College Loan & IRS Scams — I Received Both Phone Calls Today

As if there are not enough scams, here’s another one — a college loan scam. I haven’t had college loans for years and years, but I am wondering if there will soon be a parent or grandparent component to the scam. Anyway, one more caller with malicious intent to be aware of when you answer the phone.

But it’s also the time of year for tax scammers. Make sure your parents know that if they get a phone call about IRS, they should NOT believe the caller. You can watch this video, posted at the IRS website, with them.

Watch Out for Unexpected Recurring Charges on a Parent’s Credit Card

Over dinner at my parents’ house recently my mother commented that a recurring charge appeared on her Mastercard statement every month for at least a year.

Read this Seattle Times March 2012 Article

Read this Seattle Times March 2012 article.

“I have no idea what it is,” she said. She had been checking her bills and was unsure about what to do.

I looked at the bill and sure enough, on the second of the month during all of 2013 mother was charged $9.95. When I did a bit more research, I found that the company charging the fee presents as a savings club, offering discount opportunities.

I’ve listed some of them below.

  • Quarterly grocery rebates
  • 20% savings on grocery gift cards from trusted vendors
  • Pre-paid debit cards for trade-ins
  • Discounts on auto maintenance at a variety of car repair franchises
  • Up to $250 reimbursement on the deductible on your homeowners or renters insurance when an insured loss occurs.

Trouble is, the person who sold my mother this “membership” when she was buying a blouse at a well-known mid-range national department store, did so without telling my mother what she was really purchasing. My mother thought she was getting a $10 discount on the sale and on subsequent purchases at the store.                       Continue reading

When to Start Social Security?

When we offer any kind of support to aging parents, we learn quite a bit about Social Security along the way. One thing we discover is information about the various retirement ages that qualify for benefit payments. If other adult children are anything like me, they begin to think about their retirement years ahead and just how Social Security fits into the picture.

social security payments

Visit the Social Security website to learn more about benefits.

The New York Times Your Money column published an article that addresses just these issues. In The Payoff in Waiting to Collect Social Security, columnist Tara Siegel Bernard explains how Social Security payments work and how they increase from year to year if a person is able to put off collecting retirement benefits from the program for even a few years. The November 15, 2013, column describes a typical couple considering when to apply for Social Security benefits and how they might benefit from delaying payments if they can afford to do so, quoting experts from the Boston College (BC) Center for Retirement Research, which happens also to publish The Social Security Claiming Guide, a booklet that walks readers detail-by-detail through the steps that retirees need to consider when the start thinking about when to apply for payments.

Continue reading

Money, Money, Money

Money is a big, big issue in retirement. While I am several years from my retirement, I think about my plans carefully, wondering almost daily what else I can to ensure my security.

Managing finances for some of our aging parents is a challenge.

And the older people get the bigger an issue it becomes, especially when individuals lack assets, substantial home equity, savings, etc. and  still require around the clock care. If you  haven’t read A Bittersweet Season, by Jane Gross, you should get a copy, just to learn about all the issues she encountered and attempted to solve during the last year of her mother’s life.

Another thoughtful post appeared over at the Life With Father blog. In his April 25th post, Money, Chuck writes about the challenges of managing his father’s finances — his father is in a nursing home — while money slowly runs out.

Many Seniors Don’t Know About Medicare Extra Help Subsidy

According to a January 4, 2011 Kaiser Health News (KHN) article, many American seniors who qualify for a Medicare Part D subsidy that reduces prescription costs have not signed up. The article, 2 Million Medicare Beneficiaries Missing Out On Discounted Drug Coverage, explains that the program, called Extra Help, lowers medication costs and reduces money spent in Part D doughnut hole.

This is a significant program that the children of senior parents should learn about, especially if their parents’ incomes are limited. A Kaiser Family Foundation research study estimates that nearly 2.3 million people qualify but have not signed up for the program, despite a huge amount of publicity, direct mail and even ads and video broadcasts (see video below) with Chubby Checker — the rock musician who popularized the twist in 1960. Checker, now age 69 is eligible for Medicare benefits. The KHN article provides more detailed information.

The article describes who is can sign up for the Extra Help benefits: Continue reading

Alzheimer’s: Helping a Parent Manage Financial Issues

Interesting article in the November 5, 2010 New York Times describing how adult children can get started helping with finances when a parent has Alzheimer’s. In Stepping in for a Parent With Alzheimer’s reporter Tara Siegel Bernard consults with financial planners, shares their ideas, makes specific suggestions about getting started, and offers tips about how to be successful in the endeavor. The piece appears in the Your Money part of the finance news.