Legal Insurance vs. Employee Assistance Program (EAP)

Learn how an ARAG legal plan compares to an Employee Assistance Program (EAP).

The Need For Life Insurance

There are a lot of people who are not sure whether or not they need to have life insurance. Even though it may seem like a waste of money in the present tense, there are a whole lot of benefits from investing in life insurance to secure your family’s future. It is inevitable that you will pass on someday, leaving your family to make difficult decisions. When you have life insurance, you will be able to give them the security that they need to cover all of the funeral and cremation or burial expenses so that they do not have to try and come up with the money out of their own pockets.

Insurance benefits can truly make a difference between living comfortably and living in poverty. Even when the situation is not that severe, it goes without saying that any family can benefit from a financial inheritance no matter how large or small. When you are paying a monthly premium for life insurance, you are investing in the security and financial well-being for your family in a time when you are no longer able to care for them yourself.

To make the process easier for you, finding a good life insurance agent will be your best bet. They will be able to talk with you to determine what your needs are and help you to decide which life insurance policy is best for you and the future of your family. You have the option of either whole life or term when it comes to different policies, both of which you can get information on from your insurance agent. Basically whole life policies are able to be borrowed against while you, the policy holder, is still living. Because they are more like an investment than term life, they tend to be a bit more expensive in nature. From there they will be able to match up your needs with one of the top life insurance companies to provide you with the appropriate coverage.

No matter what, you never want to take life insurance lightly. This is the best way to cover your family should anything happen to you.

You Can Find Affordable Life Insurance Even Without a Physical

Life insurance is an important component of any family’s financial planning. You want the peace of mind of knowing your family won’t be harmed financially after you die, which life insurance provides. However, if you have a pre-existing medical condition like diabetes or cancer, you are likely worried that adequate life insurance coverage will be too expensive or even impossible to purchase. That might have once been true, but fortunately it no longer is.

Today insurers don’t simply lump smokers, diabetics or cancer survivors into one large group of people who are or have been ill. Instead, they take a look at the age of the applicant, the type of disease or condition he has and its survival rates as well as the kind of insurance he wants to buy. If you are taking steps to reduce the impacts of diabetes on your health or you smoke only occasionally, for example, you’ll generally be able to buy less expensive life insurance than someone whose condition is acute or out of control.You might want to purchase a life insurance policy without submitting to the physical that is part of the process, however, because you’re worried that your health will exclude you. Many insurance companies provide this kind of no health exam life insurance coverage, but you have to realize that the cost will be higher. Insurance companies are just as aware as you are that applicants who don’t want to take a physical are afraid they won’t be able to get coverage. The companies willing to allow this build in the higher risk factors into their rates.

Finding life insurance you can afford if you have a pre-existing condition does take some research, whether or not you plan to have a physical. Many insurance experts recommend working with an insurance agent who is an impaired risk specialist. These types of agents have studied the criteria life insurance underwriters use to assign rate classes.

Some companies specialize in offering coverage to applicants with certain conditions while others focus solely on insuring young and healthy applicants. A good impaired risk specialist can help you find the type of coverage you prefer at the best price. If you don’t have access to this kind of insurance agent, you may be able to work with an online insurance provider that helps customers in the same way that an impaired risk agent does.

It’s possible that you’ve seen a life insurance quote that would fit your budget perfectly, only to find that it’s applicable only to a young and healthy person. Realistically you know that you won’t be eligible for the lowest life insurance rates possible, but with the help of a knowledgeable specialist, you should be able to find a rate you can afford.

A Medicare Supplement Insurance Guide

People who are 65 years or older have Medicare for their primary health insurer. Part A of Medicare covers hospital care and part B covers the doctor’s coverage. There are, however deductibles and co-payments that Medicare does not cover, and that is why people purchase Medigap or Medicare Supplemental coverage.

Medicare supplement insurance policies are sold to people by private insurance companies, not by the government. These policies are designed specifically to work with Medicare, and cover all of the holes that Medicare does not cover. Such things as deductibles and co-payments that normally the patient would have to pay, are picked up by the insurance company. There are ten different plans for Medicare Supplement coverage, and you should become familiar with the plans that will affect you and your situation as closely as possible.  The best way to do this is through an agent or a reputable site like Medicaresupplementquotes.net, where you can do research and get quotes for all the Medicare supplement plans.

Medicare supplement policies work by picking up the cost for the difference in what Medicare pays, and the actual bill from the doctor and the hospital. This is a wonderful plan because we don’t always know the amount for which we are to be billed, and it is good to have this information in advance.

In order to qualify for a Medigap policy, a person must be 65 years of age or older, and must have qualify for Medicare Part A and Medicare Part B. The policy is sold by a private insurance company and the applicant can apply without evidence of insurability if purchasing before January 1, 2014. Medigap policies only cover one person at a time, so for a husband and a wife, they must purchase their own Medigap policy if they wish to be covered.

There are ten different ‘flavors’ of available policies, so you always will want to compare pricing from company to company. Once the policy is in place, the insurance company cannot cancel you unless they cancel all of the policies that the company has in your state, although they can raise the price.

Four Tips For Finding Affordable Burial Insurance Companies

End of life issues are never pleasant to consider, but they are important. This is especially true when it comes to finding affordable, reputable burial insurance companies. With their help, you can relieve your loved ones of financial difficulties during an already stressful time and guarantee the burial that you are hoping for. Here are some tips on how to find them.

First, make sure the burial insurance companies you are considering are reputable. You can consider both insurance companies providing this coverage and funeral homes that offer the services for advance fee payment, but make sure they are honest and reliable companies. Check them out with the Better Business Bureau or Angie’s List to make sure, and ask your friends and neighbors for advice too. Read over any contracts carefully, and never agree to make a payment until you are comfortable.

In addition to looking for a reputable company, check any existing insurance policies to see if burial benefits are included. Some employer paid insurance policies will offer this, and some private companies do as well. If you already have coverage, there is no need to pay for additional coverage in most cases.

Next, take the time to consider what the cost of your desired funeral might be. Compare this to the cost of the polices being offered by burial insurance companies to see if there is really a savings. If there is not, you might want to consider placing your money in a savings account that offers interest instead.

Finally, shop various burial insurance companies to find the best plans available. Even if you check out one and think it’s a great policy, it is worth your time to look at two or three others. This will help to ensure you that you’re getting the best deal on a plan you are comfortable with.

What You Need to Know About Estate Planning

Estate Planning TipsEstate planning arranges for the transfer of individual assets at the time of death. An estate entails all property owned by the individual at death before it is distributed by
either a will, intestacy laws or via trust. An estate may include various properties such as automobiles, jewelry and artwork, stocks and securities, bank accounts, real estates, life insurance policies among others. Typically, the estate planning process involves a lot of
consultations with many professionals’ advisors such as financial counselors,
lawyers, life insurance representatives and accountants.

Why Estate Planning?

Regardless of the age, size or complexity of your estate, having an estate plan can benefit you in a number of ways. Firstly, it ensures that all your property will be distributed as per your personal. Typically, it ensures that your property is transferred to those you have identified, as quickly and with as few legal hurdles as possible.

Secondly, estate planning also helps you to reduce the amount of taxes you will have to pay to have your property passed on to your loved ones after death.

Thirdly, you are able to avoid the time and costs associated with the probate process by making use of the various estate planning tools such as a will and trusts. An estate plan also dictates the type of life prolonging medical care that you would wish to receive should you be unable to make your wishes known when the time comes.

Estate Planning Tools

Estate planning utilizes a number of tools to ensure that the asset distribution process is done in the best possible manner. Some of these basic instruments are listed below.

The Will- This is the most common estate planning tool. A will shows who will inherit what property and possibly in what amounts. In addition, it indicates who will be the guardian for minor children and also indicates what burial arrangements will be made at the time of death.

The Trust- A trust is an arrangement in which a trustee body distributes the assets according to the terms of the trust. A trust can either be created during the individual’s life or through a will.

Health Care Directives- These ensure that an individual’s medical wishes are carried out when they are unable to decide on their own. A health care directive consists of a health care declaration and power of an estate planning attorney for health care.

Having an estate plan is very important for everyone who cares about their family. Even though you do not have many assets, creating a will is essential so that your assets can be immediately distributed to your beneficiaries as per your wish. It is also necessary that you carry out your estate planning as early as possible to avoid any inconveniences during the old age. In case it is your first time to create an estate plan, it is important you engage a good advisor to guide you through the process. This will allow you to come up with a good estate plan that will be beneficial to your loved ones.

Social Security increase among lowest in decades

For 2nd straight year, Social Security recipients, disabled veterans get small COLA

By Stephen Ohlemacher, Associated Press 

WASHINGTON (AP) — Another year, another small raise for millions of people who rely on Social Security, veterans’ benefits and federal pensions.

Preliminary figures suggest next year’s benefit increase will be roughly 1.5 percent, according to an analysis by The Associated Press. The increase will be small because consumer prices, as measured by the government, haven’t gone up much in the past year.

For the second year in a row, it would be one of the lowest raises since automatic adjustments were adopted in 1975.

The exact size of the cost-of-living adjustment, or COLA, won’t be known until the Labor Department releases the inflation report for September. That was supposed to happen Wednesday, but the report was delayed indefinitely because of the partial government shutdown.

More than a fifth of the country is waiting.

Nearly 58 million retirees, disabled workers, spouses and children get Social Security benefits. The average monthly payment is $1,162. A 1.5 percent raise would increase the typical monthly payment by about $17.

The COLA also affects benefits for more than 3 million disabled veterans, about 2.5 million federal retirees and their survivors and more than 8 million people who get Supplemental Security Income, the disability program for the poor.

The COLA is usually announced in October to give Social Security and other benefit programs time to adjust January payments. The Social Security Administration has given no indication that raises would be delayed because of the shutdown, but advocates for seniors said the uncertainty was unwelcome. Social Security benefits have continued during the shutdown.

David Certner of AARP said seniors are getting squeezed financially from many sides. Retirement portfolios took a big hit when the markets collapsed a few years ago, and even though the markets have rebounded, safer investments favored by older Americans are paying relatively low interest rates.

“Social Security COLAs have been low and anybody who’s trying to live off interest rates and getting returns on any of the meager savings they have is getting killed because there’s no return on your CDs or other fixed income assets,” Certner said. “The one bright spot is that health care costs have slowed down. But at least on the income side, it has been a pretty tough few years in terms of trying to keep up with expenses.”

Automatic COLAs were adopted so that benefits for people on fixed incomes would keep up with rising prices. Many seniors, however, complain that the COLA sometimes falls short, leaving them little wiggle room.

David Waugh of Bethesda, Md., said he can handle one small COLA but several in a row make it hard to plan for unexpected expenses.

“I’m not one of those folks that’s going to fall into poverty, but it is going to make a difference in my standard of living as time goes by,” said Waugh, 83, who retired from the United Nations. “I live in a small apartment and I have an old car, and it’s going to break down. And no doubt when it does, I’ll have to fix it or get a new one.”

Since 1975, annual Social Security raises have averaged 4.1 percent. Only six times have they been less than 2 percent, including this year, when the increase was 1.7 percent. There was no COLA in 2010 or 2011 because inflation was too low.

By law, the cost-of-living adjustment is based on the Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers, or CPI-W, a broad measure of consumer prices generated by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. It measures price changes for food, housing, clothing, transportation, energy, medical care, recreation and education.

The COLA is calculated by comparing consumer prices in July, August and September each year to prices in the same three months from the previous year. If prices go up over the course of the year, benefits go up, starting with payments delivered in January.

This year, average prices for July and August were 1.4 percent higher than they were a year ago, according to the CPI-W.

Once the September report — the final piece of the puzzle — is released, the COLA can be officially announced. If prices continued to slowly inch up in September, that would put the COLA at roughly 1.5 percent.

Several economists said there were no dramatic price swings in September to significantly increase or decrease the projected COLA. That means the projection shouldn’t change by more than a few tenths of a percentage point, if at all.

Polina Vlasenko, a research fellow at the American Institute for Economic Research, projects the COLA will be between 1.4 percent and 1.6 percent.

Her projection is similar to those done by others, including AARP, which estimates the COLA will be between 1.5 percent and 1.7 percent. The Senior Citizens League estimates it will be about 1.5 percent.

Lower prices for gasoline are helping to fuel low inflation, Vlasenko said.

Gasoline prices are down 2.4 percent from a year ago while food prices are up slightly, according to the August inflation report. Housing costs, meanwhile, went up 2.3 percent and utilities increased by 3.2 percent.

Medical costs went up less than in previous years but still outpaced other consumer prices, rising 2.5 percent.

“In years with high COLA’s, a lot of that had to do with fuel prices and in some cases, food prices. Neither of those increased much this year,” Vlasenko said. “So that kept the lid on the overall increase in prices.”

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