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Your Elder Years Strategy

I recently saw two advertisements from companies trying to help people “stop Medicaid from taking your retirement.”  The ads paint a frightening picture and offer advice on how to avoid trouble. Typically, when you read between the lines of these advertisements, you see they’re usually advising you to take one or two strategies: develop some kind of trust, or invest in some kind of financial product. I’m not suggesting that these are bad ideas or that the people sending you these advertisements are bad people. I do suggest that the concern for long-term care is not about buying a product. It’s about establishing a strategy for how you wish to age.

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Can I Trust That Life or Death Decision?

For years, I have been helping people complete durable powers of attorney for healthcare, living wills, and do-not-resuscitate (DNR) orders. Collectively, these documents are called “advance directives.” They give directions about the care desired in advance of the need for that care. Advance directives allow you to select whether or not you want your healthcare providers to stop giving you “life-sustaining treatment” when you are in a “permanently unconscious state” or a “terminal condition.” Additionally, a living will and a DNR order allows you to tell healthcare providers and emergency medical service providers that you do not want to have CPR given to you in those cases when your heart has stopped beating (cardiac arrest).

Inevitably these questions come up during my discussions with people about their advanced directives: “What if my health care providers are making a mistake?” “How can someone stop a mistake from being made?” The answer is that there are checks and balances built into the laws that control how your advance directives operate. Let me explain.

First, I think it’s important to make sure you understand the meaning of some of the terms in your advance directives. A “permanently unconscious state” means, that to a reasonable degree of medical certainty, determined using reasonable medical standards, your doctor and one other doctor who has examined you, determine that you are irreversibly unaware of your environment and you have a total loss of cerebral functioning. In a permanently unconscious state you have no capacity for pain or

Keep reading ...

Can I Trust That Life or Death Decision?

For years, I have been helping people complete durable powers of attorney for healthcare, living wills, and do-not-resuscitate (DNR) orders. Collectively, these documents are called “advance directives.” They give directions about the care desired in advance of the need for that care. Advance directives allow you to select whether or not you want your healthcare providers to stop giving you “life-sustaining treatment” when you are in a “permanently unconscious state” or a “terminal condition.” Additionally, a living will and a DNR order allows you to tell healthcare providers and emergency medical service providers that you do not want to have CPR given to you in those cases when your heart has stopped beating (cardiac arrest).

Inevitably these questions come up during my discussions with people about their advanced directives: “What if my health care providers are making a mistake?” “How can someone stop a mistake from being made?” The answer is that there are checks and balances built into the laws that control how your advance directives operate. Let me explain.

First, I think it’s important to make sure you understand the meaning of some of the terms in your advance directives. A “permanently unconscious state” means, that to a reasonable degree of medical certainty, determined using reasonable medical standards, your doctor and one other doctor who has examined you, determine that you are irreversibly unaware of your environment and you have a total loss of cerebral functioning. In a permanently unconscious state you have no capacity for pain or

Keep reading ...

The ABLE Act: Current Developments

You have probably heard of the Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act, enacted in December 2014. In the past year alone, plenty of developments have taken place to ensure successful implementation of the Act in Ohio. In writing this article, I want to explain just how extraordinary the ABLE Act is to people with special needs and focus on the current developments in implementation.

ABLE accounts are financial accounts that can be established by or for a person with special needs. The person must have a disability as determined by the Social Security Administration or some equivalent disability determination. The disability must have occurred before the person reaches age 26.

The money in ABLE accounts does not count against the person’s eligibility for Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Medicaid, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP or “food stamps,”) Section 8 housing, and other means tested public assistance programs. ABLE accounts can be used to pay for “qualified disability expenses” and the expenditures from the accounts will not impact benefit eligibility.

A person can have only one ABLE account. Annual contributions to an ABLE account are limited to $14,000 (in 2015). If the able account balance exceeds $100,000, the person’s SSI benefits are suspended until the account goes below $100,000. No other benefits are suspended. The maximum amount that can be held in and able account is approximately $414,000.

Any money left in an ABLE account at the death of the owner of the account must be used to pay back the

Keep reading ...

ABLE Act: Current Developments

You have probably heard of the Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act, enacted in December 2014. In the past year alone, plenty of developments have taken place to ensure successful implementation of the Act in Ohio. In writing this article, I want to explain just how extraordinary the ABLE Act is to people with special needs and focus on the current developments in implementation.

ABLE accounts are financial accounts that can be established by or for a person with special needs. The person must have a disability as determined by the Social Security Administration or some equivalent disability determination. The disability must have occurred before the person reaches age 26.

The money in ABLE accounts does not count against the person’s eligibility for Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Medicaid, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP or “food stamps,”) Section 8 housing, and other means tested public assistance programs. ABLE accounts can be used to pay for “qualified disability expenses” and the expenditures from the accounts will not impact benefit eligibility.

A person can have only one ABLE account. Annual contributions to an ABLE account are limited to $14,000 (in 2015). If the able account balance exceeds $100,000, the person’s SSI benefits are suspended until the account goes below $100,000. No other benefits are suspended. The maximum amount that can be held in and able account is approximately $414,000.

Any money left in an ABLE account at the death of the owner of the account must be used to pay back the

Keep reading ...