Here’s Something You CAN Do – Give Blood

Here’s a suggestion for everyone who is feeling a little overwhelmed and helpless. This morning I got a call from the New York Blood Center. I am a regular blood donor, and they call me routinely. It’s another way to give back. The blood center caller said that they are in urgent need of blood and platelet donors, as supplies are critically low. I was out the door in about five minutes. Here’s what I found.

The New York Blood Center is known for running an extremely clean operation, but they have upped their game, going above and beyond public health guidelines.  It is safe to give blood. They disinfect their donation sites frequently and are taking every extra precaution to prevent any person-to-person spread of COVID-19.  They are only collecting blood from healthy individuals and those that meet all requirements.

A special note to anyone who is O-Negative – we are considered the “universal” blood donor, as our blood type can be used by anyone. While we can only receive O-Negative blood, anyone can receive our blood. I feel like I have a special responsibility to give blood, another reason I am a regular donor.

Here’s a link to the New York Blood Center – the site has info about where you can give blood, who can give blood and how to make an appointment.

If you are healthy and have not been exposed to anyone with COVID-19, please take this opportunity to step up and do something for the good of our community. You’ll feel better, especially if you have been feeling like there’s nothing you can do. You can do something – you can give blood!

New York’s “Spousal Refusal” is at Immediate Risk – Call Lawmakers Now Before They Make This Change

The last five governors of New York State have tried twenty eight times to change the practice known as “spousal refusal,” the right of a well spouse to decline to allow their finances to be stripped to the bone  so that a sick spouse can qualify for Medicaid.

The governor’s proposals to eliminate spousal refusal for Medicaid and extend the penalty period for community based services are draconian at best, especially on Long Island. The amount a married couple may retain is set nationally. This means a couple in Iowa can retain the same amount as a couple in New York. A resource limit of approximately $176,000 and joint income of approximately $3,000 per month (including Social Security) will leave both spouses impoverished; especially since the average cost of facility on Long Island ranges from $550 -$625 per day.

How can a well spouse live on Long Island with monthly income of $3,000? In middle class communities, real estate taxes can easily exceed $8,000 per year. Our utility costs are the highest in the nation and cannot be deducted. Now factor in the cost of food, clothing, health insurance and other necessities: a well spouse can never make ends meet and may well find them scrambling to live with children or other relatives at best. The end of spousal refusal could leave well seniors homeless.

I strongly urge you to oppose these cuts. Almost weekly there are stories in the newspapers of providers who defraud the system, About four months ago, a health care provider was arrested for almost $1,000,000,000 in Medicare and Medicaid fraud. The state’s funds are better served rooting out fraud.

As a past president of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys and having practiced in this area for almost 40 years, I have all too often seen the fear and torture my clients have faced. We need to fight back, now.

What can you  do?

Contact your elected officials by phone or email – don’t wait for this law to change while we are focused on COVID-19.

Here’s how to find your New York State Assembly Member:

Here’s how to find your New York State Senator:

If you are anticipating the need for a family member to apply for Medicaid, then now is the time to discuss this situation with an experienced Elder Law attorney. The rules are strict, and this is not something that a layperson can do.

Just a simple Medicaid application, when the family has no assets other than a home, is not an easy task. New York State’s Medicaid laws and requirements are complex.

There is also the issue of a five-year lookback. That is, any property transfers to another family member should be done five years prior to any Medicaid application. Medicaid looks carefully into how the family’s assets are owned, and has the right to review financial transactions five years prior to the applications.

Planning for a Medicaid application rarely occurs in a perfect world. Most of our clients call us when their spouse or a family member is in the hospital and things look dire. They will either first be leaving the hospital to go to a rehabilitation facility and then to a nursing home, or going from the hospital directly to the nursing home.

There are planning strategies that we can do in an emergency situation, but it is far better for clients to come and see us in advance, so that proper planning can be done. This eliminates a tremendous amount of stress and worry, from the well and the sick spouse. The family is less stressed because they know that their parent’s legal and financial affairs are in order. The transition from hospital or rehab center to a nursing care facility is less overwhelming, because the plan has already been put into place.

No one wants to go to a nursing home. But planning to protect the spouse and the family’s assets is a necessary part of aging in America. Left undone, the well spouse is left in a precarious financial situation.

If you have questions about Medicaid, please call the office at 516-307-1236. The conversation is free and confidential, and you will gain some peace of mind knowing more.

A special message to clients and friends from Stephen J. Silverberg, Esq.

Dear Friends:

We are all worried about the impact of  the coronavirus (COVID-19) and the danger it poses to our community, locally and globally. Here is what our office is doing to ensure the health and safety of our clients and team members.

If you are fine coming to the office, we’d be happy to see you. Know that our office is taking all the prescribed precautions, including frequent hand washing, wiping down surfaces, and using hand sanitizer.

If you are not able to travel to our office during this time, or simply feel safer staying home, we understand. We can still serve you – no need to change your appointment.

We can schedule a phone meeting.  Just let our office know you’d like to change your office meeting to a phone meeting – call us at 516-307-1236 and we’ll make the change.

We are also fully equipped for videoconference appointments. Again, please call our office at 516-307-1236 and we’ll make the necessary arrangements.

In certain cases,  we still make house calls. When circumstances require that document be signed and there’s no other way for you to see us, an attorney will visit you or a loved one within a fifteen mile radius of our office at no extra charge. We don’t this often, but if necessary, we will.

If you are sick, even if you’re feeling just a little under the weather, please call us and we’ll either reschedule or set up a phone or video meeting. We want everyone to stay healthy!

To stay up to date with current news on Coronavirus, we suggest these websites:

Governor of New York State Corona Virus News

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

Cleveland Clinic -Preparing for Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Call our office at 516-307-1236 if you have concerns. Helping people is the essence of the firm’s mission and the guiding principle behind everything we do. It’s not just our motto – it’s how we practice law.

We hope you’ll take care of yourself and be well.  Thank you for the trust you place in our firm.



Stephen J. Silverberg, Esq.

Attorney Scott Silverberg

Scott B. Silverberg Accepted into Stetson University School of Law L.L.M. in Elder Law Program

We are pleased to report that Scott Silverberg has been accepted into the L.L.M. in Elder Law program at the prestigious Stetson University School of Law. This rigorous online program is offered only to Elder Law practitioners who have provide legal services in elder law matters in highly specific areas of the law. Stetson’s L.L.M. Elder Law program faculty comprises many leading attorneys in Elder Law, and Scott will be learning from some of the best lawyers and legal writers in the field.

Scott’s acceptance into this program is an indication of his dedication to the field of Elder Law and the quality of his practice.

The prerequisites for entry into the program provides a useful look at what an Elder Lawyer does for clients:

  • Pre-Mortem Legal Planning
  • Fiduciary Representation
  • Legal Capacity Counseling
  • Public Benefits Advice, including Medicaid, Medicare, Social Security benefits, Supplemental Security Income, Veterans benefits and more
  • Health and Personal Care Planning
  • Special Needs Counseling
  • Advice on Insurance Matters
  • Resident Rights Advocacy
  • Housing Counseling
  • Employment and Retirement Advice
  • Litigation and Administrative Advocacy

The firm (and the family) are pleased that Scott is taking this step to further his legal education, which will further the firm’s reputation for providing clients with excellence in Elder Law matters.