In Case of Emergency – Let Your Cell Phone Help You

November 19, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: — Alexis @ 3:06 PM

It’s scary to think about having a medical emergency and not being able to speak to tell the EMT’s who to call. Well, if you carry a cell phone, one solution is to put the names and numbers of your emergency contacts in there. EMT’s, firefighters, and other first responders know to look there.  Just add those names to your address book as “ICE” – In Case of Emergency.

In my phone, I have a few people listed – I have ICE1, ICE2, and ICE3.

More Reasons to Write up a Caregiver Contract

November 13, 2009

I’ve been writing a lot about caregiver contracts lately. That’s because they represent the ideal solution for so many families.

Many children become part-time or even full-time caregivers for their aging parents. Sometimes a child needs to be paid for this – usually that is the only way she can afford to leave her job in order to stay home and care for Mom. And in some families, the parent insists on paying the child, or at least contributing to groceries and utilities – because she doesn’t want to feel she is taking advantage of anyone or being a burden.

Earlier posts describe why a written caregiver contract is important to prepare for the possibility of a future MassHealth nursing home application, but here is something that would apply more immediately:  in addition to drafting a good contract, an elder law attorney will also set the family up with a payroll service that will make sure the child receives the benefits of an employee. Namely, the child will have two special protections.

The first is worker’s compensation coverage. Have you ever helped a frail elder with a shower? How easy is it to hurt your back? Very. With a proper caregiver contract arrangement, that child can collect worker’s comp from her injury.

The second protection is the unemployment benefit. Sometimes, no matter how good a job a child does of keeping Mom at home, there comes a time where the care Mom needs exceeds what the child can provide, and she must move to a nursing home. Now the child is unemployed.

For so many families, paying a child to care for the parent is the best solution. Having informal, unwritten understandings is typical, but leaves both the parent and child open to too many pitfalls. By working with an elder law attorney to craft a good caregiver contract and to set up a payroll service to take care of the deductions and taxes, both the parent and child will be much better protected in the long run.

Massachusetts Expands Veterans Benefits

November 12, 2009

Filed under: Veterans Benefits — Alexis @ 11:29 AM

On Veterans Day 2009, Governor Patrick signed into law a range of new or increased benefits for veterans. One component is additional “welcome home” bonuses for soldiers completing multiple tours of duty. Until now, they received a bonus only upon returning home from the first tour.

A forward-thinking provision is to allow veterans to use some of the education and training they received in the military to count towards state requirements when seeking certain state permits or certifications.

The law also allows the state to be more proactive in preventing veteran homelessness, by working with vets before they become homeless and by providing more housing.

Perhaps one of the most important provisions is increased social support to returning veterans and their families. Spotting needs due to mental health issues or physical impairments – and many of both can go undetected for some time – is critical to keeping vets and the families caring for them from unraveling. I hope that the state makes some real advances in social services and can become a model for other states.