New hotline takes aim at senior-targeting scammers
Some scammers and fraudsters especially target seniors, but consumers can help fight back. The U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging has launched a toll-free hotline for seniors, their loved ones or anyone with information to report suspected fraud and get help.
Whether the crime's an investment scam, identity theft, a lottery scheme, Medicare fraud, Social Security fraud or other issue, call the hotline at 855-303-9470 between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. EST weekdays to reach an investigator.
Pick your plan! Annual Medicare open enrollment ends Dec. 7
CAPCOG's Area Agency on Aging (AAA) encourages eligible consumers to compare, choose or change their Medicare and prescription drug plans before annual open enrollment ends Dec. 7, 2013. The annual open enrollment period, underway since Oct. 15, sets participants' plans for the following 12-month period.
AAA's Benefits Counseling Program is on hand to help participants sort the various options. For free one-on-one confidential counseling, call a Medicare benefits counselor today at 512-916-6062 or toll free 888-622-9111, ext. 6062.
The National Council on Aging is also on hand to assist. Its My Medicare Matters website now includes two additional tools to help in Medicare planning:
- RX Calculator, which estimates savings from switching Medicare Part D plans.
- Medicare QuickCheck, which helps participants review current coverage.
2014 Social Security benefits rise 1.5 percent
Nearly 63 million beneficiaries will see a 1.5 percent boost in their monthly Social Security and Supplemental Security Income benefits in 2014, the Social Security Administration announced in a news release.
Increased payments to SSI recipients will begin Dec. 31, 2013, followed by the Social Security adjustment set to start January 2014.
Learn more about the upcoming changes at the Social Security Administration website, and contact CAPCOG Area Agency on Aging for information on free services such as benefits counseling, medication screening, caregiver support and more for older adults in the 10-county region.
> Read the Social Security Administration news release
> Learn about Social Security cost-of-living adjustments
> Discover CAPCOG's Area Agency on Aging Services
> Get the latest on Medicare changes for 2014
CAPCOG staff honor Alzheimer's Action Day
Various CAPCOG employees showed their support for Alzheimer's Action Day with purple clothing on Sept. 20, 2013. The annual observance, part of World Alzheimer's Month, helps raise awareness about the degenerative brain disorder, which most often strikes older adults.
CAPCOG's Area Agency on Aging offers two free programs for family caregivers assisting a loved one with Alzheimer's disease:
- Stress-Busting Program, a series of weekly 90-minute classes to help caregivers reduce their own stress through relaxation, problem-solving and strategies to care for themselves while caring for someone else. > Go
- Caregiver Support Program, which can assess the participant's caregiving situation, help develop a long-term caregiving plan, arrange respite care and other services and provide information on area resources. > Go
Medicare vs. Affordable Care Act
Did you know? Medicare is separate from the new Health Insurance Marketplace established by the federal Affordable Care Act, but a quick-reference flier published by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services helps explain the differences between both programs. > Download the Q&A
Task force report looks at growing senior population
From healthy living and affordable housing to greater integration in civic life, a City of Austin task force has released a set of goals and strategies to enhance the lives of older adults while maximizing available resources.
The Mayor’s Task Force on Aging, which included participation from local leaders such as CAPCOG Area Agency on Aging Director Jennifer Scott, produced the recommendations with assistance from various partners including the University of Texas Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs, Seton Foundations, St. David’s Foundation and an advisory council.
Key categories in the report include Health, Housing and Basic Needs, Transportation and Community Infrastructure, Societal Participation and Inclusion, and Caregivers and Long-Term Supports.
Download the summary of recommendations and strategies or the full 95-page report at the city's website. > Go
Seniors warned to be wary of fraud calls
With Medicare and Social Security scammers often enlisting the phone for their criminal deeds, CAPCOG’s Area Agency on Aging wants seniors to help protect themselves with some simple steps.
The phone is a convenient tool for fraudsters wanting to steal Medicare dollars, wrote Better Business Bureau Education Foundation Program Director Barbara Parrott McGinity in a recent Houston Chronicle special section column. Seniors can be defrauded without even leaving home.
Screening calls with an answering machine, requiring charity solicitors to submit their requests in writing and hanging up when hearing certain tell-tale signs such as an unsolicited request for credit card information are among the ways to fight back, according to the column. Consumers can find even more tips in the full column and get McGinity’s phone number for questions.
FEMA: Senior benefits not affected by disaster aid
Seniors can apply for federal disaster assistance without sacrificing Social Security benefits, paying more taxes or dropping their income-based benefit programs, according to a Federal Emergency Management Agency news release.
The timely reminder comes amid recent disasters such as the deadly fertilizer-plant explosion in West, Texas, which also resulted in tremendous property loss.
“We want to reassure seniors not to be afraid to apply for assistance. FEMA assistance is available to all eligible survivors to include senior citizens,” FEMA Federal Coordinating Officer Kevin L. Hannes said in the release. “Receiving disaster funds will not impact non-FEMA assistance or assistance from other programs.”
Learn more about federal disaster help - including steps to apply - at FEMA's website. > Go