Your LifeSpan Center’s Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program continues to offer IRS tax return services for 2019.  VITA is designed to help taxpayers complete their basic tax returns at no cost.

Certified LifeSpan Volunteer Program (LSVP) Volunteers that have received training from the IRS are here to help prepare basic tax returns. Clients are not charged fees for this service.

This year, Coles County Council On Aging’s (CCCoA) LifeSpan Center and LSVP will be assisting community members with their tax preparation and appointments available now! 

Your LifeSpan Center and VITA are taking appointments now until Friday, April 12, 2019. Sorry, we cannot take walk-ins.  Appointment times available:  9am, 10am, 11am, 12:30pm, 1:30pm, and 2:30pm.

If you are interested in becoming a VITA volunteer, stop by your LifeSpan Center to pick up a LSVP application.  The VITA brochure with updated information is available at our front desk.

You must make less than $54,000≈ a year to receive this VITA service. If you need a ride to your appointment, please contact Dial-A-Ride 2 days to 2 weeks prior to your appointment.

For information about the Zip Line or to schedule door-to-door service between the hours of 10:00 AM and 2:00 PM, please call 217-639-5169 and schedule your VITA Dial-A-Ride pick-up time.

Volunteer Income Tax Assistance
By Lauara Severson, LifeSpan Center Volunteer Coordinator (LSVP)

New 2019 Medicare EXTRA HELP and MEDICARE SAVINGS PROGRAM Income/Resource Limits Announced
By Jill Conyers, Telecare Program Assistant Program Director

The Medicare Extra Help and Medicare Savings Program income and resource eligibility limits have increased for 2019.  The expansion of these limits may now mean that you may qualify for the Medicare Extra Help (Low-Income Subsidy (LIS)) prescription drug benefit and/or the Medicare Savings Program (MSP) benefit, if you meet the income and resource levels below in 2019.

 The Medicare Extra Help Program assists with paying for the costs of monthly premiums, annual deductibles, and prescription drug co-payments related to a Medicare prescription drug plan (Part D).  The 2019 Medicare Extra Help income/resource limits to qualify are as follows:

 ·         Single Person – Gross income less than $1,561/month and resources less than $12,890*                  
          (*Add $1500 if claiming burial allowance per person)
·         Married Person – Gross income less than $2114/month and resources less than $25,720*, living with spouse and no other dependents (*Add $1500 if claiming burial allowance per person)

 The Medicare Savings Program consists of three distinct benefit levels and assists with paying for some or all of the costs of monthly Medicare premiums, annual deductibles, and coinsurance/co-payments related to Medicare expenses based on approved level of benefit.  The 2019 Medicare Savings Program income/resource limits to qualify for each program benefit level are as follows:

·         Qualified Medicare Beneficiary (QMB) – If eligible, this program may pay Medicare Part A & B premiums, deductibles & coinsurance. Maximum gross monthly income for a single person is $1,041 and for married persons $1,410.

·         Specified Low Income Beneficiary (SLIB) – If eligible, this program may pay Medicare Part B premiums.  Maximum gross monthly income for a single person is $1,249 and for married persons $1,691.

·         Qualified Individual (QI -1) – If eligible, this program may pay Medicare Part B premiums. Maximum gross monthly income for a single person is $1,406 and for married persons $1,903.

 The 2019 resource limits for all three Medicare Savings Program benefit levels are $7,730 for a single person and $11,600 for married persons. Additionally, there is a State of IL $25 income disregard that can be added to each monthly income allowance.
If you think you may qualify for Extra Help or Medicare Savings Program benefits, the Coles County Council on Aging Telecare Program at your LifeSpan Center can assist you with filing the application. Contact the Telecare Program at your LifeSpan Center Monday through Friday from 8:30am – 4:30pm at 217-639-5166 if you would like to make an appointment to see if you are eligible and/or to apply for these Medicare cost saving benefits.

Life Skills for Your LifeSpan: Seniors aren’t the only sufferers of joint aches
By Patricia Hicks, LifeSpan Center Executive Director

Have you ever wanted the opportunity to chat with a specialist? Well here is your chance. Why not do it over lunch? The Coles Your Your LifeSpan Center’s goal is to provide information and education to the public through the entire “LifeSpan.” With that in mind, many of us, myself included, assume the only sufferers of arthritis are older adults. However a staggering number of children also ache in the same way in their joints.

July is Juvenile Arthritis (JA) Awareness Month. According to the Arthritis Foundation, 300,000 youngsters age 16 and under deal with a differing variety of symptoms in the United States alone. This is not an isolated or stand-alone condition, as it includes other difficulties linked to autoimmune disorders. Here are six facts that I would like to share to help everyone increase their personal knowledge.

   1. Juvenile arthritis can actually cause different symptoms in each specific case and type. Many types of JA do include the common symptom of swelling. However, each type has particular concerns and varying symptoms. In fact, some types of JA don’t act like the “traditional” definition in any way and can affect the eyes, skin or even the digestive system.
    2. The National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases advises that many times the knees and feet are involved. Although some children may not let parents know they are experiencing pain, in most cases limping could be a factor in revealing a problem. Customarily, the change in walking pattern may be first thing in the morning as the joints are more likely to be stiff after a rest period.
    3. Genetic connection is unlikely and the Institute notes it is actually “very rare” to have multiple members of the family diagnosed with JA. However, because this is an autoimmune disease, families with a history of other autoimmune conditions may be at a higher risk.
    4. Girls are more at risk than boys according to, and most cases arise between the ages of 2 and 4 years old or in the teenage years. advises that mild oligoarthritis (having less than five joints involved) is the most frequently occurring type of JA and it is usually observed in female children less than 9 years old.
    5. Unbelievably, arthritis and other rheumatic conditions have even accounted for deaths in youths in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Fortunately, during the 20 year time period studied, the mortality rate fell by 25 percent. Perhaps this is due to improved access to information and early diagnosis.
    6. Treatment is available and, as per the Mayo Clinic, the focus is on improving the quality of life for these young persons. Differing medications can be utilized depending on the type of JA and individual symptoms. There is a group of prescriptions designed to hinder the advancement of the condition, and in some cases chemotherapy drugs have also been used to battle JA, in much lower doses than would be utilized for cancer patients. Physical therapy may also provide additional assistance in the treatment plan.

Juvenile arthritis is very real situation for an alarmingly high number of children. Be aware and make sure you bring it up or question your child’s pediatrician should you have any concerns.

The LifeSpan Center is located at 11021 E. County Road 800N, Charleston. The telephone number is 217-639-5150. The numbers for the programs are as follows: Coles County Telecare -- 217-639-5166; Family Care Giver Resource Center -- 217-639-5168 and Dial A Ride -- 217-639-5169 or 1-800-500-5505. See you at your LifeSpan Center.

Come join us each weekday at noon for “Lunch at LifeSpan.” Peace Meals are served Monday through Friday at a suggested donation of $3.50. To register, reserve a lunch or learn more, contact Peace Meal at 217-348-1800.