Neighbor to Neighbor: Jamaica meeting informs of senior citizen services

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State Assemblyman William Scarborough (D-St. Albans) of the 29th Assembly District sponsored a special day for seniors last Thursday at Thomasina’s Banquet, 205-35 Linden Blvd. in Jamaica. Experts in the fields of finance, health and social matters treated us to a number of presentations, which were sandwiched in among a light breakfast, a delicious hot lunch and midday entertainment by the J-Cap Gospel Choir.

We were told it is extremely important to make a will. It is crucial for seniors to find a lawyer who specializes in elder law. Ask the New York State Bar Association to refer you to someone. Interested residents can call 411 for the number or the Queens Legal Services for the Elderly at 718-286-1500.

Before signing onto any project advertised to help you, check with your lawyer to make sure it is the right one to suit your needs — and that includes the new prescription drug discount card plan. Don’t rush into any agreements without investigating which one will be the best fit.

Check with Medicare, the number for which is 1-800-Medicare. And there also is the Elderly Pharmaceutical Insurance Coverage program, or EPIC, which was designed to help seniors buy prescription drugs at reasonable costs. Once you sign on for one of the new cards, $600 will be taken off at the beginning and then EPIC will take over.

A representative from the Parodneck Foundation for Self-Help Housing and Community Development (reachable at 212-431-9700, Ext. 333), told us the organization can provide help if you are 60 or older and have a one- to four-family home. The foundation can help you get a city or state loan at zero interest and no monthly payments. The mortgage would go to your estate.

Representatives from this group also can assist in finding well-qualified people to repair your home, fix apartments and help collect rent. Call Vanessa White at 800-269-6799 for more information. The Bank of New York Mortgage Co. works closely with Parodneck on government-insured reverse mortgage programs at a 3.5 percent adjustable rate. If you want to participate, mention this seminar and the Parodneck Foundation, and they will give you a $100 discount.

The Department for the Aging in Manhattan can tell you about getting the Senior Citizen Owners’ Exemption, or SCHE, as well as HEAP, or the heating assistance program, which will be available in November and grant up to $400. Call 212-442-1000 to contact the Department for the Aging for more information.

These and other programs require screening up to two hours. Complete honesty is a necessity.

The Foundation for Senior Citizens is a 20-year-old Housing and Urban Development program that helps with minor home repairs, arranges home sharing and provides a home safety audit. The program is based on household size. Proof of home ownership and income will be required. Help cannot be immediate since they only have five repair people. Call 212-962-7655 or 212-962-7653 to contact the Foundation for Senior Citizens.

Participants in the home-sharing program (for those 18 and older) will be interviewed by a social worker to assure compatibility of potential housemates. The guest will require a private bedroom.

The program also provides home attendants, a service that is paid by the client at $6 an hour for three months, after which an increase in pay may be requested. For further information on the home-sharing program or to explain the Community Guardian Program (when the courts appoint someone to take over financial affairs), call 212-962-7559, Ext. 298.

Con Edison’s Carl Lee also spoke at the Jamaica meeting. Lee informed us of Con Ed’s Senior Direct Program, available Monday to Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. If you or anyone you know has life-sustaining equipment, it is imperative that Con Edison be informed so it can give those people special attention.

Those 62 and over who also have a permanent disability should join Con Ed’s Concern Program, which enables the company to try to be as lenient as possible in case of late payments. Lee also spoke of the Third Party Notification Program, which assists seniors in paying their bills on time by using a third party to give helpful reminders that payments are due. Contact Lee at 800-404-9097.

Rosalind Jackson represented HealthFirst Health Insurance (Medicare A and B - Medicare Advantage Program). The company covers hospital, doctor, pharmacy and dental costs at a zero premium, but everything must be within New York City.

There were discounted books on holistic medicines and vegeterianism from Baron Levy and screening of blood pressure and foot problems by professionals. We all thank Scarborough and the others for an informative day.

Updated 7:05 pm, October 10, 2011
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