Dear Family, Friends & Colleagues,


Here it is the last day of September already and the summer has come to its close.  After a brief summer hiatus, we are back to our monthly newsletter. There have been a variety of issues in the news which could impact your life, such as taxation, DOMA, Veteran's benefits processing time, and the Affordable Care Act. Our newsletter briefs you on those issues, and will  provide you with some information that we hope will be relevant to you.  Our spotlight this month shines on Attorney Anna Howard, and her interest in Veteran's Aid and Attendance Benefits.  If you, or a loved one, is a Veteran who served during a time of war, they may be eligible for extended benefits as they age.
Our attorneys view practicing Elder Law as a calling, and we are delighted to be able to assist you in whatever services you need.  Whether you are visiting us for the first time, or coming back to update your plans, we make every effort to ensure that you are a priority.

We also welcome the opportunity to serve the people you care about.  Click on the forward Email button at the top of the page to send this newsletter to someone who will benefit from our insights.



Severns Associates, P.C.


Elder Law News from Severns Associates, PC
September 2013


Obtaining VA Aid and Attendance Benefits: A Case Study


The attorneys at Severns Associates pride themselves in sorting out the best possible solution for each of their clients. One frequently overlooked benefit that applies to many older Americans is the Aid and Attendance Policy offered by the Veterans Administration, which provides cash payments to veterans who served during a period of war or to their single surviving spouses to help cover the costs of home care, assisted living and nursing home services.


The Affordable Care Act: How It Impacts Our Senior Population

Since its passage in 2010, the Affordable Care Act (ACA), commonly known as "Obamacare" has been a political football.  The heated debates have proliferated much mis-information about the program, causing confusion among most of the population.  No doubt, there will continue to be debates over healthcare reform.  Regardless, it is the law and its most significant provisions are now taking effect.


The health care insurance "marketplaces," (previously called "exchanges") open October 1st, 2013. Many people under age 65, including those with disabilities who have not been able to obtain private health insurance in the past may now have the opportunity to purchase affordable private health insurance.


These younger people who are shopping for coverage will have access to online sources to compare companies offering standardized policies. Medicare beneficiaries have had the benefit of standardized Medicare Supplement policies since 1993. Online shopping for Medicare prescription drug policies through a government website has been available to seniors since Medicare Part D coverage was enacted several years ago. In many ways, the marketplaces established under the Affordable Care Act will give non-seniors a way to shop for coverage similar to what Medicare beneficiaries have had for years. But seniors will still use the same Medicare systems for their supplemental coverage, not the marketplaces.


Here are some of the ways the Affordable Care Act does and does not impact seniors.


 Read more

U.S. Supreme Court Rules on DOMA

The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that a key provision of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) is unconstitutional, clearing the way for the surviving spouse of a lesbian couple to receive a refund of the taxes she was forced to pay because the federal government did not consider her married to her spouse.


Although the ruling does not create a national constitutional right to same-sex marriage, it does allow same-sex couples in states that legally recognize their marriages to receive a host of federal benefits that were previously denied them, such as being able to inherit from a spouse without paying federal estate tax.   


Can You Protect Yourself From Hospital "Observation" Status?


A number of Medicare beneficiaries are spending days in the hospital before being transferred to a nursing home, only to find that Medicare won't pay for their nursing home stay because they were considered to be under "observation" while in the hospital and not actually "admitted." Unfortunately, there isn't much you can do to prevent this from happening initially, but there are some steps you can take once you know it's an issue.



Apps and Online Programs for Seniors and Caregivers


Smart phones and tablets are everywhere and their use among seniors and their caregivers is growing. A recent Pew Internet survey found that caregivers are far more likely than non-caregivers to consult online resources for assistance.


As the wired population ages, a growing number of apps and online programs are catering to them. Here are a few resources.


Read more

Should You Prepare a Medicaid Application Yourself?


Whether you should prepare and file a Medicaid application by yourself or should hire an attorney to do it for you sounds like it should have a simple answer. Medicaid is the government insurance program for persons of all ages whose income and resources are insufficient to pay for health careor whose insurance does not cover what they need, such as long-term care. Many people rely on Medicaid for assistance in paying for care at home or in nursing homes. One would think that applying for such a program would be clear-cut and simple, to avoid complications for this group of individuals who are already at risk. However, this could not be further from the truth. Medicaid applications are detailed, complex documents, on which the smallest error can cost thousands of dollars in benefits.



In This Issue
Obtaining VA Aid and Attendance Benefits
The Affordable Care Act for Seniors
U.S. Supreme Court Rules on DOMA
Con You Protect Yourself from Hospital Observation Status?
Apps and Online Programs for Seniors and Caregivers
Should You Prepare a Medicaid Application Yourself?



Quick Links
Firm Spotlight
Anna Howard
This month, we shine our spotlight on attorney Anna Howard.  A native Hoosier, Anna assists all types of clients, from those looking for standard estate planning, to those in the thick of applying for government benefits. 
The daughter and sister of several members of the armed forces, of particular interest to her is helping clients secure Veterans Affairs Aid and Attendance assistance.    
In her personal life, Anna is mom to 13-year old Scotty, and wife of Scott Howard.  They live on the south side of Indinapolis and make frequent visits to her hometown of Kokomo.  
Best Law Firm 2013 
 Lawyer of the Year detail
If you answer yes to any of these questions, Severns Associates can help.

-Has a family member been diagnosed with a mentally or physically debilitating disorder such as Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, ALS, stroke or a decline in functional capacity?

-Is a family member isolated due to the recent death of a spouse, or have family that either lives too far away or is too busy to provide adequate care?

-Is a family member soon to be discharged into a care facility or currently receiving in-home care?

-Does a family member have a variety of healthcare providers and need coordination and advocacy for quality care?

-Does a family member seem unusually concerned about costs of medication and services, indicating he or she may be having financial troubles?

-Does a family member have assets that fall between $50,000 and $400,000 - enough to finance a short stay in a care facility but not enough for an extended stay?

-Does a family member have a spouse whose financial needs must be considered in light of a family member's medical condition? 


About Our Law Firm
Severns Associates, P.C. is an elder law firm that has been practicing for over 30 years, and is regarded as one of the most experienced elder law firms in the Indianapolis region.  We focus on helping families work together without conflict to plan for both immediate and future needs. 
Our services include:
Severns Associates, PC
10293 N. Meridian Street Suite 150
Indianapolis, Indiana 46290