Archive for the ‘Retirement’ Category
After you have honorably served your time in the military during a war, you want to know that you will be honored and recognized when you rotate back home. Thankfully, that is what the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is there for and there is a VA benefits application. Of course, it’s not as simple as sitting on your couch and receiving your pension; you have to get out there and do some work to show that you qualify. It may seem like common sense to you, but when dealing with a large entity like the VA you have to show everything on paper.
The benefit that we are talking about is known as the “Aid and Attendance” pension benefit. This basically means that you have to prove that you served during the appropriate time for a certain length of time. This benefit goes beyond the standard Service benefit and you can only qualify for it if you have qualified for the Service benefit as well. So in order to qualify for the Aid and Attendance benefit you need the service qualification and the asset qualification. The service qualification states that you:
- Were on active duty for at least 90 days
- Served at least one day during a time of war
- Were honorably discharged from the military
The asset qualification is a little more complicated in that the standards are a little more fluid and there is some legal wrangling that you can do here to make sure you get the most out of your benefits. The baseline qualification for the asset portion is that you cannot have more than $50,000 ($80,000 for married vets) in assets, not counting your house or vehicle(s). So we’re talking retirement funds (excluding Social Security), investments, and property you don’t live in. The VA uses a complex equation called the IVAP (Income for Veteran’s Purposes) to figure this all out. Because it is so complicated, many vets get someone to help them navigate it. It’s kind of like doing your taxes; you can do them on your own, but you generally will get a lot more back when you have a professional do them for you.
In order to get the Aid and Attendance pension benefit, you also need to prove your medical needs. In other words, you need to show that you require assistance in two basic daily activities (bathing, cooking, administering medication, etc.), are blind or nearly blind, or currently living in an assisted care facility.
All in all, it really is up to you to see if you qualify for the VA pension benefit. It’s not going to fall into your lap, so make sure you take the steps required. If you are unable to do so, find someone that can help you. There are professionals out there that specialize in such legal wrangling and can make sure that you get the most out of your VA benefits. After all, you have served your country in an exceptional manner and it is only fitting that you get what is rightfully yours.
About The Author: Marty Fogarty is the founder of The Heartland Law Firm, Chicago’s expert for VA benefits and holistic Elderlaw planning. Heartland uses the Internet to its fullest to solve certain offline challenges faster by working with trusted online resources. This is why www.VeteransBenefitsGuide.com was created; to give you clarity about your eligibility and certainty about your next step towards success in qualifying for VA benefits. If you’ve ever asked yourself, “Do I qualify for VA benefits?” give the site a visit and have your questions answered.
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There’s no doubt that wheelchairs revolutionized the ability of disabled and sick to be independent and mobile. Especially so the motorized wheelchair has become a staple for disabled adults to live full and healthy lives. As chairs become more complex and more mobile, the need for our buildings to adapt to the needs of disabled adults continues to decline. However, one thing that will always be needed for most wheelchair-bound adults is the use of a wheelchair lift.
In essence, a wheelchair lift is a mechanical mechanism that’s designed to lift a wheelchair and its operator above a step, rough terrain or incline. Wheelchair lifts usually rely on powered devices such as hydraulics and motors to lift the wheelchair and occupant. Not all wheelchair lifts are created equal. The minimum weight most can carry is 200 pounds and the maximum weight lifts can run up to 400 to 500 pounds (for larger chairs and/or occupants).
Not Just for Vans
Wheelchair lifts can be found on many different structures. Most people are familiar with the transportation wheelchair lifts that fit on minivans, full sized vans and buses. Wheelchair lift technology has increased so much that these useful devices can be installed on many other structures, including apartment buildings, stairways and even boats.
Many buildings, especially in Canada and America, are required to provide accessibility options for disabled adults. Many times stores and landlords choose to use ramps instead of wheelchair lifts because mechanical lifts require more maintenance and likelihood of mechanical trouble. Still, in places where ramps are impossible (such as a narrow stairwell or a high incline), wheelchair lifts provide accessibility options so that disabled adults and children can be included in everyday business and life. Today, disabled adults can live just as fulfilling and mobile lives as fully-abled adults.
Wheelchair Lifts in Vans
Wheelchair lifts are often the only option for disabled adults to use transportation- public or private. At a minimum, wheelchair lifts must be placed in a mini-van and come ready with security bolts to keep the wheelchair steady. For taller operators or heavy-duty wheelchair lifts, often a full sized van is necessary to support the lift and chair with an occupant.
Some wheelchair lifts are designed to lift only the chair. These are especially useful for smaller caretakers who cannot lift the chair into their vehicle for transporting the operator. While these systems are more light-duty and often less expensive, it requires some mobility by the operator to be wheelchair-independent. You can also search for used handicap vans on the market if a new van is not in the budget.
Cost of Wheelchair Lifts
The least expensive wheelchair lifts are those that only lift the chair. These light-weight and light-duty models start around $500 for vehicle models and run up to over $2000. The heavier ones that can lift larger chairs run more. The wheelchair lifts designed to also lift occupants are designed to support more weight and vary costs depending on purpose. Wheelchair lifts for homes can run from $5000 and up. Luckily, they are often reimbursed by disability claims and homeowners insurance.
Wheelchair lifts are useful for almost any situation where mobility assistance is required. Wheelchair lifts provide disabled adults with the chance to be as mobile and active as they want.
About the Author: Nick Asensio lives in San Francisco with his wife Julia and their three children. Despite not being disabled himself, Nick has long had a passion for helping the disabled after growing up with a disabled parent. Visit his website for the very latest in news and offers for assisted living equipment for the disabled.
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Where are the best places to retire?
Choosing a spot to live out your life after retirement is no small task. Yes you want to live somewhere nice, but you want to spend your golden years in a location that won’t cost you an arm and a leg. Also, while you are retired you aren’t dead yet. You need a spot that offers plenty of recreation and other perks while still saving you a little money in the process.
Here in the United States, there are plenty of retirement options that fit the bill. Here’s a breakdown of the top ten retirement locations that fit the above criteria.
Lake St. Louis, Missouri
In this planned community recreation is the name of the game. Built right alongside not one but two lakes (St. Louis and St. Louise), about 40% of the town’s population are over the age of 50 . . . a good indication of a solid retirement spot. With house prices ranging from about $60,000 for waterside condos to well over $1 million for the higher-end homes, the median home price is $200,000. State income tax is a friendly 6%. Lake St. Louis is a great spot for waterside recreation and keeping some money in your wallet.
Not just for snowbirds, Holland Michigan is a town of 34,000, of which 40% is over the age of 50. While Holland is known as a big summer town (with a nearby lake for watersports and fishing) it is also active in the winter — case in point, the town features heated sidewalks and streets which melt snow and ice in the winter. The most attractive feature of Holland for retirees? Average cost of a large 3-bedroom home is just about $100,000.
While the over-50 population is not out of this world (33% of a population of 240,000) this town is known for cheap real estate with median home prices in the low 100s. A series of recent updates have turned this once sleepy town into a green-friendly and biker-friendly mecca for outdoor enthusiasts with 100 miles of interconnected cycling and walking trails known as the Louisville Loop.
Don’t sleep on this sleepy town of 32,000 people — Bangor is fast becoming an oasis for culture and the arts in a state not known for supporting them. Bangor boasts a symphony orchestra and lots of city-funded arts events. Bangor is also known for having four distinct seasons, meaning you can ski and take out your snowmobile in winter and hike, play golf, and even fish when the weather turns. Median house cost is just $165,000.
Broken Arrow, Oklahoma
If you are looking to retire someplace quiet but still want big city amenities, Broken Arrow may be the town for you. Just 90,000 people live here (a quarter of them over 50) but the town is a fifteen minute drive to Tulsa and not too far from Oklahoma City and Dallas, TX. Golf is big in Broken Arrow — there are seven courses in town, meaning there’s a golf course for every 11,000 citizens or so. Broken Arrow is benefitting from a population boom after median home prices fell into the low 100s.
Traverse City, Michigan
Fully half of this town’s tiny population (14,300) are of retirement age. Sure, this is Michigan so there will be four distinct seasons. The winters in Traverse City are not hard, and access to beautiful Lake Michigan (this town is on the northwest shore) means a near constant opportunity for activity. The area’s hospital is one of the top 100 in the country, and the town’s proximity to the Interlochen School for the Arts means Traverse City is a hotbed for arts and culture.
Named after the hometown of one of the city’s founders, Surprise is made up of about 45,000 retirees and another 45,000 unfortunate working souls. With a huge aquatic center in town to help beat the Arizona heat and an active sports and outdoors community (including playing fields for two Major League Baseball spring training teams) Surprise is a great place to go for an active retirement. With beautiful 2-bedroom homes available for less than $100,000, Surprise AZ is just that.
Boulder City, Nevada
When you think Nevada, don’t think Las Vegas. Boulder City, located just a short drive from Sin City, is a gambling-free mecca for active retirees in the middle of a state full of wild activity. There’s no state income tax in Nevada, a boon for your budget, and the small population of this town is over half 50+. Hiking, mountain activities, golf, and music festivals are the name of the game in Boulder City.
This is country living at its finest. Nestled in the middle of the Texas Hill County, this small town of 11,000 is just about 50% of retirement age. You can easily drive to the bigger cities of Austin or San Antonio or stick around the Hill County to enjoy some of the finest weather in the world. What’s there to do in Fredericksburg? Sure, there’s gold and outdoor activities, but most of all there is cheap land, cheap real estate, and the income tax-free government of Texas to enjoy.
It wouldn’t be a list of retirement cities if Miami weren’t on it. The fact is — retirees have been flocking here for years for the warm weather and low cost of living. Sure, homes are rather expensive, with median 2-bedroom homes going for around $200,000 or more, but the state has no income tax and the sun feels so good. The local arts and culture is top notch, and falling home prices in the state mean you might be able to find a great deal on your new retirement.
This post is part of a series of posts focusing on the questions related to “where are the best places to…”. Other posts include:
- Where Are the Best Places to Travel?
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- Where Are the World’s Best Places to Live in 2009?
- Where Is the Best Place to Buy Movies?
- Where Are the Best Places to Live in the United States?
- Where Are the Best Places to Ski?
- Where Is the Best Place to Get Sports News?
- Where Are the Best Places to Get Live Football Scores?