Social Security is a retirement benefit that was created by Franklin D Roosevelt as part of the NEW DEAL. For the first time in US history, people had a bit of a safety net with a retirement benefit. Today, Social Security is still the primary retirement benefit for most of our senior population. The Social Security Administration provides seniors a choice as to when to begin taking their benefits, beginning at age 62 or as late as age 70. In some special cases, such as disability or death of a spouse or parent, Social Security is available earlier. The amount one receives is dependent on their work history, how much they paid into the system and over how long, and the age at which benefits are turned on. There are dozens of options available to most Americans as to when and how to turn on their benefits. We help people determine their best options with respect to receiving their Social Security.
Medicare is government sponsored medical insurance that we all pay into. It is considered an entitlement program. Anyone who pays into Social Security/Medicare for 40 quarters or ten years qualifies for both part A at no cost and Part B at a low cost (varies based on most recent 3 years earnings). Part A covers hospitalization, Part B covers Doctor visits and outside care. Part D covers prescription drugs and once you turn on Part B, Part D is a required coverage. If you do NOT have Part D, later when you try to get it there will be a penalty that can be substantial. Part C is a Medicare Advantage plan and replaces parts A, B and sometimes D. These are usually HMO plans that, except in emergencies, only cover you within your county and immediately surrounding area. Medicare Supplement plans are useful in that they will pay copays and in many cases deductibles on Parts A and B. We can assist you in making the best choices for Medicare coverage. For a more detailed discussion, go to our Medicare page.
Medi-CAL is the California version of the Medicaid program. This is a partnership program between the federal and state governments. There are many specific types of this program, most of which are there to help people who are in poverty. One exception is the Long-Term Care program which assists the elderly and disabled in paying for nursing home costs. Average costs in the state are $7,500 per month. However if acute care is needed the cost can easily rise to $15,000 – $20,000. With proper Medi-CAL planning, these costs can be defrayed to the state entitlement programs that you’ve already paid for. My own father was confined to a nursing home towards the end of his life and the bill was $14,900 per month. Fortunately, I was able to arrange his assets such that his Medi-CAL application was approved to cover almost all of the costs.