Staffing shortages in long-term care and Hospices, as well as the effects of loneliness and isolation, have been presented to older Americans by the Covid pandemic. The kind of incremental progress that can take years to achieve, as lawsuits wend their way through courts, bills die in state legislatures and rise again, is encouraging.

The results are not always dramatic, but they can improve the lives of older people. Here are three.

If Medicare doesn't pay for your rehabilitation in a nursing home after you leave the hospital, you can appeal the decision.

Patients and families have been upset by this issue for years. You were in a hospital bed, doctors and nurses provided care, but you weren't actually admitted. The hospital changed your status from being an outpatient to being on observation.

You have to be an inpatient for three days in order to be eligible for nursing home coverage. The national average cost of a nursing home is $260 a day, so you either have to pay the tab yourself or forgo care. If you are among the 9 percent of Medicare beneficiaries who don't have Part B, you have to pay the hospital bill as well.

Hundreds of thousands of patients discharged from hospitals have probably faced this dilemma.

The center and Justice in Aging sued the federal Department of Health and Human Services in order to change this.

Medicare beneficiaries have the right to appeal if hospitals reclassify them as observation patients, according to the Second Circuit Court of Appeals. If patients win their appeals, traditional Medicare will pay for up to 100 days of nursing home care, and those who were previously forced to pay out-of-pocket could receive refunds. Medicare Advantage plans don't usually require a three-day stay.

There are a lot of questions answered by the Center for Medicare Advocacy.

The government can still ask the Supreme Court to take the case or try to get a rehearing by the Second Circuit court. People have the best chance of winning if they persist and work their way up through the levels, according to Ms. Bers.

The three-day requirement would be repealed. You have the right to appeal.

California is eliminating asset limits for older people who are trying to qualify for Medicaid, and other states are considering similar moves.

Medicaid, the state and federal program that provides health care for the poor and for people with disabilities, and also pays for long-term care in nursing homes and at home, sets strict ceilings on recipients' wealth. If you're older than 65, you can accumulate no more than $2,000 in assets or $3,000 for a couple with a home and a car.

The director of health care policy and advocacy for Justice in Aging said that it makes people live in deep poverty if they go over the limit.

The ceiling will be abolished in two steps. The asset limit increases to $130,000 for an individual and another $65,000 for each family member in July. The state will no longer have asset limits. If you are older or disabled, you will be eligible for Medi-Cal if your income is not more than 136 percent of the federal poverty level. The state estimates that 17,000 people will be eligible.

The state legislature will tackle the budget in March, and Gov. Kathy Hochul has included a similar measure in her proposed state budget. Ms. Christ said that Arizona eliminated asset limits in 2001 and other states are looking into it.

This year, the federal poverty level equates to an annual income of $17,774. Medi-Cal recipients must still be poor, but less so than before, and will be better able to hold onto their health coverage.

Offices closed since the beginning of the pandemic will reopen.
ImageOffices closed since the beginning of the pandemic will reopen.
Offices closed since the beginning of the pandemic will reopen.Credit...Fred Prouser/Reuters

The Social Security Administration has finally announced that it will reopen its 1,200 local offices.

Offices have remained closed since the Pandemic hit in March of 2020. In early April, local field offices will restore increased in-person service to the public, without an appointment, according to Mark Hinkle, a spokesman for the agency.

Kate Lang, senior staff attorney at Justice in Aging, said there are things that have to be done in person for Social Security. You can apply for retirement benefits online, but not for survivors or S.S.I., which helps seniors with low income.

Hundreds of thousands of applicants have been out of luck for two years because of these in-person requirements.

People already on benefits have gotten notices that their benefits are being reduced or discontinued, and they can't get in touch with anyone at Social Security to find out what's going on.

Trying to reach Social Security by phone can be frustrating. A report from the agency's inspector general found that calls to field offices rose from 4.5 million in April to 12 million in March of 2021. Many callers abandoned the effort if they called field offices or the national 1-800 number.

After the Social Security Administration agreed to reopen offices, lengthy negotiations with its employees followed. The agency and its unions have reached agreements, although they are still working out the details of reopening.

Visitors to a field office will likely face limits on the amount of space they can occupy. The agency encourages the public to use its online or phone services when possible and to schedule in-person appointments in advance.

Justice in Aging has brought a class-action suit against the Social Security Administration on behalf of S.S.

Mr. Hinkle said that offices will reopen this spring if the swine flu is not contained.