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By now, you should have received the Social Security letter which shows how much Social Security you will get in 2016. Because there is no COLA increase, this benefit remains the same. Also, the letter lists your monthly Medicare B premium, which is deducted from your Social Security benefit, for 2016. The amount is broken down into two parts: $104.90 or $121.80 for the standard Medicare premium, plus the additional premium or surcharge ($0 if you are not eligible) for the income-related monthly adjustment amount (IRMAA) based on your 2014 income tax return. If there is an amount listed for IRMAA, you will also have to pay for a prescription surcharge under Medicare Part D. The letter will show the amount. The yearly Medicare Part B total standard amount and the IRMAA for 2016 are both reimbursable from the city. You should receive the 2016 standard amount automatically sometime in Aug 2017 and should, at that time apply (if applicable) for the IRMAA reimbursement. There is no reimbursement for the drug surcharge. File this letter in a safe place. You will need it when you file your application for 2016 IRMAA.



Effective Jan 1, the optical benefit will be increased to $100. The current additional CSA Retiree Chapter benefit remains in effect. You may also use any optical provider. To use this optical benefit, call  the CSA Welfare Fund-212-962-6061 to request a voucher. You can also obtain one from the fund’s website, When you receive the voucher, sign it, purchase your glasses (or contacts) from any optical provider, and return the voucher with a copy of the provider’s receipt. You will be reimbursed $100. The retiree chapter will automatically send you the $55 after you receive the $100.



Often, individuals confuse nursing homes with a skilled nursing facility (SNF) because of the similarities. To be clear, a SNF provides more “skilled” medical expertise and services than a nursing home. Basically, a SNF provides rehabilitation  services to help injured, sick or disabled individuals to get back on their feet. Generally, hospitals make the arrangements to transfer a patient to a SNF after an acute hospital stay, such as surgery. The transfer occurs when the patient is released from the hospital. In the SNF, the patient will receive the necessary rehab until the patient is ready to go home. COVERAGE FOR STAYING AT AN SNF- Days 1-20- covered by Medicare—days 21-100- covered by Blue Cross Blue Shield— Days 101 and beyond- you pay all costs.


4. ARE YOU TAKING CHOLESTEROL-LOWERING MEDS?- More than a third of American adults are eligible to take cholesterol-lowering  Medications under the current guidelines or were already taking them, but nearly half of them are not according to a report by the centers for disease control prevention researchers. A high blood level of LDL cholesterol -also known as bad cholesterol- is a major risk factor for heart disease and stroke in the U.S. Some people with high LDL cholesterol and who have or at risk of heart disease are eligible for cholesterol-lowering meds. They should also make lifestyle changes such as getting regular exercise, eating a heart-healthy diet, and losing weight. Yet fewer than half of the people eligible for or who were taking cholesterol-lowering meds make these changes. Nearly 800,000 people die in the U.S. each year from cardiovascular diseases (one in every 3 deaths). The American College of Cardiology and the American Heart Association recommended cholesterol-lowering drugs for: People with heart disease, a prior heart attack or some types of stroke, or angina: people with LDL levels of 190 mg/dl or more: people ages 40-75 with diabetes and LDL levels of 70-189 mg/dl: people ages 40-75 with LDL levels 70-189 and an estimated 10 year risk of heart disease.



Sedentary behaviors such as sitting and watching TV, traveling by car , and sitting long hours at work are all too common in modern life. The average U.S. adult spends more than 50% of his or her time each day sedentary. A recent study shows that participants who spend more time sitting have a greater risk of death than those who don’t, even after taking into account exercise participation. Participants who report watching TV more than 7 hours per day still had a greater likelihood of death from all causes and cardiovascular disease- even if they exercised more than 3 hours a week. Adults who are 65 or older should avoid inactivity and do at least 150 minutes a week of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity- but remember you should only be as physically active as your health allows.


6. DO YOU HAVE FOOD ALLERGIES?- Each year , millions of Americans have allergic reactions to food. Although most food allergies cause relatively mild and minor symptoms, some food allergies can cause severe reactions, and may even be life threatening. There is no cure for food allergies. Strict avoidance of food allergens- and early recognition of allergic reactions to food- are important measures to prevent serious health consequences. To help Americans avoid the health risks posed by food allergens, Congress passed the Food Allergen Labeling and consumer Protection Act of 2004. The law requires that food labels must list all ingredients that are- or contain any protein derived from- the eight most common food allergens. These eight most common foods which account for 90% of food allergic reactions are MILK, EGGS, FISH, CRUSTACEAN SHELLFISH, TREE NUTS, PEANUTS, WHEAT, SOYBEANS. Symptoms of food allergies typically appear from within a few minutes to 2 hours after a person has eaten a food to which he/she is allergic. They include: hives, flushed skin or rash, tingling or itchy sensation in the mouth, face, tongue or lip swelling, vomiting and/or diarrhea, abdominal cramps, coughing or wheezing, dizziness/ lightheadedness, swelling of the throat and vocal cords, difficulty breathing and loss of consciousness. If you experience symptoms after eating, you should contact your doctor.



5 Tips to Avoid Smart Chip Credit Card Scams


Have you received your new EMV “smart chip” credit card(s)? Fraud expert Sid Kircheimer warns of imposter scams capitalizing on this change:


Although millions of EMV cards (short for Europay, MasterCard and Visa) have already been issued, there’s now a big push to quickly deliver the remaining plastic imbedded with a small computer chip; it’s that small, metallic square on the front of EMV cards that creates a unique transaction code that cannot be used again, unlike magnetic-stripe cards that store unchanging account details that aid fraudsters. Expect bogus emails allegedly sent by card issuers, PayPal or other businesses that supposedly provide details about your account with more secure, chip-imbedded cards. It’s a new incentive for old tricks to install computer malware and/or phish for account information and log-in credentials.


Here's what you should know: 


1. Legitimate emails from card issuers should be short, to-the-point notifications that your new EMV card is being mailed, perhaps with an “expect within 10 days” timeframe. They should not include links or attachments promising details or urging action to “update your account” or the like; that’s the calling card of scammers.

As a general rule, don’t trust links in emails — and before clicking, always hover your computer mouse over the link; if it doesn’t display the sender’s company name, assume the worst. It’s also safer to access any business website by typing its URL yourself, not via provided links. Or call the phone number listed on your card, not provided in emails.


2. Bogus PayPal emails are making the rounds, with malware-laden “Update Your Account” attachments. Legit PayPal emails never include attachments.


3. Authentic emails from card issuers will address you by name and include some specific reference to your credit card, such as the last four digits of your account number. Those from PayPal, eBay or other businesses will also include your name. Emails vaguely addressed to Dear “Cardholder,” “Customer” or “Account Holder” are often scams.


4. Even if the email includes your name, don’t trust it unless you previously provided your email address to that business (for instance, when you enrolled in online banking). Email mailing lists — with account holder names — can be purchased by scammers.


5. Be suspicious of phone calls or text messages supposedly from card issuers about EMV cards. These could be “vishing” (for voice phishing) or “smishing” (named after SMS technology that sends text messages) attempts aiming to glean account and personal information.


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