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Long Beach Elder Law Blog

Evaluation system holding soldiers back from collecting benefits

In a joint effort between the Department of Defense and the Department of Veterans Affairs, the Integrated Disability Evaluation System was launched in 2007 to create an easier way for wounded service members to enroll for their veterans' benefits and start receiving payments shortly after returning to civilian life. According to the U.S. Army's benefits page, the system is supposed to make the "evaluation process faster and simpler for service members." But as hundreds, if not thousands, of service members across the nation are finding, this isn't always the case.

On average, the process is supposed to take 295 days from when a soldier is considered eligible for early medical retirement to the time the soldier starts receiving their veterans' benefits. But many soldiers are actually finding that the process is taking nearly 400 days, which forces them to continue actively serving despite the fact that they are medically unfit for duty.

'E-Z Legal Form' causes not so easy problems in probate

As we get older and near retirement age, we start to worry more and more about our financial situations. In some cases, people may think that getting a lawyer to help with estate planning is an added expense that they simply cannot afford. But as some of our readers may not know, not having legal help to finalize your estate plan can spell trouble down the road. It can actually cost your beneficiaries when your estate goes into probate.

Our Los Angeles County readers can see this exemplified by a case out of Florida where an elderly woman’s decision to use an “E-Z Legal Form” cost one of her beneficiaries some of his inheritance. That’s because, according to the state’s Supreme Court, the woman’s will did not contain a clause that explained what was to happen to items that were not addressed in her will. So when the will went to probate, it raised an important question: should the court follow the state’s succession laws or distribute the property based on the perceived intentions of the deceased woman?

Having a plan for even the unexpected

When experts started announcing the first few red flags of the Great Recession, a lot of people across the nation started to worry. But no one worried more than the elderly and those preparing for retirement. For them, their fixed incomes started to make them question how much they had saved. And because no one could predict how long the recession was going to go on for, many people started to question whether their care plan would hold up to any unplanned problems ahead.

For those who had not reached retirement yet, such as was the case for a 63-year-old Laguna Woods woman, continuing to work was the only option. Even though many employers during this time either reduced non-essential employees to part time or fired them altogether, many workers were able to make ends meet. That is if they were healthy and cut out the added expense of health insurance, explains the Laguna Woods woman.

Rooney's message of elder abuse still heard despite actor's death

When most people think of estate planning and long-term care, celebrities are often considered to be the ones that have it all figured out. Rarely do we think that they will encounter financial problems or even issues with find adequate caregivers. But when actor Mickey Rooney spoke before the Senate Special Committee on Aging at Capitol Hill in 2011, many California residents realized that this isn't always the case and that even celebrities can fall victim to elder law issues.

During his speech, Rooney shared his own personal story of growing older and admitted to the nation that he had been a victim of elder abuse. He explained that his assistant of more than 30 years had "made his daily life unbearable," often refusing to reveal his own personal finances. He went on to say that he oftentimes felt "trapped, scared, used and frustrated." This was further backed by Rooney's attorney who had sought temporary conservatorship of the actor and his estate because he feared that the assistant had "become physically threatening."

Medicare reimbursement in formerly rural California areas fixed

In the 1960s, there were many areas in California that were still considered rural, including Riverside, Santa Barbara and San Diego. When Medicare was established in 1966, regulations stated that rural doctors would receive less reimbursement for Medicare patients than urban doctors. This seemed to work at first; but when these areas grew and developed into urban areas, many doctors in the areas found this reimbursement to be unequal.

That’s because these new urban communities retained their rural titles when it came to Medicare reimbursement, leading some doctors to leave the areas for higher pay. This has become a huge problem for many elderly residents here in California because it limits the number of places where people can go to get quality health care in their area.

New bill promises faster investigations into nursing home abuse

Some of our more frequent readers may remember our March 17 post in which we wrote about the way the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health was dealing with their backlog of complaints regarding nursing home abuse. As some of you may remember, reports indicated that the department’s way of clearing their backlog may have passed over hundreds of legitimate claims of abuse that might have included issues with understaffing and negligence that resulted in bedsores or malnutrition.

It’s because of this that several agencies, including state and local departments, began investigating the matter. But it wasn’t just these people that stepped in to address the issue of abuse at long-term health care facilities. Last month, Assembly Member Mariko Yamada requested that the state look into how it was managing long-term health care facilities in the state. 

Can a reverse mortgage also reverse an heir's inheritance?

When it comes to planning for your financial future, there are a lot of things to consider. Other than how much money you will need, people often need to consider their cash flow, especially after they retire. With experts saying that Social Security could dry up in the next decade, many elderly people here in California, as well as the rest of the nation, could be considering other ways of increasing their cash flow. But one financial planning technique -- a reverse mortgage -- could actually put your heirs’ inheritance at risk, which is something we wanted to address in this week’s post.

For those who do not know, according to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, a reverse mortgage is a special type of home loan that takes the equity that has built up over years of making mortgage payments and allows a homeowner to convert some of that equity into cash. This amount is paid back when the homeowner moves out or dies. But while this might seem like a good way of padding your income to help pay for expenses, some reverse mortgages might actually be doing more harm than good.

Sexual assault reported by patient in California medical center

Patients at a Los Angeles County medical center may feel a mixture of anger and relief this month after police arrested and charged a 25-year-old nursing attendant with sexual assault of a patient. Reports indicate that the patient, whose name and age have not yet been released to the public, was waiting in a hospital exam room when the assault occurred.

Although the nursing attendant was fired and arrested by police, some people in the community may be wondering if there were other incidences that have yet to be reported. Some of our readers may even be wondering the age of the victims and whether they were elderly patients who were being taken advantage of.

VA's 2015 budget aims for better health care for aging veterans

Many of our Lakewood readers may have noticed in the last few years the increased efforts by the government to remedy many of the issues associated with the Department of Veterans Affairs. From complaints about the mounting backlog in disability claims to the lack of access to proper treatment for mental health conditions, there is no doubting that these issues are not only affecting young veterans but aging ones as well.

Because these issues are most problematic for aging veterans because of their limited income, Eric K. Shinseki, the secretary for the Department of Veterans Affairs, aimed his 2015 budget proposal at addressing three major concerns. One of which was providing veterans with better access to health care. In his proposal, Shineski is asking the government for an increase in discretionary spending of nearly $68 billion that can be used to provide better health care to veterans.

Elderly woman's failing health forces daughter to take action

As our loved ones age, it becomes increasingly more important for us to consider their long-term health care needs. This can sometimes be a scary thing for some people here in California because they might not have all of the answers and might not know who to turn to when they notice their loved one’s health failing.

This appears to be the case for a California woman who made a desperate plea to Gering city council members this month regarding her mother’s failing health. According to the woman, her mother’s health began to deteriorate shortly after the city installed smart utility meters in her home. Although she admits that her mother did have preexisting medical conditions prior to the device’s installation, she believes that the radio frequency given off by the device might be making her health issues worse.

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