By Betty Berry, Tuesday, April 12, 2011  Q: With all the disasters occurring in the world, I’m thinking it is time to review what to do in various situations. Do you know of any organization offering such a program?

A: Good thinking. It is never to early to be prepared — and yes I think I have the program for you to attend.

Senior Concerns and Moving Seniors Forward are co-sponsoring “Senior 911: Be Prepared-Planning Ahead for Emergencies.” It is scheduled for April 30 at the Simi Valley Senior Center, 3900 Avenida Simi in Simi Valley.

The day will start with registration at 8:30 a.m. and the program will be 9 a.m. to noon.

The program will cover a variety of situations. Gold Coast Ambulance will provide information on handling personal medical emergencies. The American Red Cross will be there to talk about disaster response and the Fire Department will address household emergencies. The Simi Valley Police Department will discuss home and personal security.

All of this vital information will certainly help attendees be better prepared should an emergency occur.

The morning will also include a complimentary breakfast and an opportunity drawing.

For reservations, call Simi Valley Senior Center at 583-6363 no later than April 26.

Q: Does Medicare help pay for items such as artificial limbs, back braces and corrective shoes?

A: Yes. Medicare Part B (medical insurance) is the vehicle used to file this type of claim.

Medicare Part B helps to pay for prosthetic devices needed to replace internal body organs such as corrective lenses needed after cataract operations, ostomy bags and related supplies, and breast prostheses, including a surgical brassiere after a mastectomy.

Medicare will also help to pay for artificial limbs and eyes as well as arm, leg, back and neck braces. Orthopedic shoes, however, are not generally covered unless they are an integral part of the leg braces and the cost is included in the charge for the brace itself.

The cost of therapeutic shoes and shoe inserts is covered for people who have severe diabetic foot disease.

Reimbursement requires that the doctor who treats the diabetes must certify the need for therapeutic shoes and the shoes and inserts must be prescribed by a podiatrist, or qualified doctor and furnished by a podiatrist, orthotist, prosthetist or pedorthist. Medicare will only help to pay for one pair of shoes per calendar year.

Of course Part B also helps to pay for surgical dressings, splints and casts ordered by your doctor when used in connection with your treatment.

Dental plates and other dental devices such as braces are never covered under the Medicare program.

Q: I understand Social Security has a program to assist individuals who cannot manage their financial affairs. Can you provide some details?

A: There is such a program for people who receive Social Security and/or SSI and are not able to handle their own financial affairs. After a thorough investigation Social Security will appoint an interested third party to handle their Social Security matters only.

This appointee is called a “representative payee” and all Social Security and/or SSI benefits due to beneficiary are made payable in the representative payee’s name on behalf of the beneficiary.

The representative payee has many important responsibilities. Benefits received must be used only for the personal care and well-being of the beneficiary. Any excess must be saved for the beneficiary.

Social Security must be kept informed of any events which might affect the eligibility for benefits and a periodic accounting report must be filed with them to show how the money received was spent and/or saved.

For more information about the Representative Payee Program contact Social Security for the brochure “A Guide for Representative Payees.”

Betty Berry is a senior advocate for Senior Concerns. The advocates are at the Goebel Senior Adult Center, 1385 E. Janss Road, Thousand Oaks, CA 91362; phone 495-6250 or email (please include your telephone number). You are invited to submit questions on senior issues.


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