Dennis Wahl, a Senior Companion volunteer at Lutheran Community Services Northwest, and Fred Lewis, who’s 101 years old and a volunteer in the RSVP program in Bremerton, are among 42 volunteers from across Washington who were named as recipients of the 2014 Governor’s Volunteer Service Award.

They were formally recognized on the turf at Safeco Field in Seattle during a Mariners baseball game.

In three years with Senior Companion, Wahl has contributed 2,449 hours of time and has provided more than 482 trips to seniors in Kitsap County. He serves clients who are paralyzed, vision-impaired or have chronic disabilities. He provides companionship as well as transportation to medical appointments and for grocery shopping.

Lewis has been volunteering for many years with RSVP.

For those of us military seniors who find we now have some time on our hands, I have a terrific suggestion: If you enjoy meeting fellow military retirees and being a part of a helping, fun group of your peers, consider the McChord Retiree Activities Office.
As an official Air Force volunteer organization of 30-plus years, the volunteers staff a small office and have some interesting activities throughout the year. Even if you have only three hours to volunteer each week (or each month), but like helping others and greeting folks needing information on various retiree issues, you will really enjoy this group.
We assist or direct retirees to appropriate resources on such topics as healthcare, TriCare, ID card renewals, casualty assistance, military pay questions, etc. A monthly combination luncheon and business meeting is held at the Base Club. Activities include a summer picnic, a party at Christmas, and an annual banquet. This “Heritage Dinner” features military ceremonies, a guest speaker, historical military displays, wonderful food, door prizes and, of course, much camaraderie. Some elect to wear their uniform (if it still fits!) and usually represent all branches of the military and all military eras – World War II, Korea, Vietnam and the Middle East. This year’s event will be June 21. Tickets are on sale at the McChord Club. Military retirees, active duty and their family and friends are cordially invited.
For information on volunteering and events, please call our office, 9 a.m. to 12 noon weekdays, at 253-982-3214.

Ruth Sharp, who wrote this arrticle, is a McChord Retiree Activities Office volunteer.

Each May, groups and organizations around the nation join in celebrating Older Americans Month. Established in 1963, Older Americans Month provides an opportunity for our nation to recognize seniors for their many contributions and share important information to help them stay healthy and active.
This year’s theme was “Safe Today, Healthy Tomorrow.” Social Security has something to help keep you safe and healthy: a suite of online services. Rather than driving or taking public transportation to a local office, you can use our secure, free online services to handle much of your Social Security business. With the amount of time you save, you’ll have more time to spend with the grandkids or have time for a brisk walk around the neighborhood or local park.
Before going for that walk, though, visit Whether you already receive benefits or you’re just starting to think about retirement, it’s a great time to open a My Social Security account.
What’s my Social Security? It’s a secure online account that allows you immediate access to your personal Social Security information. During your working years, you can use my Social Security to view your Social Security Statement to check your earnings record and see estimates of the future retirement, disability and survivor benefits you and your family may receive. Check it out at
After you check your online Social Security Statement, be sure to visit our Retirement Estimator. Like a Social Security account, you can use it as many times as you’d like. The Estimator lets you change variables, such as retirement date options and future earnings. You may discover that you’d rather wait another year or two before you retire to earn a higher benefit. To get instant, personalized estimates of your future benefits just go to
Deciding when to retire is a personal choice and depends on a number of factors. To help, we suggest you read our online fact sheet, When To Start Receiving Retirement Benefits, available at
If you’re ready to retire, the online service you’ve been waiting for is our online application for retirement benefits, which allows you to complete and submit your application in as little as 15 minutes at Once you complete and submit the electronic application, in most cases, that’s it—no papers to sign or documents to provide.

Are you already receiving benefits? You can use my Social Security to immediately get your proof of benefits letter, change your address or phone number on our records, start or change your direct deposit information and check your benefit and payment information.
We encourage you to take advantage of our online services and resources, freeing up more time for activities you really enjoy. Learn more at


Kirk Larson, who wrote this article,  is a public affairs specialist for Social Security in western Washington.


The state Supreme Court today issued a ruling that reversed a 2007 lower court award of nearly $39 million in prejudgment interest in the case of Rekhter v. state Department of Social and Health Services.
This case dealt with a “shared living rule” a policy since the 1990s that was automated into the department’s client assessment process between 2003 to 2007. It reduced the amount of hours of care awarded to Medicaid clients with live-in providers by an average of 15 percent. The reduction reflected the Medicaid requirement that DSHS consider informal sources of support for clients, including how providers benefited from some of the home-care tasks, such as preparing meals and housekeeping.
In a 5-4 ruling, the Court also upheld the lower court’s decision to award the class of providers $57 million in contract damages. In the majority opinion, the Court held “a jury found that DSHS violated its duty of good faith and fair dealing in the performance of a specific term of its contracts with providers. This verdict accords with relevant law and we affirm it.”
“This is a partial victory for the Department,” said Bill Moss, assistant secretary with the DSHS Aging and Long-Term Support Administration. “There is no doubt that providers do an outstanding job of serving our vulnerable population. It is rewarding work, but can be difficult and stressful.
“But when dealing with limited funds, it is critical to do everything possible to stretch and leverage funds to sustain services and to care for the greatest number of folks with personal care needs,” Moss said.
In 2007, the Supreme Court ruled in another case – Jenkins v. DSHS – that the automatic reduction aspect of the shared living rule was invalid because it was inconsistent with a federal Medicaid requirement. DSHS repealed the rule and reassessed the needs of home care clients, who were individually assessed to determine whether an increase in a public assistance award was warranted.
In today’s split ruling, a dissent authored by Justice Stephens stated those in this class of providers could not claim their contracts because federal law governs how Medicaid benefits are determined.
DSHS is nationally recognized for its innovative, long-term care programs and is ranked as second in the nation by AARP in its 2011 state scorecard on Long-Term Services and Supports for Older Adults, People with Disabilities, and Family Caregivers. Additional information can be found at:
DSHS does not discriminate and provides equal access to its programs and services for all persons without regard to race, color, gender, religion, creed, marital status, national origin, sexual orientation, age, veteran’s status or the presence of any physical, sensory or mental disability.