Under traditional Medicare, most people need to buy a supplemental Medigap policy to cover Medicare's considerable out-of-pocket costs, and need to enroll in a private Part D plan for drug coverage. Medicare Advantage plans receive a lump-sum from Medicare to provide enrollees with all Medicare Part A and Part B benefits and usually have lower premiums than Medigap insurance. Many of the plans also provide drug coverage and are popular for providing a range of additional services that Medicare doesn't cover, such as discounts on eyeglasses or dental care. The most critical differences between Medigap and Medicare Advantage plans are in the out-of-pocket costs required and, access to doctors and other healthcare providers..The Meals on Wheels Association estimates that could mean 19 million fewer meals will be served. According to a Meals on Wheels survey, 70% of programs are cutting the number of meals served, 50% are reducing the number of seniors being served, and one-in-six are closing community center meal sites, or home-delivered programs..Gradually Raising the Payroll Tax Cap: The payroll tax cap has not kept pace with changing income patterns over the past few decades, so it makes sense to adjust the maximum taxable wages to realign them with the originally intended level. Gradually raising the cap to cover 90 percent of the nation's taxable earnings by 2050 would allow it to once again represent the same percentage of that figure that it did as recently as the early 1980s..This week, The Senior Citizens League announced its support for the Seniors Have Eyes, Ears, and Teeth Act, which was recently introduced by Representative Lucille Roybal-Allard with the support of seventy-eight original House cosponsors..What we hope is that we will spur you to take action and make a difference in helping us protect, preserve, and improve the programs you depend so much on: Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid..Aside from Wednesday's hearing, there has been very little discussion on Capitol Hill about fixing the DI program. Reallocation is likely, but TSCL supports methods that would prioritize a reduction in fraud, waste, and abuse, since the program struggles with improper payments. Action will be needed within the next two years, and TSCL will keep a close eye on developments since they are expected to impact the OASI program. For updates, visit the Legislative News section of our website..Could the Social Security COLA Be More Fairly Adjusted to Provide a Fixed Annual Dollar Amount?.Meditation and yogNew research has found that mindfulness meditation can actually change the structure of the brain - in a very protective way. Just a couple of weeks of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction training, developed by the University of Massachusetts' Center for Mindfulness, improves concentration and attention since strong focus of attention is one of the central techniques. Meditation training has long been used as a technique for reducing blood pressure, stress and anxiety and also has helped people quit smoking by learning to "decouple" the state of craving from the act of smoking..Changes in social activity level. What sort of social circle does your friend have? Besides getting together with you, does she visit with others, participate in religious activities, or other group events? Does your friend still work on favorite hobbies, or is she starting to drop interest?

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Bill to Give Free Vaccines for Seniors.On Thursday, the Ways and Means Committee held a long overdue hearing on the Social Security 2100 Act. The bill was introduced by Congressman John Larson in January of this year. A companion bill was introduced in the Senator by Senator Richard Blumenthal. If adopted these bills would strengthen and reform Social Security by providing beneficiaries with a 2 percent benefit increase, would base the cost-of-living on the CPI-E, create a new minimum benefit set 125 percent of the poverty line and cut taxes for beneficiaries. Increase costs to the program would be paid for my applying the payroll tax to income over 400,000 and gradually increase the payroll tax rate to 7.4 percent..The Notch continues because Congress has yet to enact legislation to correct it. Notch Reform has been a highly contentious issue. In 1994 the director of the GAO testified to the Commission on the Social Security Notch saying that the Social Security Trust Fund would not have built up adequate surplus "had notch legislation been enacted at an earlier date." Over those same ten years, however, from 1995 through 2004, the federal government used more than .4 trillion in surplus Social Security revenues that could have been used to pay Notch reform benefits to fund other government spending. … Continued

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Congress is under intense pressure from numerous directions to get rising debt under control. The Congressional Budget Office further warned that growing interest costs on the debt would restrict our elected lawmakers ability to use tax and spending policies to respond to economic downturns or financial crises. And that in turn would increase the probably of a sudden fiscal crisis, in which the government would lose its ability to borrow at affordable rates..On behalf of the Board of Trustees and all TSCL members, we would like to send a hearty "thank-you," to the Members of Congress and their staff for meeting with us..Prohibiting DI and Unemployment Insurance "double-dipping." No laws currently exist to prevent individuals from receiving both disability and unemployment benefits at the same time, even though eligibility rules for the two programs are mutually exclusive. Prohibiting "double-dipping" is a sensible step forward that would save nearly billion over 10 years. … Continued

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