If you are a senior yourself, or will be in the near future, the month of May should hold particular significance for you. Each May we celebrate Older Americans Month in the United States. This year, if you do not already have a Medi-Cal planning component in your estate plan, Older Americans Month is an excellent time to learn more about the benefits of Medi-Cal planning.
The Historic Increase in the Older American Population
Over the last several decades, the population of older Americans has increased at a historic rate. One significant factor in the unprecedented growth is the aging of the Baby Boomer generation, the oldest members of which began entering their retirement years in 2011. By 2030, some experts tell us that one in five Americans will be retirement age. The U.S. Census Bureau expects the population aged 65 and older to nearly double from 43.1 million in 2012 to 83.7 million in 2050. For the first time in history, the number of older adults (age 65 and older) is expected to outnumber their younger counterparts (age 21 and younger) that same year.
Older Americans Month 2019
Every May, the Administration for Community Living (ACL) sponsors the nation’s observance of Older Americans Month. Every year there is a new theme for Older Americans Month. The 2019 theme — Connect, Create, Contribute — encourages older adults and their communities to:
- Connect with friends, family, and services that support participation.
- Create by engaging in activities that promote learning, health, and personal enrichment.
- Contribute time, talent, and life experience to benefit others.
According to the ACL website, “communities that encourage the contributions of older adults are stronger! By engaging and supporting all community members, we recognize that older adults play a key role in the vitality of our neighborhoods, networks, and lives.”
If you wish to actively get involved in Older Americans Month, ACL’s website is an excellent resource. On it you will find suggestions, resources, and material to celebrate older Americans and the communities of which they are a vital part. Everyone benefits when everyone can participate.
The History of Older Americans Month
When Older Americans Month was established in 1963, only 17 million living Americans had reached their 65th birthday. About a third of older Americans lived in poverty and there were few programs to meet their needs. Interest in older Americans and their concerns was growing. A meeting in April 1963 between President John F. Kennedy and members of the National Council of Senior Citizens led to designating May as “Senior Citizens Month,” the prelude to “Older Americans Month.”
Historically, Older Americans Month has been a time to acknowledge the contributions of past and current older persons to our country, in particular those who defended our country. Every President since Kennedy has issued a formal proclamation during or before the month of May asking that the entire nation pay tribute in some way to older persons in their communities. Older Americans Month is celebrated across the country through ceremonies, events, fairs, and other such activities.
The Benefits of Medi-Cal Planning
As we age, the natural aging process causes physical and/or mental deterioration that can eventually lead to the need for long-term care (LTC). As of 2018, the average cost of a year in long-term care (LTC) in California exceeded $100,000. Although most seniors rely on Medicare to cover health care expenses, Medicare explicitly excludes LTC expenses as do most private health insurance policies. For over half of all seniors currently in LTC it leaves them turning to Medi-Cal for help covering the high cost of long-term care. Medi-Cal is a “needs-based” program, meaning it is supposed to help low-income individuals and families who qualify with healthcare expenses. To qualify, however, both your income and your countable resources must be below the program limits. Moreover, the “countable resources” limit is very low – usually just $2,000 for an individual. If your non-exempt assets exceed the limit, the application will be denied and you will be forced to rely on those assets to cover your LTC expenses until their value is reduced to below the countable resources limit. This year, during Older Americans Month, talk to your estate planning attorney about how Medi-Cal planning can help protect your assets and ensure that you qualify for Medi-Cal if you need it in the future.
Contact a Sacramento Medi-Cal Planning Attorney
Please download our FREE estate planning checklist. If you have additional questions or concerns regarding Medi-Cal planning, contact us at the Northern California Center for Estate Planning & Elder Law to find out today by calling (916)-437-3500 or by filling out our online contact form.