A Giving Spirit is Alive and Well in Roslyn Heights

By Stephen J. Silverberg
New York Elder Law Attorney

I read the New York Post every day. It’s an old habit that keeps me in touch with a part of New York City that many people, including my colleagues, may have forgotten. One of my favorite reads is John Crudele’s column. For those who aren’t familiar with him, John has a column where readers who don’t know where to turn can ask for help.

Those of us who practice elder law have valuable knowledge, and I believe we have a moral obligation to help those who cannot help themselves.

In early December, John shared a letter from a woman whose daughter had four operations for tumors on her body and became addicted to painkillers. She and her husband, both in their 80s, are trying to help her, but it’s not easy.

Her husband fell on his hip, was hospitalized, had surgery and was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. He is now wheelchair bound, and physical therapists come to the house. The woman has to move him around the house, as he cannot operate the wheelchair by himself. She also pays someone every week to give him a shower—out of her own pocket. They are on a fixed income.

He has fallen several times, and the police had to be called to help get him up.

They rent an apartment in North Babylon from an attorney who owns the condo. In November, the real estate management firm gave them 30 days to move.

John Crudele called the management company and spoke with its attorney, who told them that the owner of the unit had asked the company to evict the couple. The eviction has been pushed back to February. John said the neighbors may feel like there are problems in the unit because the police have been called a few times and that there is an adult son who comes by to deliver groceries. He wears a leather jacket, so maybe that makes them nervous.

John wasn’t able to move this forward, so he asked readers if they had any ideas.

I jumped in. I felt a moral obligation, as I have the knowledge to help them. I wrote a detailed letter, which John printed in his column. 

In a nutshell:

  • The most important thing is estate planning so that if the wife passes first, their assets are properly protected in accordance with the Social Security Act (which governs Medicare and Medicaid).
  • The father probably qualifies for Community Based Medicaid. This means they will send an aide who will help the wife care for the husband – possibly as many as six hours a day, up to five days a week. An aide might even be able to help with shopping.
  • If the daughter is on Social Security Disability Income (SSDI), she is eligible for Medicare, which may make many treatment programs available to her. If the daughter is on Supplemental Security Income (SSI; I wasn’t sure which one she is on), then there are other treatment options.

I told John that I was willing to help them and if they could not afford a modest fee, I’d help them for free. He gave her my phone number, and she called me on a Sunday. She was surprised when I returned her call that same day. She’s coming in to see me this week, and I am glad that I will be able to make her situation easier.

I am hopeful for a relatively happy ending to their story. Their lives will not become perfect, but if they can be improved, that will be worthwhile.

I’m sharing this story in the hopes that it will encourage everyone who reads it to think about how they can help others. I believe that we have a moral obligation to do so, and not just during the holiday season.

Wishing you and your loved ones a Happy New Year. 

Post 2018
About the Author
Stephen J. Silverberg is nationally recognized as a leader in the areas of estate planning, estate administration, asset preservation planning, and elder law. He is a past president of the prestigious National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys (NAELA), and a founding member and past president of the New York State chapter of NAELA.