Last week the Second Circuit Court of Appeals in New York ruled in favor of a Connecticut wife, Amelia Lopes, whose husband is in a nursing home. This case was titled Lopes vs. Starkowski, who was the Commissioner of the Department of Social Services. Her assets had exceeded the then allowable limit by about $160,000. It is all the money she had to live on for the rest of her life.
I did not misspell Aunt. As everyone in Connecticut knows, many of us pronounce “aunt”, as “ant”. So here is an elder planning version of the grasshopper and the ant. As with Aesop’s Fables, it applies to many situations we humans face, and you are free to substitute your uncle, your father or mother, your grandfather or grandmother, or even yourself, in place of aunt.
Not a week goes by without people calling in a panic because they are suddenly faced with the need for a nursing home for a spouse who has had a sudden debilitating event such as a stroke or a terrible fall breaking a hip. They are naturally very worried about the future for the spouse, and are also very fearful that they will be left destitute.
The Veteran’s Administration has a special pension program that can pay for eligible wartime veterans and the spouses of deceased wartime veterans. Many of you may have heard of this benefit, called Aid and Attendance, and it can pay up to $24,239 per year for a married couple. In the past, the program requirements were such that needy applicants could qualify very quickly even though their starting assets might have been greater than the VA requirements.
Google “gobbledygook” and supposedly its first use was in 1944. Don’t ask me where, or how. But as a lawyer, I can tell you that legal gobbledygook has an ancient root in Latin. If you want to confuse someone, just start talking Latin, but don’t try it with the high school Latin teacher. So here are some regularly used terms with an explanation.
HIPAA is not that fat animal with short legs and bulbous head. It’s an acronym that stands for Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) and its provisions are bigger than any hippo you have ever seen. One of its main goals was to protect your private health information from anyone except those people or entities you want to see the records. Overall, the goal of protecting your personal medical information is good, as you certainly don’t want that information out in the public. The goal of protection can lead to unintended consequences however, as no medical personnel will reveal records without a privacy release usually called a “HIPAA” form.