Healthy Indiana Plan Gains Federal Approval

updated-hip-logo-2018_blue_onecolorrgb (1).jpg

In 2007, Governor Mitch Daniels created the Health Indiana Plan (HIP) to provide health coverage for low-income adult Hoosiers. Eight years later, Governor Mike Pence expanded the program with a federal waiver to implement HIP as an alternative to traditional Medicaid expansion.

Recently, HIP received federal approval through December 2020. This will allow Indiana to continue providing health coverage for more than 400,000 low-income adults. Several administrative adjustments have been made to improve the plan’s efficiency. Also,  federal approval allows Indiana to enhance HIP with up to $80 million in funding to support its efforts.

HIP is offered by the State of Indiana and pays for medical costs and can even provide vision and dental coverage. The program also awards members for taking better care of their health. HIP covers Indiana residents aged 19 to 64 who meet specific income levels. You can find additional information on the Indiana website for HIP.

Source: and Fox59

Know and Avoid This Year’s Tax Scams

Source: Carpenter, Evert & Associates

Every year, millions of Americans fall victim to tax-related scams, such as identity theft and refund scams. As of September 2017, more than 12,000 people were victimized by tax scams and lost over $60 million to these IRS impersonators.

The most common scam is a call from someone claiming to be an IRS agent. They will tell you that you owe back taxes or that there is a problem with your tax return and you need to pay immediately. Some IRS impersonators will even threaten you by claiming that they are going to send a policeman to arrest you if you do not pay immediately.

Some people receive these kind of calls every day, or even multiple times a day. It’s important to remember that the IRS does not make calls. If you owe back taxes or have an issue with your tax return, you will receive a letter in the mail first, not a phone call or email. If you receive an email from Internal Revenue, do not open it. Delete it immediately. Phishing emails are the easiest ways for scammers to get your personal information. Do not give any personal information over email, such as passwords, bank account numbers, or credit card numbers.

Also, when using a website to file your taxes, make sure that it is a legitimate company and website. As a tip, if there is an “S” after the HTTP, that means the website is secure. Be careful of giving personal information over a website that is not secure. It’s always best to verify who or what company you are working with to file your taxes.

Following these tips can help to protect you and your loved ones from falling victim to tax scammers.

Source: Kron4

Gift to ABLE Accounts


ABLEnow accounts are savings accounts for individuals with disabilities. The accounts can be used to pay for qualified expenses, without being taxed on the earnings or losing eligibility for benefit programs.

Anyone can contribute to an ABLEnow account. The new ABLEnow Contribution Center allows family and friends to easily make online gift contributions. In this way, you can provide financial assistance to your loved one without endangering the person’s eligibility for certain disability benefits. The Contribution Center allows you to make contributions online or by mail. To make an online contribution, you will need the account owner’s last name and account number. The Contribution Center is free to use. Contributions are limited to $2,500 per day through the ABLEnow Online Contribution Center. Annual contributions are limited to $15,000.

Before ABLEnow, monetary gifts to an individual with disabilities could jeopardize their assistance benefits. Now, with the ABLEnow Contribution Center, it is easy for those with disabilities to accept monetary gifts and assistance. Family and friends can mark special milestones and holidays by making contributions directly to their loved one’s ABLEnow account.

Gift contributions can also be made directly to an ABLEnow account by mail. The ABLEnow website has printable, themed gift certificates available online for your contribution. You can make contributions by visiting ABLEnow “Give a Gift.”

Source: ABLEnow

How the New Tax Law Affects ABLE Accounts

Source: ABLEnow

A new tax bill was signed into law on December 22, 2017. Features of the tax bill are complex and impact many areas including exemptions, deductions, and credits. Most of these changes will take effect in 2018. In the new bill, ABLE disability savings programs received enhancements and added flexibility.

An ABLE Account is a tax-advantaged savings accounts for individuals with disabilities and their families. Contributions to the account, which can be made by any person (the disabled individual, family, and friends) are not tax deductible for purposes of federal taxes, but some states allow for state income tax deductions for contributions made to an ABLE account. However, the income subsequently earned within the account is not taxed at the federal or the state level.

Virginia529, the agency that administers the ABLEnow program as well as the country’s largest college savings plan, closely monitored this new tax bill and met with legislators in December to discuss the proposal. The agency is reviewing the changes and analyzing how it will affect the programs and customers.

Mary Morris, CEO of Virginia 529 and ABLEnow, feels “excited to bring these positive changes to our ABLEnow customers.” It is her hope that future legislation will continue to remove even more ABLE Act restrictions so that additional Americans with disabilities can take advantage of this financial tool.

According to ABLEnow, these are the updates for 2018:

  • Contribution Limit: The annual contribution threshold increased from $14,000 to $15,000.
  • Savers’ Tax Credit: Individuals saving in an ABLE program may be able to take advantage of the Savers’ Credit for contributions to their ABLE account (subject to all existing eligibility and income limits).
  • ABLE Financial Planning Act: Transfers from a 529 college savings account to an ABLE account are considered a qualified distribution, providing flexibility to move funds between programs without incurring any tax or penalty.
    • The rollover can be in amounts up to the annual ABLE contribution limit.
    • Both accounts must have the same beneficiary or a member of the same family.
  • ABLE to Work Act: ABLE account beneficiaries who work will have an increased contribution limit starting in 2018, should they choose to contribute a portion of their earned income to their ABLE account. The implementation of ABLE to Work contributions will not be available on January 1, 2018.
    • Questions remain about aspects of the provision relating to these increased contributions and may require guidance from the U.S. Department of the Treasury.
    • In addition, system adjustments must be made to allow different contribution limits depending on whether the designated beneficiary is employed. The 10 days between the tax bill signing and operation of the law is insufficient to make these changes.
Source: ABLEnow

7 Financial End-of-Life Questions to Ask Yourself

Credit: The Penny Hoarder

It’s a new year full of new resolutions. Is end-of-life planning on your New Year’s Resolution list? Probably not, but putting off the inevitable can leave a considerable financial burden to your loved ones. If you have cared for an aging or sick relative, you’re likely aware of the kinds of expenses that can accumulate. But if you are young or in good health, you may not have thought about your own mortality. If you die without any type of planning, your loved ones will have to piece together your financial profile without clear direction. Here are 7 financial end-of-life questions to ask yourself to help you begin your planning:

1. Do I need a Will? The simple answer is yes. Everyone can benefit from having a Will. If you are over eighteen, then you should have a Will. A Will addresses what happens to your assets, which can include your bank accounts, real estate, vehicles, and even pets. It is not just for people who have a lot of money.

2. What will happen to my bank accounts? If your bank account has a joint owner or a payable on death (POD) designation, then your bank account will go to the individual named. A note of caution: Joint ownership and beneficiary designations take precedence over your Will. So you need to keep this information up-to-date as relationships change and make sure your beneficiary designations reflect your final wishes. Also, bills may still need to be paid after you die. A joint owner or beneficiary designation can be helpful in this area because he or she will have immediate access to your account.

3. Should I have life insurance? You might think that life insurance is for the elderly. But even if you are young and healthy with no dependents, life insurance can help your family after you die. If you are younger, you may choose term life insurance because it can be cheaper than whole life insurance yet offers comparable coverage. With term life insurance, you pay a premium for a certain number of years and are covered if you die within that term. Once it expires, you buy a new policy. With whole life insurance, you pay a premium each month for the rest of your life. Figuring out how much coverage you want will depend on the type of funeral you prefer and your outstanding debts. It might be a good idea to factor in your living expenses for a year or more if you might leave behind a spouse or child without your income. Even if you choose not to have life insurance, it might be a good idea to set aside money for the immediate costs your loved ones will have to handle, such as cremation and burial.

4. Does someone know where your important documents are kept? You should set aside a place for your important documents and instructions, such as your Will, funeral planning declarations, and tax returns. Your next of kin, or someone you trust, should know where you’ve chosen to store these important papers. If you tell at least two people you trust, this will help ensure that at least one person is available to help if needed. You can also leave instructions on where to find these documents with a legal or financial professional you trust. Do NOT keep your legal documents in a safe deposit box at the bank. Your documents should be readily accessible and available, even on the weekend or holiday.

5. What about your digital files? It is a good idea to keep a hard copy list of your accounts and passwords and keep that list with your other important documents. If you have considerable digital assets that you would like to pass on to someone, make sure you list those items in your legal documents, such as in a Memorandum of Personal Property.

6. Who are your beneficiaries? You should check your beneficiary designations at least annually. It is also a good idea to review your estate planning documents to ensure that your Will and/or Trust reflects your current relationships and wishes.

7. Have you talked about it with your family? It is hard to talk about death and final wishes, but honest conversations now can make life easier later for your loved ones when you die. Sometimes people have unrealistic wishes, such as scattering their ashes off some volcano in Hawaii. However, this can put undue pressure and grief on the family because they cannot afford to satisfy those wishes. It is much better to talk about those wishes now so you can be realistic about what will happen later. Take time and thought for your final preparations. This will offer a much clearer picture to your loved ones, especially if you die unexpectedly.

Source: The Penny Hoarder

Broken Heart Syndrome

broken heart
Photo Credit: American Heart Association

When someone has a broken heart, it is generally regarded in an emotional sense rather than a physical sense. However, a broken heart can lead to real cardiac consequences. It is well-known that there are connections between depression and heart disease. In the throes of a highly stressful event, a person can suffer from broken heart syndrome.

In the medical field, broken heart syndrome is also known as stress-induced cardiomyopathy. It can cause the person to feel sudden, intense chest pain in reaction to a surge of stress hormones. This reaction could be due to the death of a loved one, divorce, breakup, or betrayal. It can even happen after a good shock, such as winning the lottery. Women tend to be more likely to experience broken heart syndrome than men.

When you experience broken heart syndrome, a part of your heart temporarily enlarges and does not pump well while the rest of your heart functions normally. The most common signs of broken heart syndrome are chest pain and shortness of breath. Irregular heartbeats or cardiogenic shock can occur. Cardiogenic shock is where a suddenly weakened heart is unable to pump enough blood for the body. It can be fatal if not treated right away. Broken heart syndrome can even occur in someone who is healthy with no history of heart disease.

Broken heart syndrome may be misread as a heart attack because of similar symptoms. The test results are also similar to those in a heart attack, such as the dramatic changes in rhythm and blood substances. However, unlike a heart attack, there is no evidence of blocked heart arteries or heart damage. The EKG results will be different from a person with broken heart syndrome and a person having a heart attack. Also, the recovery time is usually quicker with broken heart syndrome, within days or weeks, when compared to a heart attack, a month or more. Researchers are still learning why it happens and how to diagnose and treat it.

If your doctor thinks you have broken heart syndrome, you may need coronary angiography, which shows the insides of your coronary arteries. Other diagnostic tests include EKG, blood tests, echocardiography, and cardiac MRI. Your doctor might recommend an echo about a month after you are diagnosed with broken heart syndrome to keep tabs on your health.

While broken heart syndrome can lead to severe, short-term heart muscle failure, it is usually treatable. In rare cases, broken heart syndrome can be fatal. However, most people who experience broken heart syndrome fully recover within a few weeks. They are also at low risk for it happening again.

Source: American Heart Association

RAISE Family Caregivers Act Signed Into Law

raise caregivers.jpg

Last Monday, the President signed into law the Recognize, Assist, Include, Support, and Engage (RAISE) Family Caregivers Act. This act addresses the needs of family caregivers throughout the nation by providing much needed support to family caregivers.  The Act directs the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to develop and implement a coordinated national strategy to provide education, training, long-term services, support, and financial security for caregivers. It also directs HHS to create a Family Caregiving Advisory Council. The Council will be able to advise HHS on recognizing and supporting family caregivers.

There are more than 15 million Americans who provide unpaid care for people living with Alzheimer’s and dementia. Caregivers of people with dementia report higher levels of stress, depression, and worse health outcomes than those providing care to people without dementia. As a result of these emotional and physical burdens, caregivers for Alzheimer’s incurred $10.9 billion in additional health costs last year. The new law will have a positive impact on family caregivers by enhancing the assistance available to caregivers. This should result in improved health and well-being as well as a higher quality of care for their loved ones.

The RAISE Family Caregivers Act and the Family Caregiving Advisory Council were closely modeled after the National Alzheimer’s Project Act. The Alzheimer’s Association and the Alzheimer’s Impact Movement will play an active role in the implementation of this new act and council.

Source: Alzheimer’s Association and Alzheimer’s Impact Movement

Why Married Persons Might Have Lower Risk of Dementia

Photo Credit: Express News

Dementia is a loss of memory and intellectual capacity that generally occurs in older individuals. The most common type of dementia is Alzheimer’s disease. Worldwide, 47.5 million people suffer from dementia. Alzheimer’s accounts for 70% of those cases and is the sixth leading cause of death in America. Symptoms and progression vary from person to person. However, your relationship status may be associated with your risk of developing dementia, according to a new study.

The study looked at 812,047 people in European countries, Asia, United States, and Brazil. After analyzing the studies, the researchers found that people who had been single all their lives and those who were widowed were more likely to develop dementia compared with those who were married at the time of the studies, despite their age and sex. Results of the study suggest that people who have been single all their lives have a 42% higher risk of developing dementia later in life than those who are married. Those who are widowed could have a 20% higher risk. The researchers found no evidence that dementia risk in divorced people differed from those who were married, and they could not examine whether the duration of being widowed or divorced had any influence on the findings.

However, the relationship between marriage and dementia risk is not actually due to wearing a wedding ring or not. Rather, the research suggests that there are certain lifestyle factors associated with marriage that result in a lower risk of dementia. For example, married persons tend to live generally healthier lives and have more social stimulation due to living with a spouse or partner.

Interestingly, the study revealed that a single person born during the early 1900s had a 40% higher risk than a married person whereas a single person born late 1900s only had a 24% higher risk. This finding may suggest that as being unmarried becomes more and more common, the social and lifestyle differences between married and single persons lessens.

While the research reveals a link between marriage and dementia, it cannot definitively say that marriage reduces the risk of dementia. There are, however, certain lifestyle factors that can reduce your risk of dementia, such as eating healthy, exercising regularly, not smoking, and pursuing mentally stimulating activities. These habits can help to reduce a person’s risk of dementia, although dementia is not currently preventable.

Source: CNN News “How marriage might be linked to lower dementia risk

Reaching Out: Using Technology to Reconnect with Your Family

Photo credit:

When trying to connect your aging parents with the digital world, sometimes it can be very difficult to teach them about all of the advances in technology. Things become more complicated if you live far apart from them and they are afflicted with illnesses such as dementia, limited mobility, or Alzheimer’s. Here are three tips to help reconnect with your long-distance loved ones using technology.

  1. Video calling applications. Applications like Skype or Facetime are perfect ways to connect with your parents from afar. In order to make video calling simple for your older parents, the first rule is to be sure that they have a reliable internet connection and phone or computer where the app will be easy to find. Before initial use, make sure that someone familiar with the application is there to help them. It’s most important to be patient and let them practice so they’re confident enough to call you themselves as well as accept it when you call.

According to the Lotsa Helping Hands website, video chatting is also a great way to spot anything that might be causing trouble with your parents, medically or otherwise. It can help you spot weight loss, hair loss, or any other changes to their appearance that may cause alarm. Video chatting has many uses, but it’s particularly helpful in letting your loved ones see your face, especially for those afflicted with Alzheimer’s who may find it easier to recognize you if they can see your face rather than simply listening to your voice on the phone.

  1. Send them a special meal once or twice a week. For parents in assisted living homes, the food may start to feel similar day in and day out, especially if they are unable to leave the premises. With applications like Postmates, UberEATS, and Bitesquad, you can send your parents a special treat once or twice a week from their favorite restaurants. This is a wonderful way to show your parents that you care about their health and happiness while also being sure that they’re eating well. also recommends other helpful ways that you can deliver food to your parents, such as grocery delivery or meal kit delivery.

Sometimes it can be difficult to reconnect with parents who you’ve had a falling out with or with whom you’ve become estranged, particularly if it’s related to past substance abuse. Unfortunately, for seniors living at home alone, prescription abuse is a very real possibility. If your parents’ substance abuse has affected your relationship in the past but you’d like to reach out, sending them food or care packages are great ways to show them that you haven’t forgotten about them and you’d like to reconcile. Consider sending them things from their favorite places to make them feel special and loved. Try to make in-person visits when you can to drive home the message that you’d like to reconnect.

  1. Monitoring Devices. If you have a parent with health issues living alone, you may find yourself worrying about them all day long, making it hard to focus on your own life. Devices such as the Lively Monitoring System can help you keep an eye on your parents on a regular basis. According to an article on Mercury News, this system is great for making sure your parents are eating properly, and taking their medication, plus, it even lets you know when they leave their homes. The device may appear to threaten your parent’s privacy, but it simply notifies you of their regular habits so you can be sure they’re taking care of themselves. Users of Lively consider them a relief to have.

At times technology can feel like a hindrance that keeps families from communicating with each other in person, but when connecting in person isn’t an option, technology can truly be a saving grace. With these three tips, you’ll be well on your way to reconnecting with a senior parent despite the long distance between you.


Helping Your Grieving Parent


Losing a loved one is never easy, especially when it is one of your parents. How can you comfort your surviving parent while dealing with your own grief? It is good to remember that everyone grieves differently and that losing a spouse is different than losing a parent. Do not assume that you know exactly how your parent feels. Try to be understanding and patient by listening to your parent and encouraging him to talk about his loved one. Help attend to your parent’s physical needs and make sure he gets the care he needs.

It may be difficult to do these things as you deal with your own loss. You may feel frustrated as you try to help your parent move on with his life. Or perhaps you are struggling to let go and resent your parent for giving away clothes or other memorabilia. In either situation, tensions can arise and drive you apart at a time when comfort and support is needed most. Here are some tips to handle this situation as successfully as possible:

  • Take care of your physical health. Make sure you and your parent get plenty of rest, eat nutritious meals, and exercise regularly. Taking care of the body’s physical needs and staying healthy will help your body handle the emotional stress better. Because grief is stressful, it can impair the immune system, resulting in more colds or lingering illnesses. Keep an eye on your parent’s health and make sure his doctor knows about his bereavement.
  • Be patient and understanding. Grief will diminish with time but could take a year or more. Even though it may have diminished, your parent will have good days and bad days. Your parent may hear a song, see a picture, or find a note that resurfaces his grief all over again. Emotions often resurface at holidays, birthdays, and anniversaries. Try to remember these important dates and acknowledge how your parent feels at these times. He might want to do something special to honor his loved or prefer to do nothing at all. In some cases, grief is delayed and does not surface until some time after the death. Whatever the situation, being patient and understanding will be the best way to lovingly help your parent.
  • Know the signs of grief. The initial months after your parent’s death may not be the best time for your surviving parent to make important decisions or start new projects. Often times, grief can cause a person to be forgetful and disorganized. You might suggest that your parent write down reminders so as not to forget, or you might help him plan a schedule to get the daily necessities taken care of. It might be difficult for your parent to concentrate so warn him to be careful when driving or operating dangerous equipment. Your parent might suffer from a lack of motivation or interest in doing things. Let your parent express himself and offer love and support. If you think your parent might hurt himself or that he is using alcohol or drugs to deal with his grief, get professional help immediately.
  •  Take care of yourself. You may have to take on more responsibility in caring for your surviving parent or helping with paperwork. Remember to take time for your own grief. Talk with close friends or family members about your grief and your needs. Express your feelings and encourage your parent to do the same; you may feel better sharing tears and feelings with your parent rather than alone. If your emotions are overwhelming, you might seek professional help.

In such an emotionally difficult time, it can be challenging to take care of the paperwork side of the death. You may be overseeing the funeral arrangements or your deceased parent’s estate. Our attorneys understand that losing a loved one is a difficult process. We can help guide you through and demystify the administration process.