A grandson calls and says he’s in trouble — what do you do? The male caller identifies himself as a grandson, who said he was in jail in Canada and needed money for bail. Variations on the theme include car or other legal troubles in Canada, saying that authorities won’t let them leave the country without the money. The caller asks that money be sent to a friend, through Western Union. While there is little police can do to help those who have lost money to such crooks, police warn others to be wary of such scams. Investigators say such scams have been used increasingly to target elderly people, by researching their would-be victims’ personal information before making contact. A Web site, phonebusters.com, which was set up by a Canadian law enforcement task force, contains a long list of such scams. The Canadian scam task force can be reached by phone at 1-888-495-8501.
The Office of the Inspector General, Department of Health and Human Services, recently released a report on compliance by sellers of Medicare Advantage plans with federal laws and regulations governing deceptive marketing practices. Executive summary: Each of the six selected plan sponsors we reviewed did not follow at least one of the marketing regulations concerning sales agent compensation and qualifications.These marketing regulations are critical to protecting Medicare beneficiaries because they address sales agents’ financial motivation and their qualifications to market Medicare Advantage (MA) plans. Five of the selected plan sponsors in our review that employ independent sales agents had compensation practices that resulted in inappropriate financial incentives for sales agents and field marketing organizations (FMO). FMOs typically provide sales agents with enrollment leads and marketing assistance.In addition, five of the six selected plan sponsors did not ensure that all of their sales agents were qualified under CMS’s regulations. We also found that the number and types of beneficiaries’ complaints remained unchanged after implementation of sales agent marketing regulations.
I just came back from Washington, DC. I was attending the annual NAELA symposium and I learned a lot about the United States Department of Veteran’s Affairs (VA) benefits.
First of all, if you want to learn more, from the experts, go to the National Veterans Legal Service Program (www.nvlsp.org) for in-depth analysis of the VA benefit programs.
This newsletter will cover some of the highlights. First of all, have you ever wondered why there are not many attorneys covering VA benefits? The reason there are few, if any that specialize is that the VA has a prohibition against charging legal fees to veterans. I can not charge a veteran for legal advice regarding his or her benefits. That may be a plus for veterans, but perhaps it may be one reason why many people may not know about benefits that are available.
Did you know that veterans have disability benefits, educational benefits, vocational rehabilitation, home loans, burial benefits, dependents’ and survivors’ benefits, health care and life insurance? I did not know that the VA provides money for in-home care. It is called “Housebound benefits.” (See 38 USCS §§ 1502(c).) A veteran or a widower of a veteran who is determined to be disabled and is essentially confined to the home. If someone is older than 65 they are presumed to be disabled. (Is that age discrimination, or what.) There are resource limits ($80,000 usually) and income limits ($1,350/month if there is one dependent in 2006).
There is also “Aid & Attendance” benefits if the veteran or the widow(er) is unable to perform the ADLs. This is available for nursing home residents. It is available if the person can not dress/undress or keep themselves clean and presentable; or unable to attend to the wants of natures, or has a physical or mental incapacity that requires assistance on a regular basis to protect the Claimant from daily environmental hazards. The income requirements are ($1,470 per month with no dependents and $1,743 if there is one dependent in 2006).
Income amounts can be reduced by unreimbursed medical expenses, such as doctor fees, dentist fees, prescription glasses, and the costs of home health care, skilled nursing home or assisted living facilities.
How does one apply for VA benefits?
If one is applying for the Aid & Attendance (a higher income benefit) the doctor fills out the VSO-3. One fills out the application which can be found on-line. The supporting documentation is sent to the regional office. Websites: www.vetsresource.com, www.vba.va.gov/benefits/address.
Income statements, Social Security new Benefit Amount Letters, pension statements, copies of pay checks, etc.
Latest bank statement from all financial institutions
Retirement account statements (yes, IRAs are counted)
Life insurance policies
Marriage licenses, divorce decrees, death certificates (if applicable) for applicant and spouse
Printout from pharmacy for all medications
All other medical expenses
Military discharge papers (DD 214)
VETERANS HOMES OF CALIFORNIA
Professional and low cost residential, assisted living and medical care facilities throughout California.
WHO MAY BE ELIGIBLE
Aged or disabled U.S. veterans who are residents of California.
WHERE TO APPLY
To obtain additional information, an application, or to schedule a visit, contact one of our Veterans Homes:
Veterans Home of California, Yountville (Napa County)
Veterans Home of California, Barstow (San Bernardino County)
Veterans Home of California, Chula Vista (San Diego County)
California Department of Veterans Affairs
Veterans Home Division
1227 ‘O’ street
Sacramento, CA 95814
PROPERTY TAX EXEMPTIONS
Property tax exemptions on the assessed value of a home of:
a) up to $103,107 if the total household income from all sources is over $46,302 per year.
b) up to $154,661 if the total household income from all sources is under $46,302 per year.
WHO MAY BE ELIGIBLE
a) Wartime veterans who are in receipt of service-connected disability compensation at the totally disabled rate.
b) Unmarried surviving spouses or registered domestic partners of veterans who are in receipt of service-connected death benefits.
c) Wartime veterans who are service-connected for loss the use of two or more limbs.
d) Wartime veterans who are service-connected for blindness.
Those applying for benefits should bring proof from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, verifying receipt of service-connected disability/death benefits.
HOW TO APPLY
The local County Assessors Office (located in the county government section of your telephone book or at: www.boe.ca.gov/proptaxes/assessors.htm.