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From the Financial Hotline

Call, fax or e-mail for answers to all your financial questions.

Date: 7/1/2017

Author: Financial Hotline


Q: Are there any simple solutions to making my email communications more secure? I don’t need a private server or anything too complicated.

A: secured email account would be a start. When you hit the send button using a secured email, the information contained in it is encrypted, so it can only be read by your intended recipient. By contrast, regular emails can be easily intercepted and read by just about anyone.

You will need to sign up for an email account with a provider that offers a secure connection. These services allow you to log in and use your email over an encrypted HTTPS connection. You can verify that you are using a secure connection by looking for the “https,” rather than the standard “http,” in the address bar of your Web browser.

Your current email provider may offer this service. Check your settings to increase security. In Hotmail, click on “Options” and choose “More Options.” Select “Managing Your Account,” click on “Account Details” and enter your password. Click “Connect with HTTPS” and “Use HTTPS Automatically” under Other Options and click on “Save.” In Gmail, check the “Always use HTTPS” option in your Gmail Settings menu, accessible from the gear icon in the upper-right corner.

Q: My mother’s doctor has recommended she be moved to a nursing home. Are there any resources for financial help if we want to keep her at home?

A: There is a Medicare program called PACE (or LIFE) that covers in-home care but it is currently only available in 31 States. It’s a Medicare and Medicaid program that provides home-based care and services to people aged 55+ who qualify for a nursing home level of care. The program’s goal is to help more elderly adults stay in their homes as they age instead of having to move to skilled nursing facilities.

If a senior has Medicaid, there will be no additional cost to them. If they have Medicare, they will pay a monthly premium for both the longterm-care portion and the Part D drugs. With the PACE program, there are no co-pays, deductibles, or coverage gaps. But seniors may have to pay out-of-pocket for any care received outside the program that isn’t approved by their PACE healthcare team.

If a senior needs nursing home care while enrolled in PACE, the program will pay for it. You can find more info at www.Medicare.gov To find out if you’re eligible and if there’s a PACE program near you, search for PACE plans in your area, or call your Medicaid office. Because there are so few available programs, in some areas it can take as long as 9 months to apply and get approval.

Q: My car was in an accident and the insurer is considering is a total loss. Do I have the option of keeping and repairing the vehicle while still getting some benefit from my insurance?

A: From the standpoint of insurance, an insurer is generally required to total a car if the cost of repair exceeds a stated percentage of the actual cash value of the vehicle; that percentage may vary by state. If the owner has the necessary coverage, the insurer then settles with the owner for the actual cash value in return, the insurer gets title to the car. If the owner would like to keep the vehicle the insurer will usually still pay a benefit but they will deduct the salvage value of the vehicle from the amount paid to the owner. But beware - in many States a car that has been declared totaled by an insurance company cannot be legally repaired and put on the road.

Q: Is there a free service where I can verify the Social Security number of a current employee?

A: Yes, it is through the Social Security Administration at https://www.ssa.gov/employer/ssnv.htm You can verify up to 250,000 employee names and Social Security numbers. While the service is available to all employers and third-party submitters, it can only be used to verify current or former employees and only for wage reporting (Form W-2) purposes.

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