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Even Wealthy Retirees Rely on Income from Social Security and Pensions

A study from Vanguard, a leading provider of Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs) and 401(k)s, concluded that even retirees with significant retirement savings rely more on Social Security and traditional pensions than on tax-deferred retirement accounts for their retirement income.

Researchers studied the wealth and income of 2,600 older households with $100,000 or more in retirement savings. Even for those households with significant assets, Social Security, the bedrock of American retirement, accounted for the largest portion of income: a median of $22,000 per year. Perhaps surprisingly, traditional pensions were the next highest source of annual income, with a median of $20,000. Tax-deferred retirement accounts provided a median $13,000 per year in retirement income.

What does the future hold? Researchers say the portion of private-sector workers with traditional pensions has dropped from 88 percent in 1975 to about 33 percent today. That means that tax-deferred retirement accounts and other private savings will become an even more important supplement to Social Security retirement benefits in the future.

Talk to a New York estate planning attorney at Littman Krooks to learn more.

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Intellectual Activity Can Stave Off Alzheimer’s

Researchers have found that lifelong intellectual activity can delay the onset of Alzheimer’s disease by years.

In a study published in the journal JAMA Neurology, researchers found that people who were genetically prone to Alzheimer’s held off the disease up to a decade longer if they worked in a complex field or were college-educated. Practice of intellectual activities like reading and playing music was also found to delay the disease substantially.

The researchers studied 1,995 Minnesota residents without dementia, looking at their education, occupation and mid- to late-life intellectual activities. They found that people who engaged in brain-stimulating activities delayed the onset of dementia and had better memory levels.

For people carrying the ApoE4 gene, a risk factor for Alzheimer’s, intellectual activity staved off the disease by an average of 3.5 years. The ApoE4 gene is found in approximately 25 percent of the population.

Contact a New York elder law or NY estate planning lawyer at Littman Krooks, LLP to learn more.

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Critical Care Riders Can Help With Long-Term Care Costs

Americans’ life expectancies have risen considerably. A male who has reached age 65 is now expected to live to age 86.6, and a 65-year-old female is expected to reach age 88.8. With more people living longer, there is more time to enjoy the golden years — but also a greater possibility that the elderly will need long-term care and the danger that they will outlive their retirement savings.

Insurers offer a number of policies to cover such situations, including stand-alone long-term care insurance policies and the option of adding a long-term care rider to one’s existing life insurance. Critical care riders are yet another option.

A critical care rider, also known as a chronic illness rider, can be added to a life insurance policy, allowing the policyholder to tap death benefits to reimburse a health care facility that provided care or family members who paid for it. The benefits are tax-free, usually up to $330 per day, and the remainder of the death benefit goes to one’s beneficiaries.

Critical care riders are becoming more popular. In part, this is because the riders can be paid out for any costs related to a medical condition, without the need to qualify expenses or provide receipts; such ease is not available with long-term care insurance. 

Policyholders may expect to pay an additional 10 to 20 percent of their premiums for a critical care rider.

To learn more about estate planning or long term care planning, visit

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New York’s Senior Citizen Rent Increase Exemption Program to Expand

Effective July 1, 2014, the Senior Citizen Rent Increase Exemption (SCRIE) program has expanded. 

Under the program, tenants who are over the age of 61 and who pay more than a third of their income in a rent-regulated apartment may stabilize their rent.

The expansion of the program is expected to add 24,000 older individuals to the 50,000 already enrolled. Community leaders have asked for help in spreading word, as many seniors in New York City may not be aware that they are eligible. The city’s Finance Department will send letters to applicants who were rejected in the past five years due to income requirements to notify them that they may now be eligible.

SCRIE has helped low-income senior tenants since 1970. The program cost the city $124 million last year, and this year New York State will contribute $1.2 million to its expansion.

Seniors who may be eligible can call 311 to request that a form be mailed to them. Alternatively, they may visit the SCRIE page on the New York City government website:

For more information about our elder law services or to talk to a White Plains Estate Planning Attorney, visit

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Horses May Help Alleviate Alzheimer’s Symptoms

A small pilot study has indicated that equine therapy – spending time grooming, feeding and walking with horses – eases symptoms of Alzheimer’s dementia, making patients calmer and happier.

Equine therapy is used today for children and teenagers with emotional and developmental disorders, and the new study indicates that it may also be useful for older adults with Alzheimer’s disease.

Researchers at Ohio State University studied 16 people with Alzheimer’s disease who participated in activities at an adult senior daycare center. Eight of the seniors who volunteered for the study were taken to an equine education center while the other eight pursued other activities at the daycare center. The clients visited the farm once a week for four consecutive weeks, grooming, walking and feeding the horses under the supervision of caregivers.

Researchers found that the patients who interacted with horses showed an immediate positive mood change and were less likely to resist care or become agitated later in the day.

Learn more by talking a New York elder law attorney at Littman Krooks.

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Major League Baseball Supports Autism Awareness

In the coming months, Major League Baseball (MLB) is hosting a number of events to support autism awareness.

For example, the New York Yankees are offering half-price tickets to members of the Autism Speaks community for their Saturday, August 9 home game against the Cleveland Indians. The offer is valid for select general, non-premium seating areas. Fans may purchase these tickets at a half-price savings from the regular advance ticket price. The discount is on a first-come, first-serve basis and is only available online at, using the “autism” offer code. You may call (212) YANKEES with any questions. The offer expires August 8, 2014.

Autism Speaks is a leading autism advocacy and research organization. Its members are committed to funding research into causes, treatment and cures for autism, raising awareness about autism spectrum disorders, and advocating for people with autism. Learn more at

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Accessing Guide Dogs and Service Dogs as a Veteran

Veterans with disabilities who are in need of guide dogs or service dogs can get help through the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).

Service dogs are trained to perform tasks for a person with a physical disability. Dogs are traditionally trained as guides for people who are blind or visually impaired, but service dogs are also trained to help people without vision impairments.

Disabled veterans who may benefit from a service dog are assessed by the VA. Blind and hearing-impaired veterans who want a guide dog are put in touch with independent guide dog schools. All other disability cases are evaluated to determine the goals to be accomplished through the use of a service dog and to establish that the veteran has the ability and means to care for the dog.

In every case, the VA provides veterinary care and equipment through its Prosthetics and Sensory Aids program. However, the VA does not pay for food, boarding, grooming or other routine expenses associated with owning a dog.

Learn more about veterans benefits at

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Seniors Are Now the Fastest-Growing Social Media Adopters

Seniors are starting to catch up with younger Americans in their use of communication technology and social media. Older Americans now belong to the fastest-growing group of social media adopters, though they still use the internet and social media less often than people in younger age groups who adopted social media earlier do.

A study from the Pew Research Center’s Internet Project found that 59 percent of Americans age 65 or older are internet users, an increase of six percentage points in one year. Also, 77 percent of seniors report owning a cellphone (an increase from 69 percent in 2012).

Despite the growing adoption rates of communication technology among the elderly, a large number of older Americans still remain remain relatively unconnected to online life when compared to the population as a whole. Among all adults, 86 percent are internet users and 91 percent have cellphones.

Social media displays this gap clearly. Forty-six percent of online seniors, or 27 percent of the total population of older Americans, use social networking sites such as Facebook — compared to 73 percent of adult internet users or 63 percent of all adults.

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Alzheimer’s Deaths Significantly Underestimated in Past Accounts

A new study indicates that the number of deaths caused by Alzheimer’s disease may be six times higher than previously thought, making it the third most deadly disease in the United States. Only heart disease and cancer cause more fatalities.

Earlier numbers indicated that 83,000 people died of Alzheimer’s in 2010, but according to the new study, the actual number of fatalities from the disease that year was closer to 500,000. Heart disease caused nearly 600,000 deaths in 2010, and cancer caused about 575,000.

According to researchers at the Rush Alzheimer’s Disease Center at Rush University in Chicago, deaths from Alzheimer’s disease go underreported, causing the discrepancy. Often, only the immediate cause of death, such as pneumonia, is reported on a death certificate, and an underlying cause of death, like Alzheimer’s disease, is not listed.

It is estimated that 5.2 million people had Alzheimer’s disease in 2013, and that deaths related to the disease have increased by nearly 68 percent over the past ten years.

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Seniors and Smart Homes: Aging in Place

A wave of new, high-tech devices is helping to keep seniors safe. As the baby boomer generation ages and personal electronic technology develops, many gadgets aimed at the health and safety needs of seniors are coming to the mainstream market.

Already readily available, wireless monitoring kits allow the adult children of elderly parents to check in on seniors remotely. One kit, called Lively, comes with six tiny accelerometers that can be placed in various areas around the home to detect movement. The devices can be placed on a bed, favorite chair or refrigerator door. The senior can also carry the device on his or her person, hung on a keychain or tucked in the sole of a shoe. The senior’s adult children or other caregivers can then monitor the activity patterns through a secure website. If there is no movement after a certain period of time, an alert is activated.

Other high-tech gadgets are on the way. Soon, sensors embedded in carpet will be able to analyze walking patterns to predict infirmities, an easy chair will be able to take vital signs and prescription bottle caps will alert seniors when medication needs to be taken.

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