Paying for Senior Care

5 Biggest Money Scams Targeting Seniors … And How To Avoid Them


As security breaches in Targets and Michael’s Arts & Crafts earlier this year have shown, anyone can fall victim to fraud and identity theft. Unfortunately, seniors are often an all-too-easy source for thieves. The Federal Trade Commission estimates that one in five seniors has been a victim of fraud. When it comes to telemarketer fraud, 56 to 80 percent of calls are directed at seniors.

What are some of the most common fraud schemes, and how can you or your loved ones avoid falling prey?

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6 Easy Ways Seniors Can Save Money


In today’s economy, most people are looking to save money. Seniors on a fixed income may especially be looking for ways to reduce expenses. Fortunately, age does come with certain privileges. Here are six ways to save money… for seniors only.

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Veterans Benefit Can Pay for Assisted Living


Paying for senior care and senior living arrangements can be a concern for anyone nearing retirement age or living on a retirement income. But veterans may be pleasantly surprised to learn about a little-known benefit that can help pay for assisted living, a nursing home stay or even in-home care.

The Department of Veterans Affairs offers the Aid and Attendance and Housebound Improved Pension benefit (A&A). The benefit, which is quite hefty, may cover some or all of assisted living or nursing home costs. A veteran and spouse is entitled to up to $2,019 monthly, while the widow of a veteran can get up to $1,094.

In addition to paying for nursing home or assisted living costs, the benefit can be used to pay for in-home caregivers, even if a family member, such as a son or daughter, is caring for the disabled veteran or their spouse. The only people not qualified to get paid through the benefit are spouses.

“I’m a Veteran; Do I Qualify?”
This benefit may sound too good to be true, but the only catch is that many VA employees don’t know about it in order to tell qualifying veterans and spouses – spouses of veterans can qualify, too!

To qualify, you must already qualify for the basic VA pension, and you must classify as “totally disabled,” by the VA guidelines. However, as soon as a veteran turns 65, the VA classifies that person as “totally disabled.” Essentially, if you are 65 or over, and are already collecting the basic pension, you are also eligible for these additional funds.

The other stipulations? You must have clocked at least one day out of 90 (the minimum days of service required) during a time of war. And, of course, you must require caregiving, either in-home or in an assisted living or nursing home facility, for activities of daily living (known in the industry as ADL.)

To help you find out if you are eligible, use this free Aid and Attendance eligibility calculator.

What Could You Do With More Than $2,000 a Month?
For many veterans, learning about this benefit could tip the scales if they are on the fence about mov-ing to an assisted living community or a nursing home. If a veteran is under the age of 65, it might in-fluence their decision to enter a Continuing Care Retirement Community with both independent and assisted living options. If, at any point after that person turns 65, they need assisted living, this benefit can cover those expenses.

It can also be used for respite care if a veteran’s spouse needs a temporary break from caregiving. It can be used to bring a part-time or full-time professional caregiver into the home. Or it can be used to help out a son, daughter or other relative who is caring for an aging parent. It may help cover travel costs, or bridge the gap in income if a relative must quit their job or reduce their work hours to care for a parent who needs assisted with ADLs. In essence, this substantial sum of money can make caring for an aging relative financially easier.

How Do I Sign Up?
Although media coverage is helping get the word out about the A&A benefit, there’s still a good chance the representatives at your local Department of Veteran Affairs may not have heard of it. To learn more, go to, a Web site and a 501(c)(3) charity, which was set up to educate aging veterans about this helpful benefit.

SeniorLiving.Net is a free service for families to use that are looking for senior care or senior living for a loved one. Call (877) 345-1706 to speak to your local Care Advisor about senior care providers in your local area.


How to Choose Insurance When You Move to Senior Living


More and more experts are recommending that residents of senior living communities, nursing homes and assisted living facilities purchase personal liability insurance to protect their personal property and to protect themselves from lawsuits.

For pennies a day, these experts say, seniors can get the protection they need to increase their peace-of-mind in a senior living community. After all, one of the biggest reasons people opt to “right-size” into senior living is for greater security in a number of areas of life, including finances.

Because this is a new industry catering to seniors, however, it’s also ripe territory for seniors and their loved ones to be ripped off. Here are some ways to make sure you’re getting the coverage you need from a reliable company.

Ask Senior Living Staff About Insurance
Before you move in, ask the staff at the senior community if they have a company they recommend. In some rare cases, your property may be protected by the community’s own insurance; you’ll never know until you ask.

Talk to Your Broker
Chances are, you have an insurance agent or broker you’ve worked with most of your life, who may have insured your home and car. If that company doesn’t supply personal property insurance, your trusted agent might be able to recommend a company that does.

Do Your Research
Because this is a relatively new industry, it is ripe for scammers. Check Angie’s List and the Better Business Bureau for listings on any companies you’re considering.

When you read Better Business Bureau listings, check carefully. Larger companies may have a lot of complaints because of the volume of people they work with, but if they complaints have been resolved, it may not indicate poor service. Check the categories of the complaints and how they were handled.

Consider an Inventory
Whether or not you had a home inventory for all your belongings in your house, a move to senior living is a good time to either get an inventory or revise your existing home inventory. You can have your loved ones help you with this as you pack or hire an inventory service.

If any of your items are damaged, lost, or stolen, either during the move or after you’re settled into your new home, your inventory will help you remember what you had so you can make an insurance claim more easily.

Talk to Your Financial Planner
Moving into senior living often means making a lot of changes to your personal finances. It’s a good time to consult your financial planner about how you plan to pay for any costs, including personal property and liability insurance.

Your financial planner may be able to recommend a reputable insurance provider; or he might even tell you that the coverage isn’t worthwhile if you don’t have a lot to lose or if you are covered by the senior community’s coverage.

You might see personal property insurance as just one more worry when you make the move to senior living. But the right coverage will give you the peace of mind you want as you move to an easier, less stressful lifestyle in senior living.

SeniorLiving.Net is a free service for families to use that are looking for senior care or senior living for a loved one. Call (877) 345-1706 to speak to your local Care Advisor about senior care providers in your local area.


Surprising Tax Benefit of Some Senior Living Communities


When seniors move into an independent living retirement community that also provides assisted living services, often called a Continuing Care Retirement Community (CCRC), they might mourn the loss of the tax breaks provided by mortgage interest deductions.

Take heart.

If your mortgage is close to being paid off, the percentage of principal you’re paying is much higher than the interest paid. You realized most of the tax benefits of mortgage holders much earlier in the loan.

But, even if you’ve been enjoying that mortgage interest deduction, you may be entitled to another surprising tax refund that will take away some of the sting. In fact, this tax deduction may seem almost too good to be true, so be sure to check with your tax accountant to make sure you’re doing it right and claiming all the deductions you deserve.

CCRC Benefits: Deductible as Medical Expenses
Continuing Care Retirement Communities typically provide medical care and assisted living services, which may be tax deductible as medical expenses if you itemize tax returns.

Sounds great, right? But what if you’re living independently in a CCRC, with the option to get assisted living and medical care as needed? You may still be able to deduct a percentage of both the entry fee and monthly fees as a medical expense. It’s like getting a tax deduction on future medical expenses and can add up to significant savings that can help recoup some of your moving costs.

Here’s how it works:

If you are under 65, you can write off medical expenses that exceed 10 percent of your adjusted gross income. In the first year of residence at a CCRC, when you’re paying entry fees plus monthly fees, it may be easy to reach that threshold.

And, if you have other medical expenses, including doctor’s and dentist co-pays, vision care (including glasses and contacts), psychologist or psychiatrist visits, as well as mileage or travel for medical care, exceeding that threshold will be even easier.

Take note: If you or your spouse will be 65 or older by December 31, 2013, the percent-of-AGI threshold drops to 7.5 percent. Providing you are the ones footing the bill for CCRC living, this can lead to a heftier deduction. In 2016, for taxes filed in 2017, the percentage will rise to 10 percent for people 65 and older, as well. (So if you’re contemplating a move to senior living, the time is now to realize the maximum tax benefits.)

If your children are paying for your stay in a CCRC, they are permitted to claim the deductions (at the 10 percent threshold if they are under 65) as long as they claim you as a dependent and pay for at least half of your care and living expenses.

Remember to save all receipts, not just related to your CCRC contract, but for prescription medications, medical co-pays, travel and any other allowable medical expense deductions. Caregivers may need to include their own children’s medical expenses in order to exceed the 10 percent threshold, so it pays to save all receipts for the tax year and consult an accountant if you’re not sure about the deductions you can claim.

The Fine Print
This deduction can really help seniors who aren’t sure if they can afford the move to a CCRC. But there are a few rules to be aware of in order to stay out of trouble.

Here’s the fine print:

  • You cannot deduct fees for amenities that promote general health and fitness, unless you can prove they are necessary to treat a specific medical condition or illness. This includes the senior living community’s pool, spa, gym or fitness classes.
  • You can only deduct the percent of entry fees and monthly fees that would go specifically toward covering medical care, not meals, room and board or maintenance.
  • To qualify for the deductions, you must sign a contractual lifetime care arrangement with the CCRC. Short-term nursing home stays without a lifetime contract are not eligible for the deduction.

Off-set Tax Penalties with Deductions?
If you are tapping into investments to pay for your move to a CCRC as an independent senior, these tax deductions could help offset any tax penalties you might experience. Likewise if you’ll be hit with capital gains taxes on the sale of your home.

It’s smart to speak with your financial planner before the move. Have someone help you run the numbers to determine if you can afford CCRC living, and just how much you can afford to pay, both upfront and monthly, to choose the right retirement community for you.

SeniorLiving.Net is a free service for families to use that are looking for senior care or senior living for a loved one. Call (877) 345-1706 to speak to your local Care Advisor about senior care providers in your local are.


Do You Need Liability Insurance in a Senior Living Community?


Homeowners rarely think about what happens if someone gets hurt in their home. Homeowner’s insurance covers us against personal liability lawsuits if someone is hurt on our property. Smart renters, too, get renters insurance that not only protects their belongings from theft or damage, but offers personal liability protection, too.

If you move to an independent senior living community, assisted living community or a nursing home, the community and its belongings carry liability insurance and insurance against theft or damage to their property and belongings. But this insurance protection may not extend to your belongings or protect you if someone gets hurt while they are in your home.

Protect Your Personal Property
Many senior community apartments come pre-furnished, so that the furniture you use is covered from theft or damage by the community’s policy. But if you furnished the home yourself, or if you have a lot of valuables that you keep in your apartment, whether they are family heirlooms, antiques or jewelry, they may not be covered by the senior community’s insurance. Ask before you move in, so you can purchase inexpensive insurance to cover your belongings.

Protect Yourself Against Lawsuits
If a friend is visiting and trips and falls in your home, you could be sued and have to pay the medical bills and additional damages. Personal liability insurance will cover you in this case.

You may have gone decades in your home without an insurance claim, and wonder why you need protection now. But look at it this way: 33% of all seniors 65 and over fall each year. The likelihood of a friend or neighbor falling in your apartment increases in a senior community – and if you’re on a fixed income yourself, you may not be able to afford the medical bills.

Protect Yourself If You Have Pets
Many senior communities now allow small pets in senior apartments. But owning a pet opens you up to the risk of bites. If someone is visiting and your dog bites them, this can be a costly incident. Insurance can protect you from a personal lawsuit if this unthinkable event occurs.

Do You Need Personal Liability Insurance?
With the prevalence of assisted living communities and Continuing Care Retirement Communities, more and more companies are offering liability insurance for seniors in retirement communities and nursing homes.

If you don’t have a pet, rarely have visitors, and haven’t brought many of your own items to the senior community, you may not need to make the investment.

But if friends and neighbors drop in, even occasionally, you might want the peace of mind provided by this insurance coverage. Additionally, if you have items that it would be a financial hardship to replace if they were lost in a fire, natural disaster, or robbery, personal insurance can be a wise investment.

Many seniors move to an independent or assisted living community for greater peace of mind and an easier life. If having your assets insured against theft, damage or lawsuits will add to that peace of mind, insurance is a smart investment.

Seniorliving.Net is a free service for families to use that are looking for senior care or senior living for a loved one. Call (877) 345-1706 to speak to your local Care Advisor about senior care providers in your local area.


Three Forms of Insurance to Pay for Assisted Living or Nursing Care


Paying for long-term care or assisted living is a concern for many seniors. In a recent post, I discussed three ways to pay for long-term care or a nursing home stay. There are several ways you can use insurance to pay for long term care. Let’s dive a little deeper into using an insurance policy, either long-term care or life insurance, to cover assisted living or nursing home costs.

The Benefits of Long-Term Care Insurance
Long-term care insurance is a policy, separate from whole or term life insurance, that can help cover the costs of assisted living or nursing home care when Medicare doesn’t cover these costs.

If you are not yet retired, long-term care insurance may be offered by your employer or you can purchase it privately. Like purchasing life insurance, it’s best to purchase long-term care insurance while you’re young and healthy because premiums will be lower. If you try to purchase a policy in your later years, you may be denied coverage because of your age or your health.

When you select a long-term care insurance policy, make sure it covers a variety of types of long-term care. Some long-term care insurance will only cover nursing home stays. You may want to look for a policy that will cover assisted living, adult day care, in-home care, and both skilled and unskilled care.

One of the benefits to a long-term care insurance policy is that it may reduce your tax liability today. If the policy is Tax-Qualified (TQ) you may be able to include some or all of the premiums as a medical deduction on your Federal income taxes.

Long-term care insurance has many variables. Choose carefully and make sure to buy long-term care insurance from a reputable company that will still be in business when you want to cash in your policy.

Also, keep in mind that if you don’t have a need for long-term care, you may lose the benefits and money you paid into it. The money may not be available to you or your heirs. Do your research amd look for a policy with a non-forfeiture benefit if this is a concern.

Using Accelerated Death Benefits to Pay for Senior Care
Accelerated Death Benefits (ADB) let you borrow against the death benefits of your life insurance policy to pay for senior care. Usually, the policy can only be used if you have a terminal illness or need nursing home or assisted living care permanently.

Even as you cash in an ADB policy, you must keep your life insurance policy current and continue to pay premiums. While an ADB benefit can be added to many life insurance policies for little or no cost, there are several drawbacks to using ADB over long-term care insurance. If you use ADB you may not be eligible for Medicare coverage. The amount of ADB coverage is typically lower than long-term care coverage, will not last as long, and it usually doesn’t offer inflation protection.

Nonetheless, adding ADB coverage to your life insurance policy, if you can do it at little to no cost, may be one option to pay for future nursing home or assisted living care.

Using a Life Settlement to Pay for Long-term Care
Some life insurance policies permit women over the age of 70 and men over the age of 74 to sell their current life insurance policy for its present value.

There are a few drawbacks to doing this:

  • There may be no money left for your heirs to cover funeral or burial costs.
  • The money from the sale of the policy is taxable.
  • Depending on the value of your policy, there may not be enough money left, after taxes, to cover the costs of your long-term care for as long as you need it.

If you can’t qualify for long-term care insurance or add an ADB to your life insurance policy, and your nursing home or assisted living stay is not covered by Medicare, this could be one option to pay for long-term care using insurance.

Planning ahead and consulting with a financial advisor to make the best decisions can reduce the risk of having to resort to “worst-case scenarios” to pay for long-term care.

SeniorLiving.Net is a free service for families to use that are looking for senior care or senior living for a loved one. Call (877) 345-1706 to speak to your local Care Advisor about senior care providers in your local area.


Moving to Senior Living: Should You Wait for Housing Market to Recover?

Moving to a senior living community is a big decision that is influenced by many factors, including your health, your support network, your current living situation, and your budget. Many seniors who own their own homes can’t wait to be free of home maintenance and repair worries, landscaping chores, and the multitude of other responsibilities that come with home ownership. Most senior communities take care of these things for you. Additionally, one monthly payment may cover all utilities and amenities, making careful budgeting and constant bill-paying (not to mention increases in electricity costs) a thing of the past.

But there’s an important financial consideration that holds many seniors back from living the easy, fulfilling retirement lifestyle they crave: the housing market. While the housing market is beginning to rebound in many areas, there are still many homes underwater, which means the mortgage equals more than the house is worth. Even for seniors who have fully paid off their mortgage, they might get much less for the home than they could have years ago. This might feel like leaving money on the table. Should you wait for further housing market recovery to try to sell, or is now the time to take that important step to easier living in a senior community?

Long, Slow Housing Recovery?
In most areas housing prices are rising gradually, and experts predict a long, slow housing recovery. Every day that you wait, upgrades you may have done to your home in preparation to sell, or simply to enjoy your home while you live there, get older. The likelihood of having to do additional home repairs increases each day you live in your home. And that grass is only going to continue to grow.

In some cities, however, we may be looking at going from “bottom-out” to “bubble” fairly quickly, as houses are being swept up by investors at prices above the asking price. If you live in a major city like New York, Chicago, or Los Angeles, the recovery might already be here, making now the best time to sell.

In other areas, you’ll want to weigh the actual costs of what you might lose by selling too early against the benefits you’ll gain in an independent senior living community.

Why Not Enjoy Stress-Free Living Now?
The fact is, no one really knows how long it will take the housing market to reach a full recovery, if we’re looking at another housing bubble, or when that bubble may burst again. Whether you’d take a loss by selling now or could simply make more on the sale later, the best decision about whether or not to sell your home will weigh all factors, financial and otherwise.

If your house has gotten too big as an “empty nest,” you crave activities and companionship from people your own age, travel (even to and from the grocery store) has become a burden, or you’re just tired of the responsibilities of home ownership, it could be the time to sell and move to an independent senior living community.

SeniorLiving.Net is a free service for families to use that are looking for senior care or senior living for a loved one. Call (877) 345-1706 to speak to your local Care Advisor about senior care providers in your local area.




3 Ways to Pay for Assisted Living and Senior Care


Medicare sometimes covers nursing home stays for elderly residents if they meet certain requirements, including a need for skilled nursing care. But if you or a loved one opts for an Assisted Living Community or if you don’t qualify for Medicare to pay for your nursing home stay, you may have to pay out-of-pocket for all expenses.

There are a few ways to do this. Not all of these options will work for everyone, as some people may not have the resources available. No matter your age, the time to start planning for long-term care is now. Let’s look at a few options to pay for senior living care.

Private Insurance
Whether it’s cashing in a whole life insurance policy to using a long-term care insurance policy you’ve paid into, private insurance has become a popular option to pay for long-term care.

If you have a whole life insurance policy, you can cash it in at any time. There may be some tax penalties or early withdrawal penalties associated. The benefit is that, if your life insurance policy is large enough, you won’t have financial worries about how to pay for your long-term care, and you won’t have to dip into other accounts, like savings or retirement. But this means there won’t be any life insurance funds available for your heirs. Make sure you have enough in savings to cover the costs of funeral, burial or memorial services you desire when you pass, so that your loved ones won’t be burdened with these costs.

On the other hand, long-term care insurance, which is a separate from life insurance, can be cashed in to pay for assisted living costs at any time. Tax Qualified (TQ) long-term care policies count as a medical tax deduction when you file income tax, and the money you receive when you cash in the policy typically is not taxable, either, making this a desirable choice for many people.

Home Equity
If you still own your own home and your mortgage is paid off, a reverse mortgage could be an option to cover long-term care costs. First, make sure your home equity will cover assisted living costs for a reasonable length of time. It’s not worth it to take out a reverse mortgage if the money will only cover your stay for a few months.

Reverse mortgages have several drawbacks and are typically a last resort when few other options are available. If you outlive the reverse mortgage, you will have to pay it back, which could mean selling the home. You still own your home, so you’re responsibility for maintenance and income taxes. When you die, your estate pays back the reverse mortgage, leaving less money for your heirs.

If you’re looking into a reverse mortgage, consider, instead, selling your home and using that money to pay for long-term care, unless there’s a compelling reason to keep your home in the family, and you or your family has the means to pay back the mortgage at the end of the term.

Government Assistance
Some seniors choose to “spend down” their assets in order to qualify for Medicaid to pay for long-term care. If you do the research, you may find other forms of government assistance, as well. For instance, veterans can get long-term care in VA facilities. The drawback is that their may not be one near your home, or there could be a waiting list.

The Programs of All-inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE) is a new program that combines Medicare and Medicaid benefits to pay for long-term care. However, the program only applies to in-home care, not care in assisted living communities.

Veterans Pension Benefit

The Aid and Attendance pension benefit can help both senior veterans and their spouses pay for senior care. There are some eligibility requirements. To best help you figure out if you may be eligible take this free Aid and Attendance eligibility quiz.

And for more information on the Aid and Attendance benefit visit

Preparing to Pay for Long-Term Care
The best scenario is to have money set aside in investments to pay for long-term care. Personal savings, retirement accounts, and other investment funds can be used to cover long-term care, and you may be able to deduct the cost of long-term care if you itemize medical expenses. With a little bit of early planning, you might be surprised to discover you can afford assisted living, especially if you choose an assisted living community that offers all the services and amenities you need included, so that all your living expenses are covered in one payment.


The High Costs of Senior Care


Convincing an aging loved one that they could use a little (or a lot of) help in their daily lives isn’t always an easy task. Many times, they are proud, even stubborn, and they do their best to hide their struggles, having grown up during a stoic generation.

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