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Lack of knowledge of government programs could cause trouble in care planning

How an elderly individual addresses the costs they face can play a very major role in what their retirement is like and what sort of financial legacy their loved ones are ultimately able to receive from them. For many elderly individuals, one of the bigger costs they face are the costs related to long-term care and medical care. Thus, care costs are something it can be very important for seniors to prepare for.

There are many things it can be important to take into account when care planning. One such thing are government benefits. There are many government programs seniors may have benefits eligibility under during their elderly years, including Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.

Government benefits programs can be very complex. Thus, it is not uncommon for a person to have a fair amount confusion and uncertainty about the details of such programs. This can be seen in a recent survey about Social Security.

Two groups were asked questions in the survey. One of the groups consisted of 1,279 Certified Financial Planning professionals. The other group consisted of over 1,200 consumers in the 45 to 64 age group. Of the consumer respondents, only 9 percent reported having a great deal of knowledge about the Social Security benefits determination process. The surveyed Certified Financial Planning professionals indicated that having a solid grasp of Social Security's nuances is very rare among their clients, estimating that such a grasp is something only around 1 percent of their clients have.

Thus, it appears that strong knowledge of the rules of Social Security is fairly rare among consumers.

Not having the right information about government benefits programs when care planning could result in an elderly individual leaving benefits on the table, not having their overall care plan properly adjusted to the benefits they are eligible for or inadvertently putting their benefits eligibility in danger. Skilled elder law attorneys can help seniors understand how government benefits could impact their care planning, provide them with important information on the details of government benefits programs that are relevant to care planning and help them tailor their care planning to their specific circumstances, including their government benefits circumstances.

Source: InvestmentNews, "Consumers lack detailed knowledge of Social Security," Mary Beth Franklin, Sept. 28, 2015

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