Thursday, June 26, 2014

Live-in caregiver refuses to leave when unable to work; a nanny case, but could apply to eldercare (in CA)

A case of a live-in nanny hired to take care of children may have significance for people who hire live-ins as caregivers for the elderly, too.
Sarah Figalora reports a case in California of a live-in who became unable to work and was asked to leavr but has refused.  Eviction would follow civil procedures similar to those for roomers or apartment leases, apparently.  The link for the story is here. The possibility could exist that a live-in caring for an elder person would become unable to work, but possibly have the right to stay.  

The caregiver in this case  was reported to have behaved as a "vexatious litigant" but this could happen with eldercare when hiring a live-in directly in some states. 

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Can you inherit your dead parents debts? Another warning about filial responsibility laws

CNN Money has published a new article by Jeanne Sahadi, “Can you inherit your dead parents’ debts?”, link here. The article recoups some important points.

Of course, all debts still in the estate must be settled before money can be distributed to beneficiaries.  Generally, outside of the estate, adult children or other beneficiaries are not responsible for the parents’ debts on their own.

But there are some caveats.  The article mentions that up to thirty states have filial responsibility laws, a topic not often discussed.  If there is not enough money in the estate, then adult children in these states can be held responsible for leftover medical bills or nursing home and caregiving bills with their own funds.  These laws have not been enforced often.  Outside of the Pittas case in Pennsylvania (discussed here May 22, 2012) I am not aware of another case recently where this has happened.

However, if parents used Medicaid, in most cases states can recover Medicaid payments from estates made between ages 55-65. 

Estates must continue to make mortgage payments, which would become the responsibility of whoever inherits real estate.  Lenders cannot call in mortgages.  But upsidedown mortages present problems discussed in the article.  In spousal situations, people have sometimes sold property to pay taxes, which is one reason why same-sex marriage has become an issue.  

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

"Pension predators" act like paday loan artists

Slick salespersons are talking some retirees into forking over most of their pension income streams for upfront cash advances, often for exorbitant interest rates, according to a story in the AARO Bulletin, June 2014, p. 16, the “Your Money” column, article by Marsha Mercer (link). The article (“Beware of pension predators”) gave an example of a Navy Retiree who paid back $42100 in interest for an advance of about $103,000, to Structured Investments Co. of Southern California.
It strikes me that a lot of people feel pressured to go to work selling these kinds of instruments.  I got calls about doing this (in northern VA) a few years ago, while my mother was still living.  Could I say “No” to these kinds of approaches forever?  I did, but I was lucky.

Monday, June 09, 2014

Once you get paid while not working, you know your remaining days can be counted

Okay, I will “celebrate” my 71st birthday in less than a month.  I look back to see that I formally “retired” from my mainstream IT career at ING at the end of 2001 (in conjunction with a layoff), and took pension, severance, and eventually unemployment, all at the same time, at age 58.  I took Social Security at age 62 (full retirement age was 66 + 2 months), because my pension did have a slight Social Security offset.

I think that when you retire, “you” have to start thinking about the fact that a day will come when the world does without you.  That there is a last day, a “last supper”, a last movie, etc. is a mathematical certainty, for everyone.  Society (whether an employer with a pension, or Social Security, or even through income from accumulated and possibly inherited wealth) cannot afford to pay people like me an income indefinitely; that would not be sustainable.  And the rapidly increasing life spans, and the longer periods of disability, as was the case for my mother who passed away at 97 in December 2010, will provide a real challenge for individual freedom, as we have gotten used to it.  I was in my sixties when I came back and looked after her, a previously unprecedented set of circumstances.

There is a bit of a paradox.  Old fashioned “family values” did keep extended family members taking care of their own elderly, and away from being public charges, even in decades when perhaps most old age deaths were rather sudden and when most elderly did not live a long time once they were seriously incapacitated.  Now people do live much longer, when many families are much less cohesive, and when people, partly out of economic pressures when young adults, have fewer children.  All of this has to be faced some day.

Tuesday, June 03, 2014

Can caregivers who work as contractors still be unionized?

There is a case before the Supreme Court, Harris v. Quinn, where a caregiver in Illinois (who, in this case, cares for a disabled son) is fighting being required to pay mandatory union dues. 
The care arguably has huge potential implications for labor unions, and the “right to work” concept, in many states, first for public employee unions and eventually maybe for all unions.  Right now, though, another aspect is that Harris is actually a self-employed contractor.  I’ve never heard of contractors themselves being unionized;  I would have thought that in other occupations, the “freedom” of no unions could be a good thing.  But caregiving is a totally different kind of work. 
The objection to mandatory union dues is that they amount to “mandatory political activism” violating the First Amendment, at least in a public sector scenario.
There is a precedent for normal public employees, Abood v. Detroit Board of Education which says that this is OK.  I’ll probably come back to all of this later on other blogs.  The interesting thing here is that the caregiver is an independent contractor, but her rates are set by state laws.  Arguably, she gets the benefit of the rates without have to “pay her dues”. 
Matthew Yglesias has an article about the problem on Vox,here
Generally, as I know from my own experience in my mother’s care before her death at the end of 2010, home care workers earn relatively little, and the ability to collect overtime has been controversial (and there is also the issue of live-ins).  As the load of eldercare (especially dementia and Alzheimer’s) will only increase the labor needs.