Friday, November 30, 2012

Join Us For An Event About Special Needs Planning!

On December 11 at 6 p.m., we celebrate "Special Education Day" and "Special Kids Day" with a Special Needs Planning Event.

Join us for an event focused on Special Needs Planning and enjoy some delicious refreshments!

The majority of American families who have a loved one with special needs require legal planning to ensure that the needs of their special needs family member are met.  A Special Needs Trust is a vehicle that provides assets from which a disabled person can maintain his or her quality of life, while still remaining eligible for needs-based programs that will cover basic health and living expenses.

Regardless of the type of disability, Evan Farr will discuss legal options for individuals and families of children and adults with special needs to plan for the future.  Join us to learn about Special Needs Planning with Mr. Farr, meet others in the community, and enjoy delicious refreshments!

The event will be at The Law Firm of Evan H. Farr, P.C., 10640 Main Street, Suite 200, Fairfax, VA 22030 from 6 – 7:30 p.m.  RSVP by visiting or by phone at 703-691-1888.  

Friday, November 16, 2012

Training and Support is Being Offered Locally for Alzheimer’s Caregivers

During the month of November, we recognize National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month and National Family Caregiver Month.  These observances bring attention to Alzheimer’s, which is the only illness among the top ten for which there is no known effective prevention.

Alzheimer’s is a disease that affects approximately 1 in 8 Americans, making it the sixth leading cause of death in the U.S.  In fact, more Americans name Alzheimer’s as their most feared disease than cancer.  Most people feel unprepared to care for a loved one diagnosed with the disease.

With approximately 80% of Alzheimer’s care provided by family members, the Alzheimer's CARE (Changing Aging Through Research and Education) training program is offered in all 50 states, providing caregivers innovative resources for coping with challenges presented by the disease.  Three in-person Alzheimer’s CARE training sessions will be offered in our area during the months of November and December.  The focus of the training sessions will be on teaching family caregivers strategies for managing challenging behaviors, techniques to encourage your loved one to engage in activities, and activities that are suitable for various stages of Alzheimer’s Disease.

At The Law Firm of Evan H. Farr, we recognize the need for formal education and support to care for a loved one living with Alzheimer’s disease.  In recognition of Alzheimer’s and Caregiver’s Awareness Month, if you’re a caregiver, then as a thank you, for the remainder of the month of November we’ll give you 25% off our services just for mentioning this article.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Alzheimer’s Caregivers Can Help Fight the Disease

This month we recognize both National Alzheimer’s Awareness month and National Family Caregivers Month. These are nationally recognized months seeking to draw attention and raise awareness about Alzheimer’s and issues that affect family caregivers.

Caring for another person can be both rewarding and demanding. Caring for someone with Alzheimer's disease can be especially challenging, even in the best of circumstances.  In the U.S., more than five million people over the age of 65 are currently living with Alzheimer's disease. Over 15 million more Americans provide unpaid care for their loved ones with Alzheimer’s.

Lorraine is a wife and a mother, and has been a full-time caregiver to her husband, Walter, for the past 4 years.  Walter is 68, but he was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s at the age of 64. Lorraine felt helpless against the disease until she joined an Alzheimer’s support group and decided to help fight the disease by participating in research studies.

Ongoing clinical trials and studies, including the Alzheimer's Disease Neuroimaging Initiative (ADNI) - the largest Alzheimer’s study, offer the data that is gathered to scientists around the world to help inform and speed new treatments.  There are more than 50 research centers in the U.S. that are seeking to recruit clinical trial volunteers over the age of 55 with mild to moderate Alzheimer's disease.  The Law Firm of Evan H. Farr, P.C. believes that effective research is extremely important in finding ways to slow Alzheimer's and find new treatments for the disease.

We would like to take the opportunity to recognize the important work of caregivers, like Lorraine, by offering a special discount. If you’re a caregiver, then as a thank you, for the remainder of the month of November we’ll give you 25% off our services just for mentioning this article.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Show You Care: November is National Family Caregivers Month

“There are only four kinds of people in the world — those who have been caregivers, those who are currently caregivers, those who will be caregivers and those who will need caregivers.”
— Former First Lady, Rosalynn Carter

National Family Caregivers Month is a nationally recognized month seeking to draw attention to the many challenges facing family caregivers, advocate for stronger public policy to address family caregiving issues, and raise awareness about community programs that support family caregivers.

Sixty-five million caregivers (29% of the U.S. population) are recognized during National Family Caregivers Month. The estimated value of the services provided by these family members caring for loved ones who are frail, disabled, or chronically ill is estimated to be more than $300 billion annually.

National Family Caregivers Month was developed in 1994 as a week-long event inaugurated by the National Family Caregiver Association.  President Clinton signed the first Presidential Proclamation in 1997, and each successive president has followed suit. In this year’s proclamation, President Obama writes: “Family caregivers have an immeasurable impact on the lives of those they assist, but their hours are long and their work is hard.”

Caregiving can be rewarding, but it can also physically and emotionally demanding. The Law Firm of Evan H. Farr advises that if you are a caregiver, don’t let your own needs or your health take a back seat.  Many caregivers are at the age when they are developing their own chronic issues. Be sure to take good care of the person you are caring for ­and yourself too!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Timeline Provides Understanding, Guidance to Complicated Health Care Laws

For those interested in understanding health care reform (in particular, the Affordable Health Care Act), government website provides a timeline that is user-friendly and informative. Below, I will highlight some of the more interesting goals and aspirations of the Act.

Discounts and Services Starting January 1, 2011:

50% discounts available for seniors who reach the coverage gap. Savings will be available for those purchasing Medicare Part D brand-name drugs. The gap is expected to close by 2020, and during the interim, seniors will be given additional savings.

Preventative services will be provided to Medicare recipients for free. For instance, annual wellness visits.

Administrative Funding to Become Available October, 2011:

The Medicare Trust Fund will be assessed by The Independent Payment Advisory Board with an aim to extend its life. Plans are expected to be submitted to Congress and the Executive Office.

New “Community First Choice Option” will allow States to provide home and community services through Medicaid (as opposed to traditional nursing home care).

Doctors to Help Each Other to Exchange Information; January, 2012

New laws provide incentives for physicians to assimilate and form “Accountable Care Organizations.” Doctors would be able to exchange information more easily, and costs would be cut by eliminating unnecessary tests.

Going Green and Online: October, 2012

Changes are expected to reduce paper records. By standardizing billing and using electronic storage systems, not only will care be more efficient but also less costly.

Increased Medicaid Payments for Primary Care Doctors: January, 2013

The Act will require states to pay primary care physicians 100% of Medicare payment rates in 2013 and 2014 for primary care services.

Monday, November 12, 2012

President Obama Has a Second Term - What does it Mean for Seniors?

President Obama's re-election means Medicaid and Medicare will likely be preserved for at least for the next four years and the Affordable Care Act (ACA, a.k.a. Obamacare) will be fully implemented.

When questioning whether the ACA is good for seniors, ask those who have already benefited from parts of the law that are already in effect.  Among these people are seniors who have saved money when they purchased prescription drugs or durable medical goods like wheelchairs and nebulizers, and those who no longer need to pay deductibles for their well visits.

Below are some examples of these and other benefits of the ACA that will affect seniors: 

 • The “Donut Hole” is being eliminated- The gap known as the “Donut Hole,” where seniors have to pay 100% of the cost of their prescription drugs until the other side is reached, is getting smaller each year. By 2020, the donut hole would have grown to $6,000 a year; instead, under the ACA, by 2020, the “Donut Hole” will be gone and seniors will only have to pay their co-payments.

No deductibles for annual wellness visits- As mentioned previously, there are no longer deductibles or co-payments for annual wellness visits. These include basic screenings, such as pelvic exams, pap smears, diabetes screenings, prostate cancer screenings, and others. Removing any disincentive for seniors to get essential preventive care helps make Medicare a more comprehensive health care plan and keeps seniors healthier longer.

New policies for hospital stays- Under the ACA, Medicare will reduce payments to hospitals that are among 25% worst in terms of allowing patients to pick up health conditions they did not have when they entered the hospital. This is a big deal to those exposed to such conditions and their families.

 • “Readmissions Reduction Program”- The "Readmissions Reduction Program" is a payment adjustment in Medicare to encourage hospitals to make sure their patients are ready to leave when they actually leave. It is another effort to make sure you or your loved ones who get out of the hospital go home, stay home, and improve.

Purchase of durable medical goods- There are great savings for seniors in a program in the ACA that opens up the purchase of durable medical goods like wheelchairs, oxygen tanks and nebulizers to competitive bidding. This was initially implemented in limited markets, but it is expanding and is projected to save Americans billions.

According to The Law Firm of Evan H. Farr, P.C., the benefits for seniors noted in the ACA denote progress and true reform, and can provide noticeable savings for the seniors who take advantage of them. We ask that you keep in mind that although Medicare and Medicaid will likely maintain their current structures, cuts can still be made. President Obama will have to work with a Republican majority in the House of Representatives, many of whom want to cut spending and entitlement programs like these. Read more.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Case Example: The Law Firm of Evan H. Farr, P.C. Helps Veterans and Their Spouses Apply for Veterans Aid and Attendance

Martha Simms, 78, had been living off of her husband’s pension, her own Social Security and the proceeds from the sale of her home in Fairfax.  As her nest egg began to shrink, Simms’s son, Craig, wasn’t sure how she would continue paying the monthly bill of her in-home caretaker. (Note: Ms. Simms is fictional, but similar to a client that The Law Firm of Evan H. Farr, P.C. may help apply for Veterans Aid and Attendance).

Joe Simms, Martha’s late husband, served in World War II and was honorably discharged.  Craig Simms learned that as the spouse of a veteran, his mother may be eligible for Veterans Aid and Attendance.  Nearly 182,000 veterans and their spouses take advantage of the Veterans Aid and Attendance benefit, but VA officials say that many more are eligible.
To be eligible, beneficiaries must be at least 65 years old, veterans or married to veterans who served during a wartime period, and must have been honorably discharged.  Applicants must also need help with at least one activity of daily living: eating, walking, dressing, bathing, using the toilet, or adjusting prosthetic devices. Those who live in nursing homes or require in-home care, or are blind, may also be eligible.

The Law Firm of Evan H. Farr, P.C. has recommended  to clients like Ms. Simms that she may be eligible for the Veterans Aid and Attendance Benefit, but may also need Medicaid for nursing home care in the future.  Evan H. Farr is an Accredited Attorney with the U.S. Dept. of Veterans Affairs who understands the Veterans Aid and Attendance Benefit and the Medicaid program and the interaction between both benefit programs. Mr. Farr worked with client’s like Ms. Simms  to obtain the financial assistance to which she were entitled, which for example could be over $19,000 per year at the rate of nearly $1,600 per month. Ms. Parker now lives in her home with her family and has in-home care to help her manage his activities of daily living.  The extra $1,600 per month from the Veteran’s Aid and Attendance program is vital in helping Ms. Simms afford the care that she needs.

If you are a Veteran or spouse of a Veteran and you need assistance, be sure to make an appointment for a free consultation.  We can work with you to evaluate if you qualify for TheVeterans Aid and Attendance Benefit and help you file the paperwork. 

P.S. For the rest of the month of November 2012, Veterans and Veteran’s spouses can take advantage of a special 20% discount in honor of Veterans Awareness Week, just by mentioning this posting!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Medicare Part D Drug Discount Included in Affordable Care Act is Saving Seniors Money

A new report issued by the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) confirms that the Medicare Part D drug discount included in the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is working as intended and saving seniors’ money.

Before the passage of the act, seniors who were caught in the Medicare Part D coverage gap (known as the “donut hole”) often had to pay the full cost of their prescription drugs.  These seniors now receive a 50% discount on all brand name drugs when they hit the coverage gap, as a result of the ACA.  These discounts increase gradually until 2020, when the “donut hole” is completely closed.

The GAO report findings reveal that that the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services' (CMS) implemented the program in a timely manner, establishing systems to ensure that seniors were provided with the required discounts. According to Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus, “The report shows how health reform is working to save seniors $4.8 billion and helping them afford their prescription drugs, closing the donut hole. We need to help seniors save every dollar they can and that’s exactly what the Affordable Care Act does – reducing seniors’ out-of-pocket costs while providing more benefits.”

At The Law Firm of Evan H. Farr, P.C., we agree that seniors should be able to access their medications without being forced to pay steep prices on brand name drugs. The CMS’s successful implementation of the ACA has improved the quality of life for many seniors and we commend the CMS for their swift implementation.

The full GAO report, “Medicare Part D Coverage Gap: Discount Program Effects and Brand-Name Drug Price Trends”, is available online here.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Veterans Awareness Week – Personal Stories of Veterans and How Veterans Aid and Attendance Has Helped Them

Attention Veterans: Take advantage of a 20% discount this month, just by mentioning this posting!

This week is Veterans Awareness Week!  In recognition of this important week, we will focus on personal stories based on real veterans and the long term care decisions they have made.  (Although we have of course changed names and certain facts, the stories are real).

John Archer is a 70 year old Vietnam Veteran from Burke who recently had a stroke.  He has some leg weakness from an injury he sustained during his time in Vietnam and has been in and out of rehabilitation ever since. The effect of the stroke and the weakness he feels in his leg has made it difficult for Mr. Archer to take care of himself.  He is eager to remain at home where he lives alone, but is concerned he won't be able to manage without help.

Mr. Archer doesn’t have too much of a support system locally. He rarely sees his neighbors socially and is used to being independent and not relying on others for help. His son, William, lives in Fredericksburg and usually visits twice a month. William is also concerned about his father's ability to live alone.

The Law Firm of Evan H. Farr, P.C. recommended to Mr. Archer that he may be eligible for the Veterans Aid and Attendance Benefit now, but may also need Medicaid for in-home care or eventually, nursing home care.  Evan H. Farr is an Accredited Attorney with the U.S. Dept. of Veterans Affairs who understands both the Veterans Aid and Attendance Benefit and the Medicaid program and the interaction between both benefit programs. Mr. Farr worked with Mr. Archer and his son to obtain the financial assistance to which he were entitled – over $20,000 per year at the rate of over $1,700 per month. Mr. Archer now lives in his home, where he is most comfortable, and has in-home care to help him manage things his activities of daily living.  The extra $1,700 per month from the Veteran’s Aid and Attendance program is vital in helping Mr. Archer afford the care that he needs.

If you are a Veteran or spouse of a Veteran and you need assistance, make an appointment for a free consultation.  We can work with you to evaluate whether you qualify for The Veterans Aid and Attendance Benefit and help you file the paperwork.

P.S. For the remainder of the month of November 2012, Veterans can take advantage of a special 20% discount in honor of Veterans Awareness Week by mentioning this posting. 

Friday, November 2, 2012

Attention Veterans: Special Offer to Celebrate Veterans Awareness Week!

Next week, November 4 through 10, is Veterans Awareness Week!  In 2002, President George W. Bush proclaimed that the week before Veterans Day will be recognized as National Veterans Awareness Week to recognize the contributions of our service men and women.

There are currently more than 25 million living American Veterans, many of whom put their lives on the line to preserve our freedoms. Many of these Veterans and their spouses are unaware of an important benefit that they may be entitled to that could help them pay for in-home care or assisted living as they age. This benefit is called the Aid and Attendance benefit, and is a special type of Veteran’s pension.  While the Aid and Attendance benefit is extremely helpful, there are strict eligibility requirements regarding income, assets, need and service. 

Some important things to know about the Aid and Attendance benefit:
  • Aid & Attendance is not dependent upon service-related injuries.
  • There must have been a discharge that was other than dishonorable.
  • “Wartime Veterans” and their surviving spouses may be eligible.
  • A “Wartime Veteran” for this purpose is someone who served at least 90 days on active duty, with at least one day during a period of wartime.
  • Certain medical and financial requirements must be met.
Read more about Veterans Aid and Attendance on The Law Firm of Evan H. Farr website.

The application for Aid and Attendance Benefits is a painstaking process. The forms are available for you to do it yourself, but be advised if your assets and income do not show up properly, you could be denied the benefit or you could miss out on the complete benefit. Additionally, be careful of making asset transfers without the assistance of an elder law attorney because certain asset transfers could disqualify a Veteran from Aid and Attendance and Medicaid if a nursing home level of care is needed in the future.  Lastly, Aid and Attendance benefits are not as widely recognized as other types of benefits for Veterans and incomplete applications can take longer for a decision. For these reasons, it is highly encourage that you seek assistance in completing the application.

Evan H. Farr is an Accredited Attorney with the U.S. Dept. of Veterans Affairs. The Law Firm of Evan H. Farr, P.C. specializes in helping Veterans and their spouses obtain the financial assistance to which they are entitled.  If you are a Veteran or spouse of a Veteran and you need assistance in your home, or are living in or considering moving into an Assisted Living Facility or Continuing Care Retirement Community, make an appointment for a free consultation.  We can work with you to evaluate whether you qualify for the Veterans Aid and Attendance Special Pension Benefit and assist you with filing the paperwork.

P.S. For the month of November 2012, Veterans can take advantage of our special 20% discount in honor of Veterans Awareness Week, just by mentioning this posting.