Possible agent orange claim

Agent Orange was an herbicide used to clear plants and trees during the Vietnam War Era. Agent Orange was also used near the Korean DMZ and in certain related jobs during the Vietnam War era. Veterans who were exposed to Agent Orange and have developed a medical issue that is on the VA list of medical conditions associated with Agent Orange may be entitled to extensive financial compensation.

Many veterans may not realize that they are eligible for this benefit because over the years the VA has expanded the list of medical conditions that are now associated with Agent Orange exposure. The medical issues on the VA’s Agent Orange list include:

  • AL amyloidosis
  • chloracne, early-onset
  • chronic B-cell leukemia
  • Hodgkin’s disease
  • ischemic heart disease
  • lung and trachea cancers
  • multiple myeloma
  • non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma
  • Parkinson’s Disease
  • peripheral neuropathy
  • porphyria cutanea tarda
  • prostate cancer
  • soft tissue sarcomas, and
  • type 2 diabetes

If a veteran develops one of the above diseases and served in Vietnam between 1962 and 1975 or in the Korean DMZ between 1968 and 1971, then the VA will presume the disease is a result of exposure to agent orange. This can make it much easier to get disability compensation from the VA.

Benefits that a veteran could receive include health care benefits, financial compensation, and an Agent Orange Registry health exam. If you think you may fall under the category of veterans who developed a disease as a result of Agent Orange exposure then you would need to file a claim for disability compensation and submit you supporting documents to be used as evidence. If you have any questions about this process you can reach out to a VA attorney or similar professional and have them assist you with your claim.

Like always, if you have any questions or would like to explore your eligibility for these programs or any other Elder Care law issues, call 856-281-3131. We’d be glad to help ease your stress and form the plan that is right for you.

Life settlement

What is a life settlement?

A life settlement, sometimes called a “senior settlement”, is the selling of one’s existing life insurance policy to a third party for a one time cash payment. In exchange for the one time cash payment, the third party becomes the owner and beneficiary of the policy.

What is a Viatical Settlement

“Viatical settlements” typically involve those with two years or less to live and the Viatical settlements are regulated and handled by the life insurance company itself. Life settlements, on the other hand, do not involve the insurance company. Instead, Life Settlements involve third party investors and brokers who buy the life insurance policy.

How do life settlements work?

Usually, the third party who purchases the life insurance policy is an experienced institutional investor. It’s worth emphasizing that after the sale is made, the investor who purchased the life insurance plan becomes the new beneficiary and owner of the policy. The investor who bought the policy hopes to make a profit by receiving the policy’s death benefit. Usually, the investor will purchase the policy for more than the face cash surrender value of the policy but for less than the net death benefit.

When do people usually consider a life settlement?

A life settlement is typically made by those who believe that they and their families will benefit more by taking cash now, instead of receiving the death benefit later. They also will not have to pay anymore premiums. A life settlement is also considered by those older folks who would otherwise have to surrender their policies or allow them to lapse due to financial constraints. The potential ramifications for a life settlement are huge. For example, if you receive Medicaid, then the life settlement could result in your disqualification.

Exercise caution:

Before you decide if you should take a life settlement, you should explore your options, compare rates, and speak with an elder law attorney or financial professional, such as a CPA or financial advisor. This professional should be someone who does not have a financial or other type of stake in the buying or selling of the policy involved in the life settlement. Because the ramifications of selling your life insurance policy are extreme, such as Medicaid eligibility and your listed beneficiary losing out on the net death benefit, you should proceed with caution. Speak with a professional who can clearly and exactly spell out your options.

Long-term care insurance

As our loved ones age, there may come a time when they need to receive long-term care or move to a long-term care facility. Long-term care can be extremely expensive, and as a result, some choose to take out a long-term care insurance policy ahead of time.

Long-term care insurance is one method by which the costs of long-term care can be largely covered or reduced. However, long-term care (abbreviated as “LTC”) insurance policies can be very expensive and they need to be purchased before long-term care is actually required. Some LTC policies have limitations and loopholes that still leave significant long term care costs to the policy holder even if they bought it ahead of time. This is why it’s very important to know what the specific policies of your LTC insurance are.

For example, some long-term care insurance policies have a “waiting period” before the policy will kick in. This means that you will need to pay for long term care out of pocket at first, often for 30 days or more, until the policy will start covering the ongoing costs.

Some LTC insurance policies have maximum lifetime limits that cover the costs of care until that maximum dollar amount is reached. Once that maximum dollar amount is reached your loved one will be required to pay out of pocket for continued care. In selecting a LTC insurance plan, you need to do you research and choose the right plan for you or your loved one.

If you or your loved one has LTC insurance, and you need to go to a long-term care facility, you should contact the long-term care facility and make sure that your insurance will be accepted there. Not all long term care insurance is accepted at every facility. If it is accepted, you should verify with them exactly what items are covered and what expenses you may have to pay out of pocket. This will help you keep your budget in place without any surprised that could hurt your bottom line.

If you have any questions about your care options free to reach out to us at Scott Counsel. Our goal is to provide you with the best care planning services that meet your needs and circumstances. Our team would be glad to help you.

Your wishes in the manner of your death

Planning for your passing or the passing of a loved one can be a very difficult process. It’s a process that many people may be inclined to avoid altogether. However, avoiding or ignoring end of life planning won’t solve your problems. In fact, by ignoring end of life planning, you may be putting very tough decisions and even guesswork onto the shoulders of those who love you most; and no one should have to guess what their loved one would or wouldn’t want regarding their end of life care.

Accordingly, it is very important that you discuss and plan with your close relationships and medical professionals the health care choices surrounding end of life care and the manner of your death. Before you begin, you may want to spend some time thinking about what you want your end of life care to look like. For example, do you want all potential medical treatments to be tried in order to save your life, regardless of the impact on your quality of life? Would you prefer to spend your final days with family and friends in the comfort of their home, or would you like to spend them in a supervised medical environment where loved ones can come and visit? To help make your wishes known and ensure they are followed, there are very specific legal and healthcare tools that you can use regarding end-of-life care and the manner of death.

Some common legal tools available for end of life planning:

End-of-life planning can include direction on where the patient wants to spend their final days, which treatments they wish to receive, and whether they want to pursue all life saving or resuscitation options.

An Advanced Directive or “Living Will” allows your wishes regarding medical treatment to be known in the event that a person is unable to communicate their health care decisions. The medical decisions in an advanced directive can include decisions about end-of-life care. Having a family discussion about your health care choices and advanced directive can help make sure that everyone in the family is on the same page and knows exactly what you want. A Living Will can include instructions on the use of breathing machines, resuscitation if the heartbeat or breathing stops, or whether the patient wants tube or intravenous feeding.

It’s important to keep in mind that a living will is not the tool you can use to leave property to your loved ones, name an executor, or name a guardian for any children. That document is called a traditional will or a last will and testament. In this case, we’re discussing a living will, which is also called a health care declaration. A living will is a document that you can use to describe the kind of health care you wish to get if you are incapacitated and cannot speak on your own.

Additionally, a “Do Not Resuscitate” or “DNR” request can also be signed by the patient. A “DNR” request instructs health care professionals that if your heart stops or you stop breathing, they should not make an attempt to resuscitate.

Other end of life planning can include signing a durable power of attorney that designates someone as your health care proxy or “agent” to make your medical decisions if you become unable to do so. If you do name a health care proxy, you should make sure that this person is comfortable with your choice and knows your wishes regarding end of life care. It may also be helpful to discuss these issues with your family when everyone is together so that everyone knows your wishes.

Planning end-of-life care can ensure that your wishes for the manner of your death are followed. In the event that you become unable to make health care decisions, it also alleviates the burden from your family members in having to guess what you may or may not want. If you or your loved one needs assistance with any of these topics or Elder Care law issues, call 856-281-3131. At Scott Counsel, we would be glad to answer your questions and help you craft the plan that works for you.

Finding and moving to a long-term care facility

There often comes a point in the care of an elderly loved one where living at home is no longer a safe or appropriate option for them. When this is the case, it’s time to explore long-term care facilities. Choosing the right LTC (long-term care) facility for your loved one is a big decision and many caregivers often don’t know where to start. Among the common questions we get, two of the most common questions are

  1. What type of facility is appropriate for my loved one and where can I find one? and
  2. What level of care can we afford?

First, you’ll need to decide what type of long-term care facility is appropriate for your loved one. This includes choosing from Residential Care Facilities, Assisted Living Facilities, Skilled Nursing Facilities, Continuing Care Retirement Communities, among others. Each of these facilities is geared towards assisting the elderly who are within a certain spectrum of required care. For a brief overview, the following types of common LTC facilities include:

  • A residential care facility provides supervision, grooming care, meals, socialization, among other things, but it does not provide skilled nursing care.
  • An assisted living facility is for those who retain some independence but need daily help with their medication management, housekeeping tasks, and personal care. These facilities often have nurses on-site or on-call for your loved ones.
  • A skilled nursing facility or a “nursing home” provides 24/7 around the clock nursing services for those who require it. A nursing home is typically for those who need help with most or all of their self-care needs.
  • A Continuing Care Retirement Community, also called “Life Care,” provides independent living, assisted living, and skilled nursing facilities in a single location. This allows your loved one to stay at the same community, even if their health begins to deteriorate.

Once you’ve chosen the appropriate type of long-term care facility, you need to choose the right one for your loved one. To do this, you should research the facilities available to you by talking with family, friends, and health care professionals about the facilities in your area. If your loved one has a specific type of chronic or progressive health condition, you should search for a facility that offers specialized care to meet their specific needs.

Medicare actually provides a “nursing home compare” feature that has detailed information about every Medicare and Medicaid certified nursing home in the country. After you’ve selected a few options, you should prepare questions and schedule visits and tours with those facilities that seem like they could be a good fit. You should look at the living environment, meal times and the food, the kindness and competency of the staff, policies and safety features, and how the residents seem to like living at the facility.

As a caregiver, your role doesn’t end when your loved one moves into an LTC facility. While you may no longer be taking care of the hands-on tasks associated with care, your loved one will still need you to be their advocate. This job often entails paying bills, scheduling appointments, and ensuring appropriate follow-up care for your loved one. Help be the voice that your loved one needs. With an attentive caregiver and an LTC that is a good fit, you can make sure that your loved one is receiving the best possible care that they need.

Of course, even when you find the right place, there is still the question of affordability. The stark reality is that long-term care facilities are often very expensive. Most often, these facilities are paid for out of pocket. For private financing, common ways to pay for the care includes long-term care insurance, personal savings, reverse mortgages, annuities, and other options. For government programs, if you qualify, Medicaid may pay for some types of long-term care. There are also various other government programs available, if you qualify, that may help for some or most of the expenses of long-term facility care.

We hope this overview was helpful, and if you or someone you love needs assistance with Elder Care law issues, call 856-281-3131. We’re here to help ease your stress and give you a plan that meets the needs of you and your loved one.

Financial Documents and Care Planning

It is vital to begin preparing for any potential long-term care needs now, even if the need is not imminent. When it comes to planning for long-term care, there’s a lot to consider. You’ll want to make decisions on things like:

  • Housing
  • Health-related matters
  • Legal matters
  • Financial matters

There are a multitude of documents related to each of those decisions, and it can be quite confusing figuring out exactly what documents you actually need. To make legal decisions, there are three documents that are highly recommended. They are:

  • Health Care Power of Attorney
  • A Living Will (also called an Advanced Directive)
  • A DNR (do-not-resuscitate order), if desired.

Health Care Power of Attorney

Also known as a durable power of attorney for health care, this document is one that names and gives someone the ability to make medical decisions on your behalf. Whomever you choose needs to both understand and respect any values and beliefs you have regarding your health care. It is important to talk with the person before naming them as your agent in order to make sure they are comfortable assuming the role.

Living Will

This document is also called a health care directive, and it keeps track of any of your wishes for medical treatment approaching the end of life. It should clearly state which types of life-sustaining treatments you do or do not wish to receive if you are considered terminally ill, permanently unconscious, or are in the end stages of a fatal illness. For instance, a living will can state whether you want to receive artificial breathing if you can no longer breath on your own. You can learn more about living wills by clicking the link.

Do-Not-Resuscitate (DNR) Order

A DNR order informs health care providers you do not wish to be revived through CPR or other forms of life support if you stop breathing or your heart stops beating. It should be signed by a health care provider and inserted in your medical chart. Hospitals and long-term care facilities have these forms that a staff member can assist you in filling out. A DNR order is not required.

If you or someone you love needs assistance with Elder Care law issues, call 856-281-3131. Let us help ease your stress and give you a plan.

Touring a Care Facility

As a caregiver or family member, if you’re thinking of putting your loved one in the care of a long-term care facility, it is a great idea to make a point to tour prospective facilities. Doing so is a vital step in ensuring your loved one gets the right care for his or her own specific needs. Many people may even recommend multiple visits to facilities when you’re making decisions. For the first visit, however, you’re going to want to make an appointment through the Admissions Director to tour the facility during the weekday. The best times to see what daily life is like at the facility is in the late morning or midday hours.

Be on lookout for any bad smells, residents who might be strapped into wheelchairs, and staff who seem to ignore residents in general. One of the best ways to help you get an idea of life in the facility is to speak with the residents directly, but trust your instincts too. If something doesn’t seem right, it likely is not.

While touring the facility,  ask lots of questions, and verify any information you may have received over the phone. Also, don’t worry about taking too much time. This is time they have set aside specifically for you, so don’t be afraid to get answers to your questions.

Some recommended questions:

  • Is the facility a non-profit or for-profit?
  • What types of care do they offer?
  • Is the facility certified by Medicaid and Medicare?
  • What is the normal length of stay at the facility?
  • What are the qualifications of the staff in the therapy department?
  • What makes this particular facility different from the others you’ve visited (if this isn’t your first one)?
  • Does the facility include family members when making care plans for the resident?

If you or someone you love needs assistance with Elder Care law issues, call 856-281-3131. Let us help ease your stress and give you a plan.

Preparing for a Long-Term Care Plan

There are a multitude of different things that need to be considered when it comes to caring for an elderly loved one. We understand that it may be daunting or overwhelming knowing you are responsible for an older person’s medical and emotional needs. Also, these needs may change over time and could become more demanding. As an elder care law firm, we strongly recommend putting a plan in place to help guide you and your loved as your begin or continue down this path together.

At Scott Counsel we provide a Long-Term Care Plan. Contact us if you have questions about what steps to take or plans to make as you assume responsibility of an aging relative or friend. We have the legal experience to help guide you to make the smartest and safest decisions to protect your loved ones.

If you or someone you love needs assistance with Elder Care law issues, call 856-281-3131. Let us help ease your stress and give you a plan.

Other Insurance Than Long-Term Care

If you need long-term care, in the form of nursing home care, assisted living, or ongoing home health care, you shouldn’t wait for Medicare to pay for it. To receive those kinds of Medicare benefits, typically, you have to have been hospitalized or injured, and those are only available for a limited time. While Medicare may not be able to help in these situations, let’s look at nine other things that can:

  1. Short-term care insurance. These types of plans are often similar to long-term care insurance policies, but often the benefits end after just a year. They’re less expensive and also might even be available to seniors or those who may not otherwise be able to receive long-term coverage.
  2. Life/long-term care insurance. A few life insurance policies offer benefits to cover long-term care too.
  3. Health savings accounts. For people who have an eligible high deductible health insurance plan, having a health savings account allows them a way to set aside money without worrying about taxes for medical costs, like long-term care. They are also known by their other name, health IRAs, and those people who have long-term care insurance are able to pay their premiums with money from the health savings account.
  4. Long-term care annuities. These are often overlooked when it comes to covering home health, assisted living or nursing home care costs. Normally they require a big financial contribution upfront, but the cost overall might be lower than what you’d likely spend on insurance premiums anyway if you need long-term care. You shouldn’t expect to gain much interest, though, as they don’t compare to the types of returns you would see in other types of investments.
  5. Life Plan Communities. Once known as Continuing Care Retirement Communities, these types of communities have their residents living on their own at first. When necessary, they can then make the transition to assisted living, memory care, or a nursing home operated by the community. While also requiring monthly payments, they have a high upfront payment that may translate into hundreds of thousands of dollars. Although, in exchange, members are guaranteed access to needed care even if they can’t keep paying for it.
  6. Veterans’ Benefits. Those who have a service-related disability can get access to long-term care services through the Department of Veterans Affairs. Caregivers could also be eligible to receive compensation as well through the agency’s Aid and Attendance program.
  7. Home equity. Those retirees who don’t have significant investments could still own a valuable asset—their house. Getting into their home equity through a credit line, taking out a reverse mortgage or simply selling the house are some of the ways people can use to pay for long-term care.
  8. Pensions or Social Security. Paying for needed services out of a monthly pension or Social Security benefit could be an option, though this is dependent on the size of monthly payments and the amount of care you need.
  9. Medicaid. When you have no other options left, and both income and assets have been used up, the government will then step in to cover your care. Medicaid isn’t going to pay for assisted living, but will pay for nursing home care and a great many states also cover home health care services for eligible individuals. Though, states are required by the government to get back the cost of long-term care from any estates whenever possible. This means that, as an example, if a parent’s home is sold after their death, then any proceeds from the sale might go to the state instead of any possible heirs.

If you or someone you love needs assistance with Elder Care law issues, call 856-281-3131. Let us help ease your stress and give you a plan.


Long-Distance Caregiving

A lot of grown children often worry about what their aging parents are going to do when a need arises and they aren’t there to help because they have moved away. After all, we all want to take care of our parents and make sure they’re being taken care of in our stead if we can’t be there ourselves. So, what are some things you can do to help take care of your parent(s) if you don’t live close by?

First of all, you can go to a doctor’s appointment with them if they allow you to, and this can help you get a better handle on what your parent’s level of health currently is. You can also ask your parent to fill out a release form that will allow their doctor to discuss their healthcare with you.

If you do make an appointment, remember to take a list of any questions you might have for the doctor, and also take notes! Doing so can be helpful to the primary caregiver, or used to remind the parent of what the doctor said.

You can also ask about and look into any available community resources the doctor might recommend. Bigger hospitals or medical practices might even have a social worker on-site that you may be able to schedule a meeting with.

We all want the best for our parents, and we want to provide for them, even if we aren’t physically there to do it. These are just a few quick examples of ideas that we can use to give our parent the best care possible, and make sure they’re being cared for, even when we’re not around.

If you or someone you love needs assistance with Elder Care law issues, call 856-281-3131. Let us help ease your stress and give you a plan.