Updates on Social Security Checks and More

by Maureen E. Hook, Ph.D.
February 12, 2013

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If you are currently receiving Social Security payments by paper check, get ready for a change. Beginning March 1, most recipients of Social Security benefits will have to decide to receive payments via direct deposit or a Direct Express prepaid debit card. 5 million of the approximately 63.5 million people who receive Social Security are still receiving their payments via check, according to Walt Henderson, director of the Treasury Department’s GoDirect campaign. A few exceptions will be made for unique circumstances or for people in their 90s, but all others will have to make the change. To choose the direct deposit option, go to GoDirect.org or call 800-333-1795. (Information from Katherine Bogerding, AARP Bulletin, January-Feb. 2013, p. 4)
On a somewhat related matter, do you think you have saved enough for health care? Take a guess what the amount for 1 individual is if he/she went into retirement this year at age 65? $120,000 over the course of one’s lifetime. Why so high, you may ask. Well, even with Medicare, there are many expenses which are not covered–deductibles, co-payments, and low-tech aids such as hearing aids and glasses. For example, Medicare Part A covers inpatient hospital stays, but the annual deductible is $1,184. Part B covers doctors’ visits, but the annual deductible here is $147 and a monthly charge of $104.90 x 12 = $1258.80 ($1,405.80 total). Part D covers drug costs, but in 1 year, the individual must cover $480 The total cost, then, in 1 year for the expenses not covered by Medicare, Parts A, B, and D = $3,069.80. You get the idea. So medical coverage in retirement can get pricey. One solution may be to buy medigap insurance, if you’ve already retired. The average total premium for 1 year = $2,120, so you’d be ahead by over $1,000. Or if you have a Medicare Advantage private health insurance plan such as an HMO or PPO, the Affordable Care Act will soon offer some relief. It will limit out-of-pocket expenses in 1 year to $6,700. That may not seem like much help , but if a hospital stay is involved, that amount will look very good indeed. In any case, be prepared to spend on health care in retirement. It’s not a free ride just because you’re now covered by Medicare. The attorneys and staff of Hook Law Center are well-qualified to help you navigate this maze.
(Information from Martha M. Hamilton, “Have you saved enough for your Health Care?” AARP Bulletin, Jan.-Feb. 2013, p. 16-19)
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The Cat Monopoly Piece

Hook Law Center: Kit Kat, did I hear correctly that Monopoly is going to have a new “cat” game piece?
Kit Kat: Yes, you are absolutely correct! Isn’t it wonderful? Now the Scottie dog has another animal friend. Fans voted online via Facebook, and the “cat” piece will replace the iron. The company that makes Monopoly is Hasbro, and it is based in Pawtucket, Rhode Island. It made the announcement on Wednesday, February 6, 2013.
The cat had quite a lot of competition. Monopoly has more than 10 million followers on Facebook. They gave fans a choice of 4 other choices besides the cat–a robot, a diamond ring, a helicopter, and a guitar. But the cat lovers won out! Now the cat will join the other tokens (a racecar, Scottie dog, a shoe, a thimble, a top hat, a wheelbarrow, and a battleship) to make Monopoly history! New tokens are periodically introduced to spark continued interest in the game. It was about time to add the cat. Scottie dog was introduced in the 1950s. It’s a cute little cat with a curvy tail and a collar and a round medallion that looks like an ID tag. Games with the new cat piece will be available later this year. I can’t wait! I’m going to persuade my parents, Maureen and Andy Hook, to get that for my next birthday which is in August. If it’s not ready then, I’ll just have to take a rain check and wait until it comes out.

Upcoming Events

Hook Law Center will be speaking on the subject of Making an Elder Law Practice More Efficient at the VAELA Conference on February 23, 2013 in Charlottesville, VA.
Hook Law Center is hosting a reception to benefit the Chesapeake Humane Society at Hook Law Center’s Suffolk location, 5806 Harbour View Blvd., Suite 203, Suffolk, VA 23435 on March 14, 2013 at 5:30 p.m.
Hook Law Center is presenting a seminar on Estate and Long Term Care Planning to NARFE (National Active & Retired Federal Employees) Churchland Chapter 129 at Dennis’ Steak and Spaghetti Restaurant, 3356 Western Branch Blvd., Chesapeake, VA on April 9, 2013 at Noon.
Hook Law Center will be speaking on Reducing Medicare Liens at the Virginia Trial Lawyers Association meeting in Virginia Beach on May 21, 2013 at 3:00 p.m.
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This report is not intended as a substitute for legal counsel. While every precaution has been taken to make this report accurate, Hook Law Center assumes no responsibility for errors or omissions, or for damages resulting from the use of the information in this report.