Articles Posted in Michigan Elder Law

11 former workers at the Kent County Home for Veterans face felony charges following a 2016 audit that revealed their mishandling of abuse case filings and staff shortages. Additionally, the staff reported doing 100% of room checks when only about 43% were actually completed according to video surveillance. Reports also showed that the facility faced staff shortages of sometimes as many as 22 personnel per day. Ninety percent of abuse and neglect reports were not passed on to the nursing director, according to the audit survey. The staff faces up to 4 years in jail in addition to $5,000 in fines for their mistreatment of the veterans.

Governor Rick Snyder replaced the current head of veteran affairs in Michigan as a result of the audit’s findings. He accepted his former campaign manager and Director of the Veteran Affairs Agency in Michigan, Jeff Barnes’s, resignation and appointed his current chief legal counsel, James Redford, in Barnes’s stead. Snyder says the findings of the audit are “deeply troubling” and that Michigan Veterans deserve better.

If a veteran you know is being neglected or abused please please contact SMDA for a free consultation so we can help them receive the appropriate compensation and care that they need and deserve.

Metro Detroit and West Michigan seniors that receive VA benefits for long term care through VA Aid and Attendance Benefit, have always looked forward to the annual federal budget announcement of the Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA). This year the announcement is not favorable. The latest from the Social Security Administration is that there will not be a COLA adjustment for 2016.

As a result veterans receiving this benefit can be all but certain to receive the same monthly amounts that they have in 2015. For now this is the only change to the VA non-service connected benefits that will be in effect for 2016. The proposed “looks-back” and transfer regulations are not a definite yet…

For more information about the COLA and your benefits follow the link below. If you do not receive VA benefits to assist you or your loved ones with long term care, please call our office at 1-866-529-ELDR. We can assist wartime veterans with long term care planning throughout the State of Michigan.
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Michigan Medicaid law is always evolving. Most changes will impact the ability for a family to become eligible to receive benefits to pay for the cost of nursing home care. A recent change creates a favorable planning opportunity for Michigan families seeking Medicaid benefits for a loved one. The regulation allows a community spouse to appoint his or her beneficiaries to the exclusion of the State of Michigan on a “Medicaid Approved Annuity”.

This change will effectively allow a community spouse (a husband or wife living at home while his or her spouse resides in a nursing home) to help protect his or her own assets. Medicaid Approved Annuities allow the well spouse to receive the value of the assets that a married couple owns, at the time of nursing home admission, that exceed qualification, in regular monthly payments over the duration of his or her life expectancy or less.

Most Michigan residents are shocked to learn that they can protect almost everything when a spouse enters a nursing home. Even more Michigan residents are elated to learn that a single person entering a nursing home can still protect more than half of his or her estate. Accordingly, if you have a family member entering a nursing home, it is important to understand the law. As elder law attorneys with experience in nursing home and long term care planning, we can help.

Michigan Vietnam Veterans living in the Detroit and Grand Rapids areas often seek advice related to agent orange exposure. These claims are known as “service connected” disability claims. Following a change in law in August of 2010, Vietnam Vets can seek disability benefits for “presumptive conditions”. These conditions can include type II diabetes, certain pulmonary conditions, and, ischemic heart conditions.

Although we cannot help most vets with service connected claims there are specific avenues veterans can pursue for assistance. Often while working with “non-service” connected pension issues and long term care planning, I come across useful resources for veterans seeking “service connected disability benefits”. Service connected benefits are the more often thought of benefits for veterans. This is the benefit that involves rating a veteran’s disability brought on directly from or during service and paying a monthly disability benefit.

A recent resource that I discovered is a website devoted to Vietnam Veterans and Agent Orange. A link to this website and newsletter can be found at: /http://files.ctctcdn.com/761af348101/79fe5db6-f624-4d0e-8f70-697eb1238f02.pdf

Have an IRA? Facing a long-term care planning situation? Or maybe you have a loved one with elder law needs?

The biggest misconception for clients facing elder law issues is that Michigan elder law attorneys can only help veterans or adults facing nursing home placement and Medicaid planning.. This is not true. Using the same techniques for families that are facing nursing home placement or VA benefit planning, skilled elder law attorneys in Michigan can achieve fantastic results.

Understanding the law is key. Michigan Medicaid, which provides benefits to seniors confined to nursing homes, has a five (5) year “look-back” period. The law is interpreted by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services as a strict policy that applies to ALL transfers occurring within a five (5) year period of application for Medicaid benefits. Further, the law assumes that any person over the age of sixty-five (65) can presume that they will reside in a nursing home in the future. As a result, many seniors and their families are reluctant to make transfers, even at the expense of their own care. However, if proper planning is used, a potential benefit applicant can INTENTIONALLY trigger a “divestment penalty” and actually PRESERVE assets if and when he or she needs nursing home care.

The time has come and gone for “public comment” regarding new proposed rule changes to the VA’s non-service connected benefits program. The benefits can provide much needed relief to seniors struggling to provide for their own long term care expenses. Currently, eligible veterans or their surviving spouses can collect up to almost $2,100.00 per month if married; $1,750.00 per month if single; and, $1,150.00 per month as a surviving spouse.

Proposed regulations introduced in late January, will, more than likely, be effective in the near future. The regulations will introduce a three (3) year “look-back” period and “penalties” for asset transfers performed to create eligibility for these benefits. The regulations, like most new legislation creates uncertainty. Many of the provisions within the regulations appear to affect veterans eligible under current law and treat applicants differently depending upon the class of eligibility they are seeking.

Pursuant to federal law, regulations like these, should not become law any earlier than one (1) year from the expiration of the “public comment period.” The public comment period expired in late March of this year. According to this analysis, more than likely, the effective date of the new regulations will be April 1, 2016. However, as with much legislation, executive orders, and regulations, the answer remains clear as mud. For now, the best path remains to move forward with planning and seek assistance from skilled elder law professionals that understand current law.

In about a month, the public commentary period for the new proposed VA regulations will end. There is still time to help our veterans and seniors that rely on non-service connected, improved pension and aid and attendance benefits. In Michigan there are about 600,000 living veterans that can become eligible for these benefits.

The proposed regulations are too restrictive, do not provide “cures” for ineffective planning, and will create a reliance on other, more costly, federal and state benefits. The likely outcome of the proposed regulations will be that seniors and veterans will be dissuaded to apply for benefits that are desperately needed to assist with memory care, assisted living and home care.

Please see our earlier posts regarding these changes.

Many deserving veterans are often overlooked when considering VA benefits to assist with the cost of long term care. Specifically, Merchant Marines, serving during World War II may qualify for VA Aid and Attendance. During Worl War II, Merchant Marines took up arms to assist in the Pacific and Atlantic to support Allied forces and to ensure that precious cargo and supplies continued during the Period of Armed Conflict, December 7, 1941, to August 15, 1945.

Michigan Merchant Marines serving during this time, can qualify for the same VA benefits that are available to their United States Navy brethren. Such benefits can provide up to:

$2,120.00 per month for a married veteran $1,788.00 per month for a single veteran $1,149.00 per month for a surviving spouse

Michigan veterans and seniors need to express their concerns over proposed new VA regulations affecting their ability to plan for benefits. Our office supports changes to regulations in order to protect seniors and veterans in Michigan, but, changes need to be consistent with Congressional intent, the Constitution itself, and, at the very least, consistent with Medicaid regulations that are true and tested over time.

Current VA regulations DO NOT include a “look back” period. This has provided unscrupulous planners to take advantage of the law to sell financial products unfit for seniors facing long term care planning decisions.

Seniors and veterans using accredited attorneys, agents, or other planners skilled in elder law often provide sound, legal strategies to ensure that seniors and veterans that need help, DO NOT exhaust their assets because of the cost of their care and are others forced into a nursing home, at the federal government’s own expense, in the form of Medicaid.

Your help is needed to protect Michigan veterans and seniors. The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has introduced new regulations that will negatively affect your ability to receive benefits for yourself and your loved ones.

New proposed regulations, introduced January 23, 2015, will create a three (3) year “look-back” period for applicants, similar to Medicaid. It will eliminate your ability to protect your assets through legal planning strategies to immediately qualify for benefits.

Although our office supports protecting veterans and seniors from abusive planning practices, the new policies simply go too far by creating several unintended consequences: