Volume 2, Issue 6
The Top News Stories in 2011
There were many newsworthy events this year that affected or could affect many of the seniors and special needs clients we serve. This issue of the ElderCounselor looks at some of the top stories that made headlines this year
Proposed Cuts to the Federal Budget
An agreement was reached for the first round of cuts earlier this year, and a super committee was appointed to meet and come to an agreement on an additional $1.2 trillion in cuts over the next ten years. The super committee, made up of six Republicans and six Democrats from Congress, is to reach an agreement by late November, and Congress is to approve the recommendations by December 23, 2011. If the super committee does not reach an agreement or Congress fails to approve any agreement proposed, then automatic cuts will occur.
For an in-depth explanation of the process and potential cuts if the super committee does not reach an agreement, please view the OMB Watch report at http://www.ombwatch.org/files/budget/debtceilingfaq.pdf.
CLASS Act Provisions Withdrawn
However, on October 14, 2011, the Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius sent a letter to leaders of Congress stating that despite their best analytical efforts, the Department did not see “a viable path forward for CLASS implementation at this time.” There are no plans to move forward with the CLASS Act as written in the health care reform law of 2010.
U.S. Supreme Court to Review Constitutionality of Health Care Reform Law
The Supreme Court announced on November 14 that it would review the constitutionality of the health care reform law. A decision is not expected until 2012.
COLA Increase for Social Security and Certain Veterans Benefits
Veterans will also see an increase in Compensation and Pension benefits as a result of the Social Security increase. While an increase is not automatic with a cost of living adjustment, the House and Senate have both voted to increase Compensation and Pension benefits (including those payable to eligible survivors) by 3.6%. Senate Bill 894 was passed by the Senate in October and approved by the House in early November and is expected to be signed by the President shortly. Like Social Security, the increase in veterans’ benefits is scheduled to begin in December 2011, with the first increase to appear in January 2012 payments.
More Caregivers are Proactive in Planning for Loved Ones with Special Needs
Some key findings include:
As noted above, the study also showed where there is still much room for improvement when it comes to planning:
– Only 49% of caregivers have identified a guardian for their dependent should they no longer be able to care for them.
The full text of the study can be found at: http://www.metlife.com/assets/investments/services/special-needs-children/Torn-Security-Blanket-Report.pdf.
Despite the turbulence around the economy, social security recipients and veterans’ benefits recipients will receive the first cost of living adjustment since 2009. Other positive news was reflected in the 2011 MetLife Torn Blanket Study that showed more caregivers are being proactive in planning for loved ones with special needs.
If you have any questions or if we can help someone you know, please don’t hesitate to contact our office.
Law Offices of J.R. Hastings • 1003 Third Street, San Rafael, California 94901 • 415-450-6692