Government Nursing Home Ratings Getting Tougher

Starting immediately, the federal government is making it harder for nursing homes to get top grades on a public report card, in part by increasing scrutiny of their use of antipsychotic drugs and raising the bar on an array of quality measures. Those grades — in the form of one- to five-star ratings — are part of Nursing Home Compare, a government website to help consumers evaluate nursing homes. While the star ratings, which debuted in December 2008, are lauded …

Across the States: Fighting for You in 2015

This month, state legislatures throughout the nation are convening to mark the inauguration of new governors, state legislators and other state leaders. We will then begin to hear State of the State messages from governors that detail the challenges, opportunities and priorities they have defined for the year ahead. At AARP, we’ve also set our priorities for 2015 with a state advocacy agenda that highlights how we will continue to fight for you in every state, the District of Columbia, Puerto …

New 529 Plan Created for People With Disabilities

Tax-friendly 529 savings plans no longer will be just for college. Legislation recently signed by President Barack Obama will allow states to set up similar savings programs to benefit those with disabilities without jeopardizing their federal benefits, such as Medicaid. Money invested in an Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) account — sometimes also called a 529A account — can be withdrawn tax-free to pay for qualified expenses, including education, housing, transportation, health care, employment training and legal fees. >> …

Those Pension Cuts and What You Need to Know

Congress recently carved a hole in a 40-year-old pension law that has prevented employers from cutting benefits earned by those already retired. This change applies to people covered under multiemployer plans that are in critical financial shape. Here’s what you need to know: What is a multiemployer plan? This is a pension covering workers and retirees from more than one employer in the same or related industries, such as trucking or construction. (Most of them were established under collective bargaining between …

Opinion: Why One 85-Year-Old Opposes a New Voter ID Law

By Ruthelle Frank In October 2011, an article appeared in my local paper reporting that, in order to vote in the next election, everyone was going to need a state-issued identity card for the first time. At 85 years old, I didn’t have one, because I’m handicapped and so I never drove a car or needed an ID. The newspaper said that I’d have to go to the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) and register for a card, and it …

Cut Social Security? Say Goodbye to Older Voters

Seventy-nine years after its creation, Social Security remains a vital key to Americans’ retirement security. And with the 2014 elections less than three months away, strengthening the program is a top priority for older voters, according to a new AARP survey of voters 50 and older. The message to candidates is clear: Stop treating Social Security like a line item in a budget. Older voters have earned their benefits through a lifetime of hard work and paying into the system. …