Your AARP ; The Law
; Ask the Experts
By Emily Sachar
; The issue: Does a Supreme Court ruling that limits overtime
for health care aides block states from allowing it?
Natasha Maye supports herself and her
four children on her $8.25-an-hour wage
as a home health care worker. That means
providing essential care—bathing, dress-
ing, shopping and cooking—for 65-year-
old Nancy Thompson of Philadelphia. “I
do important work,” Maye said. “I need
every penny I can get.”
Bayada Nurses Inc., a Penn-
sylvania firm whose workers
provide nursing care, physical
therapy and rehabilitation, went
to court in 2009 to challenge a
state law authorizing overtime payments.
A 2007 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that
home health aides like Maye were not
eligible for overtime conflicted with the
state law. Further confusion stemmed
from a 1968 state minimum wage law that
exempted health care workers employed
by an individual household from earning
Maye, 34, recognized the importance of
the dispute. “What would our country’s
senior population do without home health
care workers?” she asked recently.
AARP filed a friend-of-the-court brief
supporting the workers, arguing that
home health care workers for agencies
deserved state overtime
protections. In November,
the Pennsylvania Supreme
Court decided in favor of
the workers and allowed
the overtime payments.
Bayada is complying with
the ruling, said Rick Buck,
the firm’s chief communi-
cations officer, although he
says it has disrupted care
for some individuals and
limited income “for our
home health aides who are
now restricted to working
40 hours a week or less.”
homes and avoiding nursing homes.”
; Home health care
Maye, left, with client
and two of Maye’s
; What it means to you: Fair compensation raises the quality of home health
care. If you work as a health care aide, see
if you qualify for overtime pay. ;
Q My investment broker now works for a company I’m not familiar with. How can I check on the
firm to make sure it’s legitimate?
AThe Financial Industry Regulatory Authority website has a database that contains information about
many brokers and the firms they work for. You can find
out if brokers are licensed in your state, if they’ve had
run-ins with regulators or received serious complaints
from investors. Go to finra.org/investors and click on
“FINRA BrokerCheck.” Or call 1-800-289-9999.
Q I need a lawyer but I don’t think I can afford one. How can I find free or low-cost legal help?
AIn many communities, there are free legal services for residents who meet certain income and
eligibility requirements. Go to findlegalhelp.org or to
lawhelp.org and click on your state for programs that
can help you with housing, public benefits, work, disability, bankruptcy and other issues.
QI know Social Security pays a $255 death benefit o the family of a person who dies. Who exactly
is eligible to receive this? And how do you apply?
A The death benefit is a lump sum, paid upon the death of a person who worked long enough to
qualify for Social Security benefits. It goes to a surviving
spouse who was living in the person’s household at the
time of death, or, if living apart, was receiving certain
Social Security benefits on the deceased’s record. If
there’s no eligible spouse, the $255 may go to a child
who is eligible for benefits on the person’s record in the
month of death. No qualifying recipient means no payment—it cannot, for example, go to the funeral home.
To apply, call 1-800-772-1213 or contact your local Social
Emily Sachar is a journalist and author
based in Brooklyn, N. Y.
Sally Hurme, AARP, on brokers and legal help; Social Security Administration on
death benefit. Send questions to: Ask the Experts, AARP Bulletin, 601 E St. N W,
Washington, DC 20049, or email email@example.com. Go to aarp.org/bulletin
for previously asked questions. We regret we can’t answer all questions personally.