It’s National Census Day


Wednesday, April 1st, 2020

Every ten years, the Federal government conducts a census of every man, woman and child currently living in the United States.

The census takes place once every ten years and is used by the government to determine total population and distribute important funding and grants to states and communities throughout the United States. In fact, it is estimated that more than $16 billion is allocated based on census counts, and each person NOT counted results in a loss of approximately $1,300 to the locality where a person is NOT counted.

Although the official Census Day is April 1, official census forms are already in the mail and online census response capability began on March 12. Despite the fact that you can respond by mail, online, or answer questions from door-to-door census takers, the goal of the census is to count everyone once, only once and in the right place.

The easiest way to complete the census is to have one person in each household fill out the census form that is mailed to each known residential address. This is true for traditional families and roommates who share an apartment. The person who completes the form needs to know the complete name and some statistical information about each member of the household. No Social Security numbers are required, and the questions are fairly simple in nature. People should also be assured that individual information from the forms is not shared with other government agencies like the IRS or Immigration Service. You can mail in the completed form, or alternatively, can complete an identical form online. But you only do it once – and only one form should be submitted per household or per apartment. Alternative versions in different languages are also available.

The form does ask for a phone number (but not an email address). Here’s why. Remember that the goal is to count every person – but only once. If two people from the same address decide to fill out the form without telling the other people in the house, the Census Bureau will call you and ask you to clarify that there is only one person named John Doe at that address. They will also send out a reminder, and sometimes people fill it out twice without knowing that a form has already been filed on their behalf.

For people who live in a nursing home or assisted living facility, different rules may apply and your administrator can provide you with full details.

If NO census form is returned from an address, the Census Bureau may send a representative to the home to conduct an in-person interview.

For more information about the U.S. Census you can visit the national website at: www.2020census.gov.

IRS Extends Tax Filing Deadline


Tuesday, March 31st, 2020

WASHINGTON — The Treasury Department and Internal Revenue Service have announced that the federal income tax filing due date is automatically extended from April 15, 2020, to July 15, 2020.

Taxpayers can also defer federal income tax payments due on April 15, 2020, to July 15, 2020, without penalties and interest, regardless of the amount owed. This deferment applies to all taxpayers, including individuals, trusts and estates, corporations and other non-corporate tax filers as well as those who pay self-employment tax.

Taxpayers do not need to file any additional forms or call the IRS to qualify for this automatic federal tax filing and payment relief. Individual taxpayers who need additional time to file beyond the July 15 deadline, can request a filing extension by filing Form 4868 through their tax professional, tax software or using the Free File link on IRS.gov. Businesses who need additional time must file Form 7004.

The IRS urges taxpayers who are due a refund to file as soon as possible. Most tax refunds are still being issued within 21 days.

“Even with the filing deadline extended, we urge taxpayers who are owed refunds to file as soon as possible and file electronically,” said IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig. “Filing electronically with direct deposit is the quickest way to get refunds. Although we are curtailing some operations during this period, the IRS is continuing with mission-critical operations to support the nation, and that includes accepting tax returns and sending refunds. As a federal agency vital to the overall operations of our country, we ask for your personal support, your understanding – and your patience. I’m incredibly proud of our employees as we navigate through numerous different challenges in this very rapidly changing environment.”

The IRS will continue to monitor issues related to the COVID-19 virus, and updated information will be posted on a special coronavirus page on IRS.gov.

Watch Out For Stimulus Check Scams


Tuesday, March 31st, 2020

Recently, Congress passed legislation that will help individuals and businesses weather the storm created by the outbreak of the COVID-19 virus. One key provision of the new legislation is that the federal government will be sending checks for $1,200 to most adult citizens, even those who currently receive Social Security checks.

Unfortunately, scammers are already trying to get their hands on some of this money. Reports have already surfaced that citizens have been receiving calls and emails asking for personal information in order to “process” the government checks. DON’T GIVE OUT YOUR PERSONAL INFORMATION. THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT WILL NOT CALL YOU TO VERIFY YOUR TAX STATUS AND WILL NOT ASK FOR PERSONAL INFORMATION OVER THE PHONE.

Most payments will be directly deposited in bank accounts of people who receive their tax refunds or Social Security payments electronically. For people who are not set up that way, paper checks will be sent. You do not need to apply for this one-time payment. It will be sent automatically – and no company or individual can speed up the process.

If you are contacted by someone posing as an IRS employee or other “help” service, hang up. Do not engage with scammers and do not reply to emails about the stimulus checks even if they sound legitimate. They are not. They are scammers trying to get sensitive financial information to you to try and cheat you out of money.

During these unusual times, stay safe; ask for help when you need it; and avoid getting scammed by people who do NOT have your best interests in mind.

For other questions or help regarding services such as food and nutrition, health care and other senior-related issues, feel free to reach out to your local Area Agency on Aging. A list of contacts is provided at the following link.

FIND YOUR AREA AGENCY ON AGING HERE.

President, Governor Declare Emergency. MA4 Supports Protection For Seniors


Monday, March 23rd, 2020

Both the President and Missouri Governor Parson have issued Declarations of Emergency effectively immediately. The declarations limit the congregation of people to 10 or fewer people and restrict the general operation of non-essential services in an effort to protect the general public health.

Included in the emergency are strict limitations on hospital and nursing home visits by family members and friends and limitations on gatherings of more than 10 people including church services, funerals and restaurant dining rooms. Although these are uncomfortable and inconvenient to all of us, the measures are designed to limit the spread of the COVID-19 virus.

The emergency declarations also allow the federal and state governments to disburse government funds to support both individuals and institutions who may be most impacted by the current situation. This includes funds that are earmarked for senior services and individuals who are faced with significant financial impacts.

To protect Missouri’s seniors, a population that is most vulnerable during the COVID-19 virus outbreak, MA4 supports these efforts and encourages all seniors to take appropriate precautions; ask for help if they are challenged in accessing food or medical care; and provide help to younger people who have not faced such a challenge before. Staying in contact with other people you trust – even if remotely – will help you get through this challenging time.

The Missouri Depart of Health and Senior Services has established hotline for questions relating to the current emergency. If you have questions, feel free to call .

24 hour hotline: 877-435-8411

To link directly to the Missouri DHSS website, please follow this link:
DHSS COVID-19 WEB LINK

UPDATE: Coronavirus – COVID 19 – DHSS Sets Up Hotline


Tuesday, March 3rd, 2020

COVID-19 is a more technical term for the Coronavirus that has recently been detected in countries throughout the world, including the United States. The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services has established a hotline for people who have questions about this health situation.

24 hour hotline: 877-435-8411

DHSS and the CDC are responding to an outbreak of respiratory disease caused by a novel (new) coronavirus that was first detected in China and which has now been detected in almost 70 locations internationally, including in the United States. The virus has been named “SARS-CoV-2” and the disease it causes has been named “coronavirus disease 2019” (abbreviated “COVID-19”).

While there is still much to learn about how the disease is contracted and spread, there are some important things you can do individually to help protect you and the people you live with.

To link directly to the Missouri DHSS website, please follow this link:
DHSS COVID-19 WEB LINK

Here are a few tips from the Centers For Disease Control to help you stay ahead of a possible outbreak of the virus in your community.

Create a household plan of action

Talk with the people who need to be included in your plan. Meet with household members, other relatives, and friends to discuss what to do if a COVID-19 outbreak occurs in your community and what the needs of each person will be.check icon

Plan ways to care for those who might be at greater risk for serious complications. There is limited information about who may be at risk for severe complications from COVID-19 illness. From the data that are available for COVID-19 patients, and from data for related coronaviruses such as SARS-CoV and MERS-CoV, it is possible that older adults and persons who have underlying chronic medical conditions may be at risk for more serious complications. Early data suggest older people are more likely to have serious COVID-19 illness. If you or your household members are at increased risk for COVID-19 complications, please consult with your health care provider for more information about monitoring your health for symptoms suggestive of COVID-19. CDC will recommend actions to help keep people at high risk for complications healthy if a COVID-19 outbreak occurs in your community.check icon

Get to know your neighbors. Talk with your neighbors about emergency planning. If your neighborhood has a website or social media page, consider joining it to maintain access to neighbors, information, and resources.check icon

Identify aid organizations in your community. Create a list of local organizations that you and your household can contact in the event you need access to information, health care services, support, and resources. Consider including organizations that provide mental health or counseling services, food, and other supplies.check icon

Create an emergency contact list. Ensure your household has a current list of emergency contacts for family, friends, neighbors, carpool drivers, health care providers, teachers, employers, the local public health department, and other community resources.

Practice good personal health habits and plan for home-based actions

Practice everyday preventive actions now. Remind everyone in your household of the importance of practicing everyday preventive actions that can help prevent the spread of respiratory illnesses:

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Stay home when you are sick, except to get medical care.
  • Cover your coughs and sneezes with a tissue.
  • Clean frequently touched surfaces and objects daily (e.g., tables, countertops, light switches, doorknobs, and cabinet handles) using a regular household detergent and water.
    • If surfaces are dirty, they should be cleaned using a detergent and water prior to disinfection. For disinfection, a list of products with Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-approved emerging viral pathogens claims, maintained by the American Chemistry Council Center for Biocide Chemistries (CBC), is available at Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) Fighting Productspdf iconexternal icon. Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions for all cleaning and disinfection products.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing. If soap and water are not readily available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. Always wash your hands with soap and water if your hands are visibly dirty.

Choose a room in your home that can be used to separate sick household members from those who are healthy. Identify a separate bathroom for the sick person to use, if possible. Plan to clean these rooms, as needed, when someone is sick. Learn how to care for someone with COVID-19 at home.

FOR MORE COMPLETE INFORMATION ON AN ONGOING BASIS, VISIT THE NATIONAL CDC WEBSITE AT THIS LINK (CLICK HERE)

March Is National Nutrition Month – Eat Healthy All Month Long


Tuesday, March 3rd, 2020

March is National Nutrition Month, and to put a sharper focus on healthy eating, nutrition and excercise, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics has put together a toolkit to help seniors – or people of any age – make the most of what they eat.

Some quick tips to consider are:
Including healthy foods from all food groups in daily meals
Make sure to hydrate in a healthy manner
Learn how to read the Nutrition Fact Panels on the sides of packaged food
Practice good portion control – eat enough, but not too much

The Academy has put together a handy tool kit complete with activities, posters and literature that can help you educate and remind your friends about the importance of good nutrition every day. Just click on the following link to access the full array of materials, available at no cost.

NUTRITION MONTH TOOL KIT

MA4 Legislative Priorities Help Seniors Focus On Key Issues


Monday, February 24th, 2020

Each year, the Missouri Association of Area Agencies identifies key legislative priorities for the year. The range in topic from tax credits and funding for meals programs to elder abuse laws and nursing home security. The one thing they all have, however, is that each priority is focused on the well-being of Missouri seniors. This year, MA4 will be advocating for positive outcomes in the following six categories:

  • Cameras in Skilled Care Facilities
  • Circuit Breaker
  • Elder Abuse/Nursing Home Abuse
  • Funding for MORx
  • Intranet Sales Tax
  • Maintain/Increase AAA appropriations

Here’s a quick recap of each issue including some of the proposals currently being considered by the Missouri Legislature.

Cameras In Skilled Care Facilities
(Information pending)

Circuit Breaker Renter Income Program – MA4 Supports
HB 2452 Modifies provisions relating to “circuit breaker” tax credits. Currently, certain senior citizens and disabled individuals are eligible to apply for a tax credit on real estate taxes or rent they have paid. Renters may claim a credit of up to $750 provided their income is equal to or less than $27,500. Homeowners may claim a credit of up to $1,100 provided their income is equal to or less than $30,000. This bill changes the amount of the credit for renters from $750 to $1,000 and the income threshold from up to $27,500 to $34,500. Additionally, this bill changes the amount of the credit for homeowners from $1,100 to $1,500 and the income threshold from $30,000 to $40,000.

Elder Abuse/Nursing Home Abuse
(Information pending)

Funding for MORx – MA4 Supports
MA4 supports continuation of the MORx prescription drug program for low income Missouri seniors.

Internet Sales Tax
HB 1967 is known as the Streamlined Sales and Use Tax Agreement. Basically, it creates the ability for the state to collect sales tax revenues from online Internet sellers.

Appropriations for Area Agency on Aging ProgramsMA4 Supports Increases
HB 10 is the General Appropriations bill that deals with funds to be expended by the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services. MA4 supports increasing support for senior programs to levels which match or exceed those previously granted by the Missouri Legislature in terms of meal program funding and other AAA programs. MA4 also supports full funding for the Senior Services Growth Fund which was created by the Legislature last year.

After Iowa – Missouri Will Hold Presidential Primary March 10


Saturday, February 8th, 2020

Recent news reports have highlighted the problems encountered as Iowa kicked off the national process of selecting presidential candidates in 2020. Missouri will hold a Presidential Primary of its own on March 10, 2020, but the rules and procedures for this election are significantly different, and in many ways easier, than those in Iowa.

Missouri has a regular primary on March 10, then choose individual people to serve as delegates to the national political conventions later in the year through a caucus or local meeting process. If you are a registered Missouri voter, you are entitled to participate, and you may have more choices than you think.

In Missouri, voters are not registered to vote by party, but will be required to select the ballot of one party when they cast their presidential preference votes. Voters may choose a ballot from any one of the following political parties: Democratic, Republican, Libertarian, Green and Constitution.

Although it is surprising to many people, a total of 33 people have filed to appear on the Presidential Primary ballot in Missouri. Any candidate who wanted to appear on the Missouri Presidential ballot was required to pay a $1,000 filing fee in advance – or submit a petition containing 5,000 qualified Missouri voter signatures along with a statement indicating that they couldn’t afford the $1,000 filing fee. There will be 5 Republicans; 22 Democrats; 1 Libertarian; 3 Green; and 2 Constitution Party candidates on this year’s ballot (Including the names of some people who have officially suspended their campaigns, but didn’t have time to pull their names from the official ballot.

If you have questions about your eligibility to vote; rules regarding absentee or accessible voting; or to see a complete list of candidates who will appear on the March 10 ballot, click on the following link. And remember, your vote is your voice.

TO READ A MORE COMPREHENSIVE REPORT ON THE MISSOURI PRESIDENTIAL PRIMARY, FOLLOW THIS LINK

February Is American Heart Month


Wednesday, January 22nd, 2020

Traditionally the month for lovers and all things heart related, February also reminds us to take care of our heart. It is American Heart Month.

The annual celebration began in 1963 to encourage Americans to join the battle against heart disease. A presidential proclamation pays tribute each year to researchers, physicians, public health professionals and volunteers for their tireless efforts in preventing, treating and researching heart disease, which is the leading cause of death for both men and women in the U.S.

If you would like to promote American Heart Month, we have assembled a few informative graphics that you can use in your social media posts. Just click on each PICTURE and select Save Image.

Governor Proposes New State Budget


Wednesday, January 22nd, 2020

Governor Parson unveiled his Executive Budget and delivered his State of the State address last week, and several hearings on Medicaid, the State Budget and Tax Issues were held last week and/or are scheduled for this week. Here are a few items of interest:

Medicaid Expansion – In his State of the State address, the Governor claimed that Medicaid expansion would cost Missouri taxpayers.

However, numerous studies have shown that expansion can actually result in savings to state general revenue funds. For example, a recent examination of the actual state budget impacts in five states that expanded Medicaid showed that “expanding Medicaid has either been a positive for the state’s general fund revenues or has not resulted in any additional cost to the state.”

Calls to expand Medicaid have increased this year due to the fact that since January 2018, 125,000 children and parents have lost Medicaid coverage in Missouri.

Budget EstimateGovernor Parson released his Executive Budget earlier this week, following the State of the State address. While the Executive Budget assumes 1.9% growth in FY2021, the House Budget Committee reportedly plans to develop its budget using a substantially lower estimate of state revenue growth.

In either case, the development of next year’s budget comes at a time of continued uncertainty and instability for Missouri. The growth shown in recent revenue collections may be misleading because they’re relative to a time of very weak collections.

In fact, when reviewed over just two years, MO collections didn’t even keep pace with inflation. That is, our state didn’t collect enough to pay for services at the same level they were two years ago, not accounting for an aging population that may need additional health, nutrition or caregiver services, or a larger number of kids in school.

The comparison to other states is even more glaring. Average revenue growth across the country was much higher than in Missouri, so those states were able to increase teacher pay, invest in workforce development, and save for a rainy day.

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