INDIAN RIVER COUNTY – A handful of seniors turned out to U.S. Rep. Bill Posey’s Senior Summit held at the Vero Beach Senior Center’s Schumann Hall to hear his take on health care changes and the future of Social Security.
“There’s not one member of Congress that’s trying to take Social Security benefits away from people who are getting Social Security now,” Posey told the small audience. He added that those who are not yet beneficiaries could be affected, though. “We know there’s a big bubble of baby-boomers that are getting ready to come on.” Calling the influx of eligible baby-boomers a “tsunami,” Steve Chandler, district manager of the Social Security Administration office in Vero Beach, discussed the various ways they can receive their Social Security benefits.
“At this point, you can choose,” Chandler said, explaining that seniors can get checks, have their benefits deposited directly into their bank account or have a gift-card-type card issued.
Chandler told the audience that it costs the federal government 98 cents to mail a Social Security check, but only 10 cents for direct deposit or a bank card.
Theresa Baxter, a program coordinator at the Gifford Youth Activity Center, questioned Chandler on how seniors who do not have access to the Internet would be able to take advantage of the alternative methods.
“You’ve got to teach them how to use the card,” she told him. “I’m the one that helps them.”
Baxter works with the seniors at the Gifford center through the Beyond Special Care program.
“I’m trying to learn as much as I can,” she said after the summit, adding that the more she knows, the more she can pass along to the seniors who weren’t able to attend.
Baxter said that she had already heard the information from SHINE – Serving Health Insurance Needs of Elders – which participated in the Senior Summit.
“She’s been very good,” Baxter said of Patti Guttu, the program’s representative at the summit.
Guttu explained to the crowd the recent changes to Medicare, including the new open enrollment period that runs from Oct. 15 to Dec. 7.
She added that there is now a “disenrollment” period from Jan. 1 to Feb. 14 that allows Medicare clients to make changes to their plans.
“If you have questions about the plans, give SHINE a call,” Guttu said.
SHINE holds office hours at the Schumann Hall in Vero Beach and staff is available by appointment to discuss insurance policies available to seniors.
The Senior Summit was help in partnership with the Indian River County Senior Resource Association, led by Karen Deigl.
Deigl informed the audience that the Senior Resource Association directly serves 3,000 people in the county on a daily basis through a number of its 25 services.
Those services include mass transportation through GoLine and Community Coach, Meals on Wheels, operating two Senior Centers – one in Vero Beach, the other in Sebastian – and a host of others.
“Growing old is mandatory,” Deigl said. “Growing up is optional.”