Thursday, July 18, 2019

Mark your Calendar: Webinar on Spending Patterns of Older Adults

The Employee Benefits Research Institute (EBRI) has announced a webinar on July 24, 2019 at 2:00 p.m. edt.  on Spending Patterns of Older Households and Their Financial Planning Implications.

Here's a description of the webinar:

Please join EBRI for a webinar reviewing findings from its latest research on spending behavior of older Americans. EBRI researcher Zahra Ebrahimi will examine how spending varies by retirement status, wealth, and demographic characteristics. We will then hear from Sharon Carson, Retirement Strategist, Executive Director at J.P. Morgan Asset Management, to understand the implications of these findings in assessing retirement income adequacy for financial planning purposes.

To register for the webinar, click here.

July 18, 2019 in Consumer Information, Current Affairs, Programs/CLEs, Retirement, Statistics, Webinars | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

25% Working Americans Don't Plan to Retire

Do you plan to retire?  If you answer is no, you aren't alone. According to a recent poll in the Associated Press, almost 25% of folks plan to keep work. Poll: 1 in 4 don’t plan to retire despite realities of aging found a possible "disconnection between individuals’ retirement plans and the realities of aging in the workforce." The realities of life ... and aging... "often force older workers to leave their jobs sooner than they’d like."  The article notes things like caregiving and health as reasons that cause folks to leave employment.  In addition to this nearly 25% who plan to keep working, which "[includes] nearly 2 in 10 of those over 50.... [r]oughly another quarter of Americans say they will continue working beyond their 65th birthday."

The article contains data regarding the impetus to keep working (including financial needs) and the perceptions among those in the workforce regarding the continued employment of older workers:

39% think people staying in the workforce longer is mostly a good thing for American workers, while 29% think it’s more a bad thing and 30% say it makes no difference.

A somewhat higher share, 45%, thinks it has a positive effect on the U.S. economy.

Working Americans who are 50 and older think the trend is more positive than negative for their own careers — 42% to 15%. Those younger than 50 are about as likely to say it’s good for their careers as to say it’s bad.

However, desire and reality aren't always a match. The article also discusses reasons why folks who want to keep working have to leave the workforce.

Thanks to Professor Naomi Cahn for sending me the link to the story.

July 9, 2019 in Consumer Information, Current Affairs, Other, Retirement, Statistics | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, June 6, 2019

Good News Out of Alabama for SNT Beneficiaries

One piece of good news from Alabama that caught my eye was the passage of a new law regarding pensions and Special Needs Trusts.   Here is the press release from the firm of one of the attorneys integrally involved in this legislative effort:

A new act has been passed by the Alabama Legislature and signed into law by the Governor that will allow participants in the Retirement Systems of Alabama (“RSA”) pension plan to direct proceeds to pass to a special needs trust for a beneficiary with a disability who receives government benefits.  Sirote & Permutt shareholder, Katherine N. Barr, a member of the firm’s Private Clients Trusts and Estates Group, recognized the need for this important statutory change when doing estate planning for RSA employees and retirees who wanted to leave their RSA pensions to children with disabilities receiving SSI and Medicaid.  The RSA provisions required the pension payment to be paid directly to the child, which caused a loss of these critical government benefits in most cases.  With input from RSA, Ms. Barr prepared legislation to correct this problem.  State Senator Cam Ward from Alabaster, Alabama introduced the legislation as SB 57 this session and State Representative Matt Fridy from Montevallo, Alabama introduced to it the House.  Both the House and Senate passed it unanimously. Governor Ivey signed the legislation on May 22, 2019.  The Act covers all RSA retirement plan participants and will become effective August 1, 2019.  Ms. Barr states that it took more than three years to obtain this result.  This legislation will benefit individuals with disabilities for years to come by allowing them to receive the pension payments in a manner that will not affect their Medicaid and SSI payments. The pension can now be directed to a certain type of special needs trust upon the death of the plan participant.  The trust can be set up in advance or following the participant’s death.  The Alabama Family Trust can be designated to receive the benefit, as can a private trust. 

Well done Katherine!

June 6, 2019 in Consumer Information, Current Affairs, Estates and Trusts, Health Care/Long Term Care, Retirement, State Statutes/Regulations | Permalink

Monday, June 3, 2019

Caregivers and the Impact on Their Financial Security

The GAO recently released a study examining the financial implications to caregivers.  Retirement Security: Some Parental and Spousal Caregivers Face Financial Risks explains

[a]bout 10% of Americans per year cared for an elderly parent or spouse from 2011 through 2017. These family caregivers may risk their long-term financial security if they have to work less or pay for caregiving expenses such as travel or medicine.

More than half of people who cared for parents or spouses said they went to work late, left early, or took time off for care

Spousal caregivers at or near retirement age had less in retirement assets or Social Security income than non-caregivers

Experts and studies identified ways to potentially improve caregivers' retirement security, such as increasing their Social Security benefits

The full 71 page report is available here as a pdf, while the highlights are available here.  Here is a synopsis of the highlights

Some caregivers experienced adverse effects on their jobs and had less in retirement assets and income.

  • According to data from a 2015 caregiving-specific study, an estimated 68 percent of working parental and spousal caregivers experienced job impacts, such as going to work late, leaving early, or taking time off during the day to provide care. Spousal caregivers were more likely to experience job impacts than parental caregivers (81 percent compared to 65 percent, respectively).
  • According to 2002 to 2014 data from the Health and Retirement Study, spousal caregivers ages 59 to 66 had lower levels of retirement assets and less income than married non-caregivers of the same ages. Specifically, spousal caregivers had an estimated 50 percent less in individual retirement account (IRA) assets, 39 percent less in non-IRA assets, and 11 percent less in Social Security income. However, caregiving may not be the cause of these results as there are challenges to isolating the effect of caregiving from other factors that could affect retirement assets and income.

 

June 3, 2019 in Consumer Information, Current Affairs, Health Care/Long Term Care, Other, Retirement, Statistics | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, May 2, 2019

Want to Live to Be 100?

If you answered yes to the title question, you are not along. Last month, Financial Advisor published an article, More Than Half Of Americans Want To Live To 100 reporting on a survey by AIG Life & Retirement.  Why does someone want to live to be 100?  Why not? There are various reasons, and the respondents offered these: "Thirty-nine percent of respondents cited deeper family relationships as the main reason for wanting to live 100 years. Another 32 percent said they wanted to see the world change, and 17 percent wanted to remain productive."

The respondents note that longevity can be accompanied by various issues. "Of the 53 percent whose goal is to be a centenarian, 51 percent are worried that their savings won't last for that long a life." As well, the likelihood of significant health issues took first place among concerns "(35 percent) ...  followed by the likelihood of burdening their family (27 percent) and running out of the money needed to live comfortably in retirement (25 percent)."  Planning for longevity is important.  Although aging happens organically, planning for longevity is responsible aging.

May 2, 2019 in Consumer Information, Current Affairs, Health Care/Long Term Care, Other, Retirement | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, April 4, 2019

Phased Retirement In Other Countries

The GAO published a new report examining the experiences of other countries with phased retirement of workers. Older Workers: Other Countries' Experiences with Phased Retirement reports on "17 countries with aging populations and national pension systems similar to the Social Security program in the United States. These countries also have arrangements that allow workers to reduce their working hours as they transition into retirement, referred to as 'phased retirement.'"

The report is available here as a pdf.  Some of the highlights from the report:

GAO's four case study countries—Canada, Germany, Sweden, and the United Kingdom (UK)—were described as employing various strategies at the national level to encourage phased retirement, and specific programs differed with respect to design specifics and sources of supplemental income for participants. Canada and the U.K. were described as having national policies that make it easier for workers to reduce their hours and receive a portion of their pension benefits from employer-sponsored pension plans while continuing to accrue pension benefits in the same plan. Experts described two national programs available to employers and workers in Germany, with one program using tax preferences. Experts also said Sweden implemented a policy in 2010 that allows partial retirement and access to partial pension benefits to encourage workers to stay in the labor force longer.

Even with unique considerations in the United States, other countries' experiences with phased retirement could inform U.S. efforts. Some employer-specific conditions, such as employers offering employee-directed retirement plans and not being covered by collective bargaining are more common in the United States, but the case study countries included examples of designs for phased retirement programs in such settings. Certain programs allow access to employer-sponsored or national pension benefits while working part-time. For example, experts said the U.K. allows workers to draw a portion of their account based pension tax-free, and one U.K. employer GAO spoke to also allows concurrent contributions to those plans. In addition, experts said that certain program design elements help determine the success of some programs. Such elements could inform the United States experience. For instance, U.S. employers told us that while offering phased retirement to specific groups of workers may be challenging because of employment discrimination laws, a union representative in Germany noted that they reached an agreement where employers may set restrictions or caps on participation, such as 3 percent of the workforce, to manage the number of workers in the program. Employers in the U.S. could explore whether using a similar approach, taking into consideration any legal concerns or other practical challenges, could help them to control the number of workers participating in phased retirement programs.

 

April 4, 2019 in Consumer Information, Current Affairs, International, Other, Retirement | Permalink

Thursday, March 28, 2019

New GAO Report on Retirement Security

The GAO has issued a new report, Retirement Security:  Most Households Approaching Retirement Have Low Savings, an Update. The report, an update from the 2015 report, is 4 pages long and available here as a pdf. The update incorporates "estimates on the percentage of households aged 55 and over with selected financial resources."  Here are the fast facts from this update

The 2015 report on retirement security included estimates on the percentage of households aged 55 and over without retirement savings or a defined benefit plan (traditional employment-based pension plans that offer benefits based on factors like salary and years of service)... We updated these estimates using data from the most recent Survey of Consumer Finances, which was released in September 2017... We found that the percent of households headed by someone aged 55 and over that had no retirement savings decreased from about 52 percent in 2013 to about 48 percent in 2016.

 

March 28, 2019 in Consumer Information, Current Affairs, Other, Retirement, Social Security | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, January 7, 2019

What Boomers Value as Employee Benefits

According to AARP, employee benefits most valued by Boomers are  Health Insurance, Retirement Benefits Most Attractive to Boomer Workers

Boomer workers tend to place great importance on health insurance benefits and 401(k) matching contributions from their employers, according to a newly released Harris poll of 2,026 U.S. adults.

Gen Xers and younger adults also value these benefits but are somewhat more inclined than boomers to put a priority on paid time off and flexible work schedules, according to the poll, conducted for the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA). 

The statistics in the article are interesting. For example, as far as what employee benefits are important: for the Boomers, 71% said health insurance and 67% said 401(k), 54% pensions while the millennials and Xers placed less importance on pensions, 16% and 34% respectively.  Millennials placed more importance on workplace flexibility compared to Boomers.  How long do the Boomers surveyed intend to continue working?  According to the article, 22% may retire within a year, 22% are considering cutting back on the amount they work and 13% are looking at a job change with only 14% likely to work more.

 

January 7, 2019 in Consumer Information, Current Affairs, Other, Retirement, Statistics | Permalink | Comments (0)

States Adopt "Work & Save" Programs to Promote Retirement Savings on the Job

I was chatting recently with Bill Johnston-Walsh, director of Pennsylvania's chapter of AARP.  I always enjoy catching up with Bill, as he gets involved in cutting edge issues and projects under development.

One of the hot topics he relayed to me are programs at the state level to support better on-the-job savings for retirement.  Almost gone are the days of defined benefit retirement plans and employers may not offer defined contribution plans either.  States are beginning to adopt laws that make it possible for employers to offer alternative, low-cost, voluntary approaches for employees, sometimes known as "Work & Save" programs, such as "OregonSaves."  Here's a summary from an AARP report in July 2018:

Oregon was the first-in-the-nation to launch this innovative solution with OregonSaves in 2017, and as of July 2018 they already have over 58,000 workers enrolled and nearly $4.6 million saved. Of those eligible at this time, 73% have enrolled, and participants are saving $46.42 per paycheck on average. Check out how OregonSaves is helping workers save here.



Elsewhere, this year, Washington opened the first ever marketplace version of Work & Save, Washington’s Retirement Marketplace, and Illinois started a pilot of their Work & Save program, Illinois Secure Choice, with their official launch coming this fall.

 

These states are not alone – across the nation, states are recognizing the need to help all workers grow savings so they can take control of their futures and deal with the rising cost of health care and living expenses. In the past 6 years, 40 states have acted to implement, study or consider legislation to create Work & Save programs.

Convenience and portability for the employees seem to be two key components of the new approaches.

 

January 7, 2019 in Consumer Information, Current Affairs, Retirement, State Statutes/Regulations, Statistics | Permalink

Thursday, January 3, 2019

Do You Know Your Medicare Coverage?

As elderlaw profs, it's likely that we cover Medicare in our courses every semester. Whether you teach the subject or your are a beneficiary, how well do you know Medicare coverage basics? Kiplinger offers a short quiz on Medicare that allows you to test your Medicare IQ. The quiz, Does Medicare Cover That? is easy to complete and each question includes an explanation accompanying the answer.  And once you have finished this quiz, take the next one, True or False: Test Yourself on Social Security Claiming Strategies.

Check them out!

January 3, 2019 in Consumer Information, Current Affairs, Health Care/Long Term Care, Medicare, Retirement, Social Security | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

NYT: Making Annuities Easier to Understand

The more I work in the field of elder law, and teach classes, the more I am convinced that enterprises who market to families and seniors fail to realize greater transparency can help their commercial products and enterprises succeed. 

Thus, it is useful to read a New York Times' column on annuities, one that appears to be the first of a series.  The author, Ron Lieber, begins his column on The Simplest Annuity Explainer We Could Write:

Annuities can be complicated. This column will not be.

 

After I wrote two weeks ago about getting tossed out of the office of an annuity salesman, there was a surprising clamor for more information about this room-clearing topic. One group of readers just wanted a basic explainer on how annuities work. For that, read on.

 

Another group of readers worried that those hearing of my experience might assume that all annuities are bad, and that all people who sell them use subterfuge to do so. Neither of those is true: Next week, I’ll introduce you to some reasonable people who are trying to use certain annuities in new and improved ways.

My thanks to Dickinson Law colleague Laurel Terry for the heads up!

December 19, 2018 in Consumer Information, Current Affairs, Estates and Trusts, Ethical Issues, Legal Practice/Practice Management, Property Management, Retirement | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, October 22, 2018

U.S. Inflation Rate 2.1% -- Cost of Assisted Living Room Rose 6.67% in 2017-18

CNBC recently highlighted comparative inflation numbers on assisted living costs and other benchmarks that probably won't help you sleep better tonight:

This retirement living expense has nowhere to go but up.

The annual cost of a private room in a nursing home has cracked the six-figure mark, according to Genworth Financial.

The national annual median cost of a private room in a nursing home is $100,375, the insurer found in its 2018 Cost of Care study.  

Overall, the rising cost of care has outpaced inflation. The Consumer Price Index for all urban consumers was 2.1 percent for the first half of 2018. The annual median cost of a room at an assisted living facility grew by 6.67 percent between 2017 and 2018. Meanwhile, the cost of a shared room in a nursing home jumped by 4.11 percent.

For more, read "This Retirement Expense Has Hit $100k Annually - And It's Continuing To Rise."

October 22, 2018 in Consumer Information, Current Affairs, Health Care/Long Term Care, Retirement | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Legislative Update on Guardianship Reform and Other Bills in Pennsylvania

The Pennsylvania Legislature did not reach either SB 884, involving major changes in adult guardianship laws, or HB 2291, that would have blocked state authority to investigate complaints about the scope of services provided in senior public housing or independent living units in continuing care retirement communities (CCRCs), before adjourning to permit legislators to return to their districts for the final push before the November 2018 elections.   It is unlikely that either bill will receive further consideration this session.  New legislation would need to be introduced in the next legislative session, for fresh consideration in 2019.

One bill that did pass both Houses on October 18 in the waning hours of the 2017-18 session is HB 2133, Printer's No. 3107 to establish a Kinship Caregiver Navigator Program within the PA Department of Human Services as "a resource for grandparents who are raising their grandchildren" outside of the formal child welfare system.  The online navigator program is to be created by an outside contractor.  The fiscal note attached to the bill projects an estimated cost of about $2.2 million, with about half of the funds coming from federal sources.  

October 18, 2018 in Current Affairs, Ethical Issues, Health Care/Long Term Care, Programs/CLEs, Retirement, State Statutes/Regulations | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

SSA Numbers for 2019

Social Security has released the 2019 numbers.   Social Security Announces 2.8 Percent Benefit Increase for 2019 notes a 2.8% COLA and an increase in the SSA taxable maximum amount to $132,900. The indivdiual's amount for SSI for 2019 will increase to $771 per month. The detailed fact sheet is available here.

October 16, 2018 in Consumer Information, Current Affairs, Federal Statutes/Regulations, Retirement, Social Security | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Pennsylvania's Legislature Stalls Guardianship Reform But Moves Forward on Controversial "Protection" Bill

As recent readers of the Elder Law Prof Blog will know, the Pennsylvania legislature is in the waning days of the 2018 legislative year.  Despite strong support for basic reforms of adult guardianship laws, the legislature has once again stalled action on Senator Greenleaf's guardianship reform package, Senate Bill 884. Apparently the latest delay arose when one senator objected to a provision requiring criminal background checks for proposed new guardians, because of his own experiences as a guardian for an adult child.   

Guardianship reform has been on the legislative docket since at least 2014 when the Pennsylvania Supreme Court's Elder Law Task Force issued its comprehensive report recommending much needed changes, including higher standards for appointed guardians.  But this one senator's late-breaking concerns triggered another delay.  Similar legislation was approved by the Senate in the previous legislative term, only to be stalled that time in the House.  

Thus, the contrast with another bill affecting seniors, one that is rushing through the Pennsylvania Legislature in 6 months, is particularly dramatic.  House Bill 2291, as most recently amended in Printer's Version No. 3917, was introduced for the first time in April 2018 and cleared the Pennsylvania House with a unanimous vote on October 9, 2018.  

The bill has been cast as "protection" of seniors against unwanted intrusions on their privacy by government investigators.  Sounds like a commendable purpose.  But the much larger purpose seems to be about protecting "providers" of certain types of housing for seniors, including "independent living units" in continuing care retirement communities (CCRCs, also called Life Plan Communities) and publically-funded "senior multifamily housing units," from investigation by Pennsylvania authorities where there are potential concerns about suitability of that type of unit for the needs of particular seniors, especially those at risk of self-neglect or third-party exploitation because of dementia.  One member of the  House, a legislator from Westmoreland County where a CCRC has been investigated (apparently the only such investigation in the state), has been quite successful in attracting support for his bill to prevent such investigations from happening in the future. 

Now the Pennsylvania Senate will have all of three days -- its last three working days in 2018 -- to consider HB 2291 for the first time. 

Has HB 2291 been carefully considered by all the stakeholders, including seniors and their families?   It may not matter when the train is running at full steam.

 

October 10, 2018 in Cognitive Impairment, Consumer Information, Current Affairs, Dementia/Alzheimer’s, Elder Abuse/Guardianship/Conservatorship, Ethical Issues, Health Care/Long Term Care, Housing, Retirement, State Cases, State Statutes/Regulations | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, September 28, 2018

Aging, Law and Society CRN Call for Papers in Advance of 2019 Annual Meeting in D.C.

The Aging, Law and Society Collaborative Research Network (CRN) invites scholars to participate in a multi-event workshop as part of the Law and Society Association Annual Meeting scheduled for Washington D.C. from May 30 through June 2, 2019.

For this workshop, proposals for presentations should be submitted by October 22, 2018. 

This year’s workshop will feature themed panels, roundtable discussions, and rapid fire presentations in which participants can share new ideas and research projects.

The CRN encourages paper proposals on a broad range of issues related to law and aging.  For this event, organizers especially encourage proposals on the following topics:

  • The concept of dignity as it relates to aging
  • Interdisciplinary research on aging
  • Old age policy, and historical perspectives on old age policy
  • Sexual Intimacy in old age and the challenge of “consent” requirements
  • Compulsion in care provision
  • Disability perspectives on aging, and aging perspectives on disability
  • Feminist perspectives on aging
  • Approaches to elder law education

In addition to paper proposals, CRN also welcomes:

  • Volunteers to serve as panel discussants and as commentators on works-in-progress.
  • Ideas and proposals for themed panels, round-tables, or a session around a new book.

If you would like to present a paper as part of a the CRN’s programming, send a 100-250 word abstract, with your name, full contact information, and a paper title to Professor Nina Kohn at Syracuse Law, who, appropriately enough also now holds the title of "Associate Dean of Online Education!"  

September 28, 2018 in Current Affairs, Elder Abuse/Guardianship/Conservatorship, Ethical Issues, Health Care/Long Term Care, Housing, International, Programs/CLEs, Property Management, Retirement, Science, Social Security, State Cases, State Statutes/Regulations, Statistics, Web/Tech, Webinars | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Will New Long-Term Care Products Fare Better than "Traditional" Policies?

Last week, students in my Elder Law class at Dickinson Law had the benefit of a fascinating, detailed presentation by Pennsylvania's Deputy Commissioner of Insurance Joseph DiMemo about the history of insolvency for Penn Treaty American Network and American Independent Insurance Company as sellers of long-term care insurance policies.  In 2009, the State took the reins as the receiver for the two companies' administration of more than 126,000 policies sold nationwide. 

From the history, I would summarize reasons for failure of long term care insurance in its "traditional" form as including the following:

  1. Selling products with a promise or at least a strong expectation of level premiums, especially in the early years of the industry.  While contract language permitted companies to seek rate increases, the companies often delayed asking for increases or were frustrated by states that refused to grant requested increases;
  2. Assumptions made about "lapse" rates for policyholders that proved to be inaccurate;
  3. Assumptions made about "interest" rates for invested premiums that proved to be inaccurate, even before the 2008-10 financial crisis;
  4. Assumptions made about lower morbidity and higher mortality that proved not to be accurate for policyholders overall;
  5. The continued use of invalid assumptions about future premium rate increases. 

In light of this tour through history, I was interested to read about New York LIfe Insurance Company's description of its "new and innovative long-term care insurance product" in its press release dated September 5, 2018:  

A new long-term care solution announced today by New York Life, NYL My Care, promises to make the purchase of long-term care insurance simpler and more affordable. The innovative product features design concepts familiar to purchasers of other types of insurance, including a deductible and co-insurance, and offers the benefit of a dividend, which can help offset future premiums. NYL My Care clients will also benefit from the peace of mind that comes from working with a mutual life insurance company with the highest available financial strength ratings.

 

“New York Life is committed to helping people plan for the future, which includes protecting themselves and their loved ones from the financial burden of an extended health care event,” said Aaron Ball, vice president, New York Life Long-Term Care. “NYL My Care’s simpler, first-of-its-kind product design will help more people understand, access and afford the protection they need against the potential cost of long-term care.”

 

NYL My Care covers a wide range of long-term care needs, including home care, community-based care and facility care, and offers four pre-designed plan levels ... bronze, silver, gold and platinum. 

For more on so-called "hybrid" or "asset" based products that couple long-term care benefits to annuities or life insurance polices, read New Life Insurance Brings New Innovations to Long-Term Care Insurance Market from Forbes.

September 12, 2018 in Consumer Information, Current Affairs, Estates and Trusts, Ethical Issues, Health Care/Long Term Care, Legal Practice/Practice Management, Retirement, State Cases, State Statutes/Regulations | Permalink | Comments (1)

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

How Lack of Transparency Harms "Senior Living" as an Industry

I'm preparing for an upcoming program in North Carolina and residents of senior living communities have sent me questions in advance.  The questions I've received are a reminder that "transparency" is a big issue.  As one resident candidly explained, "No population is more vulnerable than seniors living in managed care.... I consider myself among the vulnerable."   I've come to believe that lack of transparency impacts virtually all of the options for financing of senior living, including long-term care insurance and continuing care communities.  The problem is that many prospective clients do not know who they can trust, and many end up trusting no one.  They end up not making any advance plan.

For example, this week there is industry-sourced news that 33 facilities operated under the umbrella of Atrium Health and Senior Living, a New Jersey-based company, are going into receivership. These include 9 "senior living communities" and 23 "skilled nursing facilities" in Wisconsin, plus a skilled nursing facility in Michigan.  Atrium is also reported as operating 3 senior living communities and 9 skilled nursing facilities in New Jersey that "are not part of the receivership."  If you look at the company's website today, however, it won't be easy to find news that insolvency is already impacting this company's sites.  At least as of the time of my writing this blog post, there's only "good news" on the company's website.   

The public tends not to distinguish between different types of senior living options, at least not until individuals get fairly close to needing to make choices about moving out of their own homes.  I can easily imagine anyone who has done enough advance research to know about troubled companies to simply make a decision to steer clear of all facilities operated under a particular company name.  But, I suspect there is also a much larger population of prospective residents who view reports of troubled senior living companies or facilities as a reason to reject all of the options.  

Some providers will say that the problem is that "bad news" is over-reported.  I don't think that is actually true.  Rather, I think that there in most states is it hard to distinguish between financially sound or unsound options.  Certainly, I've known state regulators who decline to talk about troubled properties on a theory that bad news may make it harder for struggling operations to work out their problems as they cannot attract new customers.  Lack of transparency is argued as an explanation for giving operators a fair chance to recover, and recovery helps everyone.  

States, however, have unique opportunities to learn from their roles as receivers for troubled operations.  Wouldn't it be helpful for states to publish accurate information about what factors they have discovered that contribute to success or lack of financial success?  And if not the regulators, why not have the industry itself publish standards of financial health.

September 11, 2018 in Consumer Information, Current Affairs, Estates and Trusts, Ethical Issues, Health Care/Long Term Care, Housing, Legal Practice/Practice Management, Property Management, Retirement, State Cases, State Statutes/Regulations, Statistics | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, September 6, 2018

How Many Long-Term Care Insurance Companies are Still Writing New Policies?

A recent post on The Motley Fool provided several key statistics regarding Long-Term Care Insurance, including the fact that the number of companies still writing traditional LTCI policies in the U.S. has fallen dramatically:  

According to a report by the NAIC, the number of insurers offering stand-alone long-term care policies (as opposed to ones bundled with some other product(s) such as annuities) dropped from 125 to 15 between 2000 and 2014. That will only surprise those who haven't been keeping up with the industry, which has been struggling.

 

What's the problem? Well, as noted in the previous statistic, long-term care is simply very costly, and healthcare costs in general are quite steep -- they have been increasing at rapid rates, too. Some insurers have had to hike the premiums they charge their policy holders, while others have just stopped offering long-term care policies. Genworth Financial, for example, recently announced a 58% rate hike, while Mass Mutual requested a 77% rate hike.

 

This information shouldn't necessarily stop you from seeking coverage, but do know that the industry has been in some turmoil, and approach it with your eyes open.

For additional statistics (and resources) read Five Long-Term Care Stats that Will Blow You Away,

 

September 6, 2018 in Consumer Information, Current Affairs, Ethical Issues, Health Care/Long Term Care, Medicaid, Retirement | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, August 13, 2018

Elders in Bankruptcy On the Rise

A recent article, ‘Too little too late’: bankruptcy booms among older Americans published in The Business Times opens with a sobering thought: "[f]or a rapidly growing share of older Americans, traditional ideas about life in retirement are being upended by a dismal reality: bankruptcy." A new study featured in the article paints a foreboding picture for many elder Americans "'[t]he rate of people 65 and older filing for bankruptcy is three times what it was in 1991, the study found, and the same group accounts for a far greater share of all filers." What is causing this increase? According to the article, many factors, including changes in pension plans, health care out of pocket costs, declining incomes, to name a few.  It notes as well that elder Americans may have more challenges in recovering from financial setbacks than others.  The study is done by the Consumer Bankruptcy Project, which "is a long-running effort now led by Thorne; Lawless; Pamela Foohey, a law professor at Indiana University; and Katherine Porter, a law professor at the University of California, Irvine. The project — which is financed by their universities — collects and analyzes court records on a continuing basis and follows up with written questionnaires. ... Their latest study —which was posted online Sunday and has been submitted to an academic journal for peer review — is based on a sample of personal bankruptcy cases and questionnaires completed by 895 filers ages 19 to 92."

The paper by the study authors, Graying of U.S. Bankruptcy: Fallout from Life in a Risk Society has been placed on SSRN.

The abstract offers this

The social safety net for older Americans has been shrinking for the past couple decades. The risks associated with aging, reduced income, and increased healthcare costs, have been off-loaded onto older individuals. At the same time, older Americans are increasingly likely to file consumer bankruptcy, and their representation among those in bankruptcy has never been higher. Using data from the Consumer Bankruptcy Project, we find more than a two-fold increase in the rate at which older Americans (age 65 and over) file for bankruptcy and an almost five-fold increase in the percentage of older persons in the U.S. bankruptcy system. The magnitude of growth in older Americans in bankruptcy is so large that the broader trend of an aging U.S. population can explain only a small portion of the effect. In our data, older Americans report they are struggling with increased financial risks, namely inadequate income and unmanageable costs of healthcare, as they try to deal with reductions to their social safety net. As a result of these increased financial burdens, the median senior bankruptcy filer enters bankruptcy with negative wealth of $17,390 as compared to more than $250,000 for their non-bankrupt peers. For an increasing number of older Americans, their golden years are fraught with economic risks, the result of which is often bankruptcy.

August 13, 2018 in Consumer Information, Current Affairs, Federal Statutes/Regulations, Other, Retirement, Statistics | Permalink