All Posts By

Katrina Cohens

New Fact Sheet: New Guidance on Spousal & Survival Benefits for Married LGBT Individuals

By | FACT SHEET, LGBT, REPORTS, Social Security | No Comments

On March 1, 2017 the Social Security Administration (SSA) announced that it would reopen its decisions to deny spousal or survivor’s benefits to individuals who had been married to someone of the same sex, and whose marriage wasn’t recognized because of a discriminatory state or federal ban on marriage.

This ruling and policy applies not only to individuals who were denied benefits after the Supreme Court struck down federal discrimination against same-sex spouses (in United States v. Windsor in 2013) and state discrimination (in Obergefell v. Hodges in 2015), but also to individuals who applied for and did not receive benefits before these Supreme Court decisions because of the discriminatory laws in effect at the time they applied.

A new Fact Sheet on this guidance includes more detailed information about who is affected by the new guidance, who isn’t, and what advocates and their clients should do to get their cases reopened.

This fact sheet was authored in collaboration with our partners at SAGE, Lambda Legal, and the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare.

WEBINAR: Older Adults who are Immigrants: Access to Healthcare and Other Public Benefits

By | WEBINAR | No Comments

When: Friday, April 21, 2017 at 11:00 a.m PT/2:00 p.m. ET.  

Are your senior clients coming to you with immigration-related questions? Recent events have left many people understandably confused and anxious. Need clarification on an immigrant older adult eligibility for safety net programs like Medicaid or SSI?

Join Justice in Aging as we host a special immigration law webinar, Older Adults who are Immigrants: Access to Healthcare and Other Public Benefits, with our partners from the National Immigration Law Center. Intended for an audience who work with low income seniors but who are not familiar with immigration law, this webinar covers basic topics, like:

  • Different types of immigrants in our communities;
  • Rights and protections for immigrant seniors;
  • Immigrant senior eligibility for SSI, Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid; and
  • Resources for individual assistance

This free webinar also highlights some of the recent events affecting immigrant seniors and how they may be affected by changes in government policies.

Presenter:
Gabrielle Lessard, Senior Policy Attorney, National Immigration Law Center

Moderator:
Denny Chan, Staff Attorney, Justice in Aging

This webinar took place on Friday, April 21, 2017 at 11:00 a.m PT/2:00 p.m. ET.

WATCH THE WEBINAR
DOWNLOAD THE POWERPOINT

Judge Approves Settlement with Social Security Administration in Hart v. Berryhill

By | PRESS RELEASE, Uncategorized | No Comments

Oakland, CA – On Thursday, March 16, Judge Jon S. Tigar of the Northern District of California granted final approval of the settlement agreement in Hart v. Berryhill, a case filed on behalf of over 4,000 residents of the broader Bay Area and Central Coast whose disability benefits were denied or terminated, based on medical reports of a disqualified physician.

Morrison & Foerster LLP, Justice in Aging, and Legal Aid Society of San Mateo County filed the case against the Social Security Administration (SSA) in 2015 challenging the agency’s reliance on the medical reports of a disqualified physician to make disability eligibility decisions. The physician had been disqualified from performing medical exams for the agency after numerous complaints about their quality and accuracy, and his failure to correct his practices after warnings from the agency, yet the agency continued to rely on his reports. The parties have agreed to a settlement that will allow many plaintiffs to have their disability status redecided.
Read More

New Fact Sheet: The Dangers of AHCA for Older Adults

By | FACT SHEET, Health Care, Health Care Defense, Medicaid, REPORTS | No Comments

Because of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), more older adults get health insurance coverage and receive the supports they need to remain in their homes as they age. The American Health Care Act (AHCA), the Republican “repeal and replace” bill, would take away health insurance for 24 million Americans and cut Medicaid funding by 25 percent over the next ten years.

The bill poses many dangers for older adults today and in the future, as it would:

  • Raise the costs of insurance and health care
  • Put pressure on state budgets
  • Lead to cuts in services
  • Undermine the financial stability of Medicare

Read our fact sheet for more information

Medicaid Caps Pitched By GOP Could Shrink Seniors’ Benefits

By | IN THE NEWS | No Comments

California Healthline: Medicaid Caps Pitched By GOP Could Shrink Seniors’ Benefits (3/21/2017) A Republican-proposed bill aims to cap federal Medicaid contribution to states. Medicaid pays for more than half of all long-term care in the US and supports more than 2 million low-income seniors. Advocates oppose the cap, fearing that benefits could shrink or disappear. Justice in Aging’s Eric Carlson said,“It doesn’t matter whether it’s a block grant or per-capita cap. Either way the federal government is setting a hard limit on federal funding available, and states are going to be forced to make due with whatever is sent to them, and it’s not going to be enough.”

Trump Administration Removes LGBTQ Questions From Elderly Survey

By | IN THE NEWS | No Comments

NBC News: Trump Administration Removes LGBTQ Questions From Elderly Survey (3/20/2017) A 2017 draft of the National Survey of Older American Act Participants (NSOAAP), used by the federal government to allocate around $2 billion for senior services across the nation, has eliminated questions about LGBTQ seniors. Questions about sexual orientation and gender identity were added in 2014. A 2016 report from Justice in Aging revealed that LGBTQ seniors rely heavily on services offered by groups funded through the survey.

QMB Identification Practices: A Survey of State Advocates

By | ISSUE BRIEF, Medicare, REPORTS | No Comments

Ensuring that Qualified Medicare Beneficiaries (QMBs) are not illegally billed for Medicare costs requires improvements on many fronts. One important piece is better identifying QMBs and informing both QMB consumers and their providers that they are subject to billing protections. Justice in Aging is pleased to share two new important resources contributing to that effort.

QMB Identification Survey
The new issue brief, authored by legal services attorney Peter Travitsky, looks at practices in 13 states in identifying QMBs. It finds that, although several states provide no QMB identification cards, others offer examples of best practices to ensure that QMB consumers and their providers know their protected status. The survey was supported by a post-fellowship grant from the Borchard Foundation Center on Law and Aging.

Incorporating QMB protections into Medicare notices
In October 2017, the Medicare program will be rolling out revised Medicare Summary Notices (MSNs) to QMB consumers and revised remittance advice notices to providers. On both notices, for each covered service, a notation will show that the individual is a QMB and that the co-insurance responsibility for each service is zero. To prepare providers for the revised system, CMS released a new Medicare Learning Network Matters article, Qualified Medicare Beneficiary Indicator in the Medicare Fee-For-Service Claims Processing System. As the new system is implemented, the article will be a useful tool for advocates to share with providers and their billing departments.

Visit the improper billing webpage, where you can find many more resources including a toolkit that with model letters to providers, an issue brief on recent improvements in QMB reporting and enforcement, recordings of past webinars on QMB billing and other valuable tools, including an improper billing tracking form that you can use to report instances of improper billing to inform our advocacy.

Senior Advocates Oppose “Age Tax” Bill And “Trumpcare”

By | IN THE NEWS | No Comments

Public News Service: Senior Advocates Oppose “Age Tax” Bill And “Trumpcare” (3/16/2017) A bill proposed in the House of Representatives would raise the amount of insurance paid by seniors by up to five times the current amount. Advocacy groups oppose the bill. Justice in Aging’s Amber Christ said, “It’s particularly problematic because it’s increasing the amount of premiums older adults will be subject to while also decreasing the amount in tax premium credits that older adults will receive.”

Fact Sheet: Medicaid Caps & Cuts Harm Older Women

By | FACT SHEET, Health Care Defense, Medicaid, REPORTS | No Comments

Medicaid provides essential care for women throughout their lives—from family planning and maternal health services to nursing home care. However, yesterday, on International Women’s Day, committees in Congress were busy marking up a GOP ACA replacement bill that will fundamentally change the way Medicaid is funded, making it harder for both older and younger women to be able to pay for health insurance, visit their doctors, and receive long-term care.

These changes to our health care system will make care unaffordable and inaccessible for many, but women will be disproportionately impacted. We laid it out in this new fact sheet, Medicaid Caps and Cuts Harm Older Women, produced in partnership with our friends at the National Partnership for Women & Families. Read and share this fact sheet with other advocates, lawmakers, and others.

For more recent Justice in Aging health care defense resources visit this page. If you missed our webinar on Medicaid cuts and caps earlier this week, you can watch the recording here.

Justice in Aging Statement on the American Health Care Act

By | Health Care, Health Care Defense, Medicaid, PRESS RELEASE | No Comments

Washington, DC (March 8, 2017) – This statement is from Kevin Prindiville, Executive Director at Justice in Aging, on the American Health Care Act:

“Republican lawmakers in the House have drafted an ACA replacement bill, the American Healthcare Act (AHCA), that is an attack on the health and long-term care needs of older adults. This bill makes health care more expensive, targeting older adults for the deepest cuts in services and the largest increases in cost.”

“We are particularly opposed to the Medicaid cuts at the heart of this bill.  The bill fundamentally changes the promise and structure of Medicaid by capping federal funding for the program at levels that, by design, will leave states without enough funds to meet the health and long-term care needs of older adults over time. Over 6 million older adults rely on Medicaid, and 2/3 of all Medicaid spending for older adults goes to essential long term care services in nursing homes and at home and in the community.  AHCA threatens the care of all of these seniors and the peace of mind of their families.” Read More