How SSI Can Help Low-Income Seniors and the Disabled

What can you tell me about the Supplemental Security Income program and what are the eligibility requirements? My father has a very low income, so I am wondering if this is something he may qualify for.

Supplemental Security Income (or SSI) is a program administered by the Social Security Administration that provides monthly cash benefits, based on financial need, to people who are disabled or over age 65. Currently, more than 8 million people are receiving SSI benefits. Here are some things you should know.

Eligibility Requirements


To qualify for SSI, your dad must be age 65 or older, blind or disabled and have limited assets and income. He must also be a U.S. citizen or lawful resident.

His assets must be less than $2,000. (The asset limit is $3,000 for couples.) This includes cash, bank accounts, other personal property and anything else that could potentially be converted to cash. His home, household goods and one vehicle, along with life insurance policies and burial funds valued under $1,500, do not count towards countable assets.

The income limit to qualify for SSI, however, is much more complicated. Countable income includes wages or any other kind of money your dad earned from working, plus money he gets from other sources like unemployment, Social Security retirement, gifts from friends and free food or shelter.

In 2019, the SSI allowable income limit is $771 a month for an individual or $1,157 a month for a couple. If your dad's countable income is over the SSI allowable limit (which is based on a complex set of rules and calculations — see SSA.gov/ssi/text-income-ussi.htm) he will not qualify. But if he is under the limit, he could qualify for some benefits depending on his countable income.

To help you determine if your dad is eligible for SSI, help him take the Social Security Administration's benefits screening test at SSAbest.benefits.gov. This online questionnaire takes approximately five minutes to complete and screens for a variety of benefits, including SSI.

Most states, with the exception of Arizona, Mississippi, North Dakota and West Virginia, supplement the federal SSI payment with payments of their own. In some of the states that pay a supplement, your dad may qualify for the state payment even if he does not meet the federal SSI eligibility criteria.

How to Apply


If you think that your dad is eligible for SSI, call 800-772-1213 and set up an appointment to apply at his local Social Security office.

To help make the application process go quickly and smoothly, your dad should bring his Social Security number; birth certificate or other proof of age; information about the home where he lives, such as his mortgage or lease and the landlord's name; payroll slips, bank statements, insurance policies, burial fund records and other information about his income and the property he owns; his proof of U.S. citizenship or eligible noncitizen status; and, if he is applying for SSI because he is disabled or blind, the names, addresses and telephone numbers of doctors, hospitals and clinics that have information related to his condition.

For more information, visit SSA.gov/ssi or call Social Security at 800-772-1213 and ask them to mail you a copy of publication 11000 "Supplemental Security Income (SSI)." You can also read it online at SSA.gov/pubs/EN-05-11000.pdf.

Other Assistance Programs


Depending on your dad's income, needs and location there are other financial assistance programs that may be able to help him, including Medicaid, prescription drug assistance, food stamps and energy assistance. To find out what other services he may be eligible for visit BenefitsCheckUp.org. This is a free, confidential web tool that contains more than 2,500 programs.

Savvy Living is written by Jim Miller, a regular contributor to the NBC Today Show and author of "The Savvy Living” book. Any links in this article are offered as a service and there is no endorsement of any product. These articles are offered as a helpful and informative service to our friends and may not always reflect this organization’s official position on some topics. Jim invites you to send your senior questions to: Savvy Living, P.O. Box 5443, Norman, OK 73070.

Published April 19, 2019

Finding Health Insurance Before Medicare Kicks In

I will be retiring in a few months and my wife and I will need health insurance until we can enroll in Medicare. What are my options?


There are several places early retirees can find health insurance coverage before becoming eligible for Medicare. The best option for you and your wife will depend on your income level and your healthcare needs. Here are some options to consider.

Government Marketplace


If your yearly income falls below 400% of the poverty level after you retire, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) marketplace may be your best option for getting health coverage because of the premium subsidies offered under the ACA. These subsidies reduce the amount you will have to pay for a policy.

The ACA marketplace offers major medical insurance that covers essential health benefits with no annual or lifetime coverage maximums. In addition, you cannot be charged more or be denied coverage because of a pre-existing health condition.

To qualify for the subsidies, your household's modified adjusted gross income for 2019 must be under $48,560 for an individual, or $65,840 for a couple. If your income is just above these thresholds, you should talk to a tax advisor about perhaps making a larger IRA contribution or strategically timing retirement account withdrawals to help you qualify.

To shop for marketplace plans in your state, visit HealthCare.gov or call the toll-free helpline at 800-318-2596.

If you find that you are not eligible for the subsidies and the premiums seem unaffordable, look into ACA-compliant plans that you can purchase of the marketplace directly from an insurance carrier or through a broker. In some states, you might find plans with lower premiums, especially on silver plans.

To find off-the-marketplace policies, see health insurance shopping websites like eHealthInsurance.com, or contact a broker or agent to assist you. Visit LocalHelp.HealthCare.gov to locate a broker or agent in your area.

Short-Term Health Insurance


If you cannot find an affordable ACA plan, you may want to consider short-term health insurance, which can be much cheaper. These plans, which are not available in every state, are bare-bones health plans that provide coverage for three, six or 12 months, depending on state and federal rules. Be aware that short-term plans are not required to comply with the ACA. As such, these plans can deny coverage, do not cover preexisting conditions and can exclude coverage essentials like prescription drugs.

To shop for short-term health insurance, visit eHealthInsurance.com or contact a local broker or agent via LocalHelp.HealthCare.gov.

COBRA


If you need health insurance coverage for less than 18 months, another option you may want to consider is COBRA, which allows you to remain on your former employer's group health plan. Note that not every employer plan is COBRA eligible. Contact your employer benefits administrator to find out if your employer's plan qualifies.

In most cases COBRA is expensive and you are required to pay the full monthly premium. However, if you have already met, or nearly met, your employer plan's deductible and/or out-of-pocket maximum for the year, it may make sense to keep your current coverage under COBRA if you do not want to start over with a new plan or if you find your employer's health plan to be better or more affordable than other options.

Savvy Living is written by Jim Miller, a regular contributor to the NBC Today Show and author of "The Savvy Living" book. Any links in this article are offered as a service and there is no endorsement of any product. These articles are offered as a helpful and informative service to our friends and may not always reflect this organization's official position on some topics. Jim invites you to send your senior questions to: Savvy Living, P.O. Box 5443, Norman, OK 73070.

Published April 5, 2019

How to Improve Your Balance as You Age

I've always been a walker, but after I fell last month my doctor suggested I start doing some balance exercises. Is this really something I need to practice?


Most people do not think much about practicing their balance, but it is something that should be considered. Just as you walk to strengthen your heart, lungs and overall health, you should practice maintaining your balance.

As we age, our balance declines, which can increase the risk of falling. Every year, more than one in three people age 65 years or older fall and the risk increases with age. A simple fall can cause a serious fracture of the hip, pelvis, spine, arm, hand or ankle. These injuries can lead to hospital stays, disability, loss of independence and even death.

How Balance Works


Balance is the ability to distribute your weight in a way that enables you to hold a steady position or move at will without falling. It is determined by a complex combination of muscle strength, visual inputs, the inner ear and the work of specialized receptors in the nerves of your joints, muscles, ligaments and tendons that orient you in relation to other objects.

The sensory cortex of your brain takes in the information from these sources to give you balance. Aging dulls our sense of balance and causes most individuals to gradually become less stable on their feet over time.

Poor balance can also lead to a vicious cycle of inactivity. You may feel a little unsteady, so you avoid or curtail certain activities. If you are inactive, you are not challenging your balance systems or using your muscles. As a result, both balance and strength suffer. Simple acts like strolling through a grocery store or getting up from a chair become increasingly difficult. This can shake your confidence and cause you to become even less active.

Balance Exercises


If you have a balance problem that is not tied to illness, medication or some other specific cause, simple exercises can help preserve and improve your balance. Some basic exercises you can do anytime include:
  • One-legged stands: Stand on one foot for 30 seconds, or longer, then switch to the other foot. You can do this while brushing your teeth or even while waiting in line somewhere. In the beginning, you might want to have a wall or chair to hold on to.
  • Heel rises: While standing, rise up on your toes, lifting your heel as high as you can. Then drop back to the starting position and repeat the process 10 to 20 times. You can make this more difficult by holding light hand weights.
  • Heel-toe walk: Take 20 steps and, with every step, touch your heel to your toe on your opposite foot. Keep your focus straight ahead instead of looking down at your feet.
  • Sit-to-stand: Without using your hands, get up from a straight-backed chair and sit back down 10 to 20 times. This improves balance and leg strength.
For additional balance exercises visit go4life.nia.nih.gov, a resource created by the National Institute on Aging that offers free booklets and a DVD that provides illustrated examples of many balance exercises. You can order your free copies online or by calling 800-222-2225.

Savvy Living is written by Jim Miller, a regular contributor to the NBC Today Show and author of "The Savvy Living” book. Any links in this article are offered as a service and there is no endorsement of any product. These articles are offered as a helpful and informative service to our friends and may not always reflect this organization’s official position on some topics. Jim invites you to send your senior questions to: Savvy Living, P.O. Box 5443, Norman, OK 73070.

Published March 29, 2019

Palliative Care Services Can Help Relieve Pain

What can you tell me about palliative care? My husband suffers from lung disease and is receiving radiation for prostate cancer but is not terminally ill. I have heard that palliative care can help him with his pain and discomfort. What can you tell me?


Palliative care is a very effective service that can help patients relieve the symptoms and stress associated with a serious illness. Unfortunately, most people do not know about it or do not understand how it can help. Here is what you should know.

What is Palliative Care?


Most people hear the words "palliative care" and think "hospice," but these are two different types of care. Hospice is reserved for when curative treatments have been exhausted and patients have less than six months to live. Palliative care, on the other hand, is a medical specialty that focuses on providing relief from symptoms of a serious illness, such as pain, shortness of breath, fatigue, constipation, nausea, loss of appetite, trouble sleeping and depression. It can also help patients deal with the side effects of medical treatment.

Anyone with a serious illness can benefit from palliative care, including those with cancer, heart disease, lung disease, kidney disease, Alzheimer's, HIV/AIDS, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), multiple sclerosis, Parkinson's disease and other serious illnesses. Palliative care can be provided along with curative treatment at any age and during any stage of a serious illness.

Palliative care is provided by a team that works with your doctor to provide an extra layer of support and care. This team may include palliative care doctors, nurses, social workers and other specialists. Palliative care teams are trained to help patients understand all of their treatment options along with the quality of life ramifications so that patients can make informed decisions regarding what is best for them.

Often, patients assume their doctors will take care of their pain and stress, but some doctors may not be well-trained in pain and symptom management. That is why palliative care is invaluable.

Palliative care was developed in the United States in the 1990s but didn't became a formal medical subspecialty in 2008. Today, palliative care programs exist in 57% of U.S. hospitals with more than 50 beds and in 90% of hospitals with 300 beds or more.

How to Receive Care


According to the Center to Advance Palliative Care, there are approximately six million people in the U.S. who have a need for palliative care but most patients do not know to ask for it. If you feel that a palliative care specialist could help your husband, start by talking to his doctor and ask for a referral. If his doctor is not helpful, visit GetPalliativeCare.org where you can search for a specialist in your area.

Palliative care can be provided in a variety of places, including hospitals, long-term care facilities, doctors' clinics and at your own home. You will also be happy to know that most private insurance plans, as well as Medicare and Medicaid, cover palliative care services.

Savvy Living is written by Jim Miller, a regular contributor to the NBC Today Show and author of "The Savvy Living" book. Any links in this article are offered as a service and there is no endorsement of any product. These articles are offered as a helpful and informative service to our friends and may not always reflect this organization's official position on some topics. Jim invites you to send your senior questions to: Savvy Living, P.O. Box 5443, Norman, OK 73070.

WCCF is Offering Scholarships to Non-Traditional Students

The Washington County Community Foundation is now offering scholarships to non-traditional students through its Education Matters initiative. 

Education Matters is a regional undertaking organized by the community foundations that serve Washington, Scott, Harrison, Clark and Floyd counties to try to increase the number of working adults in our region who started but never completed some form of post-secondary education – education that extends beyond high school.

You might be surprised to learn that in Southeast Indiana, only 25% of our workforce has an associate’s, bachelors or professional degree, compared to 38% nationally. Yet one in four of our community’s adult workers has earned some college credits! That’s over 3,100 people in Washington County!  For whatever reason, they started but never completed their post-secondary education. This represents a tremendous amount of untapped potential in our community.

The community foundations that created Education Matters have elected to concentrate on a small sliver of the overall issue, those one in four of our adult workers who have some post-secondary credits but did not complete their degrees or certifications. This population of people who started but didn’t finish their education is where the Washington County Community Foundation sees opportunity to implement immediate changes that can drive our educational attainment numbers up, ultimately having real impact on our community.

The following criteria have been established for this first round of scholarships:  

  1. Annual awards will not exceed $3,000 the first twelve months and $5,000 per person in any subsequent twelve-month period.
  2. Scholarship applicants must be a minimum of 28 years old as of the date of application.
  3. Only individuals who can demonstrate continuing legal residence in Washington County for at least the past five years are eligible. Documentation such as tax forms, housing receipts, or utility bills will be used to verify residency and/or household income.
  4. Scholarship awards may be used for tuition, course-related fees, or books only. Checks will only be written to an educational institution or certified training provider.
  5. The application deadline is 3:30 on April 15, 2019. No exceptions. Applicants should apply online at wccfapplyonline.biz
  6. Adult scholarship awards may not be used to pay for college debt.
  7. Subsequent awards will only be considered for students maintaining at least a 2.5 GPA.

Call the Washington County Community Foundation office at 883-7334 or email program.officer@wccf.biz to request an application or for more information.

The mission of the Washington County Community Foundation is to engage people, build resources and strengthen our community. 

How to Stop Frustrating Robocalls

Is there anything I can do to stop perpetual robocalls? It seems like I receive five to ten calls a day on my home and cell phone, and I am tired of it!


Robocalls make up around 50% of all phone calls today, and it is only getting worse. Americans were hit with 26.3 billion robocalls in 2018, a whopping 46% increase from the year before. Fortunately, there are a variety of tools available today that can help reduce the number of calls you receive.

Register Your Numbers


If you have not already done so, the first step is to make sure your home and cell phone numbers are registered with the National Do Not Call Registry. While this will not stop illegal robocalls, it will stop unwanted calls from legitimate for-profit businesses who are trying to sell you something. Be aware that political organizations, charities and survey takers are still permitted to call you, as are businesses that you have bought something from or made a payment to in the last 18 months. To sign up, visit DoNotCall.gov or call 888-382-1222.

Home Landline Tools


To stop robocalls calls on your home phone, set up the "anonymous call rejection" option. This is a free landline-calling feature available through most telephone companies. It screens out calls from callers who have blocked their caller ID information — a favorite tactic of telemarketers. To set it up, you usually have to dial *77 from your landline. Note, however, that different phone services may have different procedures to set up this tool. Call your telephone service provider to find out if they offer this feature and, if so, what you need to do to enable it.

Another solution is to sign up for Nomorobo, which is a free service for landline phones that is provided through a VoIP landline carrier. Nomorobo uses a "simultaneous ring" service that detects and blocks robocalls on a black list of known offender numbers. While it is not 100% foolproof, it is an extra layer of protection. To sign up or see if Nomorobo works with your phone service provider, visit Nomorobo's website.

Cell Phones Tools


To stop unwanted robocalls and texts to your cell phone, ask your carrier about caller ID options that help identify, filter or prevent callers that are not legitimate.

For example, AT&T provides their subscribers a free app called "AT&T Call Protect" that has automatic fraud blocking and suspected spam warnings. It also allows you to manually block unwanted calls. Verizon is now offering free spam alerting and call blocking tools to their users. T-Mobile provides free "Scam ID" and "Scam Block" to combat robocalls and spam. Sprint customers can sign up for its "Premium Caller ID" service for $2.99 per month to guard against robocalls and caller ID spoofers.

Call Blocking Apps


Another way to stop robocalls on your smartphone is with call blocking apps. These apps can identify who is calling you and block unwanted calls that show up on crowd-sourced spam and robocaller lists.

Some top call blocking apps for iPhones and Androids include Nomorobo, Hiya Caller ID and Spam Blocker and Truecaller. Nomorobo costs $2 per month. Truecaller and Hiya apps are free to use but offer upgraded services for $2 or $3 per month.

Spam Proof Phones


There are also phones you can buy, like the Samsung Galaxy S, Samsung Note or Google Pixel phone that have built-in spam and robocall protection in place. Samsung's Smart Call feature flags calls it suspects are spam, while Google Pixel phones have built-in spam call protection. With this feature, users that have caller ID enabled will receive a warning if a suspected spam call or robocall is received.


Savvy Living is written by Jim Miller, a regular contributor to the NBC Today Show and author of "The Savvy Living” book. Any links in this article are offered as a service and there is no endorsement of any product. These articles are offered as a helpful and informative service to our friends and may not always reflect this organization’s official position on some topics. Jim invites you to send your senior questions to: Savvy Living, P.O. Box 5443, Norman, OK 73070.

 

Jinny Scifres Memorial Scholarship Applications Available

The Washington County Community Foundation will be accepting applications for the Jinny Scifres Scholarship.  The scholarship is for any individual planning to attend a post-secondary accredited institution in the 2019-2020 school year and plans to pursue studies in the medical field.  The number and dollar amount of scholarships will be determined by the committee.  Preference may be given to non-traditional nursing students who may be returning to school after starting a family or career, as did Jinny. 

After starting a family, Jinny made the tough decision to return to school and study nursing.  After graduation, she began her nursing career at Washington County Memorial Hospital as an Emergency Room Nurse.  Jinny’s love of nursing eventually lead her to several promotions and back to school once again.  She eventually became the Director of Patient Care Services.

Jinny died in the fall of 2000, after bravely battling bone cancer.  Her family and many friends established this scholarship fund in her memory, to assist others who, like Jinny, return to school to study nursing after starting a family or career.  

For questions or an application, please contact Judy or Lindsey at 812-883-7334 or program.officer@wccf.biz.  Applications are due by April 15, 2019 at 3:30.

Washington County Community Foundation is a nonprofit public charity established in 1993 to serve donors, award grants, and provide leadership to improve Washington County forever

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WCCF Offers Non-Profit Board Training

Washington County Community Foundation realizes that board training for small non-profit organizations can be difficult to schedule or plan for on a tight budget.   We also recognize that a great Board of Directors is critical to a nonprofit organization’s success.  We want you and your organization to be successful.  Therefore, we are offering a great opportunity for you and your Board of Directors to receive high quality board training right here in Washington County through the Community Foundation Research and Training Institute.  

Members of Non-Profit Boards of Directors are invited to the training event on April 24, 2019, at the Community Learning Center at 1707 N. Shelby Street in Salem.  Our guest presenter is David Bennett.  David is the President and CEO of the Community Foundation Research and Training Institute (CFRTI).  He formed the CFRTI in 2017.  CFRTI provides a variety of training opportunities for community foundations and nonprofit organizations, along with strategic planning facilitation and the preparation of organizational risk assessments.

Aside from overseeing the strategic planning process several times in Fort Wayne, he has served as the facilitator of the strategic planning process at the Parke County Community Foundation and the Johnson County Community Foundation. David also serves as a trainer for the Community Foundation Boot Camp course through the Indiana Philanthropy Alliance, and as an instructor for the Finance Course offered through the Council on Foundations.

Beginning in 2020, Washington County Community Foundation will require all nonprofits that receive funding from the Washington County Community Foundation to have at least one current, active board member that has completed this valuable training. 

The cost to attend a session is $100.00 per person.  However, this fee will be refunded if the Board Member attends the entire session.  If a Board Member leaves early or does not show up, the registration fee will be retained by the Washington County Community Foundation. 

Registration deadline is April 16, 2019.  Register by calling 812-883-7334.

Washington County Community Foundation is a nonprofit public charity established in 1993 to serve donors, award grants, and provide leadership to improve Washington County forever

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WCCF offering $30,000.00 in Spring Grant Cycle

WCCF has opened their Spring Grant Cycle.  Funds for the $30,000 grant cycle are made possible through our generous donors and the Foundation’s Touch Tomorrow Funds.

Grant applications for the spring grant cycle are available at the WCCF office located on Shelby Street in the Learning Center complex or by calling the WCCF office. You can also download the application from the Foundation’s website at www.wccf.biz.  The application deadline will be 3:30pm, April 15, 2019.  For more information, you can call Judy Johnson or Lindsey Wade-Swift at the Foundation office.  The number is 883-7334.

Washington County Community Foundation is a nonprofit public charity established in 1993 to serve donors, award grants, and provide leadership to improve Washington County forever

Youth Foundation Now Recruiting

The Washington County Youth Foundation is now recruiting new members for the 2019-2020 school year.  The Youth Foundation is a group of students from Washington County committed to making our community a better place to live.  The board has members who are sophomores, juniors and seniors in any area high school or are home schooled. 

The Youth Foundation averages one meeting a month.  Times and location will vary; however, most meetings occur on Sunday afternoons.  During the school year the Washington County Youth Foundation will offer one grant cycle, several community service activities and one peer community awareness/asset development event.  Also, Washington County Youth Foundation members will be expected to be volunteers in the Happily Ever After Project.  All members make financial contributions to support the service activities of the Youth Foundation.    

Application, permission slip and more information can be downloaded from the Washington County Community Foundation’s website at www.wccf.biz.  Additionally, information can be obtained from current Washington County Youth Foundation members or by calling the Foundation office at 883-7334.   Applications are due by 4:00 pm on April 15, 2019.

Washington County Community Foundation is a nonprofit public charity established in 1993 to serve donors, award grants, and provide leadership to improve Washington County forever

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Community Foundation

1707 North Shelby Street
Salem, Indiana 47167
Phone: 812-883-7334
E-Mail: info@wccf.biz

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