These are all the things the DOEA does for seniors

These are all the things the DOEA does for seniors

The state of Florida recognizes the critical importance of its senior citizens. In fact, Florida’s government has a department dedicated exclusively to providing information, assistance and services to seniors. The Florida Department of Elder Affairs (DOEA) is a hidden gem, full of good stuff for seniors and their families. Programs range from a senior legal helpline to information on robotic pets. That’s correct, the DOEA partnered with a firm that produces therapeutic robotic pets and has distributed more than 7,000 of them to socially isolated seniors and persons dealing with Alzheimer’s disease. These innovative ‘critters’ help combat loneliness and depression by improving overall mood and quality of life. The DOEA’s mission statement reads, “To promote the well-being, safety, and independence of Florida's seniors, their families, and caregivers.” To perform this mission, the agency depends on a system of 11 Area Agency on Aging centers throughout the state. These non-profit organizations are funded by the state and provide a coordinated system of...
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What to know about taxes and stimulus checks

What to know about taxes and stimulus checks

Some seniors are confused about their status regarding “stimulus checks,” the government payments designed to help people through the difficulties caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. This is not surprising, as there have been a total of three rounds of payments, authorized by two separate acts of Congress. The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) was passed early in 2020, and the first round of payments went out in April of that year. A second round of CARES payments was authorized in Dec 2020. The April payments were set at $1200 for single filers and $2400 for couples filing jointly, while December’s were for one half those amounts ($600 per individual and $1200 per couple).  Income thresholds for both CARES payments were the same: up to $75,000 for single filer and $150,000 for couples filing jointly. Both CARES payments phased out slowly above those thresholds. In March 2021, a third round of stimulus payments was authorized by the American Rescue...
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Should Seniors File a Tax Return, Even If It Isn’t Required?

Should Seniors File a Tax Return, Even If It Isn’t Required?

Filing a tax return can be an irritating and time-consuming task. Given that, why should anyone (especially seniors) file a return when they are not legally required to do so? There may be several good reasons. No one who does not have taxable income is legally required to file a tax return. From the tax collector’s point of view, the purpose of tax filing is to collect revenue. However, like Social Security numbers, the tax return has turned into a valuable credential in some circumstances. Qualifying for some senior-centered programs like Section 8 Housing or Senior Exemptions on real estate taxes may require producing this document. Applying for a bank loan, refinancing an existing mortgage or taking out a new one, and numerous other financial transactions may require a tax return. In the past year, the economic stimulus payments associated with the Covid-19 pandemic have been processed through the Internal Revenue Service. The IRS uses the most current data available to it,...
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Making Wise Choices In Medicare Options

Making Wise Choices In Medicare Options

| Written by Dan Mangus | Trying to decide the best coverage option to complement Medicare can be difficult. Medicare can be delivered to you in two primary forms. One is Medicare Part C, also known as Medicare Advantage. Medicare Advantage plans are offered by Medicare-approved private companies that must follow the rules set by Medicare. Most Medicare Advantage Plans include drug coverage (Part D). These private companies file their plans each calendar year with the federal government (CMS), thus, all benefits are subject to change each year. There is an annual enrollment period that allows you to change plans if necessary. In 2021 the average county has over 40 Medicare advantage plan options available. The other option, which is the default Medicare option, is known as Original Medicare. Original Medicare is coverage managed by the federal government. You can add drug coverage by joining a Medicare drug plan (Part D). Many Medicare supplement options are available from private companies to help...
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Bad at budgeting? These tips might help

Bad at budgeting? These tips might help

Like all responsible adults, seniors should manage their finances with a budget. It is important for everyone to know just where they stand, how much they owe and what they can afford to spend. If anything, this is more important for seniors than it is for younger people. The National Council on Aging reports that many seniors are carrying large debts into retirement, making it difficult to keep pace with the cost of daily living. Budget making is especially important if you or a loved one are having difficulty, but it is a good idea for all seniors. Having a firm grip on your financial situation will make many other areas of life easier to deal with. It can also alert you to situations and habits that may lead to serious problems in the future if they are not corrected. Organizations like the National Council on Aging and the AARP offer help for seniors who are starting with budget planning. The AARP...
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These are the 5-Star Medicare Advantage Plans for 2021 in Florida

These are the 5-Star Medicare Advantage Plans for 2021 in Florida

If you are a Medicare patient, you have undoubtedly noticed a recent torrent of ads from Medicare insurance providers. This is an annual event, coinciding with Medicare’s Open Enrollment Period, which runs from October 15 to December 7 of each year. During this period, seniors can easily sign up for a new plan, switch plans or leave a plan. When the enrollment period ends, all of these options become more difficult, if they are available at all. During this time, seniors may enroll in a Medicare Advantage Plan if they have been enrolled in original Medicare (Parts A and B) or move from one Medicare Advantage Plan to another. These Medicare Advantage or “MA” plans are rapidly growing in popularity. In fact, enrollment in MA plans has doubled in the past decade, and the Congressional Budget Office predicts that nearly half of all Medicare beneficiaries will be in MA plans by 2029. There are good reasons for this trend. It has always...
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Are your Social Security benefits taxable?

Are your Social Security benefits taxable?

Will you have to pay income tax on the Social Security benefits you receive? It depends on many variables. The IRS uses a measurement called “combined income” to determine if you need to pay taxes on any part of your Social Security benefits. Combined income is made up of two parts: 50% of your Social Security benefits and; ALL of your other income. Your “combined income” equals ½ of your Social Security benefits + your adjusted gross income + nontaxable interest or other nontaxable income (if any). For many taxpayers, there is no difference because they do not have income that need to be excluded from their “Adjusted Gross Income” (AGI) total. If you are married, filing jointly and your total combined income is between $32,000 and $44,000, you may have to pay an income tax on up to 50 percent of your benefits. If your combined income is more than $44,000, up to 85 percent of your benefits may be taxable. If...
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Plan now for the 2021 Medicare open enrollment period

Plan now for the 2021 Medicare open enrollment period

Medicare’s Open Enrollment Period (OEP) runs from October 15 to December 7 of each year. The choices made during that time become effective the following January 1, remaining in effect for the coming year. During the OEP, Medicare patients may make changes that can substantially affect the way they receive and pay for medical care. This topic can become confusing, even scary. The torrents of marketing material received, and the critical importance of this issue lead many seniors to freeze in place and do nothing. This is a mistake; nothing is more important to seniors than getting the very best out of Medicare. Each year, the Medicare OEP should be a time to reevaluate your personal situation and make an intelligent decision. Advertisements aimed at Medicare patients sometimes cloud this issue. The changes coming to Medicare in 2021 are not great, but this does not mean that seniors should let the enrollment period pass without considering their own circumstances. A senior’s personal...
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Why tax-deductible items are not what they appear

Why tax-deductible items are not what they appear

| Written by Brett Porter, EA for Winter 2020 Edition of OurSeniors.net Magazine | Every year you hear it. You may even say it yourself. “I can just write it off on my taxes,” but can you really? Most people are completely confused as to whether or not all their tax deductions are even making a difference. Why is this? Most people find their tax return to be a huge burden—they do not want to think about it throughout the year, they do not want to do it come April, and they most certainly do not want to review what all those numbers are on their 1040. They just want to hand in their information to their accountant and be done with it. Do you know if you itemized last year? A lot of people do not even know that there are two options—itemizing or the standard deduction, or what these options mean. They just hear throughout their life that certain items are...
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New law allows seniors to establish IRAs after 70

New law allows seniors to establish IRAs after 70

| Written by Linda D. Carley, Attorney and Former Judge for Spring 2020 Edition of OurSeniors.net Magazine | A new federal law has expanded the ways seniors may contribute and withdraw monies from their retirement accounts. Under the SECURE Act (Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Enhancement) just signed by President Trump and effective January 1, 2020, Americans in their seventies will have greater access and flexibility for retirement planning. The new law also extends the age for seniors to begin to take required minimum distributions (RMDs) by two years, and may require seniors to review how monies in a living trust are distributed to beneficiaries after the grantor’s death. Repeal of Age restriction for IRAs Prior to SECURE, seniors were restricted from establishing traditional individual retirement accounts (IRAs) after the age of 70. The new law, which is the broadest retirement reform in 13 years, repeals the age restriction for the establishment of traditional IRAs for tax years 2020 and beyond. It allows...
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