Comprehensive Planning. Lifelong Solutions.

Long-Distance Caregiving

By Hook Law Center

Question – I live in a different city than my parents. Keeping in touch by telephone and making long trips to help my parents with their needs is very time-consuming and not nearly as effective as being available full-time in person. What are my options to make this easier for me but to also make sure they are taken care of.

Hook Law Center Answer – Living in a different city or state, miles from aging parents, can be difficult.

The long-distance caregiver is a new role that is thrust upon children and younger family members. Families used to live closer together, with children residing and working near their parents. But nowadays family members are more distant from each other. Society, today, is recognizing this. Some caregiver services have tweaked their programs to work as liaisons between long-distance caregivers, senior loved ones, and local medical professionals.

Professional care managers, also known as geriatric care managers, elder care managers or aging care managers, represent a growing trend to help full time, employed family caregivers provide care for loved ones. Care managers are expert in assisting caregivers, friends or family members find government-paid and private resources to help with long-term care decisions.

They are professionals who are trained to evaluate and recommend care for the aged. A care manager might be a nurse, social worker, psychologist, or gerontologist who specializes in assessing the abilities and needs of the elderly. Care manger professionals are also becoming extremely popular as the caretaker liaison between long-distance family members and their aging loved ones.

The most important thing is to find a geriatric care manager where your loved one lives. This geriatric care manager will have knowledge of all the services in the area and can be your eyes and ears.

Posted on Thursday, January 31st, 2013. Filed under Long-Term Care, Medicaid.

Benefit for Veterans With No Service Connected Disability

By Hook Law Center

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) administers the Improved Pension Benefit with Aid and Attendance, commonly referred to as Aid and Attendance which can provide a Veteran (or their surviving spouse) with additional income monthly, up to $23,388 per year. Veterans and their spouses must demonstrate that they have a regular need for the aid and attendance of another individual. The purpose of this non-service-connected benefit is to provide supplemental income to disabled or older veterans or surviving spouses who have low income and/or high unreimbursed medical expenses. Examples of those needing Aid & Attendance are those Veterans or their spouse who have:

  • Professional home care providers or family members to provide care in the home,
  • Assisted living or adult day care services, or
  • Nursing home long-term care services.

The veteran must have served ninety consecutive days on active duty, with one day during a wartime period, and have a discharge other than dishonorable. This Aid & Attendance benefit is not well known or understood and often people are told they do not qualify due to misinformation. Veterans or surviving spouses can qualify for the benefit even if they have relatively large incomes or substantial assets. In order to learn more about Aid & Attendance and other benefits as well as protecting assets from the high cost of long term care, it is important to enlist the assistance of an elder law attorney to properly plan.

Posted on Sunday, January 27th, 2013. Filed under Veterans' Benefits.

Training for Elder Care Now Going High-Tech

By Hook Law Center

A ground-breaking new medical training facility, one focusing on the care of older patients, was just opened. The Simulation Lab for the Education of Nurses in the Care of Older Adults, at the College of Staten Island Department of Nursing, is a state-of-the art facility for nursing students. Students can study geriatric home-care on campus either in a simulated nursing home or in-home setting which includes a bed, lavatory, the latest in nursing equipment, and a mannequin. Nursing students “care” for the mannequin, following all medical procedures, and monitoring daily needs. Care is viewed by instructors via a two-way mirror for feedback or through videotaping. In this way, students can receive instruction and correction without ever endangering or stressing out an actual patient. . The lab was funded in part by a $100,000 grant from the Brooklyn Home for Aged Men.

A simulated medical environment is nothing new, but more and more facilities are using high-end mannequins to help medical students train with less patient pain. In Kennebec, Maine, medical students work with “Heart,” a $30,000, anatomically correct mannequin that can simulate breathing, blinking, sweating, bleeding and even seizures.

The elder law attorneys and estate planning lawyers at the Hook Law Center in Virgina Beach and Suffolk, help Virginia families with trust & estate administration, guardianships, long term care planning, special needs planning, veterans benefits, and more. Learn more at

Posted on Monday, January 21st, 2013. Filed under Long-Term Care.

Stimulus Payments for Seniors and Persons with Disabilities

By Hook Law Center

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA or Stimulus Bill) includes a one-time payment of $250 to anyone who received any kind of Social Security benefit, including retirement, survivors and disability benefits, Railroad Retirement or Veterans Administration (VA) disability compensation or pension benefits during November 2008, December 2008, or January 2009. Most people who receive Supplemental Security Income (SSI) will also receive the one-time payment; however, persons in nursing homes who receive a monthly SSI benefit of $30 will not receive the payment. Most payments will go out this month and all should be received by June 4, 2009. Children receiving Social Security benefits who are under the age of 18 (or 19 if still in high school), will not be eligible for the payment; however, adult children who receive disability payment on a parent’s record will receive a payment. Additionally, children who receive SSI will receive a payment.

Eligible recipients will receive a notice regarding the payment. The payment will go to the recipient using the same means as the regular benefit. For example, if the usual monthly benefit is directly deposited to a bank account, the one-time payment will also be directly deposited. If the usual payment arrives by mail, the extra payment will be mailed as well.

If a person is in a nursing home, and the usual monthly benefit is sent to the nursing home, then the one-time payment will be sent to the nursing home as well. According to ARRA, the nursing home must set aside the $250 payment for the nursing home resident to use as the resident sees fit. The law specifically states that “The entire payment shall be used only for the benefit of the individual who is entitled to the payment.” The nursing home is not permitted to keep the funds and apply them toward the resident’s nursing home costs. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has advised nursing home surveyors about the one-time payment and residents’ rights to the payment.

The one-time payment will not count as income for federal, state or local benefits. The amount is also excluded as a resource in the month in which it is received, and for the following nine months without being taken into account for purposes of determining eligibility for Medicaid. If the funds are not spent by the end of the ten month period, then the remaining funds will be counted as a resource. The payment will not count as earnings for Social Security disability benefits. Additionally, the payment also will not count as gross income for income tax purposes.

Posted on Sunday, January 20th, 2013. Filed under Long-Term Care, Medicaid.

New Year, New Tax Rates- Is Your Estate Protected?

By Hook Law Center

Though it was a long, often contentious time coming, Congress did finally approve a bill to reduce what everyone dubbed the “fiscal cliff:” the U.S. budget deficit. Taxes will be raised for high income earners. While many individuals and families were concerned by the expected drop in estate tax exemption from $5.12 million to $1 million, the $5.12 million exemption has stayed and will continue to be graduated for inflation.

Other items of note: There was an estate tax increase, from 35 percent to 40 percent; the estate tax rate exemption is $5.12 million per individual. Also, dividends and capital gains are now taxed at 23.8 percent, the combination of a new 20 percent capital gains tax and a 3.8 percent surtax from the Affordable Care Act. However, that surtax only applies to individuals making over $200,000, and to married couples filing jointly with incomes of more than $250,000.

The income tax was increased for high-income households, for individuals who earn $400,000 annually, and for married couples who earn $450,000 annually together. Social Security had a tax increase, as well; the payroll tax cut which expired with 2012 was not extended; those taxes will rise 2 percent.

The start of 2013 and new tax rates means you should review your current estate plan with a Hook Law Center estate planning attorney to ensure your assets are protected.

The elder law attorneys and estate planning lawyers at the Hook Law Center in Virgina Beach and Suffolk, help Virginia families with trust & estate administration, guardianships, long term care planning, special needs planning, veterans benefits, and more. Learn more at

Posted on Friday, January 11th, 2013. Filed under Estate Planning.
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