By the Old Sarge
I lost a friend a couple of summers ago.
Joe was a fit middle-aged man and an avid golfer. He died as he was finishing a solo practice round on a local course.
A group playing behind Joe found his body on the tee box of the final hole. The cause of death was a massive heart attack. The word around the clubhouse was that Joe died with a smile on his face because he was doing something that he loved.
I don’t know about that because I wasn’t there. I do know that his wife wasn’t smiling at his funeral.
Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the U.S., and it’s responsible for 1 in 4 of all deaths. Joe was one of the 2,200 people who die every day from a heart attack or stroke.
Doctors offer the following early signs of heart disease that demand immediate action.
- Chest discomfort. Most heart attacks involve discomfort in the center of the chest that lasts more than a few minutes, or that goes away and comes back. It can feel like uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness or pain.
- Discomfort in other areas of the upper body. Symptoms can include pain or discomfort in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw or stomach.
- Shortness of breath with or without chest discomfort.
- Other signs may include breaking out in a cold sweat, nausea or lightheadedness.
February is American Heart Month. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) offers the following tips for heart health:
- See your doctor. Schedule regular check-ups even if you don’t think you are sick.
- Add exercise to your daily routine. Begin by walking 15 minutes, three times each week. By mid-month, increase to 30 minutes, three times each week.
- Eat healthy. Cook heart-healthy meals at home at least three times each week.
- Quit smoking. This can cut your risk for heart disease and stroke.
- Take your medication. Talk to your doctor if you have trouble taking your medicines on time or if you’re having side effects.
I didn’t know Joe well enough to know if he had experienced early warning signs of a heart attack, or even if he followed the CDC’s health advice. I do know that it’s never too late to make small changes that can improve your heart health. American Heart Month is a good time to start.
By Aaron of Allsup
Medicare beneficiaries who are still working, but struggling financially, may be eligible for help paying their Medicare Part A (hospital insurance) and Part B (medical insurance) premiums.
All 50 states offer financial assistance to low-income people with limited resources. Even those who exceed those financial limits, however, should consider applying for a Medicare Savings Program (MSP) because some income and assets may not be considered.
The 2017 limits have not yet been released, but in 2016, individuals could get help paying for their Medicare premiums if they earned less than $1,208 per month. The limit for married couples was $1,622. The individual limit for resources, or assets, was $7,280, and a married couple must have had less than $10,930 in resources to qualify for assistance.
Limits are slightly higher in Alaska and Hawaii.
No state counts the following as income:
- The first $20 of all income
- The first $65 of monthly wages
- One-half of your monthly wages after the $65 is deducted
- Food stamps
Resources that are counted include:
- Money in checking and savings accounts
Countable resources do not include:
- Your home
- One car
- Life insurance with a cash value of less than $1,500
- Wedding and engagement rings
- Up to $1,500 for burial expenses each for you and your wife
- Other household and personal items
If you answer yes to the following questions, call your state’s Medicaid program and ask if you are eligible for an MSP.
- Do you have, or are you eligible, for Medicare Part A?
- Is your income at or below the income limits listed above?
- Do you have limited resources that are below the limits listed above?
It’s important to call or fill out an application if you think you could qualify for savings—even if your income or resources are higher than the amounts listed here.
Click here for more information on the Medicare Savings Programs.
Groundhog Day is observed every year on Feb. 2, but Punxsutawney Phil shares his day with a chronic illness that affects more than 1.5 million Americans.
The Rheumatoid Patient Foundation (RPF) has designated that date as Rheumatoid Awareness Day.
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a progressive inflammatory disease that causes severe pain in the joints and organ tissues. Symptoms include:
- Tender, warm, swollen joints
- Symmetrical pattern of affected joints
- Joint inflammation oftenaffecting the wrist and finger joints closest to the hand
- Joint inflammation sometimesaffecting other joints, including the neck, shoulders, elbows, hips, knees, ankles, and feet
- Fatigue, occasional fevers, a loss of energy
- Pain and stiffness lasting for more than 30 minutes in the morning or after a long rest
RA doesn’t differentiate between race, ethnic group or gender, but women are diagnosed more often than men. Older people are affected most often, but teenagers and younger children are also affected. According to the RPF, Most people with RA experience pain every day. Nearly half of the participants in Allsup’s “True Help Claiming Power Over Pain” program were living with RA.
The RPF notes that it isn’t an accident that Rheumatoid Awareness Day also comes at the start of Heart Awareness Month.
“Studies show that rheumatoid disease may affect the heart prior to diagnosis,” the organization reported in a news release. “Rheumatoid patients have higher incidence of stroke and atrial fibrillation, in addition to the specific affects of the disease upon the heart itself.”
The RPF is asking the rheumatoid patient community and the public to support Rheumatoid Awareness Day by raising awareness and sharing educational resources via social media and participating in a live online chat.
If severe rheumatoid arthritis is preventing you from working, visit www.allsup.com to learn how Allsup can help you receive the Social Security Disability Insurance benefits that you paid for while you were still working.
Attention veterans and military family members who served or lived at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. If you suffer from certain medical conditions, you may be eligible for disability benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).
Over a five-year period beginning in March, the VA will begin providing about $2.2 billion to veterans and their families who were exposed to contaminated drinking water at the Marine base. The VA announced on Jan. 13 that there is scientific and medical evidence that shows an association to water contaminates on Lejeune and certain diseases.
The new regulations cover veterans that were stationed there for at least 30 days cumulative between August 1953 through December 1987. To qualify for the cash payouts, veterans must have been stationed there for at least 30 days cumulative during that period.
The VA estimates that up to 900,000 military members may have been exposed to the contaminated water. The VA says that as of Friday, Jan. 13, it had already received approximately 1,400 disability claims related to Lejeune and its toxic water.
Veterans, Reservists and Guardsmen who served at the Marine bases during that period, and who have been diagnosed with one or more of the following presumptive conditions, may qualify for VA disability benefits:
- Adult leukemia
- Aplastic anemia and other myelodysplastic syndromes
- Bladder cancer
- Kidney cancer
- Liver cancer
- Multiple myeloma
- Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma
- Parkinson’s disease
The VA presumes that specific medical disabilities diagnosed in military veterans were caused by military service and disability benefits can be awarded without a medical opinion.
Visit Allsup.com or email AVDS@allsupinc.com to learn how Allsup can help if you or someone you know has been denied VA disability compensation benefits, or if you believe you should have received a higher disability rating.