Getting Employees With Disabilities The Right Technologies

Getting Employees With Disabilities The Right Technologies

Technology can help optimize and accelerate productivity on the job for all workers including employees with disabilities.

As long as the right technology is accessible, it can help employees with disabilities obtain, retain, and advance in employment.

However, to optimize their full potential, employees with disabilities should have a basic understanding of what accessible workplace technology is as well as be able use this knowledge to assess and meet their own needs.

Partnership on Employment and Accessible Technology (PEAT) provides several steps to guide employees with disabilities in determining their technology needs in the workplace.

First, let’s begin by understanding the difference between Accessible technology and Assistive technology.


The Difference Between Accessible Technology and Assistive Technology


Assistive technology consists of equipment or devices specifically used to increase, maintain, or improve the functional capacities of employees with disabilities.

Examples include:

Alternative input devices which enable control of computers through means other than a standard keyboard or mouse.

Screen readers which allow people who are blind to hear what’s on their computer by converting the screen display to digitized speech.

On the other hand, Accessible technology can be used successfully by people with a wide range of abilities and disabilities. Basically, the users interact with the technology in ways best suitable for them.

Accessible technology is either directly accessible, which means it is usable without additional Assistive technology or devices, or indirectly accessible, meaning it is compatible with Assistive technology.

For example, a mobile smartphone with a built-in screen reader is directly accessible, while a website navigated effectively by individuals with visual impairments using a screen reader is Assistive technology compatible and therefore indirectly accessible.

Employees with disabilities should have access to technologies they need to best do their job. You should be proactive in getting the technology you need, whether directly or indirectly accessible, to maximize your productivity on the job.


Getting Employees With Disabilities Technologies They Need In The Workplace


Look at the Technology You’re Using Now

Take a good look at technologies you already use successfully such as your smart phone, e-mail software, or any social network apps.

These can help you identify other tools you can leverage to maximize your productivity at work.

Understand What Technology You Need

Educate yourself on what technology tools you need to be successful at work and be proactive in obtaining them. Register for training on the technology solutions you use often to ensure you are using their accessibility features to full potential.

Know Your Rights

Under The Americans with Disabilities Act, all employees with disabilities have the same rights and privileges in employment as employees without disabilities.

The federal law generally entitles employees with disabilities to “reasonable accommodations,” which includes Accessible and/or Assistive technologies.

A “reasonable accommodation” is considered any modification or adjustment to a job or work environment which enables a qualified person with a disability to apply for or perform a job.

Even though not all employees with disabilities, especially those with temporary disabilities or functional limitations, are entitled to or even need accommodations, you should determine your accommodation needs.

Build a Technology Support Network

There are several resources available to help you assess and meet your technology needs on the job.

Start with your tech support team at work as well as the support sections on the manufacturer’s website.

Build strong working relationships with peers or the technology support team who know a lot about accessibility tools and can help you when needed.

Understand Compatibility Challenges Of The Technologies

One of the main issues you may have to deal with at work is compatibility of the technologies. For example, you may be familiar with Assistive technology you use at home or you used in school, but it may not be compatible with the software you need to use at work.

Account for the time you might have to take to learn the new technology. Your employer may have tech support team to guide you so make sure you ask for the help if you need it.

Understanding their needs when it comes to Assistive technologies as well as learning how to use them properly can help employees with disabilities be successful in the workplace.

Types of Coverage In A Homeowners Policy

A Standard Homeowners Policy: Four Essential Types of Coverage

One of the biggest investments you’ll make in your lifetime is the purchase of a house. Therefore, it’s important to make sure your investment is protected through a homeowners policy.

A homeowners policy protects your home against damages to the house itself, or to the possessions in the home. Homeowners insurance can also provide liability coverage against accidents in the home or on the property.

Here, we cover the four essential types of coverage in a standard homeowners policy.

The Structure of Your House

This part of your policy pays to repair or rebuild your home if it is damaged or destroyed by fire, hurricane, lightning, or other disaster listed in your policy.

Generally, it will not pay for damage caused by a flood, earthquake, or regular wear and tear. Therefore, when you buy coverage for the structure of your home, make sure to get enough to rebuild your home.

Most standard policies also cover structures which are detached from your home such as:

  • Garages
  • Tool sheds
  • Gazebos

Generally, these structures are covered for only a percentage of the amount of insurance you have on the structure of your home. Make sure to understand how much coverage you have or buy more if you think you may need it.

Your Personal Belongings

A standard homeowners policy will cover personal belongings if they are stolen or destroyed by an insured disaster such as a fire or hurricane. Personal belongings can include:

  • Furniture
  • Clothes
  • Sports equipment
  • Other personal items

This part of your policy includes off-premises coverage which means your belongings are covered anywhere in the world, unless you have decided against off-premises coverage.

Expensive items like jewelry and silverware are covered, but there is usually a dollar limit if they are stolen.

To insure these items to their full value, you may have to purchase a special personal property endorsement or floater for their appraised value.

Trees, plants, and shrubs are also covered under standard homeowners insurance.

Perils covered are:

However, a standard homeowners policy generally will not cover damage by wind or disease.

Liability Protection in Your Homeowners Policy

Liability coverage protects you against lawsuits for bodily injury or property damage you or your family members cause to other people.

It also pays for damage caused by your pets. For example, if your child or your dog accidentally ruins your neighbor’s expensive rug, you are covered. However, if they destroy your rug, you are not covered.

The liability portion of a homeowners policy pays for both the cost of defending you in court and any court awards, up to the limit of your policy.

You are protected not just in your home, but anywhere in the world.

A standard homeowners policy generally also provides no-fault medical coverage. For instance, if a friend is injured in your home, he or she can submit medical bills to your insurance company. Your expenses would be paid without a liability claim being filed against you. However, it does not pay the medical bills for your family or your pet.

Additional Living Expenses

Additional costs of living away from home because of damage from a fire or other insured disaster are also covered. The homeowners policy would cover hotel bills, restaurant meals, and other expenses incurred while your home is being rebuilt.

This part of the homeowners policy has limits, usually a percentage of the amount of coverage you have on your home, and some policies include a time limitation. The amount of additional living expenses (ALE) coverage is separate from the amount available to rebuild or repair your home.

For example, let’s say you have a policy which provides up to $150,000 in rebuilding costs and up to $15,000 or 10 percent for ALE and you use up the entire $15,000. Your insurance company will still pay the cost to rebuild your home up to the policy limit of $150,000.

Coverage for ALE differs from company to company.

Do your research to find a homeowners policy which suits your needs. Your house is one of the biggest investments you’ll ever make so make sure to consider the quality of the policy and its coverage. If you ever need to file a claim, you’ll be glad you got the right policy to help protect your home.

How To Get Disability Insurance Coverage

How To Get Disability Insurance CoverageIf an accident or illness happens to you, do you have enough or even any disability insurance coverage to protect you financially?

If you answered no, you’re not alone.

Many working Americans underestimate their risk of disability which can leave them financially unprepared.

Statistics show 64 percent of wage earners believe they have a two percent or less chance of getting a disability for three months or more during their working career.

However, the truth is just over one in four of today’s 20 year-olds will come to have a disability before they retire.

Of the total population, there are 37 million Americans with disabilities (about 12 percent) and more than 50 percent of these individuals are in their working years ranging from 18-64 years of age.

Therefore, if the unexpected should occur leaving you unable to work, it’s important to understand what options you have when it comes to disability insurance coverage.

If you depend on your income to pay the bills or support your loved ones, disability insurance coverage can protect you financially. A disability insurance policy covers a certain percentage of your income during the time you’re unable to work.

Here, we provide some guidelines to make sure you, and your income, are protected.

Disability Insurance Coverage Through Your Employer

First, talk to your employer to understand what type of disability insurance coverage is available to you.

If you become ill or injured and are unable to work for several months, don’t assume your employer provides enough disability insurance coverage for you to support yourself and your family.

According to a study we conducted, an increasing number of employers have dropped disability insurance coverage for workers. In 2009, the number of employers providing long-term disability insurance decreased 1.2 percent, in 2010 it dropped another 0.6 percent, and in 2011, the figure rose just slightly.

An uncertain economy and rise in health care costs may be two important factors for this decline.

However, even if your employer doesn’t offer disability insurance you may still have coverage options through your company. Some employers offer disability insurance as voluntary coverage, which means you can purchase disability insurance at work directly through an insurance carrier. The carrier may have someone come to your workplace to explain the coverage, or may allow you to enroll online. The advantage you gain by buying a voluntary worksite disability policy is — even though you pay the premiums yourself — the costs are generally lower than you could get on your own. You can also take this coverage with you if you decide to leave your employer.

If you’re not covered through work, or if the amount of the coverage offered is not enough, you may supplement your insurance through an individual disability policy. While individual coverage is more expensive than coverage you get at work, the policy’s plan design offers more advantages such as not reducing your benefit payments if you receive a Social Security Disability Insurance award.

According to a report by the Consumer Federation of America in April 2012, premium payments for disability insurance coverage, whether paid for by the employer, employee, or a combination of the two, range between $10 and $30 a month.

Buy Disability Insurance Coverage On Your Own

If your employer does not offer disability insurance coverage, you can buy a policy on your own. Usually, you can take the policy with you if you change jobs.

If you are unable to work due to a disability, most individual plans pay between 40 percent and 65 percent of your income, according to the Life and Health Insurance Foundation for Education (LIFE).

Look for Gaps in the Disability Insurance Coverage

Even if you have some disability insurance coverage through your employer, it may not be enough.

For example, disability insurance coverage offered through your employer usually doesn’t cover bonuses or commissions.

If a significant portion of your total income is based on bonuses or commissions, the amount of benefits you would receive through your employer’s plan might not be enough to pay your bills like your mortgage, car payments, and utilities.

In this case, you should buy a policy on your own which would provide the extra coverage you wouldn’t receive from your employer.

Don’t Count Entirely on the Government

The Social Security Administration initially denies two-thirds of all disability claims. Even if you’re able to receive Social Security benefits, the average monthly payment may be low. On average, the Social Security disability insurance in 2015 is $1,165 a month. Therefore, you may need additional coverage to protect yourself financially if you are unable to work for a period of time.

If you follow the above mentioned guidelines, you and your family will have enough disability insurance coverage for your essential living expenses if you become ill or injured and are unable to work.

Choose The Right Health Insurance Plan For You

Chose The Right Health Insurance Plan For You

Having a health insurance plan is important for several reasons including the financial burden medical bills can cause if you or your loved ones become ill.

Health care costs are a huge problem in America.

A serious illness or health problem can bankrupt even high earners. Unpaid medical bills are among the leading causes of bankruptcies in America.

Today, we provide some questions to ask yourself when choosing a health insurance plan.

Is Your Employer’s Health Insurance Plan Your Best Bet?

First, look at your employer’s health insurance plan to determine if the plan is right for you. It’s likely if you work for a company which offers a health insurance plan, you may be able to get coverage at reduced or no cost to you.

Health insurance through your employer generally gives you the option to buy into a group plan, which can be particularly beneficial if you’re not in good health or have pre-existing conditions.

However, if you’re paying for the insurance and are in good health, you might be better off getting an individual policy on your own as group plans usually base their premiums on the group’s average health. Therefore, if you are in good health you could find a lower cost plan or one with more benefits for the same price.

Is Your Doctor Covered in the Health Insurance Plan?

If you plan to keep your current doctor, make sure he or she is covered by the health insurance plan.

For example:

Are Your Prescription Drugs Covered in the Health Insurance Plan?

Ensure any prescription medications you may need are covered by the health insurance plan as well.

Is The Health Insurance Plan Truly the Cheapest Overall?

Just because the health insurance plan offers the lowest premium plan doesn’t mean it’s the cheapest overall.

Don’t just look at the monthly premiums as they could be the least of your costs. There could be co-pays, which are a small percentage of costs you pay when you use a service.

The policy might also have an annual deductible, which is the amount you must pay out of pocket each year before your insurance kicks in, especially for major expenses.

Find out if your co-pays may or may not be counted as part of the deductible. Even after you meet the deductible, you may have to pay co-insurance, which is a percentage of the remaining costs up to an out-of-pocket maximum, if there is one.

For example, let’s say you have a policy with a $20 co-pay for doctor visits, a $1,000 annual deductible, and 20 percent coinsurance. After your doctor’s visit, you pay your $20 co-pay and then get a bill for $300, which you have to pay yourself since it’s below your deductible.

Later the same year, you have surgery for $3,000. Since you already paid $300 out of your $1,000 deductible, you only need to pay another $700 to cover it for the year. However, you still have to pay 20 percent of the remaining $2,300, or another $460.

All these expenses can really add up which is why you should make sure you have enough savings to cover the costs in addition to having enough income to pay the premiums.

However, don’t necessarily avoid high-deductible plans. This type of plan can save you a significant amount of money if you remain in good health and have savings to cover your medical expenses.

Another benefit for a high deductible plan is you might be eligible for a health savings account (HSA). A HSA account allows you to save money on a pre-tax basis, and then to use it tax free to pay for qualified out-of-pocket medical expenses.

If you withdraw the money for something else, you’ll have to pay taxes and a 20 percent penalty on the withdrawal, but anything you don’t use can eventually be withdrawn penalty free after age 65. If you can afford to make the contributions, a HSA can be a great way to save for your health expenses while lowering your taxes and saving tax deferred for retirement.

There are many factors to consider when deciding which health insurance plan is right for you. Be sure to do your research and ask questions before purchasing a health insurance plan. This is where an insurance agent can be a valuable resource. They can help you understand the language in your policy, explain the specific terms and conditions, and guide your decision around which health insurance policy is right for you.

Social Security Disability Insurance vs. Private Disability Insurance

Social Security Disability Insurance vs. Private Disability InsuranceAlthough it’s natural to not want to think about the scarier things in life, accidents or illnesses can happen to any one of us.

In this country, millions of people rely on disability benefits every day to financially protect themselves should the unexpected occur.

Therefore, it’s important to understand what options you have when it comes to disability benefits.

Today, we explain the differences between Social Security disability insurance (SSDI) and private disability insurance benefits, as well as why you may need both.

What is Social Security Disability Insurance?

Social Security uses a strict definition of disability which excludes both short-term disabilities and partial disabilities.

Social Security pays only for total disability. No benefits are payable for partial disability or for short-term disability.

“Disability” under Social Security is based on your inability to work.

  • You are considered to have a disability under Social Security requirements if:
  • You cannot do the work you did before.
  • You cannot adjust to other work because of your medical condition(s).
  • Your disability has lasted, or is expected to last, for at least one year, or to result in death.

The program rules assume working families have access to other resources to provide support during periods of short term disabilities including:

  • Workers’ compensation
  • Insurance
  • Savings
  • Investments

The Social Security Administration initially denies two-thirds of all disability claims primarily because of this strict definition of disability.

Statistics show 60 million people, or more than one in every six American residents, collected Social Security disability insurance benefits in June 2015. While 75 percent of them received benefits as retirees or elderly widow(er)s, 18 percent (11 million) received social security disability insurance benefits, and three percent (two million) received benefits as young survivors of deceased workers.

What is Private Disability Insurance?

Private disability insurance has its own subset of coverage types, which include:

  • Individual disability: Most individuals purchase these policies one-on-one, but discounted coverage may also be offered through the beneficiary’s employer. Individual disability insurance includes short-term disability and long-term disability plans and normally requires the beneficiary to be healthy enough for approval of coverage.
  • Group disability: This coverage is provided by the employer and like individual disability insurance may provide both short-term and long-term disability plans. For example, your short-term disability payments would stop when the long-term plan begins.
  • High limit disability: This type of plan is usually a supplement to other disability coverage and is designed to pay a percentage of the covered individual’s income should they become injured or hurt and unable to work.
  • Key person disability: Benefits from this plan are paid directly to the company to protect them against the loss of a key employee due to disability. This type of disability insurance is not paid to the person with disability but to his or her employer.
  • Business overhead expense disability: This insurance is similar to key person disability except it covers overhead expenses like office rent or maintenance in the event a business owner comes to have a disability.
  • Worker’s compensation: Almost always employer sponsored and required in most states, this coverage provides payments directly to individuals who become injured on the job.

Advantages of Private Disability Insurance Over Social Security Disability Insurance 

Though the terms of insurance policies can vary significantly from plan to plan, private disability insurance can offer important advantages over Social Security disability insurance.

A significant benefit over Social Security disability insurance is private disability plans have more expansive definitions of disability. While Social Security disability insurance requires you to show total disability, many private plans will pay benefits without the requirement to prove you cannot work at all.

Another advantage to private insurance is it may replace a greater part of an individual’s lost income than Social Security disability insurance. Social Security disability benefits are based on your average lifetime earnings and cannot exceed $2,663 a month in 2015.

Individuals with private insurance may be able to receive more than this amount as many policies generally cover around 70 percent of a worker’s salary when he or she becomes disabled.

Social Security Disability Insurance Benefits and Private Benefits Are Not Mutually Exclusive

Fortunately, you don’t have to take one or the other as it is possible to receive multiple forms of disability benefits at once. If you qualify for Social Security disability insurance, you can receive payments from both Social Security disability and private insurance.

If the amount of disability benefits you and your family are eligible to receive is not enough to cover your essential living expenses you should talk to your employer about a group disability benefits plan or buy an individual disability benefits plan. A private disability insurance benefits plan can protect your financial security by helping you pay bills like your mortgage, car payments, and utilities.

Be sure to fully understand your disability benefits coverage. This is where an insurance agent can be a valuable resource. They can carefully explain the definition of disability in your policy, list the specific terms and conditions, and guide your decision around which private disability benefits plan is right for you.

Strategies for Saving for Retirement on a Low Income

Strategies for Saving for Retirement on a Low IncomeIt can be difficult saving for retirement when you are earning a small salary but even in financially lean times you can find ways to save for the future.

According to the 2011 U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey, economic security is out of reach for a growing number of working families in the United States, The number of low-income working families rose from 10.2 million in 2010 to 10.4 million in 2011, representing nearly one-third of all working families.

Here, we provide strategies for saving for retirement on a low-income.

Saving For Your Retirement From Every Paycheck

Start to save even a little with each paycheck. You can do this automatically by setting up a direct deposit to a 401(k), IRA, or other savings vehicle.

Michal Grinstein-Weiss, an associate professor of social work at Washington University in St. Louis, explains “automatic enrollment can be a powerful tool for increasing the number of Americans saving for retirement and other purposes. Defaulting to automation will ensure Americans, particularly low income Americans, have a simple pathway to boost retirement savings.”

Increase Your Savings Rate Over Time

If you start out by saving only a small amount, you will also need to increase your savings rate over time.

According to Alicia Munnell, director of the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College, “the default employee contribution rate should be set at a meaningful level and then increased until the combined employee contribution and employer match reach 12 percent of wages. The default investment option should be a target date fund made up of a portfolio of low-cost index funds.”

Some 401(k) plans offer a feature which automatically increase your savings rate over time, but if your 401(k) plan doesn’t offer this benefit, you’ll have to make an effort to save more yourself.

Exceed Your Employer’s Savings Rate

Many workers are automatically enrolled in their 401(k) plan, typically at 3 percent of pay, but you will likely need to save more than this amount to have a financially secure retirement.

Jean Chatzky, a financial editor for NBC Today, advises “increasing contributions each year by 1 to 2 percent until a participant maxes out can literally double the amount of money an employee has in retirement.”

Saving for Retirement with an IRA

If you don’t have access to a 401(k) at work or there’s a waiting period before you can start to contribute, you can open up an IRA to get valuable retirement saving tax breaks.

Senator Claire McCaskill explains “most economists will tell you it is far easier to get people to save money for retirement through a payroll deduction at work instead of requiring them to open up an IRA on their own. The problem is many low income workers face real structural barriers to saving: they work seasonal jobs, or are in and out of the workforce before they can vest, or they work for employers who have neither the time nor the resources to offer a retirement plan.”

The IRA contribution deadline is April 15, and if you contribute shortly before you file your taxes you can realize nearly immediate savings on your tax bill.

Make Smart Decisions When You Change Jobs

You will likely need to sign up for a 401(k) plan and set up new direct deposits each time you change jobs.

Make sure to choose appropriate retirement saving elections at this time and hold yourself to them.

Save Part of Your Tax Refund

Put part of your tax refund into a retirement account.

Grinstein-Weiss explains “for many low and moderate income households, the federal income tax refund is the largest lump sum payment received during the year. After a household receives its refund, it is possibly in its best balance sheet position for the entire year and perhaps more open to saving than at any other point.”

IRS Form 8888 allows you to directly deposit your tax refund into a combination of checking, savings, or individual retirement accounts or to purchase Series I savings bonds.

Build a Separate Emergency Fund

Only use your retirement savings for retirement. Maintain a savings account separate from your 401(k) or IRA which can be used for emergencies so you don’t need to withdraw from your retirement accounts early.

Don’t Make Early Withdrawals

Withdrawals from traditional 401(k)s and IRAs before age 59 ½ trigger a 10 percent early withdrawal penalty and income tax on the amount withdrawn. You can avoid the taxes and penalty when you change jobs if you leave the money in your old 401(k) plan, move it into the 401(k) plan at your new job, or roll it over to an IRA.

Avoid High-Cost Investments

Fees can vary significantly from investment to investment, and unnecessarily high costs can significantly reduce your retirement account balance. Pay close attention to the fees charged by each investment option and choose low-cost options where available.

By following these strategies you’ll be well on your way to saving for retirement even if you’re a low-income household.

Celebrating Employees with Disabilities

Celebrating Employees with DisabilitiesLabor Day, a creation of the labor movement, is dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers. Nationally, we celebrate Labor Day, usually the first Monday in September, each year to acknowledge the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country.

The labor movement in the United States grew out of the need to protect the common interest of workers. For employees in the industrial sector, organized labor unions fought for better wages, reasonable hours, and safer working conditions. The labor movement led efforts to stop child labor, give health benefits, and provide aid to workers who were injured or retired.

In honor of Labor Day this year, we look at employment for people with disabilities in our country.

Let’s begin with statistics for employees with disabilities.

Employees With Disabilities: By the Numbers

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, only 17.1 percent of people with a disabilities were employed in 2014. In contrast, the employment-population ratio for those without disabilities was 64.6 percent.

Data on employees with disabilities are collected as part of the Current Population Survey (CPS), a monthly sample survey of about 60,000 households which provides statistics on employment and unemployment in the United States.

Highlights from the 2014 data showed:

  • For all age groups, the employment-population ratio was much lower for people with disabilities than for those with no disabilities.
  • Unemployment rates were higher for people with disabilities than for those with no disabilities among all educational attainment groups.
  • Thirty-three percent of employees with disabilities were hired part time, compared with 18 percent for those with no disabilities.
  • Employees with disabilities were more likely to be self-employed than those with no disabilities.

Why are Employment Levels So Low?

Even though legislation like The Americans with Disabilities Act prevent discrimination against employees with disabilities, these laws are very slowly making a difference.

A main barrier lies in the attitude of co-workers and supervisors in the workplace.

According to a study by Susanne M. Bruyere, director of Cornell University’s Program on Employment and Disability, companies who hired people with disabilities said the most difficult change to make in order to meet these employees’ needs was “changing coworker/supervisor attitudes.”

Employers may choose not to hire individuals with disabilities for the following reasons.

  • They believe employees with disabilities are less productive than equally qualified individuals without disabilities.
  • They believe it will be more costly to hire employees with disabilities because accommodations or other investments may be necessary to achieve the same level of productivity as people without disabilities.
  • They believe employees with disabilities will be heavy users of health care benefits, thus increasing the costs of providing those benefits to other team members.

Employees with Disabilities Are Rated Average or Better at Their Jobs

However, there is no substantive evidence of significant productivity differences between employees with disabilities and employees without disabilities.

Successive studies at DuPont Corp showed 90 percent of employees with disabilities were rated average or better in job performance by their managers.

The survey found employees with disabilities have:

  • Lower turnover rates
  • Lower Absenteeism
  • High productivity

Furthermore, although accommodations for employees with disabilities may involve additional costs to employers, evidence shows these costs are usually minor and unlikely to affect the benefit versus cost assessment.

Survey data collected by Job Accommodation Network for the President’s Committee on Employment of People with Disabilities between October 1992 and June 1998 shows among employers who make accommodations:

  • Twenty percent of accommodations were made at no cost
  • Eighty percent cost $1,000 or less
  • Seven-teen percent cost between $1,001 and $5,000
  • Only three percent cost more than $5,000

What Can We Do To Improve Employment For People With Disabilities?

The Ticket to Work and Work Incentives Improvement Act of 1999 was signed into law to increase the options for individuals with disabilities who wished to return to work.

Ticket to Work and Self Sufficiency (Ticket) program is a federal program designed to provide Social Security disability beneficiaries the choices, opportunities, and support they need to enter and maintain employment. The goal of the program is to get off Social Security benefits and get jobs.

This is a positive step forward but it is not enough.

Employers need to understand the causes of the problem so they can design solutions to fix them.

Companies must be prepared to hire employees with disabilities who are qualified to do the job.

They must be aware of the real accommodation costs for employees with disabilities and ensure workplaces are accommodating, not only with equipment and facilities but also the attitudes of co-workers and supervisors.

Millions of capable Americans with disabilities want to work and be productive members of the labor force. If we work together toward an inclusive society in which everyone has a real opportunity to experience the genuine rewards of labor, we could restore the real meaning of Labor Day.

Tips To Financially Plan For Buying a New Home

Tips To Financially Plan For Buying a New HomeBuying a new home is one of the biggest emotional and financial decisions you’ll ever make, therefore, it’s important to take your time and plan carefully.

Below, we provide some valuable tips to help you financially plan for buying a new home.

Save For Your Downpayment

The earlier you start saving for a down payment when buying a new home, the easier it gets.

Even if you aren’t ready to buy a new home just yet, put aside even $50 or $100 per month into a new home fund.

Most mortgage lenders require 20 percent of your home’s purchase price as a downpayment. If you’re unable to save this amount, you would need to get private mortgage insurance, which allows you to put down as little as 5 percent on a loan.

Shop For The Best Mortgage Rates

Before buying a new home, do your research and shop carefully for the best mortgage rates and loan options as rates available to you can vary significantly from lender to lender. Even half a percent point less on your mortgage rate could save you thousands of dollars in mortgage payments over the years.

To qualify for the best possible mortgage rates, you should have an excellent credit score. You can improve your credit score by paying down debt and paying all your bills on time every month.

Generally, lenders prefer to have your debt obligations, including your new mortgage, to represent a maximum of 43 percent of your income.

Find a Suitable Homeowners Insurance Policy

You will also need a homeowners insurance policy when buying a new home.

This type of insurance protects your home against damages to the house itself, or to the possessions in the home. Homeowners insurance can also provide liability coverage against accidents in the home or on the property.

Do your research and find a policy which suits your needs. Buying a new home is one of the biggest investments you’ll ever make so make sure to consider the quality of the policy and its coverage insurance. If you ever need to file a claim, you’ll be glad you got the right policy to help protect your home.

Build an Emergency Fund

No matter how well you budget for upcoming expenses associated with buying a new home, don’t be surprised if unanticipated extra costs occur.

For example, expenses like larger utility bills and home repairs can start to add up and can make a huge difference to your monthly budget.

Build your emergency fund for several months or even years before buying a new home to prepare for unexpected expenses.

Buy Only the Home You can Afford

When you first apply for a mortgage your lender may want to let you borrow more than you really need. However, just because you qualify for a more expensive house doesn’t mean you need one.

Owning a home you can comfortably afford means you’ll have lower mortgage payments and utility bills.

Buying a new home is a major milestone in your life and you can make the process less stressful financially if you follow the guidelines described above.

Accidental Death and Dismemberment vs. Term Life Insurance

Accidental Death and Dismemberment vs. Term Life InsuranceUnfortunately, all of us have to die one day but when you do, will your loved ones suffer financially? If you answered yes, you need an insurance policy to support your family after your death.

If you already have insurance do you have the right policy?

For example, If you think your life insurance needs are covered with an accidental death and dismemberment policy, you’re wrong.

Today, we explain the difference between accidental death and dismemberment insurance and term life insurance to help you choose the right policy for your needs.

What is Accidental Death and Dismemberment Insurance?

Accidental death and dismemberment (ADD) insurance provides a payment to your beneficiary if you die or get injured in a covered accident. For example, if you die from a heart attack or cancer, there’s no payout. To qualify for a payout for injury, you must lose a body part or the ability to hear, see, or speak. Generally, an ADD policy would cover:

  • Death
  • Quadriplegia
  • Loss of sight in at least one eye
  • Loss of speech
  • Loss of hearing
  • Loss of limb
  • Loss of thumb or index finger

If you die in an accident covered by accidental death and dismemberment, your beneficiaries receive the full payout. If you suffer an injury, the policy generally pays out only part of the benefit.

The exact payouts will be listed in your policy.

Accidental death and dismemberment insurance can be purchased as a standalone product or as a rider on a term life insurance policy.

What is Term Life Insurance?

Term life Insurance is basic coverage for a set amount of time which pays a cash amount if you die within the specific time period, regardless of cause of death . You pay premiums for the entire length of the term and once the term is up, your death benefit is gone.

Term life does not have a cash value component so your entire premium is simply used to keep the policy active. Once the term is up, you stop paying premiums and the policy expires. This is what makes term life one of the most inexpensive life insurance policies.

This type of life insurance has a specific coverage period such as 10, 15, 20, 25, and 30 years which allows you to buy coverage based on your needs.

However, term life offers you no cash value component. Your premiums only go towards the policy and don’t earn interest or accumulate.

Do I Need Accidental Death and Dismemberment if I Already Have Term Life Insurance?

Being prepared for the unexpected is crucial but before you purchase an accidental death and dismemberment policy consider if you really need this type of policy.

You’re much less likely to die from an accident than from cancer or heart disease. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, just 130,557 of the 2.5 million deaths reported in 2013 were accidental. Comparatively, almost 589,430 people died of cancer and 610,000 died of heart disease in 2015, both covered by term life insurance.

If you die because of an accident but not right away, your beneficiaries might not see any benefits. To collect on an accidental death and dismemberment policy, your beneficiaries must be able to prove your death or injury was directly caused by a qualifying accident or within a certain time frame after it occurred.

An accidental death and dismemberment policy can also be limiting. ADD policies often exclude deaths due to high-risk activities such as:

  • Skydiving or car racing.
  • Most likely, deaths caused by certain circumstances including the following won’t be covered:
  • A drug overdose
  • Drunken driving (by the insured person)
  • War
  • Complications from surgery
  • Mental illness
  • Suicide

Term life insurance provides more coverage and often the chance for a higher payout for your loved ones. Although you’ll pay higher premiums for term life, you’ll rest assured your family will be provided for should the unexpected happen regardless of cause of death. 

This is where an insurance agent can be extremely useful. They can help you understand the language in your policy, alleviate your concerns and fears, and guide your decision around which insurance policy is right for you.

Cancer Insurance: Do You Really Need It?

Cancer Insurance: Do You Really Need It?Cancer insurance is a special type of insurance which provides limited coverage if you’re ever diagnosed with cancer.

Generally, a cancer-specific policy covers a number of costs associated with your diagnosis and treatment including:

  • Hospitalization
  • Radiation
  • Chemotherapy
  • Surgery
  • Anesthesia
  • Nursing care
  • Blood transfusions
  • Prescription drugs
  • Medications

However, you won’t be able to get cancer insurance if you’ve already been diagnosed.

So, then the question is do you really need cancer insurance?

To answer this question ask yourself the following three questions.

Do You have a Family History of Cancer?

Statistics show more than 1.6 million new cases of cancer will be diagnosed in 2015.

Approximately one in three Americans is diagnosed with cancer at some point during their lifetime and researchers have spent decades trying to understand the causes of this disease.

In certain instances, a family history of cancer significantly increases your risk of being diagnosed.

For example, some types of breast cancer have been linked to a specific inherited genetic mutation. If you’ve had one first-degree female relative like a sister, mother, or daughter diagnosed with breast cancer, your risk is doubled. If two first-degree relatives have been diagnosed, your risk is five times higher than average.

If you have a family history and you are worried about your chances of getting cancer, a cancer insurance policy may give you peace of mind. Keep in mind some insurers may not offer coverage for every type of cancer so you’ll need to do your research before you purchase a policy.

You should also talk to your doctor about your medical history and your specific risk factors to help you decide whether you should invest in this type of coverage.

Are You Protected Financially?

You may not need a cancer insurance policy if you have enough cash in an emergency fund to cover the cost of your care should a serious illness occur. However, if you don’t have enough savings to cover your expenses, a cancer insurance policy can make the cost of your care more affordable as well as help keep you financially secure if you lose income because of your illness.

According to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) direct medical costs (total of all health care expenditures) for cancer in the U.S. in 2011 were $88.7 billion. Half of this cost is for hospital outpatient or office-based provider visits, 35 percent for inpatient hospital stays, and 11 percent for prescription medications.

If you’re worried about your finances and are considering buying cancer insurance, you may want to look for a policy which offers the lump-sum option. With the lump sum policy, the money is paid out when you’re diagnosed and you’re free to use it however you like.

For example, you can use it for travel expenses if you have to see a doctor or specialist in another state, pay for daycare so your spouse can work, or just pay your day-to-day bills.

Having access to the money can ease some of the stress of the treatment process.

Do You Have The Right Coverage?

Ideally, it’s best to have a comprehensive health insurance policy which fits your budget and meets your wellness needs.

You might consider a cancer insurance policy if you have a high deductible plan and you’re worried about substantial out-of-pocket costs.

If you don’t have any health insurance at all, your decision to buy a cancer-specific policy depends on how concerned you are about your risk of cancer and your overall financial situation.

Generally, the premiums for cancer insurance are lower than traditional health insurance but if your chances of getting cancer are relatively low, you might not need it.

Choosing The Right Cancer Insurance Policy

If you are ready to shop around for a cancer insurance policy, you should consider the following.

Look at what the policy covers and the amount of benefits it pays for each type of expenses.

Pay attention to the lifetime benefit limit and whether or not the policy is guaranteed renewable.

If you’re concerned about putting money in a policy you may never have to use, check to see if you can include a return of premium rider which would put money back in your pocket once the coverage term is up.

Be sure to do your research and ask questions before buying a cancer insurance policy. This is where an insurance agent can be a valuable resource. They can help you understand the language in your policy, explain the specific terms and conditions, and guide your decision around which cancer insurance policy is right for you