When planning ahead in these uncertain financial times, it’s important to think about long-term care for yourself and your loved ones. Long-term care (LTC) is a range of services and supports you may need to meet your health or personal needs over a long period of time. These services might include emergency response systems, senior centers, assisted living, nursing homes, transportation services, and many more.
Most long-term care assists people with activities of daily living like dressing, bathing and using the bathroom. Other common long-term care services include helping with housework, cooking, shopping, or even managing money.
Long-term care can be provided at home, in the community, in assisted living or in nursing homes. And it’s not just for seniors—if you have a significant health challenge, you may need long-term care at any age.
While there are a variety of ways to pay for long-term care, it is important to think ahead about how you will fund the care you may need. Generally, Medicare doesn’t pay for long-term care, but only for a medically necessary skilled nursing facility or home health care.
Long-term care insurance may be an option to help you and your family prepare ahead of time for the potential need for long-term care. There are a variety of plans available that vary in cost depending on what services you want covered and the age you begin coverage. Before you choose a plan you should take into account where and what kind of care you might need.
Voting has come and gone, and President Obama was declared the winner of the 2012 Presidential election.
But there’s still a lot of behind-the-scenes work that takes place before the election results are 100 percent official.
Here’s a look at what happens between now and the inauguration:
Between now and December 17:
The governors of all of the states must certify the election results, and provide copies of the Certificates of Ascertainment to the Archivist of the United States and your state’s electors.
Electors meet in their state and cast their ballots for the President and Vice President. A copy of these votes is sent to the Vice President for the official count in Congress. The votes must be received by December 26.
Congress meets in a joint session to officially count the electoral votes. As President of the Senate, the Vice President oversees the process and announces the final results.
January 20 is the official day of the inauguration, however, this year because it falls on a Sunday, the public swearing in ceremony will be held on Monday, January 21, 2013.
Image description: President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama embrace Vice President Joe Biden and Dr. Jill Biden moments after the television networks called the election in their favor. Photo by Pete Souza, White House.
President Barack Obama won the 2012 Presidential election. According to major news outlets, he captured 303 electoral college votes, and won important battleground states like Ohio and Virginia.
Obama will begin his second-term in office when he is sworn in at a public ceremony taking place on January 21, 2013.
Today, U.S. citizens vote for president and other offices. But did you know the president is not chosen by a nationwide popular vote?
After today’s general election ballots are counted, electors in the Electoral College system will cast their votes for U.S. president in December. When their votes are counted in January, the presidential candidate who gets more than half (270 votes) wins the election.
Each state has a certain number of electors, based on each state’s total number of members of Congress. For example, a large state like California has 54 electoral votes, while Rhode Island has only four. All together, there are 538 electoral votes.
The founding fathers established the Electoral College in the Constitution as a compromise between election of the president by a vote in Congress and election of the president by a popular vote of qualified citizens.
Make sure you know the location and hours of your polling place, voter ID requirements, and rights regarding provisional ballots. You can also find more information to make sure you’re ready to vote in the elections.
No, online voting is not currently allowed in the United States. Some uniformed and overseas citizens can vote by fax or e-mail if their state accepts absentee ballots in these formats.
Uniformed Service Members and Other Overseas Citizens
The Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act (UOCAVA) of 1986 allows you to vote absentee in local, state and federal elections if you are a U.S. citizen, 18 years or older, and an active duty member of the Armed Forces, Merchant Marine, Public Health Service, NOAA, a family member of the above, or a U.S. citizen residing outside the United States.
Many states allow absentee voters that meet UOCAVA requirements to submit their ballot by fax or as a scan attached to an e-mail.
While the holiday season keeps you busy, food safety at family meals or holiday parties is more important than ever. As you get ready to prepare big meals for guests, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is ready to answer your questions about food safety.
According to the USDA, turkey is the food you ask about most often. Common questions about turkey are whether drugs are used in turkeys, and if the turkeys are inspected before they hit your grocery store aisle.
You can rest assured that any turkey you buy at the store has been inspected by either the USDA or your state to ensure they meet certain standards.
No matter what dishes you plan to serve at your holiday dinners or parties, it’s important to remember that any food can easily be contaminated. The USDA recommends that you follow the “two hour rule” and put away food that has been setting out for more than two hours to prevent germs from spreading.
You can also prevent the spread of food borne illnesses by washing your hands before and after preparing your food and keeping your kitchen utensils clean.
The Electoral College is a process, not a place. The founding fathers established it in the Constitution as a compromise between election of the President by a vote in Congress and election of the President by a popular vote of qualified citizens.
Disaster Recovery Scams Prey on Victims and Donors
Scams often follow disasters. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) warns to expect scams that prey on disaster victims in need of assistance and generous Americans hoping to contribute to the recovery. Here’s how to protect yourself.
For people considering donating:
Donate to charities you know and trust. Be alert for charities that seem to have sprung up overnight.
Look closely at the names of the organization. Some fake charities try to gain your trust by using names that are similar to legitimate charitable organizations.
Ask if the caller is a paid fundraiser, who they work for, and what percentage of your donation goes to the charity and to the fundraiser. If you don’t get a clear answer or don’t like the answer you get, consider donating to a different organization.
Do not give out personal or financial information – including your credit card or bank account number – unless you know the charity is reputable.
Never send cash. You can’t be sure the organization will receive your donation, and you won’t have a record for tax purposes.
Don’t donate to unknown individuals that post their needs on social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter. They may actually be fake victims.
Check out a charity before you donate. Contact the Better Business Bureau’s Wise Giving Alliance at www.give.org.
Fraudsters target disaster-affected areas, hoping to cash in on property owners’ insurance settlements and financial relief from the federal government. Home and business owners who need to hire a contractor should:
Check the contractor’s identification, and references as well as licensing and registration requirements.
Ask for copies of the contractor’s general liability and worker’s compensation insurance.
Avoid paying more than the minimum in advance.
Deal with reputable people in your community.
Beware if the contractor comes door-to-door or seeks you out
The FTC’s 3 Day Cooling Off rule gives you three business day to cancel home repair work, without penalty.
Call local law enforcement and the Better Business Bureau if you suspect a con.
Most people prepare for job interviews and plan before going on a trip or taking an exam. But how many people actually get ready before going to the doctor’s office?
Preparing for a doctor’s appointment will help you make better decisions about your health, especially if your diagnosis requires medicines or surgery. The following tips will help you get ready for your next appointment and take a more active role in improving your health.
Write down your symptoms/questions: Be honest and accurate when describing your symptoms, especially if your symptoms vary in frequency and intensity. Write them down in detail on a piece of paper and take it with you to your next appointment. You can also write down any questions you want to ask the doctor. Writing everything down will help you avoid forgetting things.
Ask questions about your tests: Your doctor might ask you to take one or more tests before making a diagnosis. Ask about the purpose of the test to understand how the results might impact your health. Also, remember to ask about the cost of the tests, whether they are covered by your insurance, and who will explain the results and when.
Understand your diagnosis: The doctor will be ready to make a diagnosis once she fully understands your symptoms and has the results from your tests. She might prescribe medications or other types of treatments. It’s important that you fully understand your diagnosis and treatment, and your doctor’s recommendations, so ask questions. If more questions come up while you’re at home, write them down and call your doctor or ask about them during your next doctor’s appointment. This will help you make better decisions about your health.
Get a second opinion: In some cases, you may want to get a second opinion after receiving a diagnosis or certain treatment options. In fact, most doctors like the idea of second opinions, just let them know you intend to get one. Second opinions can give you peace of mind. However, you may want to check your insurance policy to see if it’s covered.
Use an interpreter: Having good communication with your doctor will help avoid misunderstandings that could result in a wrong diagnosis. If English is not your first language and you’re more comfortable speaking in your native language, consider using an interpreter. Call your doctor to see if interpretation services are available. If not, go with someone who can help you with the language barrier. Be mindful when using children as interpreters as you might need to discuss things that are not appropriate for them.
MedlinePlus.gov has more tips and resources on how to talk to your doctor so that you are ready for your next doctor’s appointment.
Happy Halloween! Have Fun and Stay Safe With These Tips
It’s Halloween! Make sure you and your family have a fun-filled, safe holiday with these tips.
Halloween activities like trick-or-treating or parties provide opportunities for you and your family to be exposed to germs. With flu season just around the corner take precautions and get a flu shot.
Check your local weather report before you head out and be prepared to bundle up underneath those costumes. Dressing for the occasion will help prevent maladies like hypothermia and will allow you to enjoy your night, no matter what the weather.
If you and your family will be participating in the age-old tradition of trick-or-treating, be aware of the area you’ll be visiting and watch out for traffic. Whether it’s your own local street and town, or a theme park with family specials, getting lost in an unfamiliar area can pose a danger to the enjoyment of the evening and your personal safety.
If you live in a neighborhood, odds are that you are going to get some visitors this Halloween. If you choose to hand out treats, be aware of the people you allow inside your home. If there are guests that are unfamiliar to you, hand out candy on your doorstep, and keep the night’s activities outside.
Disability.gov Offers Resources in Support of National Disability Employment Awareness Month
Did you know October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM)? NDEAM celebrates the contributions of workers with disabilities and raises awareness about disability employment issues. This year’s theme, “A Strong Workforce is an Inclusive Workforce: What Can YOU Do?” recognizes the many and varied talents of America’s workers with disabilities.
Information about tax benefits for employers who hire and retain people with disabilities is also available. State-specific employment information can be found by visiting Disability.gov’s Employment section, choosing “Search State Resources Only,” and then, selecting a state from the map or drop-down menu on the page.
Disability.gov is updated daily to ensure its information is as timely as possible. Recently added employment resources include The American Job Center’s Find a Job website and the Department of Labor’s new Workplace Flexibility Toolkit, which provides resources to help all workers be as productive as possible, so employers can successfully meet their goals.
For more information, follow Disability.gov on Twitter, “Like” us on Facebook, read Disability.Blog or sign up for email alerts to receive updates on employment and other topics of interest to you. You can also visit Disability.gov to find out about NDEAM events taking place across the country.
Hurricane Sandy Expected to Make Landfall Within an Hour
Hurricane Sandy is expected to bring life-threatening storm surge flooding to the Mid-Atlantic coast, including Long Island Sound and the New York Harbor. Winds are expected to be near hurricane force at landfall.
Image description: The National Hurricane Center’s predicted path for Hurricane Sandy as of 2 p.m. Friday.
Hurricane Sandy is moving up the eastern coast of the United States. The storm will bring lots of heavy winds and rain, which could lead to flooding in some areas. Make sure you and your family are ready for the storm by using the tips on Ready.gov.
As we get closer to the election, officials are cautioning voters to be aware of attempts at voter intimidation and fraud.
There have been some reports of people receiving official looking letters, phone calls or other communications questioning their eligibility to vote. These communications seek to intimidate voters and prevent them from casting a ballot.
Any attempt at voter intimidation based on race, color, national origin or religion is illegal, and the U.S. Department of Justice is taking steps to make sure everyone who is eligible can cast a ballot on election day.
Federal personnel will be monitoring certain polling locations on election day to prevent attempts at intimidation. Department of Justice attorneys will also be available to take complaints about voter intimidation before, during and after the election.
The Internet provides unprecedented levels of connectivity and information across many channels, such as email and social networks, and it also helps us accomplish everyday tasks like paying bills, filing taxes and much more. October is National Cyber Security Awareness Month (NCSAM), which encourages you to always pay attention when you’re sharing information on the internet.
NCSAM is a reminder that emerging cyber threats require shared responsibility to help create a safer cyber environment. Each week of October has focused on a specific cyber security theme; this week focuses on the need to develop cyber security education programs to help train the next generation.
The Department of Homeland Security suggests the following tips to help keep you and your information safe online:
Set strong passwords and don’t share them with anyone.
Keep your operating system, browser, and other critical software optimized by installing updates.
Limit the amount of personal information you post online and use privacy settings to avoid sharing information widely.
Be cautious about what you receive or read online – if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
As the election approaches, it’s important to make sure you’re familiar with the voting procedures in your state.
Polling Place Location and Hours
Prepare for election day by confirming the location of your polling place and when it opens and closes. Check your state election website to find your polling location and hours.
Some states allow early voting. If your state offers this option, be sure to check the location. Your early voting polling location may be different than on election day.
Polling Place Accessibility
If you need special assistance, contact your local elections office for information, advice, and educational materials about voting equipment and details on access to the polling place, including designated parking.
Voter Identification (ID) Requirements
Some states require that you show identification in order to vote. Check your state election website for voter ID rules.
If there are questions about your eligibility to vote because your name does not appear on the voter registration record or you do not have the required ID, federal law allows you to cast a provisional ballot. Individual states may allow you to cast a provisional ballot for other reasons.
Provisional ballots are reviewed after the election and counted if your eligibility can be verified.
By Gail Cunningham, Vice President of Membership and Public Relations at the National Foundation for Credit Counseling
Being in first place usually brings with it bragging rights, but not if it’s the top spot in the Federal Trade Commission’s annual complaint report. For the 12th year in a row, identity theft has held that dubious distinction, as ID theft complaints once again topped the 2011 list. Of more than 1.8 million complaints filed in 2011, 15 percent were related to identity theft.
Although smartphones brought great convenience into people’s lives, they also brought with them another opportunity for thieves to access personal data and use it to their advantage. As a matter of fact, a recent study by Javelin Research found that smartphone users are approximately 33% more likely to become a victim of identity theft than non-users. Further, the Javelin study also revealed that 62% of smartphone users do not use password protection, allowing anyone who finds or steals their phone to have access to the contents which typically includes a vast amount of personal information.
To increase awareness and provide identity theft protection resources, the fifth annual Protect Your Identity Week (PYIW) , held October 20-27, will offer broad-based ID theft protection education in addition to focusing on the threats related to smartphones with the 2012 theme of “ID Theft Protection on the Go.”
During the week, events will be held nationwide in communities across the country, providing consumers with the opportunity to shred sensitive documents free of charge, obtain ID theft protection information, and responsibly recycle unused mobile devices.
It is anticipated that more than 100 events will be held from coast-to-coast. All events are free of charge and open to the public. To locate the PYIW event closest to you, go to www.ProtectYourIDNow.org. Clicking on the website map will provide details of events in your area.
If you’ve been diagnosed with breast cancer and need to have a mastectomy, you have certain rights under the Women’s Health and Cancer Rights Act of 1998. Learn about what benefits your health plan is required to provide.