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Social Security and You: Spousal and Survivors Benefits for Men

In the past 27 years, I bet I have written hundreds of columns explaining spousal and widows benefits that are available to women on a husband's Social Security account. And usually if I have enough space, I try to squeeze in a line that says the same benefits are available to husbands and widowers, even though I know those benefits to men are ...Read more

Is at-home recovery after a transplant covered by Medicare?

Senior Living / Toni Says /

Dear Readers: This week, I received a text message from a local Toni Says Medicare client that I would like to share with you:

Toni, I need to put together a 24/7 home care recovery plan after a liver transplant. The surgery is over a year out, but I would appreciate tips on how to plan for this medical event. Thanks in advance.

--name ...Read more

Social Security and You: You Are Being Paid Properly

In my 32 years of experience working for the Social Security Administration and the 27 years I've been writing this column, one of the more common complaints I've heard from people goes something like this: "I don't think I am getting the right Social Security benefit amount. It's less than it should be." Or like this: "Based on what all my ...Read more

Dreamstime/Dreamstime/TNS

Say that again: Using hearing aids can be frustrating for older adults, but necessary

It was an every-other-day routine, full of frustration.

Every time my husband called his father, who was 94 when he died in 2022, he’d wait for his dad to find his hearing aids and put them in before they started talking.

Even then, my father-in-law could barely hear what my husband was saying. “What?” he’d ask over and over.

Then, ...Read more

I thought Medicare covered long-term care

Senior Living / Toni Says /

Dear Toni,

Recently in your Medicare column, you discussed services that are not covered by Original Medicare such as dental, vision, long-term care and other items. I thought Medicare covered long-term care but was wrong, because my mother suffered a severe stroke and her rehab facility notified me that Medicare is not paying for my mother...Read more

Social Security and You: Book Updates

Over the past couple of months, hundreds of you have written to me because you've had trouble getting my book called "Social Security: Simple and Smart" from Amazon. And other times, the problem was that you wanted to get the 2024 edition of the book and you were sent a prior edition.

I won't bother sharing with you the tales of woe my ...Read more

John J. Kim/Chicago Tribune/TNS

'We're not unicorns': Husband donates kidney to wife, showing possibilities for kidney transplants after age 70

CHICAGO -- Jon and Carol McCabe were in the Galápagos Islands with their family for the trip of a lifetime. The couple from Clarendon Hills, Illinois, shared 30 meals with their children and grandchildren and admired diverse wildlife.

But Carol’s health rapidly declined during the trip. She struggled to walk long distances and needed lots of...Read more

Mary Ann Thomas/Pittsburgh Post-Gazette/TNS

This leap year baby is about to turn 92 -- or is it 23?

PITTSBURGH — If Ethel Jean "E.J." Bergad Bonder hits the lottery, she plans to buy a Porsche for her granddaughter because they will both turn 23 years old this year.

Yep, Ethel was born on Feb. 29, 1932, and will technically turn 23 Thursday. She's a leap year baby.

The Gregorian calendar is based on 365.25 days — the amount of time it ...Read more

How do I enroll in Medicare?

Senior Living / Toni Says /

Hello Toni:

I am turning 65 in July and am bombarded with mail and telemarketing calls. I am not receiving Social Security and a friend who just got Medicare is receiving her Social Security check. Do I have to be receiving my Social Security check to get Medicare?

Please explain what I should do because I was waiting to apply for Social ...Read more

Social Security and You: That's Not What I Meant To Say

I've always taken pride in the fact that I do a pretty good job of explaining Social Security rules in simple and easy-to-understand language. But every once in a while, I'm reminded that something I say or write that I think is pretty clear and simple can be misinterpreted. Here are some examples.

Q: I am 62 and have spent most of my life as a...Read more

Ryan C. Hermens/Lexington Herald-Leader/TNS

Disabled, elderly rely on this transportation program. It’s leaving them behind

LEXINGTON, Ky. -- Tom Newsome likes to stay busy.

Newsome, who has an intellectual disability, goes to Employment Solutions, an organization that provides a host of services for people with disabilities, a few times a week for adult day training.

He enjoys archery and takes ukulele lessons, said Peggy Petrilli, Newsome’s mother. Newsome was ...Read more

Dreamstime/Dreamstime/TNS

Study looks at the overwhelming cost of dementia care in senior homes

ATLANTA -- Thousands of families with loved ones who have dementia have turned to senior care homes for help, and a new study from Georgia State University details the heavy financial toll that care in these facilities can place on those with the condition.

The paper, which was done in conjunction with researchers from the University of ...Read more

Dreamstime/Dreamstime/TNS

Study: More older adults are using cannabis post-pandemic

A new study, published in the Cannabis and Cannabinoids Research journal, found more older Americans are using cannabis today than before the pandemic. According to researchers with the University of Michigan’s Institute for Healthcare Policy and Innovation, roughly 1 in 8 Americans over 50 currently use the substance.

“As the stress of the...Read more

Tom Gralish/The Philadelphia Inquirer/TNS

These older women are feeding Philadelphians in poverty. What happens when they’re gone?

PHILADELPHIA -- Gloria White, 74, can’t remember precisely how long she’s been volunteering at the food pantry at the Second Antioch Baptist Church in West Philadelphia.

“Thirty, maybe 37 years,” said White, a retired investigator for the Consumer Product Safety Commission. “It’s a calling.” White, who now lives in Townsend, Del.,...Read more

Irfan Khan/Los Angeles Times/TNS

Older drivers reveal strategies for passing that 'ridiculous' California DMV renewal test

LOS ANGELES -- I wouldn't call it an atmospheric river, because those come and go. DMV mail falls in a never-ending rain, without regard to seasons.

Not that it's all bad news from readers who, like good soldiers, dutifully report every development from the front lines of the battle to renew their driver's licenses.

Rosa Maria Juarez, 94, ...Read more

Losing employer dental benefits when enrolling in Medicare … what do I do?

Senior Living / Toni Says /

Dear Toni,

I will be eligible for Medicare in July and am now receiving cancer treatment. I am currently on my ex-employer’s COBRA and searching for dental care when I go on Medicare in July. The only dental/vision plans I am finding are in Medicare Advantage plans, but my cancer facility has advised me to not go in that direction because...Read more

Social Security and You: Geezers, Floozies and Valentines

This column should be coming out around Valentine's Day. And it was 50 years ago, on Valentine's Day, that my soon-to-be wife and I went out on our first date. How that came about makes for a cute story.

I had just started working for the Social Security office in the small farming community of Litchfield, Illinois. I had moved there from my ...Read more

Oona Tempest/KFF Health News/TNS

Do we simply not care about old people?

The COVID-19 pandemic would be a wake-up call for America, advocates for the elderly predicted: incontrovertible proof that the nation wasn’t doing enough to care for vulnerable older adults.

The death toll was shocking, as were reports of chaos in nursing homes and seniors suffering from isolation, depression, untreated illness, and neglect....Read more

Antonio Perez/Chicago Tribune/TNS

Climate change is not just a risk for our grandkids

Young people are often the most vocal and concerned population regarding climate change, but it is increasingly becoming an issue for those of us age 50 and older.

Older adults face unique challenges and heightened health risks from a warming climate. It’s not just future generations that will be affected during some distant date in the ...Read more

Stacey Wescott/Chicago Tribune/TNS

Retirement home residents face losing some or all entrance fees as facility struggles to pay debts

BARTLETT, Ill. -- Continuing care retirement communities offer seniors their own home, meals and activities, and assisted living or nursing if they need it. They can accommodate residents who range from being independent to those who require 24-hour care.

Also known as life plan or life care communities, they require a hefty entrance fee, often...Read more