Elder Law Changes in 2014

While many things remain the same, the laws in the United States are constantly subject to change and revision. Elder law is no different. It is crucial to stay informed and understand the latest regulations that concern you or your loved ones. Below are a few changes made in 2014 regarding elder law (or laws that are particularly relevant for seniors and their families who are attempting to plan for the future):

While many things remain the same, the laws in the United States are constantly subject to change and revision. Elder law is no different. It is crucial to stay informed and understand the latest regulations that concern you or your loved ones. Below are a few changes made in 2014 regarding elder law (or laws that are particularly relevant for seniors and their families who are attempting to plan for the future):

Medicaid Spousal Impoverishment Amounts

If you and your spouse are contemplating applying for Medicaid because of the need to place one of you in a nursing home, keep in mind that there are income and asset limits, which will prevent eligibility. If your assets exceed $23,448 (excluding your house, one automobile and household possessions), you will be eliminated from Medicaid eligibility without correct planning. There are ways to shelter assets above that amount. Consult an experienced elder law attorney for more detailed advice.

Social Security Benefit Changes

For 2014, there have been modest increases in Social Security payments. The average Social Security payment for individuals will increase from $1,275 to $1,294. For couples, the amount will increase from $2,080 to $2,111. Modest is definitely the operative word, but every little bit helps. The issues related to taxes and estate planning are ever-changing. Seniors and their families should consider consulting with a qualified elder law attorney when they are making financial decisions and planning for the future.

2014 Medicare Part A changes

Most seniors are eligible for premium-free Medicare Part A coverage if they or their spouse paid Medicare taxes while working for 10 years or more. However, beneficiaries who do need pay for Part A coverage saw their monthly premium decrease from $441 in 2013 to $426 in 2014.

Conversely, Part A deductible amounts increased 2014. A deductible must be paid before the insurance plan begins covering its share of covered services. The deductible for an inpatient hospital or mental health stays in 2014 increased to $1,216 for each benefit period with no coinsurance payment for stays 60 days or under. There is a daily $304 coinsurance payment for days 61 to 90 of a covered stay and a $608 coinsurance payment for days 91 and beyond, up to 60 days over a lifetime. While there is no deductible for skilled nursing facility stays or coinsurance for stays under 20 days, there is a $152 coinsurance payment that is required for days 21 to 100 of an eligible stay in 2014. Beyond that, costs will need to be paid in full, unless the beneficiary has other coverage.

2014 Medicare Part B changes

Medicare Part B requires all beneficiaries to pay a monthly premium. Individuals with higher modified adjusted gross incomes, as reported on their IRS tax return from two years ago, are required to pay a higher premium. This is still the case for 2014.

In 2014, Medicare Part B costs stayed relatively stable. The standard Part B premium of $104.90 each month still applies in 2014. Individuals with higher incomes continue to pay between $146.90 and $335.70, depending on which threshold their 2012 annual income falls into. The annual deductible for Part B services remains unchanged at $147 per year, while beneficiaries are still responsible for 20% of the Medicare-approved amount for most doctors services, assuming that the doctor or other health care provider accepts Medicare assignment (Medicare-approved amount as full payment).

Gift and Estate Taxes

The annual gift tax exclusion continues at $14,000. This means a wealthy relative can give away gifts totaling $14,000 per year, per individual, and the benefactor will not incur a tax. If your relative is in a really generous spirit, he can, upon his death, bequeath up to and including $5.34 million with no tax penalty to the recipient. The $5.34 million is a lifetime tax exclusion for gifts. This cap also applies to generation-skipping gifts.

If you or a loved one have questions about Medicaid, Medicare, or any aspect of Elder law, contact an experienced elder law attorney for the representation you deserve and to ensure your future plans are carried out.

Written by Tanya Hobson-Williams

Appointed to the bench by the Board of Trustees in 2008, and elected in 2009, Tanya Hobson-Williams was the first African-American Female Justice in the Incorporated Village of Hempstead. Tanya Hobson–Williams obtained her B.A. in Government and Politics from St. John’s University and her law degree from Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law.

Tanya Hobson-Williams has an active elder law practice assisting senior citizens in obtaining Medicaid for Home Care and Nursing Home Care. She routinely lectures at senior citizen centers, assisted living facilities, law schools and counsels families on a variety of topics of concerns to families caring for the elderly.

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Author: Tanya Hobson-Williams

Appointed to the bench by the Board of Trustees in 2008, and elected in 2009, Tanya Hobson-Williams was the first African-American Female Justice in the Incorporated Village of Hempstead. Tanya Hobson–Williams obtained her B.A. in Government and Politics from St. John's University and her law degree from Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law. Tanya Hobson-Williams has an active elder law practice assisting senior citizens in obtaining Medicaid for Home Care and Nursing Home Care. She routinely lectures at senior citizen centers, assisted living facilities, law schools and counsels families on a variety of topics of concerns to families caring for the elderly.

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