Social Security Medicare – It’s Your Right!

The Social Security Act was originally passed in 1935 and signed by then President Franklin D. Roosevelt in fulfillment of his “New Deal” theme which essentially asserted the responsibility of the people for their own. The responsibility was not one-sided, not laying the burden of social insurance on the people: it aimed to  force the individual to save, not voluntarily, but through taxation. It also partitioned responsibility between the individual and business, holding business partially responsible for such situations as unemployment and stresses on health and longevity. The original act provided for funding of retirement, survivorship, disabilities, and unemployment. In 1965, President Lyndon Johnson signed an amendment to the act, providing health care insurance, also known as social security Medicare. This act expressed the notion of a society caring for its members, the notion central to the Johnson administration theme of the “Great Society”.

The social security Medicare amendment made medical insurance available for the aged and the disabled. Former president Harry Truman and his wife were the first citizens to receive it. Medicare and its complement, Medicaid, accounts for 20.1 percent of the yearly federal budget. It is primarily funded by taxation on payroll checks. A varying percentage of payroll is taxed and collected under the Federal Insurance Contributions Act (FICA) of 1939, an act that moved collections from Title VII of the Social Security Act to the Internal Revenue Code. The individual worker actually pays only 50 percent of the social security Medicare tax, with the employer paying the other 50 percent. This sharing of the tax burden was not wholeheartedly received by business and continues to be controversial, but after 75 years of acceptance, the practice is likely to continue.

Present day ultra-conservatives like to call social security Medicare a form of welfare, thereby associating the negative connotations of the word, “welfare”, with what all working people who pay taxes have actually paid to receive in their old age. Although social security Medicare became law 30 years after the original Social Security act, the social philosophy underlying the original act hasn’t changed. In this view, the people that constitute a society are considered to have  natural compassion for other people in pain and suffering. Whatever the causes of that pain and suffering, human compassion cannot turn a heart of stone towards  people who are in such a state. The heart of flesh requires action. Social security is an attempt to reduce the volume of people the society would have to care for out of their own pockets; people are forced to insure themselves. The more people that are insured, the fewer society will have to care for in the long run. Social Security Medicare is not only a way by which individuals insure themselves – it is a way that society protects itself.

Neither is Medicare a free ride once you turn 65 and are eligible for it. Medicare hospitalization requires that you have paid into FICA for at least 10 years, but for Medicare medical treatment, you must also pay a premium. You’ll also have deductibles and co-payments. Some studies have shown that private sector insurance is even more generous than Medicare.

Don’t let these hearts of stone make you ashamed to avail yourself of what you’ve paid for all your working life! Social Security Medicare is a right and an entitlement. It’s not the number of millionaires a society has that makes it great. It’s how a society cares for its people that distinguishes it.

The Changing Face Of Social Security Eligibility

On August 14, 1935, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed into law the Social Security Act, a social insurance fund that would, from that time until the present,  enable Americans to retire with funds sufficient to provide them with basic living expenses until they died. It would also provide for life insurance to aid a bread-winner’s survivors upon death. It would fund the care of America’s disabled, and tide the unemployed over to the next job with unemployment insurance. Since that time, hundreds of millions of Americans have paid into the fund and received the benefits, and the U.S. has remained strong, a leader and beacon to the world, the symbol of a nation just, compassionate, and strong. In part, this reputation was established by the Social Security Act of 1935, and this nation is sure to be remembered by history as a nation that valued each and every citizen and cared for their own. This distinction was not so evident at the beginning, when social security eligibility was more restricted than it is today. Recent events may nullify it in the end.

The Social Security Act covers old age retirement, unemployment, public health services, care of the blind, life insurance, assistance to the elderly, aid to families with dependent children, and maternal and child welfare. Social security eligibility meant you were entitled to one of these programs if you belonged to the group addressed. But in 1935 there were other requirements that reflected the definitions and prejudices of the time.

In the beginning of social security, a worker was defined as a working, white male. Half of all women were not eligible for unemployment and retirement, and over a little less than two-thirds of all African Americans were excluded. The discrimination against Afro-Americans was not principally the practice of the federal government, although the exclusion of certain job categories that were performed primarily by minorities was built into the act and thus indirectly discriminated. Racial discrimination was a result of state control of eligibility: southern states that discriminated on the basis of race did not grant eligibility to African Americans, or they would deem them eligible for less than a comparable white worker or family. In some states, children born out of marriage were also deemed ineligible.

Between 1935 and the present, social security eligibility has evolved along with social attitudes about women, minorities, and occupations. In 1935, employees of commerce or industry were covered, except for railroad workers. Between 1939 and 1990, most occupations gained social security coverage, with railroad workers gaining eligibility in 1951. In 1964 women were also acknowledged to have social security eligibility if they were covered under the act and its amendments.

Occupations are no longer a key factor in social security eligibility. You may have several occupations in your lifetime. You are required to have resided in the U.S. for a minimum of 5 years. The most significant factor for eligibility is whether you have paid the taxes that fund social security. Today, 6.15 percent of your gross pay is taxed for social security under the Federal Insurance Contributions Act (FICA). You pay only half that amount. Your employer pays the other half. Each coverage has its own eligibility requirements and you should look into the one you are seeking. The most common concern is how much you are eligible to receive. For retirement benefits, the amount you receive depends on the amount you paid into FICA. For unemployment benefits, the amount is based on your earnings for a specific recent period before you lost your job.

Into today’s economic climate, the question that concerns most is not how much unemployment you will receive, but how long you can receive unemployment. After several extensions since the world financial crisis began, in June Congress failed to extend unemployment. For 2 million people social security eligibility for unemployment has come to an end. Two million now destitute people may signify the beginning of the Great Society’s end. Let us hope social security comes to mean not only the funding of people’s lives during unemployment or old age, but also the security of the nation’s peace and personal dignity for the individual.

Hi-Tech Elderly Home Care Helps Make Nursing Homes a Thing of the Past

It’s something my sister and I have heard ever since we were young, and somehow, my father and my mother completely agreed on this too – when they were too old to live independently (and I don’t really think they expected the day would actually come), we were not to send them to a nursing home. Instead, we were to think of some kind of a pain-free euthanasia method to dispatch them. Yes, that’s gruesome, but  the way they said it, it seemed like it was the nursing home that was gruesome, and what they were suggesting was in fact a humane alternative. But now that they are both closing on 90 and their health is failing from a number of diseases that we all get as we live out our geriatric years, I’ve had to investigate the options to nursing home care. I didn’t have a choice –  If I did convince them to go to one, they would probably run away or something. The thing is, technology now has made elderly home care completely possible by remote control. There are ways to go off to work and still be sure that your parents haven’t slipped and fallen, that they have had their exercise, that they’ve  remembered to eat. Of course, it’s the Internet and several high-tech devices that make this possible.

Perhaps the devices and the abilities listed below seem like just some more high-tech wizardry on the market – more stuff on the crowded shelves at the stores; you have to understand that nothing could be farther from the truth. Assisted-living, nursing homes and old-age homes have been ways to put our elderly relatives out to pasture for about a century now. This no longer has to be done. With these elderly home care devices, your parents can live with you; your children and their grandparents can get to know each other, and life will be much kinder to all concerned without wrecking anyone’s worklife. If this isn’t a revolution, what is?

Phillips Lifeline is a unit of the electronics giant that services the elderly home care market. The Lifeline is a Panic Button pendant that can be worn by a person; when an emergency occurs, they can press the button on the pendant, and right away, Philips will send emergency doctors home and call the designated person. Even better, they have an AutoAlert system that can detect falls on its own and call the doctor is in. The service costs $50 a month.

What do you do in a case where you fear that grandma is perhaps too ill to contact you? What if an elderly person suffers a stroke and can’t press a button? The alternative is a system that costs about $1000 a month. An elderly home care company called GrandCare installs custom sensors everywhere your parents are likely to go in the home. They will put a sensor in the shower so that they’ll know if mom has fallen down; there will be one next to the toilet to make sure she isn’t having trouble getting up. There’ll be one on her bed to make sure she gets up at the right time, and there will be one on every door to the house to alert you when she goes out.

How about the pill taking regimen that every elderly person needs to have help with? There are typically a dozen kinds of medicine; how can they ever remember all of that without personal help from you? That’s where the Philips Medication Dispensing Service comes in. You can stock it up with 60 doses of pills, and the machine will speak out when it’s time to take them. If the pills aren’t taken after a reminder, the device will get on the phone and alert you. The service costs $75 a month. Or consider the ActiveCare Personal Assistance Link; it’s a basic cell phone that also has GPS and a fall detector. If an elderly person has fallen, the device will right away call for help, with GP{S coordinates.

In the future, elderly home care promises to get even better. They will put sensors on a walking stick or on the shoes to help remind a person that there is not enough exercise they’ve had.

Care For Elderly – Hope On The Horizon

care for elderlyGeriatric specialists keep worrying about how elderly people, living in a way that demands little of them physically or cognitively, can slide into physical and mental decline. There are constant reminders elderly people get to try to use their brains a little bit doing crossword puzzles and the like. Of course crossword puzzles are only going to engage the brain as long as the person doing them is interested, and for as long as he doesn’t get used to them. Once the challenge wears out, this kind of artificial stimulation is going to be very little use. But what if institutions that provide care for elderly people thought up instead of better ways to keep their residents grounded and in touch with life?

There has been a plan of just this sort proposed, where elderly people who live in homes, could volunteer in schools to help a public education system that’s critically shorthanded. And while they go about it, they could help reverse their own mental decline. The Journal of Gerontology just published a study in which they used brain scans to see how it improved the brains of eight elderly women from homes that provided care for elderly people, if they volunteered at local public schools in Baltimore. The women were all between 65 and 70 in age, and they were just the right age where you could begin to worry about their mental impairment. These weren’t well-educated women, and they have never made much money. They even did poorly at a psychiatric test that measured their mental state. They signed up with the Experience Corps that trained them and set them up with schools to accept work as librarians, office workers, and as teaching assistants.

After six months of this kind of work, when they were tested again, they did remarkably better in how their brains performed, and the very changes could be seen on an MRI. Just the fact that they were in a social setting where they were asked to answer to people’s needs, and where they were asked to work hard, brought about visible improvements. The main reason that elderly people begin to lose their grip on getting their lives together after a time is that they lose the ability to concentrate on the things they need to do, and to make decisions. This is the kind of impairment that makes them need to move in with their children or move in into a home that provides care for elderly people. The skills they learn volunteering though, forces their brains to keep up, to find a way to organize better.

Working in a school is so much better than simply doing crosswords, or playing and reading with your grandchildren. When you work in a social setting, you need to keep track of so many things – doing the work you’re asked, getting people to do as to ask them, to keep track of what everyone says and how they behave, and trying to maintain personal relationships with everyone around you. It just goes to show how we have it all wrong, having people retire and mostly vegetate. Our brains were built to think and to work. When our brains are denied the simple work they need to do to stay healthy, would it be any surprise to  see them decline?