Dear Harry:

I'm 67, and I will retire at the end of February. My employer's retirement counselor advised me to get some long-term-care insurance for both my wife and me. She also said that I should not base my decision on whether or not the premium is tax-deductible. I did not understand her explanation of why I should do this. Can you help me ?

What Harry says: Let me try. You should buy policies that have relatively easy "triggers" for qualification for benefits. Most policies have two such triggers: inability to perform a certain number of daily living activities and cognitive impairment. Others have a third alternative of certification by a doctor that long-term care is a medical necessity. This is the one that makes the premiums nondeductible. I feel very strongly that this is a necessary provision in any long-term-care policy, and it far outweighs deductibility. It is important that the policies have as many options for qualification as possible. In addition, any medical expenses have to be reduced by 7 1/2 percent of your adjusted gross income before they can be deducted. This could wipe them out. Further, you might be better off taking the standard deduction rather than itemizing. Be sure to get quotes from two carriers. *

Write Harry Gross c/o the Daily News, Box 7788, Philadelphia, PA 19101. Harry urges all his readers to give blood - contact the American Red Cross at 800-GIVE LIFE. *