*** E-zine October 2007 ***

This Month Highlights:
· Having Mortgage Troubles?
· Good News for Military Retirees
· Energy Saving Tips

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"Houston - We have a problem."

Those famous words from space could have been used in Washington, D.C., lately. Only on earth, it applies in regards to American homeowners who bought their home with an adjustable rate mortgage, or who purchased by using a "stated income" loan.

What's a stated income loan? That's where YOU state your income and the bank doesn't bother to check on it... Mmm-hmm. You guessed it! That led to our current trouble.

It wasn't all avarice and greed. Not at all. These loans were used to help hard-working people buy a home. Everyone has a right to want and to achieve the American dream, after all. And the majority of these folks are working and paying their mortgage just fine, thank you. But these stated income loans were also used by mortgage companies to help speculators buy a second property to "flip" in hopes of making big profits in the (until recently) booming real estate market. They were also "sold" to homeowners with the notion of a remodel or expansion of the home. Perhaps an education was paid for out of the equity in the home. The problem is that these loans often have very high penalties for refinancing and have high up-front costs that the borrowers-normal working Americans- didn't always catch. Caveat emptor? Buyer beware? Certainly it applies. However, do we also not place some of the onus on the aggressive sales techniques of the mortgage broker who slid in those conditions and fees in the fine print at the bottom of the page? "

The federal government has decided that the situation is in danger of ballooning out of control and has moved to stem the financial hemorrhaging-and potential recession that could result if action is not taken. President Bush has offered an outline of a program that would save affected homeowners who have lost their property from additional tax burdens-but they still lose their home. Congress is developing an alternative or complimentary program; however there are no details available on that yet. Federal reserve chairman Ben Bernanke will probably be forced to lower interest rates to keep the foreclosures from becoming a drag on the larger economy and thus triggering recession. Under his direction, the Federal Reserve has already pumped billions into our financial system to keep operations running smoothly amid these defaults and mortgage firm failures. And in August, for the first time in four years, there was a decrease in the employment figures.

What to do? If you know someone who is having trouble paying their mortgage they need to take action, rather than wait in fear. This action can be to take on a second job, if one is available, or it may require the services of a credit counselor. They should study the proposals now coming to light from the federal government. Some states may also be taking action to help their residents, so it is well worth checking that avenue.

Here are some links to peruse, and we'll keep you posted!

Additional financial information for seniors can be found at:

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The Uniformed Services Contingency Option Act (USCOA) of 1953 was the first law to permit military members to receive reduced retired pay during their lifetime in return for ensuring that their widows and eligible children would receive an annuity after the members' death. Public Law 87-381 of 1961 replaced the provisions of the USCOA with the Retired Serviceman's Family Protection Plan (RSFPP).

On September 21, 1972, Congress passed Public Law 92-425. This law terminated the RSFPP and created the Survivor Benefit Plan (SBP). Existing participants in the RSFPP were permitted to retain their RSFPP coverage, elect to participate in the SBP, or convert their coverage to the SBP. Under SBP, each member entitled to retired or retainer pay with eligible dependents is entitled to participate in the program. Public Law 95-397 extended coverage under the SBP to members of Reserve Components who would be eligible for Reserve (Non-Regular Service) retired pay except for being under 60 years of age.

Under the RSFPP and SBP programs, retired members are required to pay monthly premiums in the form of a deduction from their retired pay. In general, these premiums will be deducted throughout a member's lifetime unless the retiree terminates or withdraws from annuity coverage, or, in the case of SBP coverage, during any period in which the member does not have an eligible beneficiary.

Section 641 of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 1999, Public Law 105-261, amended the SBP with regard to the deduction of SBP monthly premiums.

Effective October 1, 2008, no reduction in the retired pay of a participant in the SBP will be made for any month after the later of (1) the 360th month of paid premiums; and (2) the month during which the participant attains 70 years of age. Section 641 also includes participants who are paying premiums under the Reserve Component SBP (RCSBP). Section 655 of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2000, Public Law 106-65, extended the paid-up provision to RSFPP participants. The RSFPP provision also becomes effective on October 1, 2008.

These changes allow qualified retirees to stop paying SBP and/or RSFPP premiums while maintaining their current annuity coverage. The change is commonly referred to as "paid-up SBP." Beginning October 1, 2008, a member who is at least 70 years of age and has made a minimum of 360 months of premium payments is eligible to have the monthly premiums stopped. No action is required by the member to initiate the termination of premiums. DFAS will notify members of their paid-up status and when premiums will be stopped.

The DFAS notice will be mailed beginning in May 2008 to members who have met or will soon meet the entitlement criteria. All retirees will be notified of their paid-up premium status on their December 2008 annual Retiree Account Statements (RAS). This information will be updated with each RAS issued after December 2008 to help retirees monitor their eligibility status.

Additional insurance information for seniors can be found at:

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Many seniors shake their head when they feel nobody is interested in listening to them. After all, a lifetime of work, family, learning, successes and challenges is no small thing to be simply forgotten or tossed aside. THAT is not a recipe for uplifting mental health, is it?

But the grandkids have Ipods, the kids have careers, and Sunday afternoon visits tend to be taken up with topics of immediate import due to the limited time we all have in the 21st century. So what to do with all of that knowledge, experience, and wisdom? Part of the human condition is we need to be social. We need give and take. And we need to feel valuable to society around us. It is natural to feel like this and it shouldn't stop when we become senior citizens!

The answer? Put it "online" where it will live forever, of course! Web-logging is the online diary practice that is referred to as "blogging" on the Internet (where everything has a nickname). These blogs are written by people from across the spectrum of age and socio-economic status. Astronauts, physicians, homemakers, farmers, butchers... people across all aspects of society have something to say, and none are more experienced in life than senior citizens.

What would you talk about? Well, what is important to you? It can be your personal expertise in, for instance, growing a vegetable garden; or your professional expertise, such as a pilot who can comment on the flying characteristics of a favorite aircraft. Some folks blog about their pets, their grandchildren, their trips, and so forth. Others blog on political or social opinion. Some people just share their inner thoughts born of a lifetime's worth of reflections on daily life. Some bloggers are retired professionals adding their valuable expertise on topics, problems, and solutions across a wide variety of subjects, and some are just blowing off steam! Regardless, it is a fast-growing trend, and a lot of fun for many seniors. Bloggers often get "hooked" when they get replies from around the globe, find themselves becoming more engaged in current events and life in general, and enjoy the voice they have that has been so long brushed aside by a youth-obsessed world. There truly ARE people interested in listening to what senior citizens have to say!

How do you get started? Go online. Begin your search for blogging sites at Google or Yahoo and start reading the entries. The parent sites that host these forums typically have a large number of bloggers discussing a wide variety of topics, from health to politics, to dog breeds, to party planning. You name it—you'll find a blogger discussing it and waiting for your input. Try these for starters:

Additional aging related information for seniors can be found at:

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Energy Savings Techniques This Winter

  • Find out about financial energy assistance programs: Many states, counties and cities provide programs that assist older adults with winter heating costs. To identify your Area Agency on Aging, contact the Eldercare Locator at 800-677-1116 or
  • Be aware of help available through utility companies: Check with your utility to see if they offer a monthly budget plan to help spread out those high energy costs this winter over an entire year. Utility companies also are a great source for energy conservation information.
  • Look for ways to cut down on winter energy use: The ENERGY STAR Program offers steps to follow to make your home more energy efficient Other easy steps to take include using storm windows or inexpensive stretch window film to keep out drafts; using a programmable thermostat to lower temperature automatically when you are away from home or asleep; changing furnace filters at least every three months to keep the warm air flowing; and weather stripping or insulating the attic hatch or door to prevent warm air from leaking out of the house. Also, although a log fire in your fireplace looks nice, it does not heat your home efficiently, because heated air drafts up the chimney. When not using your fireplace, close the damper.
  • Ensure your health and safety: In addition to addressing the need to stay warm during winter, consider safety as well. For example, make sure that: smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are installed and working properly; that water pipes are insulated to avoid freezing and bursting; that electrical cords on space heaters are not damaged and do not pose a tripping hazard; that batteries and battery-powered flashlights are available; and that a fire extinguisher is up-to-date and ready to use.
  • Have a back-up plan: Before you need them, consider alternative arrangements should extreme weather conditions require emergency action. These might include having another place to stay temporarily; asking someone to check on you daily- especially if you live alone; making sure that your medicine and medical needs are met; and sharing contact information with everyone who might need it.

For more energy tips see "Energy Saving Home Improvements From A to Z" at

A useful aid to assist your caregiver in gathering information he or she may need in an emergency is a MedicTag . Visit

Home Habitat Influences Walking Options
These findings by University of Washington and Group Health Cooperative researchers could have broad implications for public health and planning officials throughout the United States, where obesity has been called an epidemic and as baby boomers start to retire. Being able to walk around the area in which one lives is an opportunity for exercise. Researchers compared the study participants' self-reported walking behavior with geographic information relating to the location of their residences, as well as some 200 directly observable neighborhood attributes, including parks, streets and walking and bike trails, land slope, and traffic. Researchers concluded that the chief factors contributing to an area's walkability were higher residential density and clusters of destinations such as grocery stores, restaurants, and other services. It should be remembered that the key element is the "immediate area" around the home, not the general neighborhood boundaries.

Additional walking information for seniors can be found at:

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We present here some words from those with a birthday this month.

Groucho Marx "Money will not make you happy, and happy will not make you money."

Mahatma Gandhi "Nobody can hurt me without my permission."

Donna Karan "Everything in life has to have balance."

Sting "When the world is running down, you make the best of what's still around."

Gore Vidal "Style is knowing who you are, what you want to say, and not giving a damn."

More "Thoughts" at:

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Woman's Day magazine provides a set of giveaways on the Web. Starting on the first of each month, they bring you one great prize each weekday. You can come back each day for a new chance to win. Visit them at:

Lyrics for Your Favorite Songs
Can't quite remember the words of one of your favorite songs? Do you want the lyrics to some of Frank Sinatra's songs? He was arguably the most important popular music figure of the 20th century, his only real rivals for the title being Bing Crosby, Elvis Presley, and the Beatles. In a professional career that lasted 60 years, he demonstrated a remarkable ability to maintain his appeal and pursue his musical goals despite often countervailing trends. To get the lyrics for his songs and those of other significant singers, visit

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Memory Related Health Alerts
Do you or a loved one suffer from Alzheimer's disease or another form of dementia? Do you need to make informed decisions as a caregiver, or just provide support and advice? We know how crucial it is for people suffering from Alzheimer's and other forms of dementia, and for the people caring for them, to get the most current, reliable information on their treatment options. With Johns Hopkins Health Alerts at: you can browse a list of most recent articles. Better still, you can get the latest news on memory from this site sent straight to your inbox via email.

Get more medical information at:

"Best" Prescription Prices
Did you know that the price of prescription drugs can vary from pharmacy to pharmacy? Searching for the "Best" Rx price has never been easier! has made it easier for you to save money. With the new Price Checker tool added to our site you can compare prescription drug prices for 1,000+ medications. You'll also see online pharmacy ratings and shipping fees so you can compare total costs.

You should be aware that it is generally a good practice for consumers to buy all of their medications from the same pharmacy so that a pharmacist can keep track of the medications they are taking in order to avoid potentially harmful interactions. If you do decide to shop at more than one pharmacy, make sure that you inform the pharmacists of all of the drugs you are taking.

Additional health information for seniors can be found at:

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Lost In The Darndest Places
An elderly Floridian called 911 on her cell phone to report that her car has been broken into. She is hysterical as she explains her situation to the dispatcher: "They've stolen the stereo, the steering wheel, the brake pedal and even the accelerator!" she cried. The dispatcher said, "Stay calm. An officer is on the way." A few minutes later, the officer radios in. "Disregard," he says. "She got in the backseat by mistake."

Rules to Consider

  • There is always one more imbecile than you counted on.
  • Experience is a wonderful thing. It enables you to recognize a mistake when you make it again.
  • By the time you can make ends meet, they move the ends.
  • Thou shall not weigh more than thy refrigerator.
  • Someone who thinks logically provides a nice contrast to the real world.
  • It isn't the jeans that make your butt look fat.

Visit 1000's of jokes of interest to people who have lived a long and rich life.
"Oh My Aging Funny Bone" is at:

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SPONSOR'S INFORMATION: We welcome appropriate entities to provide sponsorship support. If you are interested please contact us at: [email protected]

Do you have an article to share with others? We will consider any appropriate material for this publication.
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This issue has been edited by Betsy Day ([email protected]).

Copyright 2007, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Information in this document is subject to change without notice. Other products, service and companies named herein are trademarks or registered trademarks of their respective companies or mark holders and are solely responsible for the content of their articles. Articles are included for informational purposes and are not an endorsement.

This Copyright E-zine may be forwarded to others only if sent in its entirety. Other uses are subject to written permission of the publisher.

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