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Newspaper Archive of
Pahrump Mirror
Pahrump, Nevada
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April 10, 1997     Pahrump Mirror
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April 10, 1997
 

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Pahf-ml ali'Ue[Zit,''lh'r[ay Alr xl 0, 99  Senior Issues Nevada Bell has Discounts for Qualified Seniors By Pete Peterson Ever wonder how you can defray the cost of installing .i ::7: ' "i NT telephone service in your home? As a senior citizen, do you have any means for financial assistance in the Pahrump area? Here's everything you wanted to know about these two questions but were afraid to ask--or didn't know whom to ask. 81 l--Get to a phone somewhere and dial that number. It's a free call. The Nevada Bell person on the other end can help potential qualified seniors with such problems. We did and Nevada Bell acted promptly. It s called Nevada Bell's Universal Lifeline Service, of- feting discounts to some low income customers who are 60 years of age and older, and to some low income customers who are receiving disability payments. Here's what you get with Lifeline Telephone Service: 1. A $2 discount on the basic local service charge 2. A $2 discount on the federal-end user charge. That's four bucks off your bill right there. But wait a minute. There's more. It includes a 50 percent discount on some installation charges when you move within a Nevada Bell community or start new service. The Phone Company points out, however, that the discount on an instal- lation charge applies once in a 12-month period for order and equipment office connection charges. That sounds fair. I wish we would have known about Nevada Bell's dis- count services before getting the shaft from Tom Terry Homes. First of all, when we bought our mobile home in Las Vegas from Tom Terry, we were told that all the services, the phone line and everything else was in place on our land in Pahrump. This was the first of many bald-faced lies we encountered with Tom Terry Homes. On our move-in date, for instance, we had NO ELEC- TRICITY. So I insisted we stay at Saddle West, at Tom Terry's expense, until we were physically able to move in. Four days later we moved in, but had NO PHONE LINES. You see, Tom Terry failed to notify Nevada Bell about this subdivision of theirs going up near Leslie and Charleston Way. How many mouths lead-time did they need? Anyway, we move in. my wife is disabledl I have a heart problem. Indeed, we are, in a life-threatening, needless posi- tion. For nearly two months we went day-after-day to the Tom Terry office here and used their phone to try and get ours. I need not tell you what excuses we encountered and the delays we were subjected to because of the inexcusable planning by Tom Terry Homes. Our persistence in finally getting the phone lines in paved the way for others in our young neighborhood to acquire phone service painlessly. But what hell we had to go through! Then we find out that the guy that Tom Terry recom- mended to put in our phone jacks was incompetent. The Nevada Bell installer had to go beneath our mobile home to CONNECT some wires that were left hanging, and double- checked the other phone lines in the home. It' s too bad Tom Terry Homes did not advise us of Nevada Belt's service to seniors before we forked over a lot of unnecessary money. In contacting Nevada Bell through the 811 number, we were kindly, politely and graciously informed of the company' s policy toward senior citizens. As was said before, you must meet certain requirements to qualify for these discounts. These requirements are set forth by the Public Service Commission of Nevada and they are cut-and-dried. The first is that you must be 60 or older. If you are disabled or receiving SSI assistance become two other qualifications. Another qualification is if you are receiving SSA disability payments. You may also be eligible based on your financial situation, that is, considering your gross annual household income. If you' re single, your household income cannot exceed $11,610 annually. For two people, the limit is $15,540; for three people $19,470; and for four or more in a household, the limit is $23,400. You must, of course, provide proof of any of these quali- fications before the PSC will approve your discount(s). To explain this further for you, proof of age can be a copy of your driver's license, birth certificate, senior citizen iden- tification or other acceptable indication of age. The proof of your disability payments is a copy of your SSI or SSA disability check or check stub, or either an SSI or SSA disability ID. If you need a form to fill out in order to subscribe to Nevada Bell's Universal Lifeline Service, dial 811 and they will gladly mail you the necessary paperwork. Additional information is available by calling the Nevada Division of Aging Services, Legal Services Developer's Office in Beatty, at (702) 687-4425. Again, the easiest way to do all this is to dial 811 or write to the Nevada Bell Business Office at P.O. Box 11010, Reno, NV, 89520. Gotta go, I hear the phone ringing. Bryan Issues Warning to Senior about Reverse Mortgage Rip-Offs RENO--United States Senator Richard Bryan (D-Ne- vada) went to the Senior Citizens Center April 1, 1997 to issue a warning to seniors about reverse mortgage rip-offs. Reverse mortgages allow senior citizens to get back some of the equity they have built up having to move out of their homes. As these types of mortgages have become more popular among senior citizens "estate planning services" have cropped up offering seniors information and access to reverse mort- gage leaders. Often, excessive fees are charged for this service sometimes amounting to thousands of dollars. The same information can be accessed from the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) for free by calling 1-888-466-3487. HUD also offers the entire list of approved counseling agencies on the Internet web at www.HUD.gov. "If there's money to be made, the rip-off artist will find a way and senior citizens are usually their targets, Bryan said. "While not illegal, the fees charged to seniors for these services, often amounting to thousands of dollars, can only be de.scribed as usurious." lomeowners, 62 years and older are eligible to apply for reverse mortgages and can borrow resides in the home. The loan and interest payments are recovered by the lender after the home is sold when the borrower dies or moves out. "Reverse mortgages can provide much needed income for senior citizens faced with increased or unexpected expenses such as medical care," Ban said. "These loans allow them to tap into the equity of their home without losing their home in the process. Unfortunately, some enterprising seam artist have chosen to tap into the vulnerability of senior citizens by charging exorbitant fees for a service that senior citizens can get elsewhere for free." Estate planning services have been known to charge about 6-10 percent of the loan amount for nothing more than putting the borrower in touch with a lender. This amounts to $6,000- $10,000 for a $100,000 loan which the service deducts as a lump sum from the loan. The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has been working to shut down these estate-planning operations. HUD Secretary Andrew Cuomo recently issued a "directive" to all Federal Housing Authority (FHA) lenders warning them that doing "business with now of these seam artists, will eliminate them not only from reverse mortgages, but also from all FHA business." Senator Bryan, a member of the Senate Banking Commit- tee, is working with HUD on legislation that will ensure the elderly are protected form these rip-offs. The legislation could be introduced later this month. "This is a preemptive strike against a recently identified problem that is occurring particularly in the West," Bryan said. "We need to get the message out early to seniors that if they are seeking a reverse mortgage, make a call fn'st to HUD or AARP before agreeing to pay any fees." 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