Social Security claiming strategies to change within 6 months

When Congress passed the new budget deal October 30, it also included changes to the rules for claiming Social Security benefits. The new rules will end a popular claiming strategy that allowed claimants to receive more in benefits over their lifetimes.

The change will be fully implemented in the Spring of 2016.

If you are reaching full retirement age within the next six months, you still may have time to act under the old rules.

Read a summary of the changes in Liz Weston’s Money Talk column in the Los Angeles Times here. You can also read an article by Tim Grant of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette here.

Report: seniors lose billions to scams each year

Financial exploitation of the elderly “is rising fast,” according to the cover article of Consumer Reports’ November 2015 issue.

The article cites one study that concluded that nearly 1 in 20 seniors in America report having been financially exploited in their later years.

The magazine profiles a number of scam victims and tells their stories. You can read the full article here.

A related article gives tips on preventing elder financial abuse: Build Your Own Safety Net. One of the tips is to visit an elder law attorney.

Dementia symptoms improved in pilot study

Many of the challenges our clients face as they age stem from loss of cognitive ability.

They need to rely on the agents they appoint in their powers of attorney and health care directives because they can’t process information and make decision the way they used to.

With all the advances in health and medical care that have extended life expectancies, treatments for cognitive impairments remain scant.

So it was exciting to hear in the past week about a pilot study in which patients taking the drug nilotinib experienced improvements in Parkinson’s disease symptoms, including improvement in cognitive ability. You can read, and listen to, NPR’s coverage of this development here.

The story concludes with a report that the drug will next be tested with Alzheimer’s patients.

News reports warn of overuse of antipsychotic drugs among nursing home patients

npr-chemTwo news reports this week by Ina Jaffe of NPR News warn of the overuse and dangers of antipsychotic drugs among nursing home patients.

Federal law forbids “chemical restraint” of patients. NPR’s reports show the negative effects such drugs can have on a patient who doesn’t require them. A federal initiative has reduced the use of such drugs in the past two years, according to NPR, but the national average of long-stay patients in nursing homes receiving antipsychotic medications still stands at 19%.

Caregivers and family members should be aware of this issue and monitor their loved ones’ care to make sure that antipsychotic medications are not prescribed unnecessarily.

You can link to the articles here:

“Old and Overmedicated: the Real Drug Problem in Nursing Homes”

“Nursing Homes Rarely Penalized for Oversedating Patients”



“myRA” announced to boost retirement savings

In a visit to the Pittsburgh area last week, President Obama signed a presidential order directing the Treasury Department to create “myRA,” a new vehicle for retirement savings. The proposal was originally announced in the State of the Union address to Congress.

According to the White House Fact Sheet, myRA will work like a Roth IRA account, but have principal protection “so the account balance will never go down in value.”

The new proposal is targeted to workers with low to moderate incomes. Initial investments start at $25, and contributions can be made in amounts as low as $5 through payroll deductions. It will be available to households earning up to $191,000 a year.

With reports showing many Americans are not saving enough for retirement, any new program encouraging retirement savings should be welcome news indeed.