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We are dedicated to making Medicare's program work well for all beneficiaries. Your feedback from your own or your client's concerns and experiences with Medicare, will guide our Medicare advocacy efforts with key policy and decision-makers in both California and nationally with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and Congress.

  • 09Jun

    Did you know that Medicare beneficiaries can now obtain a replacement Medicare card if they have lost, damaged, or simply need to replace it by using their my Social Security account online? This is the newest expansion on Social Security’s online services through its my Social Security portal.

    This is a new convenience for beneficiaries, and any my Social Security account holder can make this online request. To do it, just log on to your account, and select the “Replacement Documents” tab, and then select “Mail my replacement Medicare card.” After requesting a card, it will arrive in the mail in approximately 30 days.

    According to Social Security, more than 19 million people have currently created an online personal account. In addition to the new service, you can use your account to change your address, adjust your direct deposit, obtain a benefit verification letter, or request a replacement SSA-1099. If you are still in the workforce, you can verify your earnings, and obtain estimates of your future benefits.

    For more information about my Social Security or to establish an account, visit
    www.socialsecurity.gov/myaccount.

  • 14Apr

    The head of the Institute for Communitarian Policy Studies at George Washington University, Professor Amitai Etzioni, recently released a video relating a sociological view on aging and how to deal with its changes. He uses the analogy of green bananas to point out that when we’re young, we’re often taught to take actions that secure a “good” future. We see things in more of a linear way, taking actions today to secure financial security, or a good home or family life, etc for the future. Once Professor Etzioni became an elder, however, he realized how this linear way of orienting one’s life, activities and goals wasn’t so applicable or relevant. The timeline that extends into the horizon isn’t so long, and more than ever, he is aware that one’s present moment is where the keys to happiness lie. In looking to sociological research, Prof. Etzioni found 3 key actions elders can take in leading happier, healthier and longer lives.

    They are:

    • Invest in friends
    • Volunteer, mentor, find ways to give back in your community, and
    • Maintain or develop your spiritual practice

    While having good, quality health insurance coverage and care certainly contributes to one’s peace of mind and quality of life, these 3 actions also enhance people’s happiness and health. Watch the short video below as Prof. Etzioni expands on these actions.

     

  • 01Apr

    On Thursday, April 2, the 2015 White House Conference on Aging will host a Regional Forum in Seattle, Washington to engage with older Americans, their caregivers, advocates, community leaders and others on the key issues affecting older Americans. It will be a dynamic and important dialogue and you can listen in and participate via the internet. Below is an announcement from the White House Conference on Aging with the details.

    The 2015 White House Conference on Aging will highlight the contributions of older adults today and help inform the landscape of aging policy for the future.

    The Seattle Regional Forum is an opportunity to hear directly from you on key issues such as ensuring retirement security, promoting healthy aging, providing long-term services and supports, and protecting older Americans from financial exploitation, abuse and neglect.

    Working in collaboration with the AARP and the Leadership Council of Aging Organizations, a coalition of more than 70 of the nation’s leading organizations serving older Americans, we want to ensure that your voice is part of our work.

    The event is invitation only, however we will be live webcasting the event. So please visit www.hhs.gov/live-3 at 8:30 am MST on April 2 to view the live stream.

    We also have set up a mechanism on our website for individuals, organizations, coalitions and others to submit comments, share stories, and provide thoughts about the issues. We value the input and ideas of older adults, their families, stakeholders, and others, and we think it is an essential part of the Conference process. Please visit our website here to learn more: http://whitehouseconferenceonaging.gov/blog/forum/page/white-house-conference-on-aging-seattle-wa-regional-forum.aspx

    Webcast Agenda

    8:30 a.m. Program Begins

    9:45 a.m. Administration Keynotes

    10:15 a.m. Overview of the White House Conference on Aging and the Day’s Objectives

    10:25 a.m. Break

    10:35 a.m. Panel Discussion: Healthy Aging/Long-term Supports and Services

    11:20 a.m. Panel Discussion: Retirement Security/Elder Justice

    12:15 p.m. Live webcast ends

    All times are Pacific Daylight Time (PDT)

  • 05Jan

    Happy New Year from California Health Advocates and from Social Security! In 2015, nearly 64 million Americans who receive Social Security or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) will receive a cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) increase of 1.7% to their monthly benefit payments.

    The average monthly Social Security benefit for a retired worker in 2015 is $1,328 (up from $1,306 in 2014). The average monthly Social Security benefit for a disabled worker in 2015 is $1,165 (up from $1,146 in 2014).

    See our Medicare Basics section for 2015 Medicare cost information. For more info on the COLA, including how it’s calculated, see the Social Security website.

  • 24Nov

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Have you heard of #GivingTuesday? It’s a global day of giving back, and it falls on the Tuesday after Thanksgiving, Black Friday and Cyber Monday. This year’s #GivingTuesday is Tuesday, December 2, 2014, and we at California Health Advocates join charities, families, businesses, community centers, and students around the world in coming together for one common purpose: to celebrate generosity and to give.

    Where does #GivingTuesday come from, you may ask? The retail industry has long benefited from seasonal shopping that symbolically kicks off with “Black Friday”– a day that has since inspired “Small Business Saturday” and “Cyber Monday.” #GivingTuesday, then, serves as a celebratory, fully connected day to kick off the giving season, when many make their holiday and end-of year charitable gifts.

    #GivingTuesday brings together diverse networks of people, large corporations, small businesses and nonprofits across an ever-expanding range of new media platforms to encourage and amplify small acts of kindness in the service of changing our world for the better.

    #GivingTuesday is not a new giving platform, but a call to action to celebrate giving and encourage purposeful giving during the Holiday Season. It’s an organizing principle to encourage the creativity and energy of people all over the world to work for good.

    Please consider donating to CHA as a way to support our continual giving and service to our millions of California Medicare beneficiaries, their families and professionals advocating on behalf of the health care rights of elders.
    Thank you! And may you enjoy a wonderful season of giving and gratitude!
  • 10Sep

    In light of Women’s Equality Day on August 26th, one of our Northern California Social Security Public Affairs Specialists, Deogracias Santos published a short and informative article on some things women should know about Social Security and how to make the most of their entitled benefits. Enjoy and read below!

    WOMEN AND SOCIAL SECURITY

    By Deogracias Santos,

    Social Security Public Affairs Specialist in the Northern Area of California

    Women’s Equality Day is August 26, and this is the perfect time to remind you how much Social Security values and appreciates women. Even though men and women with identical earnings histories receive the same benefits, there are things women in particular should know about Social Security. There are trends and differences in lifestyle and patterns of earnings that can affect benefits.

    For example, some women may be caregivers for many people: spouses, children, and parents. Taking time away from the workplace to care for a newborn child, ailing spouse, or aging parent can have an impact on your future Social Security benefits.

    Also, despite significant strides through the years, women are more likely to earn less over a lifetime than men. In addition, women are less likely than men to be covered by private retirement plans, so they are more dependent on Social Security in their retirement years.

    Did you know that women tend to live on average about five years longer than men? This means more years depending on Social Security and whatever other retirement income or savings they accumulate.

    If a woman’s spouse earns significantly more than she does, it is very possible she will qualify for a larger benefit amount on the spouse’s record than on her own. To learn more, visit our Women’s page at www.socialsecurity.gov/women and read, print, or listen to our publication, What Every Woman Should Know.

    You may also be interested in listening to Carolyn Colvin, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, on National Public Radio as she talks about women and money. Just visit www.npr.org/2014/04/15/301782870/social-security-chief-women-live-longer-so-they-should-save-early.

    To celebrate Women’s Equality Day, learn how Social Security treats men and women equally by visiting www.socialsecurity.gov/women.

     

  • 04Aug

    Yes, it’s the first full week in August and that means it’s also National Simplify Your Life week. Oftentimes, busy lives, full work schedules and long to-do lists, along with a multi-tude of technologies to help us get all these tasks organized and done, are a common theme for many. And while we may be up to great things and doing important service in the world, sometimes the complexities of life can feel burdensome, heavy and lead to stress and unhappiness. Simplifying our lives in a variety of ways can help bring back that natural element of levity, freedom, joy and exuberance that is always a part of our true inner nature. While there are many ways to simplify, one way to easily peal away from the hold of busy-ness and complexities and tap into our inner nature is to step outside.

    Nature is one of our greatest assets. Across the ages, we have read, known of many great poets, writers, artists, teachers, inventors that have gone out into nature for inspiration, clarity, and renewal. There is a reason why sages from spiritual traditions around the globe all come from the mountains to share their teachings. John Muir, a beloved writer and father of our National Park system shares that “the clearest way into the Universe is through a forest wilderness.” He also says that “Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to pray in and play in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul.”

    A hiker sits atop Trolltunga, or "troll's tongue," a famous rock formation in southwestern Norway. (Photo: Shutterstock)

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    In Norway, the 2nd happiest country on the planet according to UN rankings (U.S. is ranked 17th), they have a particular “simple” philosophy that greatly enhances their happiness and wellbeing. That is “friluftsliv”…while it may be a mouthful, and is not so easily translated into English, it literally means “free air life”. It refers to an uplifting ambience that arises from our outdoor dynamic relationship and enchantment with nature. Some Norwegians say this word describes a way of life that is spent exploring and appreciating nature. Their country’s population is small and their wild lands and mountains are all surrounding. Nature and ‘friluftsliv’, time exploring and appreciating nature,  is an integral part of people’s life in that country. It is a philosophy, a way of being that doesn’t require any technology or to-do lists, but instead is a willingness, a joyful curiosity and love of stepping outdoors to step into nature and into our inner nature. John Muir eloquently points to this when he says, “I only went out for a walk and finally concluded to stay out till sundown, for going out, I found, was really going in.”

    So, from this year forward, let’s take the invitation of “National Simplify Your Life” week and step outdoors! This is one, easy, time-tested way to recover our natural joy and freeness and to remember and celebrate our integral connection to our greatest asset, Nature.

     

    This article was inspired, in part, by the article, How ‘Friluftsliv’ Can Help You Reconnect with Nature.

  • 16Jul

    One of our Social Security Public Affairs Specialists for Northern California, Deogracias Santos shares a fun article about how the online program, My Social Security, offers an easy way to add more simplicity to your life. And, with National Simplify Your Life week coming up in the first week of August, this is a great time to get a jump start on some simplicity! :)

    MY SOCIAL SECURITY SIMPLIFIES YOUR LIFE

    By Deogracias Santos

    Social Security Public Affairs Specialist in the Northern Area of California

    So many people buzz through extremely busy and complicated schedules these days. A smartphone in one hand, a computer in front of you, and a digital task list that never seems to end. In addition, to complicate things just a little more, there’s another event you need to add to your list—National Simplify Your Life week. This event takes place August 1 through 7. Put it on your calendar so you don’t forget!

    Most organized people agree that planning ahead is a great way to simplify your life. Whether you’re planning tomorrow’s schedule, next summer’s vacation, or your retirement.

    We have a suggestion that can help you simplify your life when it comes to Social Security. If you haven’t already (it’s probably on your task list), open your own personal my Social Security account.

    What’s my Social Security? It’s a free, secure, online account that allows you immediate access to your personal Social Security information. During your working years, you can use my Social Security to view your Social Security Statement to check your earnings record and see estimates of the future retirement, disability and survivor benefits you and your family may receive based on your earnings. If you already receive Social Security benefits, you can use my Social Security to check your benefit information, change your address and phone number, change your electronic payment methods, and even obtain a benefit verification letter. Check it out and sign up for my Social Security at www.socialsecurity.gov/myaccount.

    After you check your online Social Security Statement, be sure to visit our Retirement Estimator. Like my Social Security, you can use it as many times as you’d like. The Retirement Estimator lets you compute potential future Social Security benefits by changing variables, such as retirement dates and future earnings. You may discover that you’d rather wait another year or two before you retire to earn a higher benefit. To get instant, personalized estimates of your future benefits just go to www.socialsecurity.gov/estimator.

    There are many tools at www.socialsecurity.gov that are simple and convenient to use. Open a my Social Security account today by visiting www.socialsecurity.gov/myaccount and simplify your life.

  • 03Jul

    Here are a couple pictures of Paula Holden, our SMP Regional Liaison, and Dan Boutwell, the Rite Aid Wellness Ambassador, at last week’s Savvy Senior event in Northern CA. Paula and Dan worked together to form what is now a flourishing and expanding outreach partnership, called Health In Pharmacies (HIP). The HIP program involves volunteers with the Health Insurance Counseling and Advocacy Program and Senior Medicare Patrol (HICAP/SMP) and Rite Aid and Walgreens pharmacies around the state. HICAP/SMP volunteers set up outreach tables and offer free information on Medicare and Medicare fraud prevention in participating Rite Aid and Walgreens pharmacies on certain days of the month. Both Dan and Paula who have started this whole trend were at this outreach event last week and visited each other’s tables.

    Paula Holden, SMP Regional Liaison and Dan Boutwell, Rite Aid Wellness Ambassador

    The HIP program is spreading in both Northern and Southern California and currently is operating in at least 10  Rite Aid stores and  4 Walgreens stores. We are finalizing a HIP tool kit to help our partners get “hip” and start this HIP outreach in their own area. More info on that soon!

    Here’s an article about how this partnership all began: SMP Forms Fruitful Community Outreach Partnership with Local Pharmacy.

  • 02Apr

    The infographic below effectively highlights some of the failures of our own health care system. While the U.S. has some of the highest health care costs, it is not even ranked in the top 50 countries for life expectancy. This begs the important question of: “If all this money being spent is not being used to increase quality of life or life expectancy, then where is it going?”  The infographic, contributed by Best Nursing Masters, concludes with identifying some of the common traits found in the residents of countries with the highest life expectancy, and encourages people to turn away from looking for a “cure” for symptoms, and instead to focus on developing healthy lifestyles.

    Healthcare Spending
    Source: BestNursingMasters.com

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