Tuesday, March 17, 2020

STAND UP AND BE COUNTED!

Update 3.18.2020
The Census Bureau announced that all field operation have been suspended for the rest of March due to the spread of the coronavirus pandemic. This includes census workers walking neighborhoods and canvassing by telephone.
The move puts increased emphasis on households to respond online, over the phone or by mail in the current phase of the census, which is trying to count more than 300 million people across the country over the next few months. 
What to know about U.S. census 2020 and why it is vitally important to seniors
April 1stis rapidly approaching, and it’s not just April Fool’s Day this year. It is also Census Day 2020, and this is the first time the majority of Americans will fill out their census information online. Official U.S. Census Bureau mail with detailed information on how to respond to the 2020 Census online, by phone, or by mail, is on the way. As always, if you don’t reply by a certain date, they’ll come to you in person. That being said, there is some concern about the challenges of getting older people to participate this time around.
A recent U.S. Census Bureau survey found that 56% of those 65 and older aren’t comfortable with an online response and prefer to fill out a paper census form—which is still an option in addition to providing the information by telephone. 
“The concerns over privacy and cybersecurity will have to be overcome, and those concerns are highest for those over 50,” says Steve Jost, a former Census Bureau official. 
What the census means for you
It is vital to the senior community to have everyone participate in this important decennial process. The data collected by the census determine the number of seats each state has in the U.S. House of Representatives (a process called apportionment), and it is also used to distribute billions in federal funds to local communities. That includes money for schools, roads, hospitals—and programs that specifically aid older Americans. 
Medicaid, the health insurance program for low-income people and those age 65 and older, is the largest federal program that uses census statistics to determine funding. The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) is the second-largest program that uses census statistics to allocate funds, and third is Medicare Part B. 
In addition, adult day care, community center lunches, home-delivered meals, protection and remedy from abuse—both physical and financial—are mostly funded by Social Services Block Grants. The funding levels for these grants, in part, are derived from statistics produced by the Census Bureau. 
Watch out for scammers
A very small percentage of people who knock on doors claiming to be from the Census Bureau are looking to gather personal information so they can steal from you. Real census employees won’t ask for your full Social Security number, for money or donations, or for bank or credit card numbers. 
Check to make sure that the person has a valid identification badge with his or her photograph, a Department of Commerce watermark and an expiration date. If you still suspect fraud, call the Census Bureau at 800-923-8282 to speak to a representative.



Friday, March 13, 2020

Planning for a long life

by Thomas Gerrity

Not many years ago, the typical retirement age, 65, was viewed as the onset of old age. 
Today, gerontologists define matters differently: If you’re between the ages of 65 and 74, you
are one of the “young-old.” To be considered “old”, you need to be in the 75-to-84 age
bracket. After that, you’re known, demographically, as the “oldest-old.”
Simply put, your chances are good that you are going to live many years in retirement.
But will they be healthy years?

Who assumes responsibility?
If illness or injury strikes, you want to know that there is someone on hand to manage the
day-to-day finances and your investments.
Your spouse might want to assume the responsibilities. However, that may be an
unreasonable burden if he or she is also responsible for being your caregiver. And, of course,
there is the question of his or her health. A long-term plan needs to take into account the fact
that a spouse might not be alive or healthy when he or she is needed.
Single people face similar questions. They may not want to burden children or
grandchildren with their finances and their care. Is there even family close by able to take on
the responsibilities?

When you don’t take action
If you have not done any planning beforehand, and you become disabled, legal proceedings
may be necessary in order to have someone step in and take over for you. A guardian will
have to be named to manage your assets. It’s not hard to come up with a list of serious
disadvantages to this scenario.

First, the process can be protracted and expensive. Second, because the legal
proceedings are a matter of public record, you and your family may be exposed to unwanted
publicity. Finally, and most important, because you may not be able to make your wishes
known, the person whom you would want to handle your financial affairs may not be the
person chosen by the court.

As a result, your financial assets may be put at risk. Decisions may be made by
individuals not in the best position to make them. Indecision or lack of attention may have
the same negative impact on your income, your asset base or both.
One plan: a durable power

A durable power of attorney is a legal document in which you give someone the authority to
act on your behalf in the circumstances that you designate. Although a regular power of
attorney lapses in the event that you become mentally incompetent, a durable power remains
in effect.

The authority that you grant to your “attorney-in-fact” can be as sweeping or as narrow
as you wish. The power to pay bills, collect debts, prepare tax returns, borrow funds,
purchase insurance and fund a trust are among the most common powers granted. Parents
who want to take advantage of the federal annual gift tax exclusion and make gift-tax-free
transfers to children and/or grandchildren of up to $14,000 in 2015 should spell out that
authority in the durable power-of-attorney document.

A durable power of attorney can be an effective tool. Unfortunately, some institutions
require that the power be executed on their particular form—simple if you’re in good health,
perhaps impossible if you’re incapacitated. Then, too, over several years a question of the
validity of the durable power may arise.

A comprehensive plan: a living trust
For long-term financial and estate management, give consideration to a revocable living trust.
This arrangement offers you comprehensive protection that can last as long as it is needed.
You can create a living trust now. The agreement is revocable—you can make changes
at any time, even cancel it if the need arises. Initially, the agreement calls for you to retain
full control over all investment decisions regarding the assets in the trust.
The trustee’s responsibilities may, if you wish, be limited to everyday investment chores
and recordkeeping duties. If you become incapacitated, or upon your request, the trustee will
assume full management of your assets, acting as you have directed in the trust agreement. In
addition to handling your investments, the trustee’s responsibilities may be extremely wideranging.
You may authorize your trustee to use trust income to employ household help, hire
nurses and even pay your monthly bills.

Q&A on Advance Directives

While you are doing your planning, you also may want to consider creating an advance
directive regarding your future medical care.
What are Advance Directives?

• “Advance directive” is a general term that refers to your oral and written instructions about
your future medical care, in the event that you become unable to speak for yourself. Each
state regulates the use of advance directives differently. There are two types of advance
directives: a living will and a medical power of attorney.
What is a Living Will?

• In a living will you put in writing your wishes about medical treatment should you be
unable to communicate at the end of life. Your state law may define when the living will goes
into effect and may limit the treatments to which the living will applies. Your right to accept
or refuse treatment is protected by both constitutional and common law.
What is a Medical Power of Attorney?

• A medical power of attorney enables you to appoint someone you trust to make decisions
about your medical care if you cannot make those decisions yourself. This type of advance
directive may also be called a “health care proxy” or “appointment of a health care agent.”
The person you appoint may be called your health care agent, surrogate, attorney-in-fact, or
proxy. In many states the person whom you appoint is authorized to speak for you at any time
you are unable to make your own medical decisions, not only at the end of life.
Do I need an Advance Directive?

• It’s a matter of personal choice. There are many benefits to creating advance directives.
They give you a voice in decisions about your medical care when you are unconscious or too
ill to communicate. As long as you are able to express your own decisions, your advance
directive will not be used, and you can accept or refuse any medical treatment. But if you
become seriously ill, you may lose the ability to participate in decisions about your own
treatment.

What laws govern the use of Advance Directives?
• Both federal and state laws govern the use of advance directives. The federal law, the
Patient Self-Determination Act, requires health care facilities that receive Medicaid and
Medicare funds to inform patients of their rights to execute advance directives. All 50 states
and the District of Columbia have laws recognizing the use of advance directives.
If you are interested in finding out more about advance directives and the laws
governing them in your state, the not-for-profit organization Partnership for Caring has a
Web site at http://www.partnershipforcaring.org, or you can call them at 1-800-989-WILL.
Taking action

It’s important to make your plans while you’re able to do so. Talk over the issues presented
here with those closest to you, as well as with your financial and legal advisors and an
institution such as ours, experienced in establishing living trusts for our clients.


© 2020 M.A. Co. All rights reserved.

Thursday, March 12, 2020

Coronavirus: Why You Must Act Now

Politicians, Community Leaders and Business Leaders: What Should You Do and When?


With everything that’s happening about the Coronavirus, it might be very hard to make a decision of what to do today. Should you wait for more information? Do something today? What?
Here’s what I’m going to cover in this article, with lots of charts, data and models with plenty of sources:
  • How many cases of coronavirus will there be in your area?
  • What will happen when these cases materialize?
  • What should you do?
  • When?
When you’re done reading the article, this is what you’ll take away:
The coronavirus is coming to you. 
It’s coming at an exponential speed: gradually, and then suddenly.
It’s a matter of days. Maybe a week or two.
When it does, your healthcare system will be overwhelmed.
Your fellow citizens will be treated in the hallways. 
Exhausted healthcare workers will break down. Some will die.
They will have to decide which patient gets the oxygen and which one dies. 
The only way to prevent this is social distancing today. Not tomorrow. Today.
That means keeping as many people home as possible, starting now.
As a politician, community leader or business leader, you have the power and the responsibility to prevent this.
You might have fears today: What if I overreact? Will people laugh at me? Will they be angry at me? Will I look stupid? Won’t it be better to wait for others to take steps first? Will I hurt the economy too much?
But in 2–4 weeks, when the entire world is in lockdown, when the few precious days of social distancing you will have enabled will have saved lives, people won’t criticize you anymore: They will thank you for making the right decision. Click here to continue reading.

Friday, March 6, 2020

The Real ID Is Nearly Here, and You Can’t Fly Without It!

Beginning on October 1 of this year, the U.S. federal government will require anyone boarding an airplane for domestic travel or entering certain federal buildings to have a “verified” driver’s license, state-issued ID card or show additional proof of identification, such as a passport. This verification is indicated on your driver’s license or ID card by a gold star in the top right corner and is commonly referred to as a “REAL ID.”

Why? In 2005, Congress passed the REAL ID Act of 2005, a federal law modifying the security standard for identification documents. Congress passed the legislation in response to the 9/11 Commission’s recommendation that the federal government set requirements and issue standards for federal identification document recognition. Travelers will start to notice signs at airports across the country with reminders about the law going into effect.

“The law was passed to stop terrorists from using fraudulent identification,” said William Csontos, the Transportation Security Administration director for Connecticut. “REAL ID is a coordinated effort by the federal government to improve the reliability and accuracy of driver licenses and identification cards," he said.

With the October 1 deadline rapidly approaching, it is important to know what you need to do to make your domestic and international airline travel go as smoothly as possible.

You needa REAL ID if:

     You do not have a valid U.S. passport, passport card; and
     You use airplanes as a mode of domestic transportation.
You do not needa REAL ID if:

     You have a valid U.S. passport or passport card, but you must carry it with you when you fly.
     You do not use airplanes as a mode of domestic transportation.

If you have a “Drive Only” license, you are noteligible for a REAL ID license. The Connecticut DMV has a program of issuing “Drive Only” licenses to undocumented individuals or people without a Social Security number.

If you already have a Connecticut license or ID card, getting your identity verified through DMV is optional. The verification process is a one-time check; therefore, if you have the gold star you are all set and meet federal standards.

To apply for a REAL ID, you can visit any DMV office or partner office like DMV Express in Milford, North Haven, Stamford, and West Haven). Bring your required documents, including your U.S. passport or U.S. birth certificate, Social Security card, and two pieces of mail (from two different sources and date stamped within 90 days) to prove that you live in Connecticut. If your Social Security card is not available, you also may present a W-2 form, 1099 form or a pay stub with your name and SSN listed. 

If you are not due for renewal, but would still like to obtain a REAL ID, you can convert your license or ID for a $30 duplication fee. It may take approximately two weeks to receive your REAL ID in the mail, so if you have any travel plans, or have a license that is expiring soon, you should start this process immediately.


Once you have completed the process of obtaining your REAL ID card or have secured the other documents necessary to travel domestically, you’re ready to go! 

Friday, February 21, 2020

IRS is knocking

The IRS does not make telephone calls to taxpayers. Anyone who receives a call purporting to be from the IRS demanding immediate tax payment should hang up the phone; it’s an imposter running a scam. Another tip-off is a demand that the tax be paid in gift cards—that is not how the IRS works. Three Pennsylvania residents were recently indicted for wire fraud for impersonating IRS agents, for example. 
However, the IRS will make in-person contact. In February the Service announced that it is stepping up a program of agents making unannounced face-to-face visits to high-income taxpayers who have not filed their tax returns for 2018 and earlier years. “High income” is defined as $100,000 and up. The announcement did not specify whether the calls would be at the taxpayer’s home or place of business. 

In general, these taxpayers will have been contacted earlier by mail, and so already should be aware that they are in tax trouble. Real IRS revenue officers will always provide two forms of official credentials, and both include a serial number and photo of the IRS employee. Taxpayers have the right to see each of these credentials. 

Thursday, February 20, 2020

GO TAKE A HIKE!


Sleeping Giant CT

by Rich Gelfand 

With the warmer weather rapidly approaching, it’s time to start thinking about getting back outside. One of the most rewarding outdoor activities is just a stone’s throw away, and it’s almost always free...hiking! There are numerous local hiking trails, ranging from easy and flat to challenging with inclines. Pick the right hiking trail for you and explore!

Hiking usually offers spectacular views and the opportunity to become one with nature. It’s also a great choice as exercise for your overall health. Several important reasons hiking is beneficial include:
  • Improved cardio-respiratory fitness in your lungs, heart, and blood vessels;
  • Increased muscle strength and bone density, as well as slowing down bone density loss;
  • Lowering the risk of heart disease, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, stroke, diabetes, depression, anxiety, osteoporosis, arthritis, and many cancers.
Hiking is also an activity you can do by yourself or with others; it’s a great way to bond with friends and family, while also bonding with the great outdoors! It is important, however, to choose the right level for everyone. Sticking with easy, flatter trails is a safe way to start off. Also, don’t forget the essentials: food, water (there’s nothing like a picnic on a beautiful day), sunscreen, binoculars, bug repellant, weather-appropriate clothing … and your cellphone. If you have a smartphone, you’ll want to take pictures of the beauty you will see; it’s also good to have handy in case you need to get in touch with someone for any reason.

A great resource for information on hiking trails both local and elsewhere is alltrails.com. They also offer an easy-to-use app. A few beautiful trails located in Fairfield County include:

  • Mianus River Park — This 391-acre park straddles both Greenwich and Stamford and features woodlands, wetlands and riverbanks. You'll find a network of rolling trails that run along the river, winding past vernal pools, outcroppings, wooded ledges and small knolls. The paths are hard packed and easy to navigate, making it a great place to hike with kids. The park also features a 2.6-mile "nature trail" that includes 12 educational stations with information about the local ecology and wildlife. There are two entrance points, one in Greenwich and one in Stamford.
  • Mianus River Park, 360 Merriebrook Lane, Stamford, CT 06902; 450 Cognewaugh Road, Greenwich CT, 06807
  • Devil’s Den — At 1,756 acres, this preserve is the Nature Conservancy's largest in Connecticut. You can choose from a wide variety of loops depending on the distance and type of terrain you want to explore. The Laurel Trail Loop around Godfrey Pond is a little over a mile, and the views around the pond are spectacular year-round.
  • Devil's Den, 33 Pent Road, Weston CT, 06883, 203-226-4991
  • Tarrywile Park — The park is 722 acres and features trails that wind past ponds, fields and orchards toward spots with amazing views of downtown Danbury and Candlewood Lake in the distance. You'll also find the Tarrywile Mansion and Hearthstone Castle, both listed on the National Register for Historic Preservation. 
  • Tarrywile Park, 70 Southern Blvd, Danbury CT, 06810, 203-744-3130
  • Aspetuck Land Trust  — The Aspetuck Land Trust has preserved over 1,700 acres of land, open space, and natural resources in Easton, Fairfield, Weston, and Westport. Visitors are welcome to explore all of their 45 trailed preserves from dawn to dusk.
  • Aspetuck Land Trust, Leonard Schine Preserve, 1 Glendinning Rd, Westport CT, 06880
  • Lake Mohegan — This park offers 170 wooded acres that surround a freshwater lake, close to the Merritt Parkway. The Cascades at the northern end is a short section of rapids on the Mill River, which is the river that feeds into the lake. This is a very popular place for families and dogs, so feel free to bring Fido as long as you keep him on his leash. There are two main trails: Red, which is 1.6 miles and follows the edges of the lake and river, and Yellow, which is 2.5 miles around the perimeter. Lake Mohegan manages to make you feel like you're in a much more remote location, and the views and foliage are gorgeous. 
  • Lake Mohegan, 960 Morehouse Hwy, Fairfield CT, 06825
  • Shelton Lakes Recreational Path — The "Rec path" is a popular multi-use path located along the Shelton Lakes Greenway. The path passes along all three of Shelton's lakes as well as dams, gatehouses, streams and meadows. The path itself is 9-12 feet wide with a crushed stone surface, making it easy for walkers as well as strollers and wheelchairs. This lovely trail is flat and winds through the Shelton Lakes Greenway for nearly 5 miles. 
  • Shelton Lakes Recreation Path, 135 Shelton Ave, Shelton CT, 06484
  • New Canaan Nature Center — If you're looking for an easy, fun, and educational hike, this is the one! Located on 40 acres, you'll find wet and dry meadows, ponds, woodlands, thickets, a marsh, and an orchard. You can experience all kinds of ecosystems while walking across the two miles of trails. The trails include marsh boardwalks and two observation towers that overlook the wetlands and cattail marsh. 
  • New Canaan Nature Center, 144 Oenoke Ridge, New Canaan CT, 06830, 203-966-9577
  • Audubon Greenwich — Here you'll find 7 miles of trails across 285 acres of woodland, wetland and meadow habitat. The trails are open from dawn to dusk, 365 days a year. The views are breathtaking and the environment is very diverse, from open fields to forests and shrub swamps, vernal pools, wildflower meadows and an old apple orchard. On the Lake Loop Trail, you'll find a boardwalk and two bird blinds which are camouflaged shelters that allow you the chance to observe wildlife without scaring anything away. In addition to the birds, you might spy a river otter, flying squirrels, owls, wild turkeys and bats. 
  • Audubon Greenwich, 613 Riversville Road, Greenwich CT 06831, 203-869-5272


Guilford Police will be at the Senior Center for an update on the latest scams

During lunch at noon on Friday, March 6th, Sargent Martina Jakober, Guilford Police Department will be at the Guilford Senior Center to provide an update on some of the latest scams being targeted toward seniors. Sign up for lunch that day to meet one of our local officers and hear important information they have for you & learn how to protect yourself from people who go to great lengths to take advantage of innocent seniors. There will be an opportunity to ask questions.