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White Plains, New York 10603
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Fishkill, NY 12524
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Guest Blog:Holiday Gift Ideas for Seniors

Our guest blogger this week is Lou Giampa is the President of Right at Home (Westchester). Lou is a New York State Certified Nurse Aide (CNA) who volunteers in hospitals and nursing homes throughout Westchester County.  He also volunteers with the Alzheimer’s Association, Meals on Wheels, and the Aging in Place community.


Mom and Dad are knocking out their bucket list – wine country trip, tandem skydiving, harbor dinner cruise – you can’t keep up with them. Grandma loves to cook, but standing in the kitchen causes knee pain. Grandpa must watch his TV programs, but he cranks the volume too high. Uncle Galen enjoys golf and gardening, but his hands lose their grip. Aunt Marianne relishes sitting down to chat over gourmet coffee and chocolates. For active and less active adults like these, how can you find them just-right gifts for the holidays

“The types and price ranges of holiday gifts for seniors expands every year and you can feel overwhelmed with choices,” said Lou Giampa, President of Right at Home of Westchester.  “In our work with the elderly and their families, I recommend that gifts mean something significant to the senior loved one and involve time spent together. Older adults don’t just want a handsomely wrapped gift. They want to enjoy memorable experiences with you.”

Giampa suggests the following variety of holiday gifts for seniors, depending on budget and the loved one’s activity level and personal interests:

Personal GiftsBionic StableGrip™ gloves for golf, gardening, fitness, driving and everyday tasks were developed by an orthopedic surgeon for a smooth, ergonomic grip and less hand pain (under $50).

  • For Him – Magnetic money clip; passport wallet; novelty neckties; National Football League (NFL) cuff links; Major League Baseball (MLB) team tie bar; carrier fleece blanket; personalized grilling apron; vintage golf club covers (under $50)
  • For Her – Massaging slippers; spa gift set; makeup travel toolkit; gardening tote with tools; skin beauty moisturizing set; full-service picnic basket; smart pedometer; acupressure mat (under $50)

Kitchen and Food – Pasta pot for two; “Wine of the Month” clubs; portable wine and cheese cooler; beer-tasting set; no-melt ice cubes; seasonings and finishing salts; gourmet olive oils; specialty foods gift basket; coffee bean and tea leaf sets; premium steaks ($20 – $100)

GelPro® floor mats offer soft shock-absorbing gel core therapeutic comfort for anyone suffering from foot, back, hip or knee pain, or osteoporosis, arthritis or plantar fasciitis. It is ideal for standing at the kitchen sink or garage workbench ($50 – $120).

Technology – The Crosley Cruiser portable turntable celebrates the sounds of vinyl records in a briefcase-styled record player that’s light enough to carry anywhere. About the size of a cellphone, the Bellman & Symfon® personal amplifier filters out background noise to give the gift of better hearing ($80 – $150).

Travel – Food and wine tours; brewery tours; American history tours; art and history museums; national parks; urban exploring on a guided Segway (free – full travel expenses)

Experiential Action and Adventure Gifts – Hot air ballooning; white-water rafting; surf lessons; stock car passenger or driver; boat dinner cruise; scenic helicopter tour; tandem skydiving; flying lessons; mountain biking; rock climbing; hang gliding; big game hunting; fly-fishing; snorkeling ($100 – $1,000)

Time – One of the most meaningful gifts any time of year is to carve out regular visits and outings with your seniors. Plan weekend handyman projects or go out for dinner and a movie. Check in regularly with phone calls and social media, but best of all, sit down together to talk, laugh and reminisce (priceless).

Gifts.com is one of most comprehensive online stores that searches all over the Web for the best gift ideas for senior men and women and even matches products to personality types (e.g., super grandma, health and fitness nut, intellectual). If you are unable to travel for the holidays to be with your older loved ones, Giampa notes that elder care providers like Right at Home offer companion care and transportation for holiday shopping and excursions. Home caregivers also can help your seniors buy the ingredients and make great-grandma’s traditional fruitcake. Or, skip the fruitcake and go for the chocolate-drizzled pretzel sticks.

About Right at Home

Founded in 1995, Right at Home of provides in-home care and assistance to seniors and the disabled.  We help care for seniors who require some assistance in order to maintain their independence, improving their quality of life, and enabling them to remain in their homes.  Our caregivers help with all the activities of daily living, as well as cooking, light housekeeping, safety supervision, medication reminders, and transportation to medical appointments, grocery shopping, social activities, etc. Our caregivers are thoroughly screened, trained, and bonded/insured prior to entering a client’s home.

For more information, please contact Right at Home (Westchester) at 914.468.1944 or visit us at www.westchesterseniorcare.com or click here to Follow their Facebook page.


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This entry was posted on Monday, December 15th, 2014 and is filed under Elder Law, Guest Blog | no comments | Leave a comment

November is National Home Care and Hospice Month

Millions of people across the country, from family caregivers to nurses to home health aides, dedicate their time and compassion to helping aging, ill and disabled individuals receive health care and support while they remain at home. November is Home Care and Hospice Month, and Americans are encouraged to honor the health care professionals and family members who provide these essential services.

As America’s senior population continues to rise, the need for adult home care providers is increasing. In addition, there is a growing trend towards providing as much care as possible in the home as opposed to an inpatient setting.

The care provided by home health workers, hospice workers and family caregivers is invaluable. Caregivers assist with activities of daily living such as bathing and eating, medication monitoring, skilled nursing tasks, housekeeping, transportation and emotional support.

Hospice care helps individuals facing end-stage illnesses to maintain their comfort and dignity as they approach the end of life. The end of life is one of the most challenging periods faced by individuals and their families, and hospice care workers also care for the spiritual and emotional needs of patients and their families.

During November and throughout the year, individuals are encouraged to recognize the caregivers in their lives. A simple action such as thanking a home health worker or offering respite to a family caregiver can make a huge difference to people who do important work each day.

Here are some helpful resources for caregivers in New York State:

-        New York State Office for the Aging

-        New York City Department for the Aging

-        Westchester County (Caregivers)

This entry was posted on Wednesday, November 26th, 2014 and is filed under Elder Law | no comments | Leave a comment

How to Balance Savings Between a 401 and a Roth IRA

Roth IRAs and 401(k)s are two of the most commonly used retirement savings accounts. For people with both a 401(k) and a Roth IRA, it is best to balance retirement savings between the two accounts in order to maximize employer contributions and tax benefits.

A Roth IRA provides considerable flexibility both before and after retirement. It is funded with after-tax dollars, so that it grows tax-free for the rest of the account holder’s life. There are no penalties or taxes for taking an early distribution of the amount contributed to the Roth IRA, providing peace of mind in case of an emergency later on.

A 401(k) is funded with pre-tax dollars and the account grows tax-deferred, so that taxes are paid when the distributions begin. Contributions to a 401(k) account receive an immediate tax deduction, but are subject to the uncertainty associated with future tax rates.

The most important consideration when balancing savings between a 401(k) and a Roth IRA is to make sure to contribute enough to the 401(k) to receive the full amount of the matching contribution from the employer. If there is no matching contribution or the match has already been met, then it is time to focus on the Roth IRA.

For people under the age of 50, there is a $5,500 annual limit on contributions to a Roth IRA. If an individual would like to keep saving after contributing enough to max out their Roth IRA and 401(k) employer matching, then more can be added to the 401(k) for additional tax deductions. If both accounts have been maxed out, it may be time to turn to a brokerage account or deferred variable annuities.

To learn more about our retirement planning services, visit www.littmankrooks.com.


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This entry was posted on Friday, November 14th, 2014 and is filed under Elder Law | no comments | Leave a comment

Consider the Details when Estate Planning

Once you’ve drafted a will and advance directives and signed a health care proxy, take into consideration some of the less obvious things that may alleviate some of the burden on a loved one or family member.  Here’s a quick list:

Access to Information

The family needs to understand and have access to the individual’s documents. Three steps are recommended: creating a centralized and comprehensive collection of documents and information; talking to family members about wishes; and providing key documents such as powers of attorney to family members named in those documents.

The collection of documents and information should include not just the estate planning documents, but also information regarding online accounts, burial arrangements, and all financial accounts.

Cash Flow

After the initial steps in administering the estate, cash from the estate will be available to settle debts and pay for estate administration costs. The cash from the estate may not be available immediately after the individual’s death, but bills such as burial costs and attorneys’ fees come quickly. Individuals should ensure that there is enough cash flow to handle the initial costs.

Bills and Accounts

Having a list of the account numbers and information for all financial accounts and debts prevent issues such as unknown creditors and unclaimed assets. There should also be a list of bills, particularly bills that are automatically withdrawn each month. Additionally, the individual should keep a list of online accounts and passwords.

Special Arrangements

Some people have special requests or arrangements which require additional planning. For example, the survivors of veterans who wish to be buried in a military cemetery must provide the veteran’s DD214; not having it on hand can cause delays. Such arrangements should be discussed and planned for.

Learn more about our estate planning services by visiting www.littmankrooks.com.


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This entry was posted on Tuesday, November 4th, 2014 and is filed under Elder Law | no comments | Leave a comment

Paid Time Off – What Household Employers Need to Know

By Tom Breedlove, HomePay by Breedlove

The holiday season is just around the corner, which means families are starting to make plans to travel, see loved ones and use up the rest of their vacation days before 2015 begins. So with the idea of time off on many people’s minds, it’s a good time to talk about how things like vacation and sick days work if you employ an in-home caregiver. Many of us are simply told when we began our current job how many vacation days, sick days or personal days we get each year and we just accept that. But did you know there are federal and state labor laws in place that dictate paid time off?

If you employ a caregiver in your home, federal law does not explicitly require you to offer any form of paid time off to your employee. However, in the state of New York, after 1 year of employment, you are required to provide at least 3 paid days off. The law makes no designation whether these should be vacation, personal days or holidays – just that your employee is entitled to have 3 paid days off. Most families that want to attract a quality caregiver probably already offer this minimum, but in case you’re reading this trying to plan the benefits package for your employee, keep that number in mind.

Additionally, if you live in New York City, you’re required to provide 2 days of paid sick time per calendar year after your caregiver has worked for you for 1 year. Any unused sick time is allowed to be carried over to the next year or paid to the caregiver if they are terminated. City law also requires you to keep sick time records for 3 years.

Finally, the state requires you to provide a written notice to your caregiver about your policy on sick leave, vacation, personal leave and holidays. This can be worked into your formal employment agreement and is a great way to get on the same page during the hiring process so your working relationship is positive from the start. Whatever you decide on with your caregiver, just make sure it’s in writing and understood by your employee before they begin working for you. The holiday season is not a good time to have a conversation about how many vacation days your caregiver has left in the year.

If you need help putting together a sample employment contract that includes paid time off, you can find one at Care.com. And if there are other aspects about being a household employer you get stuck with, just visit our state-specific tax page on the HomePay website.


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This entry was posted on Thursday, October 30th, 2014 and is filed under Elder Law, Special Needs Planning, Tax Planning | no comments | Leave a comment

National Estate Planning Awareness Week Starts October 20 2014

The Big Problem – Did You Realize That?

1. It is estimated that over 120,000,000 Americans do not have an up-to-date estate plan to protect themselves, and their families, making estate planning one of the most overlooked areas of personal financial management? Financial and estate planning is not just for the wealthy and is an important process for everyone. With advance planning, issues such as guardianship of children, managing bill paying and assets in the event of sickness or disability, care of a special needs child or parent, long-term care needs, and distribution of retirement assets can all be handled with sensitivity, care, and at a reasonable cost.

2. The majority of Americans lack the ability to adequately plan for their retirement as most Americans over 65 are totally dependent on Social Security. With proper knowledge and planning, future generations will certainly have a more secure future.

3. Most people mistakenly believe that concepts like financial awareness, financial planning , retirement planning, planning for major expenditures, investment planning, tax planning, insurance planning, and estate planning, are just for the wealthy. When, in fact, few people today can really attain and maintain their financial security without forethought and a strategy to protect themselves and their families. This attitude can be financially harmful and can be avoided with proactive action. Managing personal finances today is more complicated and more important than ever. We’re living longer, but saving proportionately less. Scores of us feel less secure in our jobs and homes than we did in the past. We see our money being drained by the high cost of housing, taxes, education, and health care while dealing with the uncertainty of investments and our economy. We worry about the future, or unfortunately in many cases, simply try not to think about it.

Click here to read the Six Steps Toward Successful Estate Planning. To learn more about The Financial Awareness Foundation and National Estate Planning Awareness Week, click here.


Learn more about the process of estate planning from Littman Krooks by visiting our website or contacting one of our attorneys.

This entry was posted on Friday, October 17th, 2014 and is filed under Asset Protection, Elder Law, Estate Planning, Special Needs Planning | no comments | Leave a comment

Aging Gracefully in Your Own Home - with a Little Help: Non-Profits Offer New Model for Growing Old on Your Own Terms

Our guest blogger this week is Jilana Van Meter, Communications & Administration Manager,  At Home on the Sound.

The term “aging in place” is being heard more frequently these days. Simply put, “aging in place” means remaining in your own home and maintaining your independence as you grow older. Some Americans hope to accomplish this entirely on their own; others assume they will have the aid of nearby family members. But there is another option. By joining a local aging-in-place organization older adults are now finding they can have the best of both worlds – the privacy and autonomy they value plus peace of mind from belonging to a community of people who are willing to step in to lend a hand when needed.

To date there are 145 such organizations (frequently referred to as “Villages”) already operating around the country. These nonprofit groups have proved so popular that 125 more are in development. There are ten “Villages” in New York State, with seven more on the way.

One such group in Westchester County is At Home on the Sound. Serving Larchmont and Mamaroneck, At Home on the Sound is currently comprised of 150 members (ranging in age from 62 to 100), plus approximately 80 community volunteers of all ages. Many of At Home’s members are also volunteers. Besides providing enriching programs and activities, At Home on the Sound matches the volunteers with members who need local transportation or other assistance. In any given week At Home on the Sound provides 25 to 30 rides to doctor appointments, errands – even the nail salon!

At Home on the Sound volunteers are also available to handle simple household maintenance tasks like changing a hard to reach light bulb or fixing a leaky faucet. Several times throughout the year local high school students offer technology workshops providing one-on-one assistance to At Home members with cell phones and iPads. Staying up-to-date with technology not only has wonderful social benefits but can be a matter of safety as well.  An occupational therapist offers free home safety assessments, while a volunteer Medicare expert conducts annual seminars to keep members up-to-date on laws and deadlines. Trained volunteer patient advocates are even available to accompany members to medical appointments.

At Home on the Sound schedules at least a dozen social and cultural programs each month for members. A gentle yoga class is offered every week. Lectures are held on a vast array of topics from Acupuncture to the Constitutional Convention. Bus trips are organized for outings to museums, Broadway shows, and concerts. Activities such as Scrabble, Bridge, foreign language conversation, and current events discussions bring together like-minded members for fun and intellectual stimulation. All the programs are designed to ward off the sense of isolation that can sometimes come with age.

Not only do aging-in-place organizations improve the lives of members, these nonprofits can also be a godsend for family members who live far away and may not have regular contact with their older loved ones. With a quick local phone call, the older adult who belongs to an aging-in-place group can easily access a ride or other assistance when needed.

Aging-in-Place organizations around the country offer similar services to enhance and improve the quality of life for older adults – and their families. To see if an aging-in-place organization is currently serving your area visit the Village to Village network for a searchable map of the US.

Learn more about At Home on the Sound by clicking here.


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This entry was posted on Tuesday, September 30th, 2014 and is filed under Elder Law | no comments | Leave a comment

New Workforce Development Initiative Includes Job Training for People with Disabilities

The Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act is a new piece of legislation that was recently passed in Congress. The law is intended to improve federal job-training programs and reauthorizes existing programs that supply federal funding for state and city job retraining programs. It also aims to eliminate overlapping programs to increase efficiency.

The Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act includes a “job-driven checklist” that is intended to ensure that participants in the programs are being trained for jobs in industries that actually need more workers. Much of the focus is on the long-term unemployed and on people who have experience but need re-training.

The new law will also focus on job training for people with disabilities. According to a Senate summary of the legislation, the unemployment rate is highest among people with disabilities. Over two-thirds of people with disabilities do not participate in the workforce at all. The law aims to address that problem by training individuals with disabilities in the skills that are necessary to be successful in a competitive, integrated workplace. The act also aims to improve outreach to young people with disabilities, to provide them with the training needed for successful employment.

Read more about The Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act by clicking here. Learn more about our special needs and special education advocacy services by visiting our website, www.specialneedsnewyork.com.



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This entry was posted on Thursday, September 11th, 2014 and is filed under Elder Law | no comments | Leave a comment

Tax and Legal Issues Household Employers Should Address at the Time of Hire

By Tom Breedlove, HomePay by Breedlove

Because of the complexities in hiring private duty care, it’s easy for families to misstep if they don’t have adequate help from the start. In fact, many of the more common household employment payroll and tax mistakes can be avoided by addressing a few key items at the time of hire. So if you’re about to hire in-home care, keep these three things in mind as you’re discussing the details of the employment arrangement with your new employee:

1. Go over the New York Wage Notice together. State law requires all employers to provide a Wage Notice to their employee at the time of hire and again by February 1st of each subsequent year of employment. But aside from complying with the law, the Wage Notice requires a myriad of information that will get both of you on the same page right away, including;

  1. Your name, address and phone number
  2. The employee’s hourly and overtime rates of pay
  3. The day of the week the employee will be paid and what they’ll be paid weekly

2. Talk about your time off policy. Similar to the Wage Notice, the state of New York requires employers to give their employee written notice about their policy on sick leave, vacation, personal leave and holidays. After one year of employment, your employee is entitled to at least three paid days off. And if you live in New York City, you’re required to give your employee two days of paid sick time per year as well. These requirements are important to know – not only from a compliance standpoint, but also because many families overlook time off and are unprepared for when their employee asks for a vacation or calls in sick.

3. Purchase workers’ compensation and disability insurance policies. If your employee will work 40 hours or more per week – or is a live-in employee – you must purchase a workers’ compensation and disability insurance policy. These two items are not handled through the tax and payroll process, but are very important because they provide financial assistance to your employee if s/he is unable to work due to injury or illness. Families caught without coverage can be held liable to pay their employee’s medical bills and lost wages and can be subject to large fines from the state. The most convenient solution for obtaining both a workers’ compensation and disability insurance policy is to contact the New York State Workers’ Compensation Board at (877) 632-4996.

By addressing these three topics before your employee starts, you’ll avoid getting off on the wrong foot both with your employment relationship and your payroll and tax situation. Like any new endeavor, mistakes can happen, but if you spend the time to research what your requirements are and come up with a game plan that is easy to execute, household employment doesn’t have to be as complicated as many people make it out to be.


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This entry was posted on Tuesday, September 2nd, 2014 and is filed under Elder Law | no comments | Leave a comment

Changes In SSI Benefit Payments in New York

By Amy C. O’Hara, Esq., Littman Krooks LLP

New York State residents who receive Supplemental Security Income (SSI) also receive a state supplement.  For 2014, the maximum federal SSI amount is $721 and the NYS supplement is $87 bringing the maximum SSI benefit to $808 per month.  At this time, New York State residents receive these benefits in one payment from the Social Security Administration (SSA), usually direct deposited into the recipient’s bank account.  Starting October 1, 2014, New York SSI recipients will receive their federal SSI benefit and the state supplement benefit separately.  The reason for this change is because New York State will realize significant savings by administering the state supplement benefits directly instead of paying the SSA to administer this program on its behalf.

The New York State Supplement Program, Bureau in the Center for Employment and Economic Supports within the NYS Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance (OTDA) will be responsible for administering this benefit. All business will be conducted by telephone, fax or mail only. There will not be walk-in offices to handle questions or requests. A customer support center with a toll free number will be available to assist recipients and is expected to be available starting August 2014.

The only change NYS SSI recipients will notice is that they will receive two monthly payments instead of one.  NYS SSI recipients will receive their state supplement benefits in the same manner that they receive their SSI benefit. Direct deposits will go into the same account and payments will be issued on or before the first of each month.  Starting in August 2014, NYS SSI recipients should receive notice by the State Supplement Program Bureau of this change. If the recipient has a representative payee for SSI purposes, this payee will remain the same for the state supplement benefit.

For more information please visit http://otda.ny.gov/programs/ssp/.

This entry was posted on Monday, August 4th, 2014 and is filed under Elder Law | no comments | Leave a comment