Our Top 23 Articles of 2023 

Happy New Year! As our loyal readers know, we’ve covered a lot of ground in 2023. From incredible technological advances involving artificial intelligence to new diagnostic methods and treatments for Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, technology continues to have a major impact on our lives. In addition, inflation continues to play a major role in the confidence many of us have when it comes to the ability to save and retire comfortably.  

The Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Enhancement Act (SECURE Act 2.0), enacted early last year, builds upon the original act and includes the biggest changes for retirement savings in the past 15 years. Some of the provisions in SECURE 2.0 that went into effect in 2023 included requiring automatic enrollment in some workplace plans, increasing “catch-up” contributions that older workers can make, and boosting part-time workers’ access to retirement plans.   

When it comes to Medicare, programs such as Extra Help expanded to cover more drug costs for certain people with limited resources and income.  In addition, it was announced that there will be lower costs for insulin and vaccines and Medicare will cover more services for those with chronic pain. 

Social Security and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) beneficiaries received an 8.7% Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) for 2023 and will see a 3.2% increase in their benefits and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) payments in 2024! On average, Social Security retirement benefits will increase by more than $50 per month starting now. With inflation continuing to soar, the extra money will certainly help! 

Below are our 23 most-read articles from 2023. As always, thank you for continuing to read our newsletter! 

  1. Can Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s Be Detected while You’re Asleep?

Individuals with Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s may begin to show sleep disturbances and changes in brain activity levels during sleep from the early stages of these conditions. This is why scientists believe that brain activity patterns during sleep could be used as biomarkers for these neurodegenerative conditions. 

  1. Can You Opt for Hospice Care Even if You Are Not Dying?

For many of us, the word “hospice” is equated with imminent death. People are under the impression that they can’t call hospice until “the grim reaper is at the door.” When asked if hospice solely serves the terminally ill, the technically correct answer is “yes.” However, as a practical matter, the answer is “not necessarily.”    

  1. 2024 Key Elder Law Numbers

Every year, the Farr Law Firm releases the newest figures for Medicaid, Medicare, and Social Security, and an analysis of important developments, statuses, and updates involving these programs. These are figures for 2024 that are frequently used in the Elder Law practice, including the figures for spousal impoverishment, penalty divisors, and more, for Virginia, Maryland, and DC. Medicare premiums and co-pays, Social Security Disability, and Supplemental Security Income are also covered.   

  1. Jimmy Carter Enters Hospice Care — What That Really Means!

Former US President Jimmy Carter, 98, is both the oldest living and longest-lived US president. Recently, after a series of short hospital stays, he announced that he will spend his remaining time at home with his family and receive hospice care instead of additional medical intervention.   

  1. How Does Estate Planning Work for Multigenerational Living Arrangements?

Most people who live in multigenerational households give finances and caregiving duties as the reasons for doing so. For the younger generation, sharp increases in house prices, people marrying later, and student debt on the rise are reasons younger generations are more likely to continue living with their families. Middle-aged to older folks, people in the sandwich generation, are taking care of their children and their parents simultaneously. For these people, multigenerational living can be the easiest option both practically and to avoid the cost of assisted living or other long-term care options. How does estate planning work in these living arrangements? 

  1. What Happens to Solo Agers Who Develop Dementia?

Over the last three decades, a study enrolled and followed several thousand older adults on factors that affect brain aging.  A research team examined the data and administrative documents generated by the study, with a focus on the circumstances and needs of older adults who were kinless when they developed dementia. Analysis of the documents, some of which contained clinical chart notes from participants’ medical records, proved to be informative source of data for researchers, shedding light on what happens to solo agers who develop dementia.  

  1. Is Artificial Intelligence Revolutionizing Senior Care?

Artificial intelligence, especially coupled with robotics, is becoming more popular in health care in areas such as early detection and diagnosis, warding off loneliness, and improving care management. Some new technology has shown to help keep patients safe, free human caregivers from certain tasks, allow seniors to continue living in their own homes for longer, and even help reduce some of the costs of care. 

  1. Seven Million Americans Have Mild Cognitive Impairment and May Not Know It

Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI) refers to problems with memory, judgment, language, and other mental skills that are not disabling but go beyond the occasional slips that are expected with age. Most people who have MCI don’t know it, so they’re unable to take advantage of preventive measures or new treatments, such as a recently approved drug for Alzheimer’s disease that could slow its progression. Those are the findings of two new studies published by researchers at the University of Southern California (USC). 

  1. Twenty-Six Things That Get Better as You Get Older

It is widely believed that aging is inevitably a process of cognitive and physical decline, but that’s not entirely true. In fact, not everything about getting older is negative. There are a lot of non-tangible benefits to “growing older,” which can make you a stronger, better, more self-aware person, and on the 26th of September, I described 26 of them! 

  1. 14. How Caregiving Can Heal a Relationship

Lori Grinker, a photojournalist and professor at New York University’s Arthur L Carter Journalism Institute, was never close to her mother, Audrey. Their relationship had been strained when Lori’s parents got divorced and when her brother died from AIDS. It seemed like nothing would bring them together. That is, until Audrey was diagnosed with cancer and Alzheimer’s. During the last year of Audrey’s life, Lori and her mother found a closeness they’d never known before. 

  1. Special Client Alert: Recent Ruling Affects Veteran Clients and Their Families

In June 2023, we issued a Special Client Alert based on a recent Board of Veterans’ Appeals (BVA) Decision (the “Decision”) about irrevocable trusts and qualifying for Veterans Aid and Attendance (A&A) benefits.  

  1. Retiree Confidence Is the Lowest in 15 Years! How You Can Plan Ahead for Retirement and Long-Term Care

Results of the latest Retirement Confidence Survey by the Employee Benefit Research Institute and Greenwald Research show that Americans’ confidence in their retirement savings is waning as a result of inflation. In fact, Americans’ confidence in a comfortable retirement has dipped the most since the 2008 financial crisis, the study shows. This article explains what workers and retirees are concerned about and offers guidance for those planning for retirement.  

  1. New Amazing Alzheimer’s Diagnostic Tools and Treatments

In the past few months, some fascinating new breakthroughs for diagnosing and treating Alzheimer’s have come to light. This article includes some of the ones that I found to be the most incredible. 

  1. Why Did the OPM Suspend Its Long-Term Care Insurance Program for Two Years?

If you work for the federal government, you may have considered purchasing coverage through the Federal Long Term Care Insurance Program (FLTCIP). However, for now, this is no longer possible! Why would the federal government suspend its long-term care insurance program for two years?    

  1. There are Downsides to Delaying Required Minimum Distributions (RMDs)

Section 107 of SECURE 2.0 is the provision that delays when someone must start taking required minimum distributions. The delay is positive in that it allows investments to grow tax-free for longer than before and provides a window to put more tax-deferred dollars away. There are some potentially significant downsides, though, as I describe in this article. 

  1. Virginia Veteran Scammed Out of Millions of Dollars, and the Banks Did Nothing to Stop It

Larry Cook, a US Navy veteran who resided in Fairfax County, was tricked into transferring more than $3.6 million to a Bangkok bank. His niece Janine Satterfield said that Wells Fargo and Navy Federal Credit Union allowed her uncle to initiate wire transfers totaling over $3.6 million, with the majority sent to Thailand. She discovered photographs of the international wire transfers he had made after searching for his Social Security number for funeral arrangements when he died in 2021 at the age of 76. 

  1. Is Medicaid Going to Want Us to Pay Them Back?

Medicaid Estate Recovery happens regularly in all 50 states and DC when families have not planned in advance to avoid this, and the consequences can be disastrous.  After a Medicaid recipient dies, the state must attempt to recoup from the person’s estate whatever benefits it paid for in terms of the recipient’s care. For most Medicaid recipients, their house is the only asset available. There are many ways that you can avoid Medicaid estate recovery, as I discuss in this article.  

  1. Top Five Reasons Banks Won’t Accept a Power of Attorney and What You Can Do About It

Banks, credit unions, and other financial institutions usually take their obligation to protect customers and their privacy seriously. Banks are also supposed to do what they can to protect senior customers from potential elder financial exploitation. So before giving anyone access to a customer’s account, they want to ensure that the necessary legal prerequisites are met. This often means confirming that someone has been legally named as an agent under a POA or as a court-appointed conservator. Many don’t realize that there can be legal consequences if a bank wrongfully refuses to accept a valid POA.  This article describes five reasons banks won’t accept a POA and what you can do about it.  

  1. Deed Fraud May Be on the Rise – Learn How to Spot if You’re a Victim of House Theft

Deed theft may be more common than you think, in many areas across the country, including the DC Metro area. For a woman who resided in Springfield, Virginia with her family for nearly a decade, things seemed weird when in 2019 mail started coming to her home repeatedly addressed to another person. Eventually she realized that she was a victim of deed fraud and she had to go to court many times to set things straight and get her house back. 

  1. Important Deadline Approaching for Veterans to Apply for PACT Act Benefits

Last August, a law passed that expanded health care and payments to veterans who may have been exposed to toxic substances during their service. The PACT Act provides generations of veterans — and their survivors — with the care and benefits they’ve earned and deserve. This article describes how a veteran qualifies for the PACT Act and how to file. 

  1. My Mom Had a Will, But It Was Useless

Although it’s true that having a will as your primary estate planning tool is better than having no estate plan in place at all, a will by itself is not sufficient for most people in the middle stages of life, because a will forces your estate through the unnecessary nightmare of probate. This article describes why, for most people, a will is usually not enough. 

  1. SECURE 2.0: The Biggest Changes for Retirement Savings in 15 Years!

The Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Enhancement Act (SECURE 2.0) builds upon the original SECURE act of 2019 and includes the biggest changes for retirement savings in the past 15 years. This article discusses some of the provisions of the new law that was enacted early last year, that may affect our readers. 

And our most read article of 2023 was… 

  1. Why Are Some Seniors Upsizing Rather than Downsizing in Retirement?

For years, the average American empty nester retiree has moved to a smaller, more manageable home, condo, or retirement community built for people aged 55-plus. Why pay for taxes and upkeep on a home that no longer fits your needs and fixed income in retirement? This was and still is the trend, but things have changed a bit in the last few years, and a new trend has emerged. Rather than following the trend of downsizing, a significant percentage of retirees actually upsize and move to bigger homes in their golden years. 

We’re Looking Forward to Things to Come 

Thank you for making these our top 23 articles of 2023. We promise many new and exciting things to come in 2024! As always, if you or a loved one are nearing the need for long-term care or already receiving long-term care, or if you have not done Long-Term Care Planning, Estate Planning, Retirement Planning, or Incapacity Planning (or had your planning documents reviewed in the past several years), please call us to make an appointment. Happy New Year! 

Elder Law Fairfax: 703-691-1888
Elder Law Fredericksburg: 540-479-143
Elder Law Rockville: 301-519-8041
Elder Law DC: 202-587-2797 

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About Evan H Farr, CELA, CAP

Evan H. Farr is a 4-time Best-Selling author in the field of Elder Law and Estate Planning. In addition to being one of approximately 500 Certified Elder Law Attorneys in the Country, Evan is one of approximately 100 members of the Council of Advanced Practitioners of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys and is a Charter Member of the Academy of Special Needs Planners.