Elder Law of Louisville's Blog
Friday, September 9, 2011
My big brother, Mike Hannold, went "Over the Edge" for Special Olympics Tennessee! He repelled down a 27 story building today in Nashville, TN to raise funds for this great organization. I am a proud little sister!
Thursday, June 30, 2011
Authorities are warning senior citizens to beware of the “grandparent scam,” which has resurfaced in Kentucky, defrauding victims of about $40,000 in recent weeks.
Under the scam, someone calls claiming to be a relative — usually a grandchild, claiming an emergency, such as an accident or injury outside Kentucky, and asking for immediate transfer of funds, according to Attorney General Jack Conway’s office, which investigates consumer fraud.
Because the funds wind up out of state or out of the country, it generally is impossible to recover them, officials said.
In one recent case, a Fort Mitchell woman reported she was defrauded of $4,800 after she transferred the money at the direction of a caller claiming to be her grandson, reporting he had been in an accident in Mexico. Another recent complaint involved a Jenkins woman who lost $3,000 she believed she was wiring to help a grandson in Spain after she received a fraudulent call, saying he had been arrested for drunken driving.
Scammers sometimes pose as police officers or lawyers calling on behalf of a relative, Conway’s office said.
Anyone suspecting such fraud should contact the Attorney General Consumer Protection Hotline at (888) 432-9257 or at http://ag.ky.gov/civil/consumerprotection.
Couresy of Courier-Journal.
Wednesday, June 1, 2011
Few things are more stressful than finding a nursing home for a loved one. Everyone has heard nursing home horror stories and no one wants that to happen to their loved ones. While there is no way to guarantee that nothing will go wrong, some careful research and planning can help reassure you. Following are some criteria to consider when looking for a nursing home.
Location. No single factor is more important to quality of care and quality of life of a nursing home resident than visits by family members. Care is often better if the facility knows someone's watching and cares. Visits can be the high point of the day or week for the nursing home resident. So, make it as easy as possible for family members and friends to visit.
Special Needs. Make sure the facility can meet any special needs the resident may have, including a ventilator, psychiatric care, or extra supervision. If the resident has dementia, the facility will need to be one that handles dementia patients. Make sure the staff is properly trained for dementia patients; there is enough staff, especially at night; and staff members are assigned to a particular resident.
Personal Needs. Can the facility meet personal needs, such as religious or ethnic needs? Also, if the resident speaks a language other than English, are there staff who speak the same language?
References. Ask the facility to provide the names of family members of residents so you can ask them about the care provided in the facility and the staff's responsiveness when the resident or relatives raise concerns.
Do research. CareScout is an unbiased source for ratings and reviews of eldercare providers nationwide. Detailed, 7-10 page Nursing Home reports are available for a fee, and include more than 100 pieces of information on quality, resident population profiles, and health violations. Medicare.gov allows you to get three years worth of inspection reports on the nursing homes you are considering. Find out who owns the facility and if they own any other nursing homes, and see if you can get reports for those nursing homes as well. In addition, talk to the long-term care ombudsman in your state to find out if there have been complaints against the nursing homes you are considering.
Interview the administration and staff. Talk to the nursing home administrator or nursing staff about how care plans are developed for residents and how they respond to concerns expressed by family members. Make sure you are comfortable with the response. It is better that you meet with and ask questions of the people responsible for care and not just the person marketing the facility.
Tour the nursing home. Try not to be impressed by a fancy lobby or depressed by an older, more rundown facility. What matters most is the quality of care and the interactions between staff and residents. See what you pick up about how the staff interacts with the patients, how well residents are attended to and whether they are treated with respect. Also, investigate the quality of the food service. Eating is both a necessity and a pleasure that continues even when we're unable to enjoy much else.
Courtesy of www.elderlawanswers.com.
Tuesday, May 24, 2011
A Memorial Day program Monday in La Grange will honor Oldham County residents who died while serving their country. The service starts at 9:50 a.m. at the veteran’s memorial on the corner of Main Street and Ky. 53 in historic La Grange.
The Oldham County Band will perform prior to the service, and the Oldham County Singers will perform during the program. The guest speaker will be Air Force Maj. Gen. Carl Black, a University of Kentucky graduate. Names of Oldham County residents who died in service will be read aloud, and there will be special recognition of others who served in the U.S. Forces.
The program is open to the public and is organized by the Oldham County Post No. 39 of the American Legion.
Wednesday, May 11, 2011
Can you help spread this important message?
This story is incredible. A two-minute video about World War II veterans. The video is a trailer to a documentary that will come out in November. The more we can show interest in the trailer (i.e. views), the more Americans will get to see the film.
Link to the video: http://media.causes.com/1060527?p_id=175378540
Friday, April 15, 2011
The University of Louisville’s new Autism Center will be officially dedicated in a ceremony Friday morning. The center, announced in 2008, was created to focus research, education and care to better help people on the autism spectrum. Officials have called it a one-stop resource.
The center is located at 1405 E. Burnett Ave., Kosair Charities and U of L are partnering to create that location through a charitable lease of a facility at the Kosair Charities Centre. The value of the lease is more than $2 million over the next 15 years, officials said.
Scheduled to attend the 11 a.m. dedication are U of L President James Ramsey; Jerry Ward, chairman of the board of Kosair Charities; Blake Haselton, interim dean of the U of L College of Education and Human Development; Dr. Edward Halperin, dean of the U of L School of Medicine; and Scott Brinkman, former state representative and parent of a son with autism.
Thursday, April 14, 2011
I (being Whitney Wilson) just finished obtaining my required continuing education credits to maintain my VA accreditation. While sitting through the seminar, it dawned on me I have not posted much about VA benefits on the blog, and this is a perfect opportunity to do so.
OVERVIEW OF VETERANS AFFAIRS (“VA”):
Veterans Affairs has 3 branches:
1. Veterans' Health Administration
2. National Cemetery
3. Veterans' Benefits Administration
Walsh & Wilson focuses on Veterans' Benefits.
TYPES OF VETERANS’ BENEFITS:
There are 2 types of veterans’ benefits:
1. Disability Compensation: get compensated for a "service connected" disability, an disability related to your service.
2. Pension Benefits: get a pension, plus maybe additional allowances, for non-service connected disability.
Walsh & Wilson focuses on Veterans' Pension Benefits.
VA PENSION BENEFITS:
The VA offers a Basic Pension as well as two (2) allowances in addition to the Basic Pension.
A veteran, or the surviving spouse of a veteran, can qualify for the Basic Pension by meeting the following requirements:
1. Service: 90-days active duty, at least 1-day during wartime, with a discharge other than dishonorable
2. Disability: over 65 automatically meet this requirement; under 65 has to prove permanently, totally disabled.
3. Income and Net Worth: please read below for more information on this requirement
The Basic Pension amount depends on whether you are the veteran or surviving spouse, your income, and whether or not you have one or more dependents (a spouse qualifies as a dependent). The current maximum Basic Pension amounts are:
Vet, without a dependent: $985/month
Vet, with a dependent : $1,291/month
Surviving spouse without a dependent: $661/month
Surviving spouse with a dependent: $829/month
Each additional dependent after the first one: $168/month
In addition to the Basic Pension, a veteran (or surviving spouse) may qualify for an additional "allowance". There are 2 additional allowances, Housebound and Aid & Attendance. A veteran (or surviving spouse) can qualify for either, but not both.
1. HOUSEBOUND ALLOWANCE: in additional meeting the requirements for the Basic Pension, the veteran (or surviving spouse) must also be unable to leave the house. This has been interpreted to mean unable to leave the house for employment purposes. It does not mean the individual never leaves the house, it just means the individual rarely leaves the house, has difficulty leaving the house, requires assistance to leave the house, and because of these difficulties is unable to maintain employment.
The Basic Pension with Housebound Allowance amount depends on whether you are the veteran or surviving spouse, your income, and whether or not you have one or more dependents (a spouse qualified as a dependent). The current maximum Basic Pension with Housebound Allowance amounts are:
Vet, without a dependent: $1,204/month
Vet, with a dependent : $1,510/month
Surviving spouse without a dependent: $808/month
Surviving spouse with a dependent: $976/month
Each additional dependent after the first one: $168/month
2. AID & ATTENDANCE ALLOWANCE: in addition to meeting the requirements of the Basic Pension, the veteran (or surviving spouse) must require assistance with at least two (2) activities of daily living (“ADL”). This may include dressing, bathing, toileting, or feeding. In the alternative, the Aid & Attendance allowance is granted when the veteran (or surviving spouse) requires a protective environment, such as if the individual has a history of falling, is forgetful, or has diminished mental capacity. The VA does not require the individual to be living in an assisted living facility in order to qualify for this allowance, in-home care is allowed.
The Basic Pension with Aid & Attendance Allowance amount depends on whether you are the veteran or surviving spouse, your income, and whether or not you have one or more dependents. The current maximum Basic Pension with Aid & Attendance Allowance amounts are:
Vet, without a dependent: $1,644/month
Vet, with a dependent : $1,949/month
Surviving spouse without a dependent: $1,056/month
Surviving spouse with a dependent: $1,224/month
Each additional dependent after the first one: $168/month
NOTE: There are some other rules that apply to specific situations that can impact the amount of pension benefits. For example, a veteran married to another veteran can provide a larger benefit. Also, the pension benefit will be reduced if the individual receives Medicaid and has no dependent(s).
INCOME AND NET WORTH REQUIREMENTS:
No one qualifies for any pension benefits without meeting the net worth and income requirements.
The income requirement is easy…household income (including income of the veteran, spouse, and any dependents) must be less than the household’s regularly recurring unreimbursed medical expenses. If the income is more than the unreimbursed medical expenses, the benefit will be reduced dollar for dollar, up to the maximum benefit amount. Here is an example:
Veteran with no dependents has $3000/month income and $2000/month unreimbursed medical expenses. The income is $1000/month more than unreimbursed medical expenses. If the veteran applied for the Basic Pension, he/she would not qualify because the basic pension for a veteran with no dependent is $985/month. If the veteran applied for the Basic Pension with Housebound Allowance, he/she would qualify for $204/month ($1,204 – 1000 = $204). If the veteran applied for the Basic Pension with Aid & Attendance Allowance, he/she would qualify for $949/month ($1,949 – 1000 = $949).
2. NET WORTH:
The net worth requirement is more complicated because the VA has not set a specific limit on this. The net worth limits fluctuate based on age and health of the veteran and the veteran’s spouse. Generally speaking, the veteran should have a net worth less than $30,000. If an applicant applies for VA pension benefits with a higher net worth and gets denied, the net worth has to be reduced and then the applicant has to re-apply. That results in several months worth of pension benefits being lost. Net worth is the area where you need an experience attorney who can navigate this field and structure your assets appropriately to help you meet the VA’s vague rules. This can be accomplished through the use of trusts, promissory notes, annuities, gifts, and other tools.
Please, give Walsh & Wilson a call if you have any questions about VA Pension Benefits. We can help.
Friday, April 1, 2011
On Wednesday, March 23, 2011, Gov. Steve Beshear signed two measures into law aimed at better protecting elderly and vulnerable adults from abuse, neglect or financial exploitation. At the time of the signing, he praised the laws as “a step forward in safeguarding our seniors.”
House Bill 52, sponsored by Rep. Joni Jenkins, D-Shively, bars people convicted of abusing or neglecting vulnerable adults from managing the affairs of their victims by acting as a guardian or power of attorney. It also prohibits them from inheriting from their victims or serving as executor of their estates.
The other adult protection bill Beshear signed is HB 164, sponsored by Rep. Mary Lou Marzian, D-Louisville. It creates uniform guardianship standards and allows Kentucky to recognize those of other states that have a similar law.
One measure that failed to get through the legislature was a bill to create a registry of people found to have abused or neglected adults, similar to the state’s a child abuse registry. That bill passed the House but died in the Senate.
On March 25, 2011, Governor Beshear signed HB 1, a bill to balance Kentucky's Medicaid budget, but only after making several vetos. The vetos remove cuts to education as well as other provisions, leaving what amounts to his original proposal for dealing with the program’s funding shortfall. That plan is to basically borrow $166.5 million from next year's Medicaid budget and then make up next year's shortfall by moving Medicaid to a managed-care system. When the legislature reconvenes, the House is expected to approve the vetos and the bill, as vetoed, will become law.
Friday, March 25, 2011
The Kentucky House approved a Senate version of a bill to resolve the state's Medicaid budget shortfall — part of a strategy to get the bill to Gov. Steve Beshear so he can veto provisions he and the House deem unacceptable. The move would allow Beshear to delete cuts to education funding and other changes made by the Senate, leaving only the language from his original proposal that shifts state money into this year's Medicaid budget.
The House vote was 86-2. The “no” votes were cast by Reps. Dennis Keene, D-Wilder, and Adam Koenig, R-Erlanger. After the vote, House Bill 1 was returned to the Senate, where President David Williams, R-Burkesville, signed it and sent it to Beshear. The Senate then adjourned until April 6, when lawmakers will return to consider Beshear’s vetoes. If the House, as expected, votes to sustain them, the vetoes will stand.
Beshear sent a letter of support to House leaders that Majority Leader Rocky Adkins, D-Sandy Hook, read aloud on the House floor before the vote. “You have my absolute commitment to honor the principles you and the Senate Democrats have stood for throughout this session,” Beshear's letter said.
The Senate has contended that Beshear can’t achieve the efficiencies he promises to balance the Medicaid budget. It proposes instead to make cuts across state government, including education, to compensate for the shortfall.
On Thursday night House Speaker Greg Stumbo, D-Prestonsburg, stepped down from the speaker's platform to make a rare speech from the House floor in which he assured members that Beshear had promised him that he would veto the Senate's spending cuts to state programs. By voting for the Senate's version of the bill, Stumbo told members, “You're voting to protect education.” He said the unusual maneuver was necessary because lawmakers must pass a bill that balances Medicaid before April 1 to avoid what Beshear has said would be 35 percent cuts in rates paid to Medicaid providers. Such a move, Stumbo said, would damage rural health care providers.
House Republican Leader Jeff Hoover of Jamestown urged House members to vote for the bill, saying that small health care providers will be spared devastating cuts on April 1 and education funding won't be cut. However, Hoover said he opposed adjourning the House Thursday night. But Rep. Stan Lee, R-Lexington, told members, “If we're voting for something, let's mean it. ... Let's not do it as a sham.”
Earlier in the day the Senate passed a version that Stumbo had deemed “unacceptable” because of provisions that include the education cuts. House leaders said the current special legislative session — costing about $64,000 a day — can end as soon as Williams signs HB 1 and sends it to Beshear. The Senate vote for its version of HB 1 was 22-15, with all Democrats voting against it. All Republicans except Sen. Carroll Gibson of Leitchfield, who did not vote, supported the plan.
The revised Senate proposal would allow the legislature to restore the funding cuts to education if money becomes available next year. The Senate acted after its budget committee, earlier in the day, approved the new version of HB 1 by a vote of 13-5, with the five no votes coming from Democrats. The Senate plan makes funding cuts of 0.355 percent in the current fiscal year for nearly all state programs, other than base public school funding and postsecondary education. And it makes cuts of 1.74 percent in the 2011-12 fiscal year, beginning July 1, to all areas other than public schools, which would be cut by 0.812 percent.
In dollar terms, the bill would cut base public school funding by $23.5 million and postsecondary education by $23 million in 2011-12. The cuts to all of state government would be about $101 million.
However, the bill says the cuts in the next fiscal year to schools and postsecondary education will be delayed until Jan. 30, 2012. That would allow the 2012 General Assembly to rescind them if the Beshear administration can establish that it has achieved its target for savings through a new “managed care” approach to delivering Medicaid services.
The Senate bill assumes that Beshear will be able to achieve half of the $139 million in savings he has promised during the 2011-12 fiscal year to Medicaid, the federal-state health care program for the poor and disabled that serves about 820,000 Kentuckians. If an independent accounting firm, to be contracted with by the legislature, reports by next Jan. 2 that Beshear has saved more than that, the bill says “it is the intent of the General Assembly” to use that money to rescind any cuts to education.
Another key provision in the new Senate plan is that it would ban any more unpaid furlough days for state employees as of the date the bill becomes law.
Williams, like Beshear a candidate for governor this year, said again that he doesn't believe the administration can achieve the Medicaid savings it has pledged next year through managed care.
“The crazy aunt in the attic here in Frankfort is that everyone knows the governor cannot accomplish these cuts to the level he says he's going to,” Williams said.
Sen. Bob Leeper, a Paducah independent and chairman of the budget committee, said after the panel’s vote that the Senate version takes a more “conservative approach” regarding the savings the administration claims it can achieve next year in Medicaid. “We believe that's prudent,” he said. “In January, if the savings aren't realized, we would be in a dire situation.”
Thursday was the 11th day of a special legislative session called primarily to balance the Medicaid budget. Beshear called the session because lawmakers failed to pass a Medicaid bill during the regular session, which ended March 9.
Tuesday, March 22, 2011
The Kentucky House overwhelmingly passed a bill Monday afternoon to resolve the state's Medicaid shortfall without cutting state funding for education. But it may not be popular with either Senate President David Williams or Gov. Steve Beshear, House Speaker Greg Stumbo admitted.
House Bill 1, the product of a week of negotiations between Democratic and Republican House leaders, passed 94-4 and now goes to the Senate. The four “No” votes were cast by Republicans. “The governor's probably not going to be happy with this; he probably would have preferred his version,” said Stumbo, D-Prestonburg. “I would say Sen. Williams probably would have preferred his version.”
Indeed, Beshear released a statement later saying his original proposal remains “the most responsible approach.” But he added: “I am glad to see that they agree with me that we should not balance the Medicaid budget on the backs of our schoolchildren and college students.”
Williams, of Burkesville, was not immediately available for comment. But Senate Majority Floor Leader Robert Stivers, R-Manchester, said of the House compromise: “It got passed quicker than Sherman went through Georgia. Now as to the substance of the compromise, we haven't seen it. We were not consulted on it.” Stumbo said he expected the Senate won't accept the House version and that it would end up in a House-Senate conference committee this week.
Under the House compromise approved Monday, Beshear would be given a chance to show that his plan to save Medicaid dollars is working. But he must report to the legislature by Aug. 15 showing the Medicaid savings he expects to achieve in the 2011-12 fiscal year. If the savings fall short of balancing Medicaid, the compromise bill requires Beshear to make across-the-board spending cuts on Oct. 1 to make up the difference. But public schools, universities and a few other selected areas would be exempt.
Parts of the compromise attempt to address non-Medicaid budget issues raised in the Senate's proposal.
For example, the compromise requires the governor to still cut $169 million from state government in 2011-12 by trimming recurring expenses, not one-time cuts. Beshear would not be permitted to furlough state workers to achieve those savings. The compromise bill passed the House with much more support than Beshear's proposal, which passed during the regular legislative session by a vote of 80-19. House Minority Floor Leader Jeff Hoover, R-Jamestown, called it “a very good approach to solving the issue.”
Rep. Jim DeCesare, R- Rockfield, complained during the House debate that while the compromise was explained during House party caucuses, members did not have a chance to see the bill until just before the floor vote. And Rep. Stan Lee, R-Lexington, had several problems with the compromise. “How's the governor going to demonstrate those savings?” Lee asked. “Who's going to score those savings?” Rep. Joe Fischer, Fort Thomas, and Rep. Tom Kerr, R-Taylor Mill, cast the other no votes.
Wednesday, March 9, 2011
Gov. Beshear has called a special legislative session, to begin Monday, to deal with problems in the Medicaid budget. He said at a news conference that he would ask lawmakers to fix a problem that “will cause at least 30 percent rate cuts to Medicaid providers such as hospitals, nursing homes, doctors, pharmacists and mental health care providers.”
He also said Senate President David Williams, a candidate for governor who opposed the governor’s Medicaid plan during this year’s regular legislative session, which will conclude later Wednesday, was “putting petty politics and his personal ambition before the needs of Kentucky families.” There was no immediate response from Williams.
The Senate convened late Wednesday morning, using the 30th and final day of the 2011 General Assembly. The House adjourned Tuesday night until March 21 — a day it can no longer use in view of the Senate’s decision to meet. The Senate’s action meant lawmakers will be unable to complete work during the regular session on the Medicaid budget legislation.
Disagreement over filling a shortfall in this year's Medicaid budget has dominated the final days of the session.
The attorneys of Elder Law of Louisville (formerly Walsh & Wilson, PLLC) assist clients in Louisville, Kentucky and surrounding counties of Jefferson, Oldham, Shelby, Spencer, and Bullitt. Our Office also serves Southern Indiana and the towns of New Albany, Jeffersonville, and Clarksville.