How to Stop Frustrating Robocalls

Is there anything I can do to stop perpetual robocalls? It seems like I receive five to ten calls a day on my home and cell phone, and I am tired of it!


Robocalls make up around 50% of all phone calls today, and it is only getting worse. Americans were hit with 26.3 billion robocalls in 2018, a whopping 46% increase from the year before. Fortunately, there are a variety of tools available today that can help reduce the number of calls you receive.

Register Your Numbers


If you have not already done so, the first step is to make sure your home and cell phone numbers are registered with the National Do Not Call Registry. While this will not stop illegal robocalls, it will stop unwanted calls from legitimate for-profit businesses who are trying to sell you something. Be aware that political organizations, charities and survey takers are still permitted to call you, as are businesses that you have bought something from or made a payment to in the last 18 months. To sign up, visit DoNotCall.gov or call 888-382-1222.

Home Landline Tools


To stop robocalls calls on your home phone, set up the "anonymous call rejection" option. This is a free landline-calling feature available through most telephone companies. It screens out calls from callers who have blocked their caller ID information — a favorite tactic of telemarketers. To set it up, you usually have to dial *77 from your landline. Note, however, that different phone services may have different procedures to set up this tool. Call your telephone service provider to find out if they offer this feature and, if so, what you need to do to enable it.

Another solution is to sign up for Nomorobo, which is a free service for landline phones that is provided through a VoIP landline carrier. Nomorobo uses a "simultaneous ring" service that detects and blocks robocalls on a black list of known offender numbers. While it is not 100% foolproof, it is an extra layer of protection. To sign up or see if Nomorobo works with your phone service provider, visit Nomorobo's website.

Cell Phones Tools


To stop unwanted robocalls and texts to your cell phone, ask your carrier about caller ID options that help identify, filter or prevent callers that are not legitimate.

For example, AT&T provides their subscribers a free app called "AT&T Call Protect" that has automatic fraud blocking and suspected spam warnings. It also allows you to manually block unwanted calls. Verizon is now offering free spam alerting and call blocking tools to their users. T-Mobile provides free "Scam ID" and "Scam Block" to combat robocalls and spam. Sprint customers can sign up for its "Premium Caller ID" service for $2.99 per month to guard against robocalls and caller ID spoofers.

Call Blocking Apps


Another way to stop robocalls on your smartphone is with call blocking apps. These apps can identify who is calling you and block unwanted calls that show up on crowd-sourced spam and robocaller lists.

Some top call blocking apps for iPhones and Androids include Nomorobo, Hiya Caller ID and Spam Blocker and Truecaller. Nomorobo costs $2 per month. Truecaller and Hiya apps are free to use but offer upgraded services for $2 or $3 per month.

Spam Proof Phones


There are also phones you can buy, like the Samsung Galaxy S, Samsung Note or Google Pixel phone that have built-in spam and robocall protection in place. Samsung's Smart Call feature flags calls it suspects are spam, while Google Pixel phones have built-in spam call protection. With this feature, users that have caller ID enabled will receive a warning if a suspected spam call or robocall is received.


Savvy Living is written by Jim Miller, a regular contributor to the NBC Today Show and author of "The Savvy Living” book. Any links in this article are offered as a service and there is no endorsement of any product. These articles are offered as a helpful and informative service to our friends and may not always reflect this organization’s official position on some topics. Jim invites you to send your senior questions to: Savvy Living, P.O. Box 5443, Norman, OK 73070.

 

Jinny Scifres Memorial Scholarship Applications Available

The Washington County Community Foundation will be accepting applications for the Jinny Scifres Scholarship.  The scholarship is for any individual planning to attend a post-secondary accredited institution in the 2019-2020 school year and plans to pursue studies in the medical field.  The number and dollar amount of scholarships will be determined by the committee.  Preference may be given to non-traditional nursing students who may be returning to school after starting a family or career, as did Jinny. 

After starting a family, Jinny made the tough decision to return to school and study nursing.  After graduation, she began her nursing career at Washington County Memorial Hospital as an Emergency Room Nurse.  Jinny’s love of nursing eventually lead her to several promotions and back to school once again.  She eventually became the Director of Patient Care Services.

Jinny died in the fall of 2000, after bravely battling bone cancer.  Her family and many friends established this scholarship fund in her memory, to assist others who, like Jinny, return to school to study nursing after starting a family or career.  

For questions or an application, please contact Judy or Lindsey at 812-883-7334 or program.officer@wccf.biz.  Applications are due by April 15, 2019 at 3:30.

Washington County Community Foundation is a nonprofit public charity established in 1993 to serve donors, award grants, and provide leadership to improve Washington County forever

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WCCF Offers Non-Profit Board Training

Washington County Community Foundation realizes that board training for small non-profit organizations can be difficult to schedule or plan for on a tight budget.   We also recognize that a great Board of Directors is critical to a nonprofit organization’s success.  We want you and your organization to be successful.  Therefore, we are offering a great opportunity for you and your Board of Directors to receive high quality board training right here in Washington County through the Community Foundation Research and Training Institute.  

Members of Non-Profit Boards of Directors are invited to the training event on April 24, 2019, at the Community Learning Center at 1707 N. Shelby Street in Salem.  Our guest presenter is David Bennett.  David is the President and CEO of the Community Foundation Research and Training Institute (CFRTI).  He formed the CFRTI in 2017.  CFRTI provides a variety of training opportunities for community foundations and nonprofit organizations, along with strategic planning facilitation and the preparation of organizational risk assessments.

Aside from overseeing the strategic planning process several times in Fort Wayne, he has served as the facilitator of the strategic planning process at the Parke County Community Foundation and the Johnson County Community Foundation. David also serves as a trainer for the Community Foundation Boot Camp course through the Indiana Philanthropy Alliance, and as an instructor for the Finance Course offered through the Council on Foundations.

Beginning in 2020, Washington County Community Foundation will require all nonprofits that receive funding from the Washington County Community Foundation to have at least one current, active board member that has completed this valuable training. 

The cost to attend a session is $100.00 per person.  However, this fee will be refunded if the Board Member attends the entire session.  If a Board Member leaves early or does not show up, the registration fee will be retained by the Washington County Community Foundation. 

Registration deadline is April 16, 2019.  Register by calling 812-883-7334.

Washington County Community Foundation is a nonprofit public charity established in 1993 to serve donors, award grants, and provide leadership to improve Washington County forever

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WCCF offering $30,000.00 in Spring Grant Cycle

WCCF has opened their Spring Grant Cycle.  Funds for the $30,000 grant cycle are made possible through our generous donors and the Foundation’s Touch Tomorrow Funds.

Grant applications for the spring grant cycle are available at the WCCF office located on Shelby Street in the Learning Center complex or by calling the WCCF office. You can also download the application from the Foundation’s website at www.wccf.biz.  The application deadline will be 3:30pm, April 15, 2019.  For more information, you can call Judy Johnson or Lindsey Wade-Swift at the Foundation office.  The number is 883-7334.

Washington County Community Foundation is a nonprofit public charity established in 1993 to serve donors, award grants, and provide leadership to improve Washington County forever

Youth Foundation Now Recruiting

The Washington County Youth Foundation is now recruiting new members for the 2019-2020 school year.  The Youth Foundation is a group of students from Washington County committed to making our community a better place to live.  The board has members who are sophomores, juniors and seniors in any area high school or are home schooled. 

The Youth Foundation averages one meeting a month.  Times and location will vary; however, most meetings occur on Sunday afternoons.  During the school year the Washington County Youth Foundation will offer one grant cycle, several community service activities and one peer community awareness/asset development event.  Also, Washington County Youth Foundation members will be expected to be volunteers in the Happily Ever After Project.  All members make financial contributions to support the service activities of the Youth Foundation.    

Application, permission slip and more information can be downloaded from the Washington County Community Foundation’s website at www.wccf.biz.  Additionally, information can be obtained from current Washington County Youth Foundation members or by calling the Foundation office at 883-7334.   Applications are due by 4:00 pm on April 15, 2019.

Washington County Community Foundation is a nonprofit public charity established in 1993 to serve donors, award grants, and provide leadership to improve Washington County forever

Does Medicare Cover Vision Services?

I will be enrolling in Medicare in a few months and would like to know if Medicare covers vision services. I currently have vision insurance through my employer but it will be discontinued when I retire. 


Many people approaching age 65 are unclear regarding what Medicare does and does not cover when it comes to vision services. The good news is that original Medicare covers most medical issues, like cataract surgery, treatment of eye diseases and medical emergencies. Unfortunately, routine care, including eye exams and eyeglasses, are the beneficiary's responsibility. Here is a breakdown of what is and is not covered.

Eye exams and treatments: Medicare does not cover routine eye exams that test for eyeglasses or contact lenses. But it does cover yearly medical eye exams if you have diabetes or a high risk of developing glaucoma. Medicare will also pay for exams to test and treat medical eye diseases or serious eye problems, like macular degeneration, dry eye syndrome, glaucoma, eye infections or if you get something in your eye.

Eye surgeries: Medicare will cover most eye surgeries that help repair eye function, including cataract surgery to remove cataracts and insert standard intraocular lenses to replace your own. Medicare will not, however, pick up the extra cost if you choose a specialized lens that restores full range of vision, thereby reducing your need for glasses after cataract surgery. The extra charge for a specialized lens can cost up to $2,500 per eye.

Eye surgeries that are typically not covered by Medicare include refractive (LASIK) surgery, cosmetic eye surgery or other procedures that are not considered medically necessary.

Eyeglasses and contact lenses: Medicare does not cover eyeglasses or contact lenses. There is one exception. If you have had a conventional intraocular lens inserted during cataract surgery, Medicare will pay for eyeglasses or contact lenses following the operation.

Ways to Save


Although original Medicare's vision coverage is limited to medical issues, there are ways you can save on routine care. Here are several options to consider.

Consider a Medicare Advantage plan: One way you can get extra vision coverage when you join Medicare is to choose a Medicare Advantage plan instead of original Medicare. Many of these plans, which are sold through private insurance companies, will cover routine eye care and eyeglasses. These plans may also cover your hospital and medical insurance and prescription drugs. See Medicare.gov/find-a-plan to shop for plans.

Purchase vision insurance: If you get routine eye exams and purchase new eyeglasses annually, a vision insurance plan may be worth the cost. These policies typically run between $12 and $20 per month.

Check veterans benefits: If you are a veteran and qualify for VA healthcare benefits, you may be able to get some or all of your routine vision care through the VA. Go to Vets.gov and search for "vision care" to learn more.

Shop around: Many retailers provide discounts – between 10% and 30% – on eye exams and eyeglasses if you belong to a membership group like AARP or AAA. Check out the vision centers at discount retailers or, if you have a copy of your prescription, consider buying your glasses online.

Look for assistance: There are also health centers and local clinics that provide free or discounted vision exams and eyeglasses to those in need. To find these centers, try calling your local Lions Club for referrals.
Savvy Living is written by Jim Miller, a regular contributor to the NBC Today Show and author of "The Savvy Living” book. Any links in this article are offered as a service and there is no endorsement of any product. These articles are offered as a helpful and informative service to our friends and may not always reflect this organization’s official position on some topics. Jim invites you to send your senior questions to: Savvy Living, P.O. Box 5443, Norman, OK 73070.

How to Choose a Good Home Stair Lift

Can you provide some information about stair lifts? I have a difficult time getting up and down the stairs and am interested in purchasing a stair lift for my house but could use some help choosing one.


A good home stair lift is an excellent solution for those with mobility challenges. A stair lift will carry you up and down the stairs in a safe, seated position and provide easy access to the second story or basement level of your home.

To help you choose a quality stair lift that meets your needs and budget, here are a few shopping tips and recommendations.

Types of Lifts


There are two basic types of stair lifts that are sold today: straight and curved. The type you need will depend upon the design of your staircase.

A straight stair lift is one that travels in a straight line up a flight of stairs uninterrupted by landings, bends or curves. These stair lifts can cost between $2,500 and $5,000. Curved lifts, however, are much more elaborate and will go around corners, bends and curves. Curved lifts are much more expensive, typically costing between $8,500 and $15,000 or more depending on the complexity of the installation.

All stair lifts mount to the stair treads, not to the wall, so they are very sturdy and can be installed in almost any home. In addition to the standard option, companies also offer a heavy-duty lift with a wider seat and bigger lifting capacity. If you are tall, you will need to find out about raising the seat height during installation.

Most stair lifts available today also have seats, armrests and footplates that fold up out of the way when not in use. Some stair lifts have swivel seats that make getting into and out of the chair easier. Make sure the lift you choose has standard safety features, like seatbelts, braking systems, footrest sensors, push-button or rocker-switch controls located on the armrest for easy operation and "call send" controls, which allow you to call or send the unit to the other end of the stairs.

Depending on the company, you may also have the option of choosing between an electric (AC) and a battery powered (DC) stair lift. Battery powered units charge at the base station and are quieter and smoother than electric lifts. Another reason to go with a battery powered stair lift is that the system will work even if there is a power failure in the home.

Purchasing Tips


While there are many companies that make and sell stair lifts, two of the best, based on reputation and customer satisfaction ratings, are Bruno and Stannah.

Unfortunately, Medicare does not cover stair lifts nor do Medicare supplemental (Medigap) policies, but some Medicare Advantage plans may help pay. Many states offer Medicaid waivers that will pay for lifts for those that qualify. The VA offers cash grants to veterans with disabilities for home safety improvements.

To save some money, you may want to consider purchasing a used or refurbished model. If you only need a stair lift for a short period of time, consider renting one. Most companies offer these options along with financing programs.

To get started, contact some stair lift companies and ask to be put in touch with a dealer in your area. All dealers provide free in-home assessments and estimates and can help you choose an appropriate lift.

Savvy Living is written by Jim Miller, a regular contributor to the NBC Today Show and author of "The Savvy Living” book. Any links in this article are offered as a service and there is no endorsement of any product. These articles are offered as a helpful and informative service to our friends and may not always reflect this organization’s official position on some topics. Jim invites you to send your senior questions to: Savvy Living, P.O. Box 5443, Norman, OK 73070.

Do I Need to File a Tax Return This Year?

What are the IRS income tax filing requirements for retirees this tax season? My income dropped way down when I to retired last year, so I am wondering if I need to file a tax return this year.

Whether you are required to file a federal income tax return this year depends on several factors: how much you earned last year (in 2018), the source of that income, your age and your filing status.

Here is a rundown of this tax season's IRS tax filing requirement thresholds. For most people, this is pretty straightforward. If your 2018 gross income – which includes all taxable income, not counting your Social Security benefits, unless you are married and filing separately – was below the threshold for your filing status and age, you may not have to file. If your gross income is over the threshold, however, you will be required to file. The 2018 thresholds are as follows:
  • Single Filer: $12,000 ($13,600 if you are age 65 or older as of Jan. 1, 2019).
  • Married filing jointly: $24,000 ($25,300 if you or your spouse is 65 or older; or $26,600 if you are both over 65).
  • Married filing separately: $5 at any age.
  • Head of household: $18,000 ($19,600 if age 65 or older).
  • Qualifying widow or widower with dependent child: $24,000 ($25,300 if you are age 65 or older).
To get a detailed breakdown on federal filing requirements, along with information on taxable and nontaxable income, call the IRS at 800-829-3676 and ask them to mail you a free copy of the "Tax Guide for Seniors" (Publication 554) or see IRS.gov/pub/irs-pdf/p554.pdf.

Additional Considerations
There are some other financial situations that can require you to file a tax return, even if your gross income falls below the IRS filing requirements. For example, if you earned more than $400 from self-employment in 2018, owe any special taxes, like an alternative minimum tax or get premium tax credits because you, your spouse or a dependent is enrolled in a Health Insurance Marketplace plan, you will need to file.

You will also need to file if you are receiving Social Security benefits and one-half of your benefits plus your other gross income and any tax-exempt interest exceeds $25,000 (or $32,000 if you are married and filing jointly).

To figure all this out, the IRS offers an interactive tax assistant tool on its website that asks a series of questions to will help you determine if you are required to file or if you should file because you are due a refund. It takes less than 15 minutes to complete.

You can access this tool by clicking on the "Do I Need to File?" link at IRS.gov/filing. You can get assistance over the phone by calling the IRS helpline at 800-829-1040. You can also get face-to-face help at a Taxpayer Assistance Center. See IRS.gov/localcontacts or call 800-829-1040 to locate a center near you.

Check Your State
Even if you are not required to file a federal tax return this year, do not assume that you are also excused from filing state income taxes. The rules for your state might be very different. Check with your state tax agency before concluding that you are entirely in the clear. For links to state tax agencies see Taxadmin.org/state-tax-agencies.

Tax Preparation Help
If you find that you do need to file a tax return this year, you can get help through the Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) program. Sponsored by the IRS, TEC provides free tax preparation and counseling to middle and low-income taxpayers, age 60 and older. Call 800-906-9887 or visit IRS.treasury.gov/freetaxprep to locate a service near you.

Also check with AARP, a participant in the TCE program, that provides free tax preparation at approximately 5,000 sites nationwide. To locate an AARP Tax-Aide site call 888-227-7669 or visit AARP.org/findtaxhelp. You do not have to be an AARP member to use this service.

Savvy Living is written by Jim Miller, a regular contributor to the NBC Today Show and author of "The Savvy Living" book. Any links in this article are offered as a service and there is no endorsement of any product. These articles are offered as a helpful and informative service to our friends and may not always reflect this organization's official position on some topics. Jim invites you to send your senior questions to: Savvy Living, P.O. Box 5443, Norman, OK 73070.

Published February 22, 2019

Helping Seniors Extend Their Driving Years

What tips or resources can you recommend to help seniors extend their driving years? My dad, who is 82, is still a decent driver, but I worry about his safety going forward.


With more than 40 million licensed drivers in the U.S. over the age of 65, there are many resources available today to help keep older drivers safe and behind the wheel longer. Here are some simple steps you can take to help keep your dad driving safely.

Get his eyes checked: Because about 90% of the information necessary to drive is received through our eyes, getting your dad's eyes checked every year to be sure his vision and eyewear is up to par is an important first step.

Check his meds: Does your dad take any medicine or combination of medicines that make him sleepy, light-headed or loopy? If so, make a list of all his medications (prescription and over-the-counter) and dietary supplements and take it to his doctor or pharmacist for review. You can also get help with this online at RoadwiseRX.com.

Evaluate his driving: To stay on top of any potential driving issues, you should take a ride with your dad from time-to-time and watch for problem areas. While you observe, ask yourself: Does he drive at inappropriate speeds, tailgate or drift between lanes? Does he have difficulty seeing, backing up or changing lanes? Does he react slowly, get confused easily or make poor driving decisions? For more tips, see the National Caregivers Library driving assessment checklist at SeniorDriverChecklist.org.

If your dad needs a more thorough evaluation, you can turn to a driver rehabilitation specialist who is trained to evaluate older drivers. This type of assessment typically costs between $100 and $200. To locate a professional in your area, visit AOTA.org/older-driver or ADED.net.

Take a refresher course: AAA and AARP both have older driver refresher courses that can help your dad tune-up his driving skills and learn how to adjust for slower reflexes, weaker vision and other age-related changes that affect driving. Taking a class may also earn him a discount on his auto insurance. To locate a class, contact your local AAA or AARP. Most courses cost around $15 to $30 and can be taken in the classroom or online.

Another good resource to look into is CarFit. This is a free assessment program that will help your dad adjust his vehicle for a better fit, making it easier and safer to drive. CarFit events are held around the country in select locations. See Car-Fit.org to look for one near you.

Make some adjustments: Recognizing your dad's driving vulnerabilities and making small changes to when and where he drives can go a long way to help keep him safe and driving longer. Adjustments may include not driving after dark or during rush hour traffic, avoiding major highways or other busy roads and not driving in poor weather conditions.

When it gets to the point that your dad's driving is not safe anymore and he needs to step away from the wheel, The Hartford Financial Services Group and MIT AgeLab offers two helpful resources. Visit The Hartford's website and click on "Publications" to download or order the "At the Crossroads" and "We Need to Talk" guides.

Savvy Living is written by Jim Miller, a regular contributor to the NBC Today Show and author of "The Savvy Living” book. Any links in this article are offered as a service and there is no endorsement of any product. These articles are offered as a helpful and informative service to our friends and may not always reflect this organization’s official position on some topics. Jim invites you to send your senior questions to: Savvy Living, P.O. Box 5443, Norman, OK 73070.

Published February 15, 2019
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How to Save Money on Your Medication

I take several medications for multiple health conditions and the prices keep going up, even with insurance. Can you recommend any tips that can help me save?


The rising cost of prescription drugs is a problem that stings millions of Americans. While there is not a simple solution, there are strategies and resources that can help reduce your drug costs so you can afford what you need. Here are several to consider.

If you have insurance, know your formulary: Most prescription drug plans today have formularies (a list of medications they cover) that place drugs into different "tiers." Drugs in each tier have a different cost. A drug in a lower tier will generally cost less than a drug in a higher tier. Higher tier drugs may require you to get permission or try another medication first before you can use them.

To get a copy of your plan's formulary, visit your drug plan's website or call the toll-free number on the back of your insurance card. Once you have this information, share it with your doctor so that he or she can prescribe you medications in the lower-cost tiers, when possible. In the alternative, your doctor can help you get coverage approval from your insurer if you need a more expensive drug.

Also, find out if your drug plan offers preferred pharmacies or a mail-order service. Buying your meds from these sources may also save you some money.

Talk to your doctor: Ask your doctor if any of the medications you are currently taking can be reduced or if you can stop taking them completely. Find out if the ones you must continue taking are available in generic form. About 80% of all premium drugs on the market today have a lower-cost alternative. Switching could save you between 20 and 90%.

Ask for a three-month prescription: This can be significantly cheaper for drugs you take long-term. If you use insurance, you will pay one co-pay rather than three.

Split your pills: Ask your doctor if the pills you are taking can be cut in half. Pill splitting allows you to get two months' worth of medicine for the price of one. If you do this, you will need to get a prescription from your doctor for twice the dosage you need.

Find and use online discounts: Start by trying online services such as GoodRx, BlinkHealth or WeRx. They will ask for the name of the drug, the dose, the number of pills and where you live. Then they will show you what you can expect to pay at various pharmacies if you use their discount coupons or vouchers, which you can print out or download to your phone to show a pharmacist.

Pay cash: Most generic medications cost less if you do not use insurance. For example, chains like Target and Walmart offer discount-drug programs that sell generics for as little as $4 for a 30-day supply and $10 for a 90-day supply if you pay out-of-pocket. While some insurance companies charge a $10 copay for a 30-day supply.

Also, ask your pharmacy if they offer a drug discount card program and compare costs with your insurance plan. You can also find free drug discount cards online through organizations like NeedyMeds. These cards can be used at most U.S. pharmacies.

Shop online: You may also save by using an online pharmacy, but be sure to use an online retailer that operates within the U.S. and is licensed. The website should display the VIPPS symbol, which shows it is a Verified Internet Pharmacy Practice Site.

Search for drug assistance programs: If your income is limited, you may be eligible to receive help through drug assistance programs offered by pharmaceutical companies, government agencies and charitable organizations. To find these types of programs use services such as BenefitsCheckUp, Patient Advocate Foundation, RxAssist and NeedyMeds.

Savvy Living is written by Jim Miller, a regular contributor to the NBC Today Show and author of "The Savvy Living” book. Any links in this article are offered as a service and there is no endorsement of any product. These articles are offered as a helpful and informative service to our friends and may not always reflect this organization’s official position on some topics. Jim invites you to send your senior questions to: Savvy Living, P.O. Box 5443, Norman, OK 73070.

Published February 8, 2019
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Phone: 812-883-7334
E-Mail: info@wccf.biz

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