I know that I just wrote on this topic last month, but the media has been determined to put out more information than I can include in just one article. If you already know it all, skip to the next page. Otherwise, indulge me for one more session. There was an interesting interview in the November, 2012 Money magazine. Longevity planning involves more than accumulating a certain amount in a retirement account according to Joseph Coughlin, director of AgeLab at MIT. For instance, if you plan to work longer, it is important to maintain your skill level. Schedule continuing education in your field to help maintain your productivity. If you are thinking about moving after retirement, are you really ready to “leave your nest”? Historically, less than 9% of the population ever moved to Florida, Arizona or some golf community, according to the article. Also, when looking for new locations, consider hospitals, transportation and eldercare facilities. Do you want a new house or will you stay in your present location? Is your house designed for the physically impaired? Is it one story or two? Is it safe? Is it too much house for you to care for in later years? These are a few things to consider in your planning. The place you live could make a difference between independent living and moving to a healthcare facility. Develop a trusted network of professional advisors and family that will help you recognize and plan for cognitive impairments. Do the research now to find people who can help you as you age.
The December, 2012 edition of Consumer Reports on Health contained information on hiring home care aides. There are several questions to ask, but the first one is whether or not your elderly relative will accept home care. It is not unusual to find resistance to strangers coming into their home. If you get past this hurdle, here are some questions to ask the prospective aides. “Yes” answers are required. Do you like caring for people? Have you received hands-on training? From whom? Do you have references? If you are unable to show up for work on a given day, will a replacement come promptly? Are you insured and bonded? (Ask for proof) Have you passed a background check? Proof? Is your company licensed, accredited and certified? Proof? Medicare beneficiaries have access to the Home Health Compare Web tool (medicare.gov/hhcompare), which will allow you to compare the services of agencies in your area and assess their quality against state and national averages. Also, you might ask your relative’s doctor for references to a social service worker and /or a list of home-care agencies in your area.
Healthcare reform is coming and it is going to cost you something. On January 1, 2013, there will be a $2,500 limit on flexible spending account contributions using pretax dollars. If you file a joint return and have wage and employment income greater than $250,000, you will pay a 3.8% Medicare surtax on the lower of net investment income or the amount of modified AGI greater than $250,000. The existing Medicare payroll tax of 2.9% will be increased by .9% on wages or self employment income that exceeds $250,000 for joint filers. Also, out of pocket medical expenses will only be deductible to the extent they exceed 10% of AGE; formerly, the limit was 7.5%. The old limit will apply if you are 65 or older. This information was taken from an online USAA bulletin dated 11/9/2012.
I hope all of you have a joyous and holy Christmas. As instructed in Psalm 100: “Be joyful in the Lord, all you lands; serve the Lord with gladness and come before his presence with a song. Know this: The Lord himself is God; he himself has made us and we are his. We are his people and the sheep of his pasture. Enter his gates with thanksgiving; go into his courts with praise; give thanks to him and call upon his Name. For the Lord is good; his mercy is everlasting and his faithfulness endures from age to age.”
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