What every boomer needs to know, part VI | VailDaily.com

What every boomer needs to know, part VI

Editor’s note: This is the sixth part of a continuing series.Previous installments in this series have dealt with Social Security, “delayed retirement credits,” “representative payees,” Supplemental Security Income (“SSI”), reverse mortgages, senior health care issues and health benefits, and various aspects of “forward planning” (including wills, living wills, powers of attorney, estate planning, estate taxes, financial planning and inheritance), debt and how to deal with debt, and bankruptcy. The first five parts of the series may be found on line at http://www.vaildaily.com under the “archives” section, drop down, “columnists,” keyword “Robbins.”In part VI of the series, our focus will be on working past retirement age, elder abuse and scams affecting seniors. As with previous parts, this column is intended to be general in nature and does not consider the specifics or idiosyncracies of Colorado law. Rather, it is intended to address what might appertain in at least some jurisdictions, and to summarize much of what is common among them.One of the primary issues which may concern seniors in the workplace is potential age discrimination. Stated broadly, an employer may not fire you, deny you employment or otherwise discriminate against you on account of age. An “older employee,” under most relevant authority, is a worker over the ripe old age of 40! Neither may you be turned down for promotion, training programs or other educational benefits on account of your age.If you have reached full retirement age (65 or 67, depending on your birth date) and you either remain on the job or go back to work, you will not lose your Social Security benefits. If you forego Social Security benefits until age 70 (whether you stay at work or not), you will receive a larger monthly benefit check, regardless of any additional earnings. If you, however, collect Social Security payments before you reach full retirement age and earn additional income, your benefits will be reduced if your earnings exceed a certain amount. For further details, you may wish to check with your local Social Security office or see http://www.socialsecurity.gov, or call 800-772-1213 (earnings/benefits status and referral to local offices).Statistics suggest that as many as one in seven seniors nationwide experiences at least some form of elder abuse. Most times, sadly, the abuse is at the hands of a family member ( I will leave for an editorial on another day what this sorry comment spells for the fabric of society). Statistics also show that abused seniors are more likely to die prematurely as compared to seniors who are not abused. Perhaps a lesser, but not insignificant consequence of elder abuse, is seniors who are rendered penniless or lose their homes. Out of fear, loneliness or incapacity, most elder abuse goes unreported. If you are the subject of abuse, you must not let fear constrain you. Left unreported, the abuse will likely pull you down and worsen.”Elder abuse” may be defined as neglect, exploitation or painful or harmful mistreatment of anyone over the age of sixty five. The abuse may be physical or psychological in nature, be comprised of isolation or neglect, or be constituted of economic abuse. In many jurisdictions, certain economic abuse of an elder (such as theft) carries harsher penalties if committed against a senior.If abuse is suspected (or if you, yourself, are a victim of abuse), Adult Protective Services in most counties may be contacted or you may contact the state Attorney General (in Colorado, 303/866.4500). If the danger is immediate, call 911. You should always be cautious and suspicious if a caregiver or friend pressures you to sign a power of attorney or if a home repairman or other sales person pressures you for immediate cash payment for services not yet rendered. Clearly, an kind of unwanted, offensive physical contact (a slap, a punch, or others) may constitute abuse.Telemarketing fraud is a $40 billion-a-year industry in the United States. Mail scams net another $4 billion per year. Disproportionately, seniors are the victims of such scams.Some common scams include: charitable donation cons; door-to-door solicitations; financial advisor and investment scams; funeral and cemetery fraud, Medicare fraud; living trust mills; telemarketing, mail and, increasingly, internet fraud; predatory real estate lending scams; insurance sales scams; and home repair/home improvement scams.Legitimate charities can be checked with the Secretary of State’s offices or the Attorney General’s offices depending on the state (the Colorado Secretary of State’s number is 1-303-894-2200). You can also call your local Better Business Bureau or its local equivalent. With solicitations of all sorts (door-to-door, mail, telephone or internet), resist high pressure tactics of any sort and check with the Better Business Bureau. If you do make a purchase, in many places, at least under some circumstances and for some kinds of purchases, you may cancel the contract within three business days of the purchase. Beware, too, of any get-rick-quick scheme. As you’ve heard a thousand times before, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Before hiring a financial advisor or anyone who proposes to do work on your behalf or in your home, first check them out. Get all agreements in writing and make sure you understand precisely what they say before signing. If you have any questions, the price of an attorney to review the agreement before you sign it, is usually an investment well made (the simple act of engaging an attorney on your behalf may chase the unscrupulous away!). Never give private information to a stranger. Never send money in advance to anyone you either do not know or have not vetted. To avoid telemarketers, register your number with the National Do-Not-Call Registry (888/382.1222) or register on the Federal Trade Commission Web site at http://www.donotcall.gov. To remove your name from telephone and mailing lists, write to Direct Marketing Association, Inc (DMA Mail Preference Service, P.O. Box 643, Carmel, NY 10512, or DMA Telephone Preference Service, P.O. Box 1559, Carmel, NY 10512). You may also register from removal online (for a fee) at http://www.dmaconsumers.org. To remove your e-mail address from e-mail marketing lists, go to http://www.dmaconsumers,org/offemailist.html. Lastly, you can opt out of credit agencies’ pre-approved credit offer mailing lists by calling 888-5-OPTOUT (888-567-8688) or by going on line at http://www.optoutprescreen.com.If you do get “taken,” despite your vigilance, do not let embarrassment prevent you from reporting a scam to local law enforcement, the Attorney General or any other appropriate law enforcement or regulatory body.In the next part of this series (or, perhaps, the next two), we will take a look at the growing problem of identify theft, nursing care, the possibility of raising grandkids, divorce and remarriage, the loss of loved ones, and legal assistance for seniors.Happy 4th! Here’s to keep your independence as you age!Rohn K. Robbins is an attorney licensed before the Bars of Colorado and California who practices in the Vail Valley. He is a member of the Colorado State Bar Association Legal Ethics Committee and is a former adjunct professor of law. Mr. Robbins lectures for Continuing Legal Education for attorneys in the areas of real estate, business law and legal ethics. He may be heard on Wednesday nights at 7:00 p.m. on KZYR radio (97.7 FM) as host of “Community Focus.” Reach Robbins at 926-4461 or at robbins@colorado.net.Vail, Colorado

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