HELP LINE: Time for some this-and-that information

I THINK THAT today is a good day for a bit of this-and-that, so let’s jump right into a “this.”

An alert reader, who not only reads my ramblings but actually reads Medicare paperwork, reacted to a recent column about the new Medicare cards, which many of us have already received, or will be receiving shortly.

In that column, I made the statement that we really didn’t need to do anything.

I can’t say it any better than she did, so here’s what she said:

“I’m just a kid … 59½, but I watch out for my husband and in-laws. One thing that I thought of after reading your article about the arrival of the new cards is that if you pay your Medicare premiums with your online bill pay service, you’ll need to update your account to use your new Medicare number. If you pay by check or money order, you’ll need to write your new Medicare number on your check or MO.”

Smart lady. Thank you.

Ready for a “that”?

This particular “that” is a mea culpa because, despite my best perennial efforts, the buck continues to stop here.

Specifically, we generate the resource information that is published locally, and we (to coin a phrase) screwed up.

And what did we manage to screw up?

Of all things, Shipley Center, aka Sequim Senior Center. So let me take this opportunity to try to get it right.

What many of us old-timers refer to as “the Sequim Senior Center” or the “senior center in Sequim” or whatever else, is, in fact, Shipley Center. It’s still at 921 E. Hammond St. in Sequim.

The web site is www.shipley and information about the center can be had by emailing

The current membership dues are $45 per year for individuals, and $80 per year for two or more people at the same address.

Your membership year starts the day you sign up, so everybody gets a full 12 months from the time they join.

You’re into social media? Great. You can find Shipley Center on Twitter at Center, or on Facebook at

My sincere apologies.

In the future, I’ll work mightily at trying to get the buck to stop somewhere else.

And while I’m trying to do that, I might as well confess to yet another mistake — specifically in last week’s column regarding help with Medicare Part D open enrollment.

I said the hours for our SHIBA clinic at Shipley Center (wouldn’t you know it?) were 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

That’s wrong. The hours will be 9 a.m. to noon. Geez.

Here’s another “this,” having to do with the Department of Veterans Affairs benefits, but allow me to confess that I am not a pro when it comes to the VA.

There are a number of reasons for that lack of expertise, none of which are sufficiently entertaining to articulate here.

Suffice it to say, here’s what I know, so if you have questions about any of it you’ll get much farther, much faster by addressing them to someone who knows what they’re talking about.

Apparently, way back in 2012, VA began a process to eliminate financial types from offering free assistance to veterans seeking benefits in order to sell financial services and products.

Thus, eight years later, we see the culmination of said process, which became effective Sept. 18:

• The “gifting provision,” allowing gifts of property to be made, has been eliminated entirely;

• A “bright line” of $123,600 in total net worth has been implemented. For pension purposes, any amount of assets below that figure will be automatically allowed — any amount above $123,600 will make the claimant ineligible until the assets are spent down below that figure. “Assets” generally include bank accounts, retirement accounts, investment accounts, property other than the home, etc.

• A three-year “look back” has been implemented. This means that assets over $123,600 cannot be given away or reduced to meet eligibility for the 36-month period prior to filing a pension claim, and

• A penalty period has been created. “Any funds improperly transferred to reduce net worth to $123,600 are referred to as ‘covered assets.’ Any covered asset transfers discovered by VA will be divided by $1,830. This equals the number of months a claimant will be ineligible to receive benefits up to a maximum of five (5) years.”

You now know what I know.

Here’s the last one for today, so I guess it’s a “that.”

In response to several questions: Yes, Medicare covers home health services, but a Medicare beneficiary still has to meet home health criteria.

That means that you (a) need skilled services (i.e. nursing, therapies, etc.,) and (b) it has to be difficult for you to get to a clinic or provider to receive said skilled services.

The simple fact that you have Medicare isn’t enough.

Enough? Me, too.


Mark Harvey is director of Clallam/Jefferson Senior Information & Assistance, which operates through the Olympic Area Agency on Aging. He is also a member of the Community Advocates for Rural Elders partnership. He can be reached at 360-452-3221 (Port Angeles-Sequim), 360-385-2552 (Jefferson County) or 360-374-9496 (West End), or by emailing

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