NJAAW News and Resources
July 7, 2021
NJ’s 2022 State Budget Highlights for Helping
Older Residents
The NJ Budget for FY2022 has been approved with several important elements for older residents. 

  • Prescription Benefits – The budget raises the income limits for the PAAD (Pharmaceutical Assistance to the Aged and Disabled) and Senior Gold programs by $10,000 each – allowing more older residents to receive help with the cost of their medications and Medicare Part D premiums and deductibles. 
  • Nursing Facilities – The budget maintains last year’s 10% Medicaid nursing facility rate increase with an investment of $87 million in state dollars and an $87 million federal match. Facilities are required to use at least 60% of the rate increase for maintaining or increasing wages of staff providing direct care.  
  • Hearing Aid Assistance – The budget increases hearing aid reimbursements from $100 to up to $1,000 for older adults and individuals with disabilities and expands the Equipment Distribution Program by raising income eligibility to 400% of the federal poverty level.  

Tax Relief 
  • The FY2022 budget invests roughly $80 million in the Homestead Rebate payments to base them on 2017 property tax information, which is the most recent payment information available. This will increase the average benefit for seniors by $130. 
  • NJ Earned Income Tax Credit is expanding eligibility to those 65 and older without dependents. 
  • The budget agreement and accompanying legislation increases the threshold for retirement income that is allowed to be excluded from taxation from $100,000 to up to $150,000, helping roughly 70,000 additional senior taxpayers.  
Key bills passed to reach these budget goals were  

  • A-5539/S-3954 (Burzichelli, Benson, Zwicker/Sarlo, Sweeney) – Provides partial pension and retirement income exclusion for taxpayers with incomes between $100,000 and $150,000. 

  • A-5345/S-3428 (Reynolds-Jackson, Mukherji, Vainieri Huttle/ Lagana, Ruiz) – Expands eligibility under New Jersey earned income tax credit program to allow taxpayers who are at least 18 years of age or older to qualify for modified benefits. 

  • A-5520/S-3633 (Vainieri Huttle, McKnight, Benson/T. Kean Diegnan) – Increases income eligibility limits for PAAD program and Senior Gold Prescription Discount Program by $10,000. 
Virtual Networking
July 28, 1-2 p.m.
Topic: Technology Classes for Senior Centers and Older Adults 

Technology use among older individuals 
increased dramatically under COVID. Are you looking for ways to increase the use of technology in your community? Do you know of a great service that offers tech classes for senior centers? Join us to share your ideas/resources and ask questions about tech classes for seniors and older adults. Free but advanced registration is required. After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting. Register here.
Whether you missed it the first time or want to watch it again... Check out the recordings of our ongoing webinar series with Parker Health Group. Inc., a nonprofit, NJ-based aging services organization with over 114 years of experience:
Recordings are on our YouTube page; live webinars will resume in September.
Capital Impact Partners, Aging in the New Normal Series: June 29
Reflections on Creating an Age-Friendly New Jersey

"What excites me most about making NJ an age-friendy state is the potential to scale efforts to be consistent and reach more people throughout the state. I hope that becoming an age-friendly state will bring policies and programs up to a higher scale and level — we now have a range of examples and best practices from local efforts that can be expanded and replicated at the local/county/state level." 
Q: What are some of the most important and critical needs facing older adults and their ability to age in their communities across the state? 
A: "So right now, we have many resources and services for older adults if they meet certain criteria. But we need to be aware of the 'MISSING MIDDLE' [see below**], a term coined by Opticos Design to address housing, but the term captures the in-betweens. Many older adults are secure financially, in their homes, health wise, UNTIL an event that changes their life. And then they are figuring out needs and resources in a crisis. They are just one event away from needing some form of assistance. 
"Many services are dependent on local providers but NJ municipalities just do not have the capacity to take on what is needed for an aging population. And not all people need the full range of assistance, THEY NEED JUST ONE on the continuum of care or need it temporarily" 
Q: The pandemic and racial reckoning in our country has shown a bright spotlight on health and racial equity challenges facing our communities. How has this shown up in your work and where do we need to focus our efforts to address inequities in our systems?   
A: "COVID showed us how many people are dependent on informal supports. It is the social, food, transportation supports that help people live independently, in their own homes – mostly houses, but we have a lot of senior apartment buildings for independent living with NO built in staff or support. That fell apart when things shut down in March 2020. For example, we saw people who relied on a friend, daughter or the town's senior bus for transportation to the grocery store. 

"When those resources stopped, and they did not know how to shop online – even if you could get a shopping slot back then – they were suddenly food insecure. Does this mean they need SNAP? No – it means they need support. So what we learned is that there is no magic line where if you are above it, you do not need any help or services. And many of our official resources are based on a cut-off line – income, age or diagnosis. We need to start to think of need, not income, and soften the lines." 
Q: What creative models and best practices are you seeing both in New Jersey and in other states that you think need to be fostered here? Where is NJ getting it right? 
A: "Some of the best progress in NJ is in inclusion, civic engagement and raising awareness of the changing demographics and needs of NJ residents. It establishes need and possibilities and keeps the conversation from competition for resources. We are starting to see progress in housing, with ADUs – Accessory Dwelling Units – being approved in some towns, and an increased focus on appropriate housing and the realization that if a town is age friendly, it works for all ages. Transportation, which is appealing to retirees as well as 20-somethings, is also appealing. 
"When Massachusetts became on age-friendly state, they provided funding for local efforts, which is a good way to move ideas forward and meet local needs. We are a diverse state with diverse needs, but each community needs something."  
Q: What are short term, immediate steps that participants today can take to start to build an age friendly and coordinated continuum of care?  
  • Start the conversation. 
  • Increase capacity of municipalities to address aging population; some just cannot take it on themselves.
  • Share resources and experience assist smaller towns/communities with knowledge. 
**The Top Five Missing Middle Housing Implementation Mistakes and How to Avoid Them 

Presented by the Maryland Department of Planning
and funded by the U.S. EPA

Webinar July 15, 1-2:30 p.m. ET 

Major housing shortages continue to affect communities in the U.S. and abroad. Many well-intended planning efforts seeking to address this problem are failing to deliver high-quality results, even when they’re aimed at filling the gap of “missing middle housing” in cities and towns. 

In a program presented by the Maryland Department of Planning, Dan Parolek, who coined the term “Missing Middle Housing,” shares the mistakes he sees communities doing as they seek to create more missing middle housing, explains why this is a problem, and outlines attainable solutions

Register here.

Participants of this live webinar are eligible for 1.5 AICP CM credits. AIA members may self-report this webinar for AIA LU HSW credits. 
Follow NJAAW on social media!