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Social Security Benefit Formula Robs Older Workers
October 24, 2016
Working past 60? Be prepared to get shortchanged on your Social Security benefit. You’ll be pouring in thousands of dollars in contributions and getting only a few extra dollars a month.
Full Story.

Medicare Part D: A First Look at Prescription Drug Plans in 2017
October 21, 2016
During the Medicare open enrollment period, which runs from October 15 to December 7 each year, beneficiaries can enroll in a plan that provides Part D drug coverage, either a stand-alone prescription drug plan (PDP) as a supplement to traditional Medicare, or a Medicare Advantage drug plan (MA-PD), which provides all Medicare-covered benefits including drugs. Of the nearly 41 million beneficiaries enrolled in Part D plans, about 6 in 10 are in PDPs and the rest in MA-PD plans.
Full Story.

Presidential Race Could Energize Voters with Disabilities
October 20, 2016
An increased focus on disabilities in this year's presidential campaign could boost turnout by Americans with disabilities — a potentially enormous but traditionally low-turnout voting bloc — according to experts familiar with the community's voting patterns.
Full Story.

LGBTQ Seniors Face Discrimination in Long-Term Care
October 19, 2016
Patrick Mizelle and Edwin Fisher, who have been together for 37 years, were planning to grow old in their home state of Georgia. But visits to senior living communities left them worried that after decades of living openly, marching in pride parades and raising money for gay causes, they wouldn’t feel as free in their later years. Fisher said the places all seemed very “churchy,” and the couple worried about evangelical people leaving Bibles on their doorstep or not accepting their lifestyle.
Full Story.

Three Major Ways to Avoid a Retirement Shock
October 18, 2016
Surprise expenses in retirement may become unpleasant realities. How many people, for example, have prepared for long-term care expenses, which may run more than $100,000 a year?
Full Story.

Retirees' Social Security COLA Raise in 2017: $3 a Month?
October 17, 2016
It’s surprising that even though this year’s presidential candidates are over 65 — making them the oldest major party nominees in our nation’s history — we haven’t heard more about Social Security in the debates.
Full Story.

Veterans Denied Millions in Benefits by VA
October 14, 2016
Roughly $110 million in payments to thousands of housebound veterans was withheld from them by the Department of Veterans Affairs, according to a new report from VA inspector general's office.
Full Story.

States Struggle with Rising Medicaid Drug Costs
October 13, 2016
As prescription drug prices continue to rise, states are struggling to find ways to cover the costs to Medicaid, which could mean unwelcome changes for beneficiaries and health plans.
Full Story.

Between ACA and Medicare, Some Americans May Have Too Much Health Coverage
October 12, 2016
Ever since the Affordable Care Act’s insurance marketplaces opened for business in 2014, the Obama administration has worked hard to get Americans to sign up. Yet officials now are telling some older people that they might have too much insurance and should cancel their marketplace policies.
Full Story.

Education Department Aims to Improve Transition Outcomes
October 11, 2016
Federal officials are funneling millions of dollars toward efforts to better prepare students with disabilities for post-secondary education and competitive employment.
Full Story.


NAELA Advocacy Update
Read the latest news on NAELA public policy and advocacy. (October 4, 2016)

NAELA Attorneys Celebrate Ban on Pre-Dispute Arbitration Agreements for Nursing Homes

The National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys (NAELA) celebrates the decision by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to ban long-term care facilities that accept Medicare and Medicaid funds from entering into pre-dispute arbitration agreements with residents. See press release. (October 3, 2016)

NAELA Celebrates National Special Needs Law Month in October
The National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys (NAELA) established October as National Special Needs Law Month as a grassroots effort to help people with disabilities and their families understand special needs planning and the resources available to them. See press release. (September 30, 2016)

NAELA Praises House Passage of Special Needs Trust Fairness and Medicaid Improvement Act
The House passed the Special Needs Trust Fairness and Medicaid Improvement Act (H.R. 670) 382 to 22 today, which corrects an error in the law that presumes that all persons with disabilities lack the mental capacity to handle their own affairs. See press release. (September 22, 2016)

NAELA Foundation Announces 2017 Conference Scholarship Opportunity
The National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys Foundation proudly announces the availability of the Cohn Sisters’ Scholarships for Patient Advocacy for attendance at the 2017 NAELA Annual Conference in Boston, Massachusetts (April 27-29). Learn more and submit an application by January 20, 2017. (September 22, 2016)

NAELA Advocacy Alert - Lobbying for the SNT Fairness Act Is Easier Than You Think

Like the gap between practicing law and its dramatic appearance on TV, lobbying Congress suffers from a misconstrued image. Read more and learn how you can get involved. (August 23, 2016)

NAELA President's Award Given to PLAN/NJ Executive Director, Ellen Nalven
Green Brook resident and Executive Director of Planned Lifetime Assistance Network of New Jersey (PLAN/NJ) located in Somerville, Ellen Nalven, M. Ed, recently received The National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys (NAELA) 2016 President's Award. Read more. (August 23, 2016)

NAELA Releases Video Series for People With Multiple Sclerosis
The new “Legal and Care Planning for People with Multiple Sclerosis” video series is intended to help people diagnosed with MS and their families understand the complex legal and planning issues they face. It was produced via a partnership between the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys (NAELA) and Stetson University College of Law, in consultation with the National MS Society. See press release. (August 15, 2016)

NAELA Advocacy Alert - Breaking News: Committee Approves SNT Fairness Act in Package!
Today, the House Energy and Commerce Committee approved the Special Needs Trust Fairness Act (H.R. 670) as part of a small legislative package to improve Medicaid! Read the Advocacy Alert. (July 13, 2016)

Update on DeCambre v. Brookline Housing Authority
The federal district court’s decision in DeCambre v. Brookline Housing Authority determined that special needs trust (SNT) distributions could be counted as income in determining Section 8 eligibility. NAELA members Ron Landsman, Esq., CAP, and Emily Starr, CELA, wrote and submitted an amicus brief on the case, with assistance from NAELA member Gregory Wilcox, CELA.

The 1st Circuit acknowledged the work of NAELA, the Special Needs Alliance and the National Housing Law Project regarding regulation § 5.603(b), which states that “’income’ in section 5.603(b) does not include the principal that initially funded the trust.”

DeCambre’s main claim focused on whether the housing authority made an error under the relevant regulations when calculating her income. She argued that SNT monies were from lump-sum payments and thus any SNT distribution was excluded from her annual income.

After again looking at the regulation and considering the parties’ arguments, the court rejected the defendant’s position.

“This does not address third-party trusts, but this is a victory for people with first-party pooled trust accounts or relatively modest individual special needs trusts. It means that drawing down principal and distributing it from the trust or trust account is not income for rent calculation purposes. The rare person with a really large special needs trust account who has substantial income from the trust — interest, dividends, realized capital gains — will have all of that counted for rent purposes,” said Landsman.

View the case ruling.