Tuesday, July 31, 2018

More public pension recipients are likely to get stiffed

Public employee pension funds seem to keep drifting into deeper trouble, as Sarah Krouse writes in this article for the Wall Street Journal July 31.   Central Falls RI and San Jose CA get special attention.  The "Pension Hole" is bigger than Japan's economy.

Put bluntly, it looks like more former public employees will get stiffed.

It doesn’t seem as if PBGC  applies.
Charles Murray’s controversial proposal for Universal Basic Income back in 2016 would have eliminated Social Security and all other government handouts.  Not sure about public pensions.

Monday, July 23, 2018

What kinds of necessary elective surgery can be disruptive to productive seniors who live alone?

One big concern for a retired person who lives alone and needs to keep his own systems running (that is, in my case, a set of blogs), a major concern would be any elective surgery that requires any extended hospital stay or rehabilitation away from home (Medicare pays for 20 days, and typically most supplements handle up to about 100).  This can potentially become a very big deal.

Once you reach my age (75) there are really not that many situations where this is all that likely.  I don’t see ever having a bone marrow transplant.  But it is true that invasive procedures (like coronary bypass surgery) can extend lives considerably in many elderly;  when I was growing up they were not possible, so I did not internalize the idea of facing this.

In fact, my own mother had triple bypass surgery at age 85 in May, 1999 and I did not realize this was even possible at her age when it was proposed. She would have eight good years, and three more not so good.

The official cause of her passing in 2010 was aortic stenosis.  That means it is in the family, maybe.
Barbara Walters, former ABC 2020 host, had aortic value replacement surgery in the summer of 2010. She had reported some shortness of breath on climbing.  She reported that after the surgery she was quite weak for some time, and needed the summer before returning to any work.

The condition is likely to be confirmed by an echocardiogram even after minimal symptoms.
Sometimes lathroscopic surgery, which is much less invasive (through the groin) is possible for some of these problems, with a much shorter recovery.

Saturday, July 21, 2018

Caregiver supply, paid and unpaid, dwindles with "demographic winter" and immigration issues (WSJ big story)

Clare Ansberry has practically a booklet-length article in the weekend (“Sunday paper”, for all purposes) Wall Street Journal, “The Unprepared: America is running out of family caregivers, just when it needsthem most”.  The tagline is “Smaller, more unpaid caregivers means fewer unpaid helpers; ‘Are you really my daughter’”.   This caught my eye at a Starbucks this morning.
The ratio of caregivers to care recipients peaked in 2010 (my own mother died in December of that year at 97).

“Population demographics” (falling birthrates) and individualism contribute to the coming crisis.  Childless adults are more likely to have set up separate lives and become vulnerable to severe disruption by filial piety.

The immigration crisis could gradually reduce the number of home health caregivers available, as well as work force in assisted living centers and nursing homes.

Saturday, July 14, 2018

"Know your customer" rules at banks could trip up retirees or estate holders

Here’s an important article by Telis Demos and Michael Siconolfi explains how “know your customer” forces banks and financial institutions to verify information of  all account holders and possibly question some transactions, as with trusts, if they look improper. 

This would seem to set an example in the future for Internet hosting account holders, I wonder.

Sunday, July 08, 2018

Seniors and volunteer village associations; nursing home and home care staffing undermined by immigration crisis

A couple of stories for senior “lifestyles”:

The Boston Globe, in a story by Robert Weisman, reports “For some seniors, a cultural shift and vital volunteerism”. 

The article reviews “village associations” which help seniors live independently, especially in Boston and on the cape or coastal Massachusetts. They do cost something to join.  They seem to give help in, for example, the inevitable break down of systems (appliance, heating) in seniors’ homes, storms or emergencies, as well as other matters such as social activity and security.

And the front page of the Sunday New York Times July 8 features a big story by Jordan Rau, “Nursing homes routinely mask low staff levels”, at least in New York State. This is particularly the case on the weekends, where some are almost deserted and where some patients have no family visiting them. The article doesn’t get into the difference between Skilled Nursing, where Medicare pays, and long term care, where it doesn’t.  But even SNF’s sometimes have problems, especially when family is distant. The problems are likely to get worse because of Trump’s crackdown even on legal immigration. A large portion of personal care aides are immigrants, although reputable agencies, assisted living centers and nursing homes do check on legal status.  But the people could get even harder to find. In my mother’s case, most of the caregivers were legal (often for many years) immigrants.

Tuesday, July 03, 2018

Another writer on the FEE site implicitly warns current beneficiaries of Social Security

Brenton Smith has another warning article about the pressure on Social Security on Foundation for Economic Education, link here. Paul Ryan has called it “the most predictable crisis in history”.
In this article, the Social Security administration reportedly partially agrees that raising FICA taxes would “help”. 

Smith, like the previous writer, refutes the idea that the money was borrowed or spent on other federal programs.
Even back in 2009, Obama had criticized “kicking the can down the road”, but the possibility of means testing even for existing beneficiaries seems to grow.

Update:  July 16

Business Insider has a similar story now.