What is a divestment?
A divestment is a gift, sale, or transfer for less than fair market value. A divestment can take many different forms: a cash gift, a sale of a home for less than its current value, adding someone’s name to a property deed, disclaiming an inheritance, or paying on debt the person is not legally obligated to pay for.
Why is it important to know about divestments?
People applying for long-term care Medicaid benefits such as FamilyCare, IRIS, Partnership, Pace, and Institutional Medicaid will be screened to determine if any divestments were made in the five years prior to their application. Note: Divestments are also relevant for eligibility for Supplemental Security Income (SSI), but the penalty is calculated differently.
How does a divestment impact eligibility for long-term care Medicaid?
The agency that processes Medicaid applications will calculate a divestment penalty that will render the applicant ineligible for long-term Medicaid for a specific period of time. The current divestment divisor is $303.38 per day (according to Operations Memo 20-27, effective January 1, 2021). To calculate a person’s divestment penalty, take the total amount divested and divide it by $303.38. The result is the number of days that a person will be ineligible for long-term care Medicaid programs.
For example, if a person gave away $100,000, then take 100,000 and divide it by 303.38. The answer is 329.62, which is rounded down to 329. That means this person would be ineligible for long-term care Medicaid for 329 days (approximately 11 months).
What else is important to know about divestments?
Medicaid presumes that family members perform work and provide care to other family members gratuitously. Said another way, Medicaid assumes that the person who is performing the services or providing the care is not expecting to be paid. However, sometimes payment is expected and appropriate. In that case, there must be a signed and notarized contract in place between the two parties prior to the services being rendered and payment made. Otherwise, Medicaid will count those payments to family members as divestments. For more information, read the Medicaid Eligibility Handbook section 17.8.
It is also important to note that sometimes a transaction may appear to be a divestment, but upon further investigation, may not be a divestment at all. For example, someone may sell their home for less than the fair market value, which would seem to be a divestment. However, if there was a fire in the home and it was no longer structurally sound and needed a lot of repairs, it could be sold in “as is” condition for much less than it was previously worth. In those cases, pictures, insurance claim forms, and statements from a realtor can provide verification that the transaction was not a divestment.
Finally, remember that transactions between family members are always highly scrutinized. Keep good records, save receipts, take pictures, and create written agreements to substantiate the understanding of both parties.
This article and more can be found in Our Prairie du Chien Office February Newsletter.
Urgent News Release #1
Public Health Emergency Management
Rose Kohout, Health Officer Darin Gudgeon, Director
(608) 649-5965 (608) 647-8187
For immediate release: February 9, 2021
RICHLAND COUNTY WARMING CENTERS IDENTIFIED
Richland Center, WI: Due to the cold weather forecasted for the next few days, the following Richland County warming centers have been identified by Richland County Health & Human Services Public Health.
The Symons Recreational Complex will serve as a warming center in Richland Center, and will be open for individuals who need a warm place to go during the following business hours:
Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays 5:30AM to 8:30PM
Tuesdays and Thursdays 3:30PM to 8:30PM
Saturdays 7:30AM to 4:30PM
Sundays 1:00PM to 4:30 PM
A warming center will also be available in Viola. The Viola Village Office Building will serve in this capacity. Persons wishing to access this facility for warmth should contact Dana George upon their arrival at the village office. The building is open during the normal business hours of 8:30AM to 4:30PM.
Those seeking relief from the cold in Lone Rock, should call Adam Reno at 608-604-4527.
Listen for updated announcements on WRCO regarding whether a site remains open. Local officials will determine whether warming centers are necessary and safe to be open. The utilization of the sites will be continuously monitored to identify if any additional needs exist.
Please visit the Richland County website at www.co.richland.wi.us select the Emergency Management and Resources tabs for more information on the hours and locations of local warming centers.
Don’t Overlook Depression
Do you feel sad, empty, and hopeless much of the day? Are you having trouble sleeping, eating, or functioning? Have you lost interest in things that you used to enjoy? These are all signs of depression, a medical illness that aﬀects how you feel, the way you think and how you act.
Depression often goes undiagnosed and untreated as people tend to downplay the symptoms or blame them on other things. While it’s normal to feel sad and have a lack of energy occasionally, these feelings shouldn’t persist for more than a few days. Right now, with the cold darkness of winter and the pandemic raging, depression symptoms are on the rise. Depression is treatable and should not be overlooked as a possible cause of feeling sad and hopeless.
Symptoms of depression can vary from person to person, but anyone who has been experiencing ﬁve or more of the following symptoms for more than two weeks should contact their health care provider.
· Persistent sad, anxious, or "empty" mood · Sleeping too much or too little · Change in appetite resulting in weight gain or loss · Loss of pleasure and interest in activities once enjoyed · Irritability, restlessness · Crying too often or too much · Aches and pains that don’t go away when treated · Diﬃculty concentrating, remembering, or making decisions · Fatigue or loss of energy · Feeling guilty, hopeless, or worthless · Thoughts of death or suicide
Caregivers in particular need to be aware of the risk of depression. According to a survey by the Family Caregiver Alliance, caregivers experience depression at twice the rate of the general population. The added responsibility and stress of caring for a loved one, especially during a pandemic, can have a negative impact on a caregiver’s health if steps are not taken to stay healthy. If depression goes untreated it can lead to increased emotional and physical problems as well as aﬀect your ability to care for your loved one.
If diagnosed with depression, treatment usually includes medication, counseling, or a combination of the two. You can also practice these coping mechanisms to relieve symptoms of depression.
· Communicate your feelings with friends, family, a support group, or mental health professional. · Set limits – don’t try to do more than you can handle. Ask for help. · Take care of your body – eat well, get enough sleep, and exercise regularly · Learn ways to manage stress and relax. Schedule time each day to do something for yourself. · Maintain a good sense of humor. Find humor in daily events.
Knowing the symptoms of depression and understanding ways to reduce your risk of depression can help you stay healthy. Don’t overlook the seriousness of depression. If you or someone you know exhibits the signs of depression, seek medical help. Life can be enjoyable! 16
This article can also be read in our Mauston office Newsletter.
This post is from the National Council on Aging (ncoa) and can be viewed at: https://www.ncoa.org/economic-security/money-management/scams-security/top-10-scams-targeting-seniors/
Financial scams targeting seniors have become so prevalent that they’re now considered “the crime of the 21st century.” Why? Because seniors are thought to have a significant amount of money sitting in their accounts.
Financial scams also often go unreported or can be difficult to prosecute, so they’re considered a “low-risk” crime. However, they’re devastating to many older adults and can leave them in a very vulnerable position with little time to recoup their losses.
It’s not just wealthy seniors who are targeted. Low-income older adults are also at risk of financial abuse. And it’s not always strangers who perpetrate these crimes. Over 90% of all reported elder abuse is committed by an older person’s own family members, most often their adult children, followed by grandchildren, nieces and nephews, and others.
Review our list below, so you can identify a potential scam.
1. Medicare/health insurance scamsEvery U.S. citizen or permanent resident over age 65 qualifies for Medicare, so there is rarely any need for a scam artist to research what private health insurance company older people have in order to scam them out of some money.
In these types of scams, perpetrators may pose as a Medicare representative to get older people to give them their personal information, or they will provide bogus services for elderly people at makeshift mobile clinics, then use the personal information they provide to bill Medicare and pocket the money.
2. Counterfeit prescription drugsMost commonly, counterfeit drug scams operate on the Internet, where seniors increasingly go to find better prices on specialized medications. This scam is growing in popularity—since 2000, the FDA has investigated an average of 20 such cases per year, up from five a year in the 1990s.
The danger is that besides paying money for something that will not help a person’s medical condition, victims may purchase unsafe substances that can inflict even more harm. This scam can be as hard on the body as it is on the wallet.
3. Funeral & cemetery scamsThe FBI warns about two types of funeral and cemetery fraud perpetrated on seniors.
In one approach, scammers read obituaries and call or attend the funeral service of a complete stranger to take advantage of the grieving widow or widower. Claiming the deceased had an outstanding debt with them, scammers will try to extort money from relatives to settle the fake debts.
Another tactic of disreputable funeral homes is to capitalize on family members’ unfamiliarity with the considerable cost of funeral services to add unnecessary charges to the bill. In one common scam of this type, funeral directors will insist that a casket, usually one of the most expensive parts of funeral services, is necessary even when performing a direct cremation, which can be accomplished with a cardboard casket rather than an expensive display or burial casket.
4. Fraudulent anti-aging productsIn a society bombarded with images of the young and beautiful, it’s not surprising that some older people feel the need to conceal their age in order to participate more fully in social circles and the workplace. After all, 60 is the new 40, right?
It is in this spirit that many older Americans seek out new treatments and medications to maintain a youthful appearance, putting them at risk of scammers. Whether it’s fake Botox like the one in Arizona that netted its distributors (who were convicted and jailed in 2006) $1.5 million in barely a year, or completely bogus homeopathic remedies that do absolutely nothing, there is money in the anti-aging business.
Botox scams are particularly unsettling, as renegade labs creating versions of the real thing may still be working with the root ingredient, botulism neurotoxin, which is one of the most toxic substances known to science. A bad batch can have health consequences far beyond wrinkles or drooping neck muscles.
5. Telemarketing/phone scamsPerhaps the most common scheme is when scammers use fake telemarketing calls to prey on older people, who as a group make twice as many purchases over the phone than the national average. While the image of the lonely senior citizen with nobody to talk to may have something to do with this, it is far more likely that older people are more familiar with shopping over the phone, and therefore might not be fully aware of the risk.
With no face-to-face interaction, and no paper trail, these scams are incredibly hard to trace. Also, once a successful deal has been made, the buyer’s name is then shared with similar schemers looking for easy targets, sometimes defrauding the same person repeatedly.
Examples of telemarketing fraud include:
The pigeon dropThe con artist tells the individual that he/she has found a large sum of money and is willing to split it if the person will make a “good faith” payment by withdrawing funds from his/her bank account. Often, a second con artist is involved, posing as a lawyer, banker, or some other trustworthy stranger.
The fake accident ployThe con artist gets the victim to wire or send money on the pretext that the person’s child or another relative is in the hospital and needs the money.
Charity scamsMoney is solicited for fake charities. This often occurs after natural disasters.
6. Internet fraudWhile using the Internet is a great skill at any age, the slower speed of adoption among some older people makes them easier targets for automated Internet scams that are ubiquitous on the web and email programs. Pop-up browser windows simulating virus-scanning software will fool victims into either downloading a fake anti-virus program (at a substantial cost) or an actual virus that will open up whatever information is on the user’s computer to scammers.
Their unfamiliarity with the less visible aspects of browsing the web (firewalls and built-in virus protection, for example) make seniors especially susceptible to such traps. One example includes:
Email/phishing scamsA senior receives email messages that appear to be from a legitimate company or institution, asking them to “update” or “verify” their personal information. A senior receives emails that appear to be from the IRS about a tax refund.
7. Investment schemesBecause many seniors find themselves planning for retirement and managing their savings once they finish working, a number of investment schemes have been targeted at seniors looking to safeguard their cash for their later years. From pyramid schemes like Bernie Madoff’s (which counted a number of senior citizens among its victims) to fables of a Nigerian prince looking for a partner to claim inheritance money to complex financial products that many economists don’t even understand, investment schemes have long been a successful way to take advantage of older people.
8. Homeowner/reverse mortgage scamsScammers like to take advantage of the fact that many people above a certain age own their homes, a valuable asset that increases the potential dollar value of a certain scam.
A particularly elaborate property tax scam in San Diego saw fraudsters sending personalized letters to different properties apparently on behalf of the County Assessor’s Office. The letter, made to look official but displaying only public information, would identify the property’s assessed value and offer the homeowner, for a fee of course, to arrange for a reassessment of the property’s value and therefore the tax burden associated with it.
Closely related, there is the potential for a reverse mortgage borrower to be scammed. Scammers can take advantage of older adults who have recently unlocked equity in their homes. Those considering reverse mortgages should be cognizant of people in their lives pressuring them to obtain a reverse mortgage, or those that stand to benefit from the borrower accessing equity, such as home repair companies who approach the older adult directly.
9. Sweepstakes & lottery scamsThis simple scam is one that many are familiar with, and it capitalizes on the notion that “there’s no such thing as a free lunch.” Here, scammers inform their mark that they have won a lottery or sweepstakes of some kind and need to make some sort of payment to unlock the supposed prize. Often, seniors will be sent a check that they can deposit in their bank account, knowing that while it shows up in their account immediately, it will take a few days before the (fake) check is rejected. During that time, the criminals will quickly collect money for supposed fees or taxes on the prize, which they pocket while the victim has the “prize money” removed from his or her account as soon as the check bounces.
10. The grandparent scamThe grandparent scam is so simple and so devious because it uses one of older adults’ most reliable assets, their hearts.
Scammers will place a call to an older person and when the mark picks up, they will say something along the lines of: “Hi Grandma, do you know who this is?” When the unsuspecting grandparent guesses the name of the grandchild the scammer most sounds like, the scammer has established a fake identity without having done a lick of background research.
Once “in,” the fake grandchild will usually ask for money to solve some unexpected financial problem (overdue rent, payment for car repairs, etc.), to be paid via Western Union or MoneyGram, which don’t always require identification to collect. At the same time, the scam artist will beg the grandparent “please don’t tell my parents, they would kill me.”
While the sums from such a scam are likely to be in the hundreds, the very fact that no research is needed makes this a scam that can be perpetrated over and over at very little cost to the scammer.
If you suspect you’ve been the victim of a scam…Don’t be afraid or embarrassed to talk about it with someone you trust. You are not alone, and there are people who can help. Doing nothing could only make it worse. Keep handy the phone numbers and resources you can turn to, including the local police, your bank (if money has been taken from your accounts), and Adult Protective Services. To obtain the contact information for Adult Protective Services in your area, call the Eldercare Locator, a government sponsored national resource line, at: 1-800-677-1116, or visit their website at: https://eldercare.acl.gov.