ELDERUPDATES.COM, NO 32

ELDERUPDATES.COM, NO. 32 July 31, 2014   PARENTING makes less difference than we might think, according to 2 studies from Minnesota and Sweden, which found that identical twins had similar intelligence whether raised together or apart.  A Colorado study found that adopted children were no smarter whether raised by “brainier” parents or average parents.  (The Economist, July 26, 2014.) VETERAN’S ADMINISTRATION to receive $17 billion if compromise bill passes.  The bill is intended to reduce waiting times, hire more doctors and nurses, and make it easier to fire executives at the VA.  (AP, July 29, 2014.) OUTLOOK FOR MEDICARE funds improves, with fund now solvent until 2030 under existing law, and the Social Security fund is funded until 2033.  After that, the Social Security fund has enough to pay 75% of benefits due, from expected worker contributions.  (New York Times, July 28, 2014.) SHORTLY AFTER one Court of Appeals ruled subsidies paid through federal exchanges unconstitutional, a different one said these subsidies payment pass constitutional muster, setting up a possible Supreme Court decision to make the implementation uniform.  (The WEEK, August 1, 2014.) CELL PHONE “UNLOCK” bill passed through Congress to allow consumers to use cell phones on “whatever networks they want”.  (Los Angeles Times, July 26, 2014.) ADJUSTING FOR INFLATION, the typical household net worth declined from $87,000 to $56,000 since 2004 (36%).  An author of the study said “the housing bubble … hid a decline …  that began in 2001”.  (New York Times, July 28, 2014.) IN “AFTERSHOCK” Robert Reich argues that government can create the conditions (italics in original) for prosperity among the middle class by...

ELDERUPDATES.COM, NO. 31

ELDERUPDATES.COM,  NO. 31 July 24, 2014   LAURA’S LAW, which gives counties the ability to pursue court-ordered outpatient treatment for people with mental illness, was adopted by the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors.  Some civil liberties advocates argue the law violates civil rights, while advocates argue it will benefit the mentally ill by providing necessary treatment.  (Los Angeles Times, July 15, 2014.) PEOPLE WITH DIABETES Type 2 have the same risk of heart attack as someone who has already had a heart attack.  (NBC, July 23, 2014.) A STANFORD MEDICAL SCHOOL study finds that the true cause of obesity is lack of exercise, with researchers finding “no evidence of an increase in overall calorie consumption.  (The WEEK, July 25, 2014.) THE OBABMA ADMINISTRATION WILL REQUIRE MEDICARE NETWORKS to pay for care outside the network when the network is inadequate.  This is of special concern for cancer care, academic medical centers, mental health providers and children’s hospitals, which have often been excluded from networks. (New York Times, July 19, 2014.) THE COURT OF APPEALS for the Washington, D.C. district held 2 to 1 the federal exchanges cannot pay subsidies for health insurance, although the state exchanges can.  (AOL Huffington Post, July 22, 2014.)  The Obama administration will ask for a decision by the full court and likely this will make its way to the Supreme Court if the full court upholds the 2 to 1 ruling. MORNINGSTAR FUNDINVESTOR cautions investors to avoid these 6 “portfolio goofs”: 1)   Failing to take a Required Minimum Distribution (RMD), which will result in a 50% penalty; 2)   Not signing up for Medicare at age...

Elderupcates.com, No. 30

ELDERUPDATES.COM, NO. 30 July 17, 2014   CALIFORNIA DROUGHT has led State Water Resources Board to allow fines up to $500 (for repeat offenders), who waste water on lawns, car washing and landscaping.  (Huffington Post, July 16, 2014.) CALIFORNIA ENDS FISCAL YEAR with budget surplus of $1.5 billion, the first surplus since 2007.  (Los Angeles Times, July 10, 2014.) CPR OFTEN HAS POOR OUTCOMES, with half of those revived likely to die before being discharged from the hospital.  (Reuters Health, quoted in NAELA eBulletin, May 14, 21014.) SENATORS PATTY MURRAY AND MARK UDALL have introduced a bill to extend social security benefits to same sex couples.  (MSNBC, quoted in NAELA eBulletin, May 14, 21014.) MEDICARE SPENDING continues to decline as a portion of the overall economy, in part due to cost controls in Obamacare, according to the Congressional Budget Office.  The CBO has now reduced its 2010 10-year estimate for federal health care spending by $1.23 Trillion.  (New York Times, July 15, 2014.) THE ESTATE TAX EXEMPTION has been raised to $5.34 million per person and $10.68 million per couple.  However, if you are in this situation and want to take advantage of your spouse’s half after your spouse dies, you must file a “706” form with the IRS in a timely manner. HOUSING PRICES IN SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA have leveled off at a median (mid-point of all sales) of $415,000, an increase of 7.8% in the last year.  More buyers are buying to live in the houses, while investors have “backed away”.  (Los Angeles Times, July 15, 2014.)  In Los Angeles, the median price was $450,000 last month, up...

ELDERUPDATES.COM, NO. 29, JULY 10, 2014

ELDERUPDATES.COM, NO. 29 July 10, 2014 TOOK SOCIAL SECURITY EARLY AND WANT TO CHANGE YOUR MIND?  “If you claimed within the last 12 months, you can ask to withdraw your application by filling out form SSA-521.  You will have to repay all the benefits you received – as well as the benefits a spouse or child received on your record. If you applied more than 12 months ago you have to wait until full retirement age. [Then] you can suspend your application.  You will be able to receive an 8% delayed retirement credit for each year you delay up to age 70.  But the credit will be based on your benefit you were receiving when you suspended.”  (Kiplinger’s Retirement Report, July, 2014.) YOUR ROTH 401K requires minimum distributions when you reach 70 ½, like a regular 401k, not like a Roth IRA.  You can avoid the minimum distributions if you can roll your Roth 401k into a Roth IRA.  (Kiplinger’s Retirement Report, July, 2014.) THE SOCIAL SECURITY ADMINISTRATION will be sending paper  statements to those who will be 25, 30, 35, 40, 45, 50, 55 and 60 this year. (Los Angeles Times, July 6, 2014.)  You can also get your social security information at www.socialsecurity.gov. PUERTO RICAN MUNICPAL BONDS, which were discussed in an earlier edition of the blog, may be renegotiated with creditors under a new Puerto Rican bankruptcy law for state enterprises, that could lead to defaults.  Two big investors, Oppenheimer Funds and Franklin Templeton Funds, have challenged the law. (The Economist, July 5, 2014.)  Puerto Rican debt  was covered months ago on Nightly Business Report on...

ELDERUPDATES.COM, NO. 28

ELDERUPDATES.COM, NO. 28 July 3, 2014 NEW REVERSE MORTGAGE RULE starts August 4, 2014, allows non-borrowing spouse on reverse mortgage to stay in the home after the borrower dies, (apparently until his or her own death.)  (Kiplinger’s Retirement Report, July 2014.) TWO VETERAN’S AFFAIRS officials “stepped down” on June 25, 2014.  (New York Times, June 25, 2014.) Hopefully, this will be the beginning of a major housecleaning and restructuring which addresses issues such as compensation, additional needs due to the two recent wars, and the need for research to better treat brain injury, loss of limbs, and PTSD.  15 IN ORANGE COUNTY ACCUSED OF MULTI-MILLION DOLLAR HEALTH INSURANCE SCAM.  The alleged scheme involved creating 3 topical creams which were then sold to worker’s compensation patients through a network of doctors and pharmacists who received kickbacks.   One six-month-old boy died as a result of exposure to one of the creams. (Los Angeles Times, June 25, 2014.) THE HOBBY LOBBY case recently decided by the U.S. Supreme Court holds that “closely held” businesses, which are run by small groups who all share the same religious beliefs, and who have a history of using that belief in their business, may be able to avoid obligations under federal law to provide otherwise-required birth control to women.  (Los Angeles Times, various.)  The court essentially said that religious rights of some (owners), trump privacy rights of others (employees.)  In a dissenting opinion, Justice Ginsberg argued this could open the door to a series of other exceptions such as blood transfusions, use of anti-depressants, medications derived from pigs, and vaccinations, each of which is opposed by...