PROPERTY TAXES
Seniors have been hit hard over the last three years between spiraling real estate values and communities trying to offset the Governor’s cuts in local aid with tax increases. We recently passed a provision in the state budget, which I co-sponsored, that will help relieve senior citizens from these rising costs. The initiative allows cities and towns to implement an exemption amounting to 5% of the community’s average residential property value in computing the tax bill for eligible residents. Senior citizens 70 years of age or older are eligible if they have been a state resident for the last ten years, have owned and occupied the principal residence for the last five years, and are living on limited income. Towns may also raise the tax exemption to 20% and lower the age and residency requirements at their own discretion.

PRESCRIPTION ADVANTAGE
As prescription drug costs continue to skyrocket, you may find yourself depending on the Prescription Advantage program to help you obtain the crucial medication you need. Over 80,000 older and disabled residents have enrolled in the program. This year the legislature has created a budget proposal which adds $5 million dollars to the Prescription Advantage Program to lower co-payments on medicines in addition to the $14 million increase in overall funding to expand membership in the program. Prescription Advantage is open to all Massachusetts residents age sixty five and older and low-income residents with disabilities. If you are not already enrolled in Prescription Advantage there will be an open enrollment period from September 1 through September 30. Applications for Prescription Advantage will be available in mid-July and can be found at www.800ageinfo.com or be calling (800) 243-4636. If you need more information on the Prescription Advantage program, please do not hesitate to call my office at (617) 722-1643.

FRAUD: PROTECTING YOURSELF
I have received several messages from senior citizens who have been troubled with fraud. The Massachusetts Office of Elderly Affairs offers the following suggestions to help you protect yourself from scams. Remember that Prescription Advantage, Mass Health, or other programs will never contact you to collect personal information via telephone – they will only send written, official letters to collect confidential information such as Social Security and Medicare numbers, bank checking account numbers, or other personal information. Also, do not give out personal information in person if you have not scheduled an appointment, many scam artists target seniors by going door to door. These reminders will help you to stay protected from scams, but if you do find yourself a victim of fraud I encourage you to
contact Massachusetts Attorney General Thomas F. Reilly (617-727-2200). If you encounter benefits related scams, you are recommended to contact the Executive Office of Elderly Affairs at 1-800-243-4636. If you encounter a Medicare related scam contact 1-800– MEDICARE. You are also encouraged to file a complaint with the federal government at 1-877-382-4357.

FRAUD: GOVERNMENT PROTECTION
As you work to keep yourself protected from fraud at home, the State Legislature is working to strengthen fraud laws in the Commonwealth. On Beacon Hill, my colleagues in the Senate and myself are working to pass legislation that would help protect constituents from fraudulent charities. The new legislation makes it a crime to pose as a non-profit organization with the intent of defrauding people. With this legislation the citizens of Massachusetts will be able to be confident that their charitable donations will reach the proper recipient.

SENIOR MEALS PROGRAMS
Are you having trouble cooking and preparing food? Or are you looking for someone to share a conversation with over a meal? The Executive Office of Elder Affairs Elders Meal Program is created to fill both of these needs. The congregate meals program offers one meal a day at either a senior center, church, or school in your area. Along with free meals the congregate meals program offers an opportunity for socialization and programs related to nutrition education, exercise activities, and health promotion. Transportation is available to congregate meals sites, and residents age sixty or older and their spouses are eligible. The meals are free, and the meals contain one third of the daily recommended allowance of nutrients. Seniors who are physically unable to attend congregate meals sites are offered home delivered meals. If you believe you are eligible and are interested in enrolling in either program, contact your Aging Service Access Point. In Braintree, Milton, and Randolph, call South Shore Elder Services, Inc. at (781) 848-3910; in Canton and Sharon, please call Health and Social Services Consortium (HESSCO) at (781) 784-4944; and in Avon, E. Bridgewater, Easton, Stoughton, and W. Bridgewater, please call Old Colony Elderly Services, Inc. at (508) 584-1561 or Old Colony Planning Council at (508) 583-1833.

VETERANS
This past Memorial Day, the National World War II Memorial opened in Washington, D.C. The Memorial is in tribute to the men and women who selflessly dedicated themselves to defending our country when their service was needed most. Massachusetts offers several benefits for Veterans including tax breaks, education opportunities, and medical assistance. The Massachusetts Senate has also recently passed legislation that would expanding State Veterans Benefits to men and women who have not previously been eligible. Those now eligible include Merchant Marines serving between 1941 and 1946 and men and women who served during peacetime including the years between 1946 and 1950. If you would like more information on these services you can contact my office at (617) 722-1643 or contact the Department of Veterans Services at (800) 827-1000. Thank you for allowing me to work for you.

Questions or concerns? Please contact me at my office at (617) 722-1643,
my home at (617) 696-0200, or by email at [email protected]
Thank you for allowing me to work for you.

Newsletter Archive: No. 1 No. 2 Spring 04

SENATOR BRIAN A. JOYCE
State House, Room 413-A, Boston, Massachusetts 02133
Tel. 617-722-1643 Fax 617-722-1522 E-mail: [email protected]