programs in a partnership among Georgia State Law, Children's Healthcare of Atlanta, and the Atlanta Legal Aid Society.  See www.healthlawpartnership.org.  The one-year project funded by this grant addresses the adverse impact that socio-economic factors have on the health and well-being of poor and minority children who receive health care services at Children's hospital at Hughes Spalding in downtown Atlanta.   The Fellow will work with GSU faculty, staff, and students; HeLP-affiliated staff and partners; hospital personnel affiliated with Children's hospitals; and academic constituents (faculty and students) affiliated with Emory and Morehouse medical schools.  To apply, visit the GSU job search Web site at http://jobs.gsu.edu and   "Search Postings " under  'Vacancy Number 0600841. " In addition to required application materials, candidates selected for interview will be asked for a legal writing sample; contact information for 3 references; and official law school transcript.   Resume review will begin immediately, and the position is expected to be filled in January 2009.  See also attached position announcement for more information.

December 12, 2008 in Health Care/Long Term Care | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Highlights from NSCLC reports and articles now online

Happy Holidays from all of us at the National Senior Citizens Law Center!  Here are highlights from recent reports and articles. You can find more on the NSCLC website: http://www.nsclc.org/whats_new


--NSCLC Agenda: A Call to Action
This is NSCLC's "to-do list" for the new Congress and new Administration. We called for our leaders to adopt an agenda that strengthens the critical health and income programs for low-income seniors and guarantees that the sickest, poorest and frailest among us can live in health and dignity, and that age is never a basis for discrimination.

--2009 Medicare Part D Premium Hike
More than 2 million low-income Medicare beneficiaries may face a disruption to their prescription drug coverage in January.

--Musical Chairs: An Analysis of the Part D Annual Reassignment Process
This report provides both a national overview of and state specific information about Medicare Part D plan changes for 2009 and the impact of those changes on low income Medicare beneficiaries.

--Best Practices for Reaching Out and Serving LEP Clients
This handout provides a checklist for organizations that assist clients with Medicare Part D and the low-income subsidy so they may better serve LEP beneficiaries.

--NSCLC Selected for New National Legal Resource Center
NSCLC is be part of a team of six national organizations that will provide training, case consultation and other support servides to local aging service organizations and legal service programs.

--NSCLC in the Guardian: Rebalancing the Scales of Justice
In this op-ed from the Guardian, NSCLC attorneys Simon Lazarus and Ian Millhiser call on Barack Obama to stop the Supreme Court from providing immunity to health insurers and other corporate law-breakers.

--"Senior Rights & Wrongs," an article examining the difficulty older Americans face to protect themselves from age discrimination, nursing home abuse and loss of pension benefits. The article,written by NSCLC attorney Harper Jean Tobin, appears in the Nov. 3, 2008 issue of The Nation.

--“Judicial Nominations: Implementing the Rule of Law,” published in Change for America: A Progressive Blueprint for the 44th President by the Center for American Progress Action Fund. 

December 12, 2008 in Other | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

New GAO report discusses Medicare Advantage plans' actual vs. projected profits

Surprise!  These plans made 50% higher profits than they "thought" they would.

Summary of the report:  On average, MA organizations reported earning profits of 6.6 percent of total revenue in 2006—which was higher than their projected profits of 4.1 percent. MA organizations reported spending an average of 83.3 percent of total revenue on medical expenses, but had projected spending an average of 86.9 percent of total revenue on those expenses. More than half of beneficiaries were enrolled in health benefits plans offered by MA organizations for which profits as a percentage of revenue were greater than projected and the combined medical and non-medical expenses as a percentage of revenue were lower than projected. Among the three types of MA health plans with the largest enrollments—HMOs, PPOs, and PFFS plans—there was a consistent pattern of actual profits being higher than projected and medical expenses being lower than projected. Projections of profits were closer to actual profits as a percentage of revenue in 2006 (2.5 percentage points difference) than they were in 2005 (3.2 percentage points difference). However, largely due to an approximate 40 percent increase in enrollment between the 2 years, the actual dollar amount of the difference between actual and projected profits increased from $1.1 billion in 2005 to $1.3 billion in 2006.

Get the report:  http://www.gao.gov/new.items/d09132r.pdf?source=ra

Remember:  these plans receive huge subsidies from US taxpayers...

December 12, 2008 in Medicare | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Wake Forest elder law clinic's fall e-newsletter online NOW!

Among the top stories this edition:

The Grand Prix and the Grandpa

Alyse Herrington reviewed a lawsuit filed against her client for nonpayment of a car loan. This gentleman's granddaughter had bad credit, so he had helped by co-signing on the loan. When she stopped paying, he was sued. The grandfather now has health problems that make him unable to understand his situation. Learn more inside...

GET IT HERE! http://law.wfu.edu/clinics/elder/newsletter/

December 10, 2008 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Recent posts of interest on Elder Abuse Prevention Blog

Powers of Attorney, Elder Justice, Help Hiring Helpers, and No More Minnesota Nice

I like the latter in particular: 

No More “Minnesota Nice"
As a native Minnesotan, I got a kick out of the Minnesota Department of Public Safety’s anti-scam campaign, “No More Minnesota Nice,” which warns Minnesotans about lottery and sweepstakes scams. I’d assumed that the point of the campaign was to urge us Minnesotans to eschew our notorious niceness and hang up on fraudsters as quickly as possible or tell them where to go. Which makes sense since criminal telemarketers know that the longer they can keep someone on the phone, the more likely they’ll be able to complete a scam. But the campaign’s promotional materials fall short of actually promoting or scripting rudeness. So, I thought I'd do it for them:

“The next time you’re contacted by a telemarketer, just say “!!#$%!!#!!”

Visit blog at: http://preventelderabuse.blogspot.com/

December 10, 2008 in Elder Abuse/Guardianship/Conservatorship | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Today is 60th anniversary of Universal Declaration of Human Rights

Courtesy Amercian Medical Students' Association:

Dec 10, 2008 is the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). The United Nations General Assembly adopted the declaration on Dec. 10, 1948, and it stands as a foundational document for international human rights. You can read the entire text here: http://un.org/Overview/rights.html


This document has served to prosecute rights-violating national leaders, defend the welfare of detainees and prisoners, and fight for equality in marginalized groups like children and the disabled since 1948.  It continues to stand today as a powerful document in the hands of human rights fighters everywhere.



What can you do to celebrate?  Sign the Individual Pledge and join hundreds of thousands across the world in their own declaration of commitment to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights as part of the Every Human Has Rights Campaign.  Also check out their website for videos, articles by human rights journalists, and global events schedules: http://www.everyhumanhasrights.org/individuals


Learn, teach, and act on a human rights issue by country or topic: http://www.amnesty.org/en/human-rights


Find a flood of resources from the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights website: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/UDHR/Pages/60UDHRIntroduction.aspx

December 9, 2008 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Monday, December 8, 2008

New CRS report discusses Medicaid regs affected by moratorium

Medicaid Regulatory Issues
November 26, 2008
Download Locations:


Open CRS (User submitted)

Summary:This report provides a summary of seven proposed and final rules affecting the Medicaid program that were issued by the Bush Administration during 2007 and 2008. Six of the seven rules are currently under a congressional moratorium on further administrative action until April 1, 2009. A description of possible administrative and legislative actions to modify these rules, which could be taken by the next administration or the 111th Congress, is also provided.

December 8, 2008 in Medicaid | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Sunny Von Bulow dead after 28 years in coma

US heiress Martha von Bulow, who spent almost three decades in a coma but was still at the centre of 1980s courtroom dramas, has died at the age of 76.Mrs von Bulow, known as Sunny, was found unconscious in her Rhode Island mansion in December 1980.  Her second husband, Claus von Bulow, who is now a society figure in Britain, was acquitted of twice trying to kill her with insulin injections.  The events were turned into a 1990 Hollywood film, Reversal of Fortune.  Starring Glenn Close and Jeremy Irons, the film was based on a book by Alan Dershowitz, the Harvard lawyer who defended Claus von Bulow at his second trial.  The daughter of utilities tycoon George Crawford, Sunny von Bulow died at New York's Mary Manning Walsh Nursing Home, her family said.  She is survived by a daughter from her marriage to Claus von Bulow, and two children from her first marriage to an Austrian prince.

More:  BBC, http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/7769658.stm

Visit Caring Connections to download a state-specific advance directive if you don't want this to happen to you...

December 6, 2008 in Advance Directives/End-of-Life | Permalink | TrackBack (0)