Financially Protect Your Child With Developmental Disabilities

Financially Protect Your  Child With Developmental Disabilities After the birth of a child, most of us look forward to his or her developmental milestones like first smiles, or when our child waves “good-bye” to us for the first time.

A developmental disability is far from thoughts which enter our minds when we look at our precious child.

It’s natural to not want to focus on the scarier things in your child’s life, like a developmental disability. 

Unfortunately, this inclination to ignore the possibilities often leaves us emotionally vulnerable and financially unprepared should we have to face supporting a child with a developmental disability.

Today, we discuss what you can do to financially protect a child with a developmental disability.

What is a Developmental Disability?

Developmental disabilities are a group of conditions due to an impairment in physical, learning, language, or behavior areas. These conditions begin during the developmental period, may impact day-to-day functioning, and generally last throughout a person’s lifetime. Examples of developmental disabilities include:

  • Attention deficit/Hyperactivity disorder( ADHD)
  • Autism spectrum disorders
  • Cerebral palsy
  • Hearing loss
  • Vision impairment
  • Learning disabilities

Recent estimates in the United States show that about one in six—or about 15 percent—of children, ages three through 17 years, have  one or more developmental disabilities.

Skills such as taking a first step, smiling for the first time, and crawling are called developmental milestones. Children reach milestones in how they play, learn, speak, behave, and move.

Children develop at their own pace, so it’s impossible to tell exactly when a child will learn a given skill. However, the developmental milestones give you a general idea of the changes to expect as your child gets older.

If you’re worried about your child talk to your doctor or healthcare provider about your concerns. If your child has developmental disabilities, it’s natural to feel emotionally overwhelmed and worried but it’s even more important to make sure he or she is financially protected.

Ways You Can Financially Protect Your Child With a Developmental Disability

There are many factors you should consider when building a financial plan to protect a child with a developmental disability. It is always best to consult a financial advisor to examine your unique situation. We outline some important areas to consider below.

Get Adequate Health Insurance

A child with a developmental disability will often have high medical bills.

Apply for Medicaid coverage , a government funded health insurance plan, which allows families of children with disabilities to “buy-into” the Medicaid program by paying a monthly premium based on the family’s income.

Medicaid health benefits cover individuals who qualify for Supplemental Security Income. It provides government funded health insurance for children with developmental disabilities who have little or no income. It provides cash to meed basic needs for food, clothing, and shelter.

Also, review your private health insurance policies carefully. If you child is already covered under your policy, it’s important to know what happens when your child reaches age of majority—which is 18 in most states.

Policies vary considerably:

  • Some allow the adult child to continue coverage if he or she is a full time student.  
  • Most policies will now allow continued coverage for dependents up to age 26.  
  • Some will allow indefinite continued coverage for adult children with disabilities, and if the parent continues to provide 50% or more of that adult child’s support and maintenance. You should consider this carefully if your child will be receiving Supplemental Security Income (SSI), because some aspects of SSI payments are based on whether or not the young adult is claimed as a dependent by his or her parents. 
  • Others will allow the parents to continue to support the individual indefinitely.

Take time to weight the pros and cons of the different options available in context of your individual situation.

Obtain Comprehensive Life Insurance

If your child with a developmental disability will struggle financially after you die, you’ll need to obtain a life insurance policy to help support him or her when you are no longer around. A life insurance policy provides cash to your family after your death.

There are several types of life insurance plan available so take the time to consider all needs for your family. Then, work with your insurance company, ask them all your questions regarding life coverage, so you can make sure to get the policy that’s right for you.

Make a Will

Make a will to financially protect your child.

Meet with a lawyer to prepare your will. Make note of all assets and money you want to leave for your child, as well as the person you want to be your child’s guardian. Make sure you ask that person first and explain exactly what’s involved in taking care of your child with special needs. You need to know for certain they are comfortable with being your child’s guardian in the case of unexpected events.

Set Up A Special Needs Trust

A special needs trust holds assets for your child with a developmental disability. This type of trust can supplement your child’s income and not affect his or her eligibility to receive benefits, Supplemental Security Income, or Medicaid.

Taking care of a child with a developmental disability can be emotionally overwhelming and challenging at times, which is why it is even more important to take the steps necessary to prepare financially, and protect your child for their lifetime.

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Employee Benefits Packages: What You Need To Know

Employee Benefits Packages: What You Need To KnowOne of life’s most exciting moments is when you land your dream job.

A fruitful result of all the hours you’ve spent to find, network, and interview for that perfect job. It’s natural to want to just sign on the dotted line. You’re eager to begin your new job and continue your path to achieve your goals and be successful.

A major factor in your decision to take the job might be the annual salary you’ll earn.

And while the first think you think of might be the annual salary you earn, it is important you also take a look at the employee benefits package offered to you. Your employee benefits package is a significant component of your overall compensation package and plays an important part in you and your family’s life.

For that reason, the employee benefits package you are offered should be a huge factor in your decision to take the job.

It’s important to consider all benefits you’ll receive and what they could mean for your life’s goals.

Today, we talk about some of the factors you should consider when evaluating a job’s employee benefits package.

Let’s begin with the types of benefits you may see in an typical employee benefits package.

Types of Employee Benefits

The law requires employers to provide employees with certain benefits.  Employers must:

• Give you time off to vote, serve on a jury, and perform military service.

• Comply with all workers’ compensation requirements.

• Withhold FICA taxes from your paychecks and pay their own portion of FICA taxes, providing you with retirement and disability benefits.

• Pay state and federal unemployment taxes, thus providing benefits for unemployed workers.

• Contribute to state short-term disability programs in states where such programs exist.

• Comply with the Federal Family and Medical Leave (FMLA).

Employers are not required to provide you benefits such as:

  • Health plans
  • Dental plans
  • Vision plans
  • Life insurance
  • Disability insurance
  • Paid vacations or holidays
  • Sick leave
  • Retirement plans

In reality, however, most companies offer some or all of these benefits to stay competitive.

Most likely you’ll be offered many of these benefits along with your annual salary.

Why Is Your Employee Benefits Package So Important?

One of the most valuable components of a good employee benefits package is health insurance. A serious illness or health problem can bankrupt even individuals earning a six-figure salary. Unpaid medical bills are among the leading causes of bankruptcies in America.

Workers compensation, a federally required benefit, only covers you if you have a work related health condition or a disabling accident on the job. The reality is most accidents don’t happen at work. Less than five percent of disabling accidents and illnesses are work-related.

Social Security, another mandated benefit, will only cover you if you cannot work in any capacity and that your disability has lasted or will last for at least one year. According to the Social Security Administration’s website: “The definition of disability under Social Security is different from other programs. Social Security pays only for total disability. No benefits are payable for partial disability or for short-term disability.”

65 percent of initial SSDI claim applications were denied in 2012. Even if your Social Security and workers compensation applications are approved, chances are the average monthly benefit paid to you won’t be enough to cover all your expenses.

An employee benefits package which includes health and disability insurance can help you prepare for the unexpected. Good benefits give you peace of mind that if an accident or illness happened to you, you’d be financially okay. A comprehensive employee benefits package is also a sign that the company cares about the health and well-being of its employees.

Vacation time, sick days, and holidays are important because these days allow you to spend quality time with your loved ones or rest and recuperate if you become ill.

Questions To Ask About Your Employee Benefits Package

Here are some questions you should ask about your employee benefit package, based on what’s important to you and your family.

Medical, Dental, and Vision Plans: What type of plan is offered and what expenses are covered? Who is covered? If you don’t have a family yet, can a spouse or future children be added to the plan when the time comes? Are there are any deductibles or co-pays you’ll have to fund yourself for a medical, dental, or vision plan? Are there any annual or lifetime maximums for any of the plans?

Life Insurance: What will you pay in monthly premiums? How much and what type of coverage do you have? Is it enough to cover your final expenses and protect your family financially in the event of an unexpected tragedy? If not, are their options or any limitations to purchase additional insurance within the plan?

Disability Insurance: What is included in your short-term disability insurance? What is included in your long-term disability coverage? What is the percentage amount of salary paid if you become disabled and unable to work? Will that percentage change over time?

Vacation: How many days off are you allowed in your first year? Can days be taken off before they are earned? What are the maximum number of days off you are allowed at one time? Do your vacation days expire if you don’t use them in a certain time frame or can you carry them over to the next year? How many years do you have to work with the company before you earn additional vacation time?

Holidays: Besides the standard holidays like Christmas Day and Independence Day, are there any other holidays? Does the company offer any floater days, days that you can use at your discretion?

Sick/Personal days: What is the company policy on sick and personal days? How many sick and personal days do you get in a year?

Retirement plans: Does your company offer a retirement plan like a 401(k)plan and/or pension plan? Is there a percentage or dollar amount that your employer will match? What is the amount of time it takes to vest the company matching portion of the plan?

Profit sharing: Does the company have a profit sharing plan? What is the percentage or dollar amount that you’ll receive if the company is profitable?

Use these questions as a guide to help you decide what employee benefits package is right for you.

It is important to consider all components of a job offer-the work itself, the salary, and the employee benefits package before signing on the dotted line.

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Five Tips To Help Build Your Emotional Resilience

Five Tips To Help Build Your Emotional ResilienceNobody’s life is perfect and we all experience our share of setbacks. Bad things such as a job loss, accident, or death of a loved one, can happen to any one of us.

When they happen to you, how do you react?

Are you prepared for the unexpected? 

When something goes wrong, do you have the emotional resilience to rise above it and move on?  Do you bounce back or do you tend to breakdown?

Emotional resilience means being able to adapt to life’s misfortunes.  Resilience allows you to rise above your setbacks and life’s challenges. It equips you with the ability to handle the stress, see past your problems, and find enjoyment in life.

If you lack emotional resilience, you might become overwhelmed and dwell on your problems, feel victimized, or turn to unhealthy coping mechanisms, such as substance abuse.

Today, we discuss some tips to help you become more emotionally resilient.

Live a Healthy Life

When you take care of yourself and keep a healthy lifestyle, it’s easier to be more resilient. According to  Sheri Van Dijk, a psychotherapist, to feel more balanced physically you need to:

  • Get restful sleep
  • Eat nutrient-rich food
  • Exercise regularly
  • Take medication as prescribed
  • Avoid drugs and alcohol

When you take care of your body and health, you are better able to manage stressful times.

Build a Strong Support Network

Nurture and maintain relationships with your loved ones. Spending time with friends, family, and significant others can help build your emotional resilience.

According to Robert Brooks, PhD, resilient people have at least one or two people they can turn to for support in their life.

When life gets hard, don’t withdraw from other people. Instead, seek help from those who care about you.

Set Solid Goals

People with emotional resilience set solid goals and they have the desire to achieve those goals. 

Set goals in both your personal and professional life.  Goals help give purpose to your life and push you to achieve things which are important to you.

Achieving your goals takes energy, motivation, and effort but it also provides you with more emotional resilience.

Have A Positive Attitude

A positive attitude can make you more emotionally resilient.

Barbara Fredrickson, PhD, author of Positivity, says people with emotional resilience experience both negative and positive emotions even in difficult or painful situations. They feel pain, mourn loss, and endure frustrations, but they also find some silver lining in even the worst of circumstances.

She notes that people who lack emotional resilience experience only negative emotions when things go wrong.

Remember many of life’s problems are temporary and will pass. Focus on all the good things in your life. 

Be Prepared For the Unexpected

Life’s obstacles strike when you least expect them and when they do many of us are totally unprepared emotionally and financially.

Imagine, you are suddenly unable to work. Without an income, it’s easy to quickly exhaust your savings. The money you’ve managed to put away for a vacation, the kids’ education, and your own retirement now has to be spent on gas, groceries, and other necessities.

Most Americans live paycheck to paycheck. There’s little or no money left for unexpected events such as injury or illness—the primary causes of disability.

Non-resilient people are not prepared. They let their worries get the better of them. They stress and breakdown. In contrast, people with emotional resilience prepare for the future and have a plan.

To become increase your emotional resilience, prepare a plan. Our Financial Security Plan provides a painless guide to prepare for the unimaginable.

Emotional Resilience Can Be Developed

The good news is emotional resilience is not a trait people are born with but rather involves behaviors, thoughts, and actions which can be learned and developed by anyone.

It’s human nature to resist change particularly when life hits us with the unexpected, but following the above mentioned tips can help you develop greater emotional resilience and prepare to handle life’s challenges.

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Life Insurance Policy: Which Plan Is Right For You?

Life Insurance Policy: Which Plan Is Right For You?Having a life insurance policy is often viewed as something negative, something we don’t want to think about it. But instead, it’s a way to help protect your loved when they might need it most.

It is inevitable that each of us will die one day. If someone will suffer financially when you die, chances are you need a life insurance policy to help support your family after your death.

Perhaps you already have a life insurance policy, but is it enough?

When was the last time you examined your life coverage needs?

Do you have the right type of life insurance policy?

Understanding life insurance policies isn’t always easy and it can be hard to make sense of the different plans and terms.

Today we are going to review the reasons why people might buy a life insurance policy and discuss the pros and cons of four types of life coverage plans:

  • Term life
  • Universal life
  • Variable life
  • Whole life

Reasons Why People Buy a Life Insurance Policy

According to the LIMRA 2013 Insurance Barometer Study, nearly one third of consumers don’t believe they have enough life insurance coverage and that nearly three out of 10 consumers wish their spouse or partner had more coverage

The study notes the top six reasons why people buy life insurance:

  • Cover burial and final expenses (89 percent)
  • Replace lost wages or income (61 percent)
  • Transfer wealth or leave inheritance (59 percent)
  • Help pay off mortgage (51 percent)
  • Estate taxes or estate liquidity (45 percent)
  • Pay for home expenses (43 percent)

Types of Life Insurance Policies

When you are shopping for a life insurance policy you’ll likely encounter the following types of life insurance coverage plans.

Term Life Insurance Policy

Term life Insurance is exactly what it sounds like. You purchase life insurance for a specific term, or set amount of time. 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.

Term life policies are usually far less expensive than other policies such as whole, universal, or variable life insurance. They have a specific coverage period such as 10, 15, 20, 25, and 30 years, allowing 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.

Having a specific term can also be a disadvantage. If you purchase a 20 year term policy but decide that you’d like to extend your coverage after the 20 year term you may need to undergo proof of insurability and could be denied additional coverage or renewals could be at significantly high premiums.

Universal Life Insurance Policy

Universal life coverage adds to term life by including a cash component. With this policy, instead of only selecting a specific term and putting it all toward the policy, part of the premium actually goes into a cash account in the policy. This cash account earns interest and the accumulations are tax-deferred.

Universal life coverage provides additional flexibility because of its cash component. You can actually temporarily stop making your premium payments as long as the cash value can cover the cost of the insurance.

Universal life coverage allows you to increase or decrease the death benefit over time. Usually, you can also borrow against the policy in the form of a loan.

Because of these additional advantages and flexibility, universal life policies are more expensive than term life policies. While some of the additional cost goes into building cash value in your account, the rates you earn on this money may not always be the best available rates.

Variable Life Insurance Policy

Variable life insurance is very similar to universal life with one major difference.

With a variable life policy you don’t earn a specific rate of interest in a cash value fund, but instead you can invest this portion in investments such as  mutual funds. This allows you much more control and you can choose where to invest the cash value portion. You’re also still guaranteed the minimum death benefit as long as you keep up with the minimum premiums.

However, putting part of your policy in investments such as mutual funds can be risky. If the market crashes you risk the loss of a significant amount of money and put your policy in jeopardy as a result.

A substantial drop in your account value could result in you paying additional premiums to maintain your contract.

Additionally, expenses associated with the investments in this policy may be higher than you might pay elsewhere.

Whole Life Insurance Policy

A whole life coverage plan insures you for your whole life. Like universal life coverage, whole life has a cash value component. Generally, whole life policy premiums and death benefit are fixed.

One advantage of this policy is that cash value also grows tax-deferred and typically allows for withdrawals and loans against the policy.

Since you have a guaranteed premium, interest rate, and death benefit for the life of the policy, there are no surprises. However, these guarantees make whole life coverage usually more expensive than both term life and universal life policies.

The interest earned on the cash value account may be less than you could get if you invested elsewhere.

A whole life policy is not flexible. If you determine that you need more coverage or would like to increase or decreases your premium, chances are you probably can’t with this policy.

Which Life Insurance Policy is Right For Me?

As you can see, there are several options to consider when it comes to life insurance policies.

Take the time to consider all your coverage needs, and how they fit in with your overall financial plan. Then, work with your insurance company, ask them all your questions regarding life coverage, so you can make sure to get the policy that’s right for you.

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How to Build Your Own Personal Budget

How to Build Your Own Personal BudgetCreating a personal budget is not normally anyone’s idea of a good time.

Let’s face it, it can be a bore—not to mention tedious, and often downright dejecting to learn you have less money than you thought you did.

However, being in debt or without a proper plan for your future is even more of a disappointment.

Instead, if you understand your spending habits, you take control of your future and can begin to build your savings and achieve your financials goals.

Today, we take a look at why and how you can create your own personal budget.

Reasons For Creating a Personal Budget

A personal budget is a financial plan which allocates your income toward expenses, debt repayment, savings, and retirement planning.

A budget is an invaluable tool to help you:

  • Understand your spending habits: A personal budget can help you understand how much you spend each month. You’ll be more aware of how you spend your money and where you need to cut back on expenses, if and when necessary.
  • Save for your future: By creating a personal budget you’ll be able to control how much money you contribute to savings for your future or for unexpected events such as job loss. Some experts recommend everyone save for at least six months’ worth of living expenses, no matter their situation.
  • Not live from monthly paycheck to paycheck: A personal budget will give you a projection of how much money you’ll spend throughout the month so you’re not stressed about money until your next paycheck arrives.
  • Ensure you pay bills on time: When you create a budget you can schedule loan, credit card, and bill payments in advance to make sure you pay on time. Paying bills on time and paying down your debt will boost your credit score , which means you’ll qualify for loans with better interest rates when you need them.

Steps to Create a Personal Budget

Now that you understand the importance of a personal budget, let’s detail what you need to do to create one.

Set Your Financial Goals

Write down your short and long term financial goals.

  • Do you have debts to pay off?
  • Are you trying to save for a family, a car, a house, or a vacation?
  • Are you trying to save for retirement?

Each goal should be S.M.A.R.T – specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timely.

List Your Sources of Income

Make a list of where your money comes from on a monthly basis such as work, investments, loans, insurance, or retirement plans.

List Your Expenses

Make a list of all your monthly expenses such as mortgage payments, utility bills, car payments, insurance payments, club memberships, groceries, and entertainment. Also think about any one time expenses you will incur in the short term.

Add It All Up

If the money coming in outweighs your outgoing expenses, you’ll have a surplus. If your expenses outweigh your incoming cash then you are in a budget deficit. This means you’ll need to make some adjustments.

Make Adjustments in Your Personal Budget

Think about where you can cut back on your spending and what sacrifices you can make to achieve your financial goals. For example, could you get by without going out to eat at a restaurant every week? Or do you really need all those extra cable channels?

Some cut backs will be easy. Some not so easy.

You may also need to make adjustments every few months depending on how it all adds up.

Now that you know the steps to create a personal budget you can start yours now. You can find many budget templates online to help you out. Find one that works best for you and that you’ll be able to actively use and stick to. 

While you might feel burdened and disappointed too look at your expenditures so closely, remember that starting a budget today will help you achieve your financial goals in the years to come.

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Six Personal Finance Tips for New Parents

Six Personal Finance Tips for New ParentsStarting a new family is exciting but has significant personal finance implications that few first time parents are prepared for.

However, getting your personal finances in order soon after you bring your newborn home is important.

Here are six personal finance tips to help you get started.

Apply for Your Newborn’s Social Security Number

To set up any kind of savings account or claim your newborn as a dependent you will need a Social Security number. Fill out the necessary paperwork to get a Social Security number as soon as possible after the birth of your child. Most hospitals have all the proper paperwork available so you just have to ask for it.

Buy, Review, and Adjust your Insurance Policies

Having comprehensive insurance coverage is always one of the important personal finance tips, but it becomes even more crucial when you have a family to care for. While most people think about health insurance—and that is important—it’s not the only type of insurance you need to make sure you have.

Life Insurance: Many parents take out a life insurance plan on their newborn but it is also important to consider taking a life insurance policy for each parent. While death is not something we like to think about or plan for, having life insurance can help secure a more stable financial future should one parent pass away.

It can help cover the cost of child care as well as other expenses related to raising the children if the surviving parent has to work.

Disability Insurance: Of course we are a bit biased on this one, but disability insurance tends to be one of the most overlooked benefits by new parents because most people don’t think they’ll ever be out of work long enough to take advantage of its benefits.

Unfortunately missed work due to illness or injury—and the resulting loss of income—has huge financial implications that few parents are prepared for. Do you have enough savings to get your through a period of time without an income and still be able to care for your family and cover all necessary expenses? 

Seventy-seven percent of consumers say they would not be able to pay their bills for more than a year if they suffered a loss of income.

Health Insurance: You might already have health insurance through your employer or a pervious policy. Now is the time to review your health insurance plan to make sure it suits your new family’s needs and adjust your policy accordingly to include your newborn.

Personal Finance Tips You Wish You Didn’t Need: Make a Will

Just like life insurance, making a will is one of those personal finance tips that you’d rather not think about. But it’s important. For you and your new family.

Meet with a lawyer to prepare your will. Make note of all assets and debts, as well as the person you want to be your child’s guardian. Make sure you ask that person first. You need to know for certain they are comfortable with being your child’s guardian in the event of unexpected events.

Start Saving for a College Savings Plan

One of the best personal finance tips for the well-being of your child’s future is to start saving now for college. Your child may be a newborn today but before you know it he/she is ready to go off to college.  Luckily, there are many tax-advantaged education savings plans available to parents.

Start saving for college with a savings plan such as a 529 plan as soon as possible.

A 529 plan offers tax advantages and other incentives to make it easier to save for college for a designated beneficiary such as a child or grandchild. A main advantage of this plan is that earnings are not subject to federal tax and generally not subject to state tax when they are used for qualified education expenses such as tuition and other fees, books, and even room and board. However, contributions to a 529 plan are not deductible.

Personal Finance Tips for YOU: Remember Your Own Financial Goals

While saving for your newborn’s education and future needs is important, so is thinking about your own financial goals such as saving for a house, car or even vacation. 

Also, start saving for your retirement.

According to a survey by T. Rowe Price Investment Services, most parents appear to be sacrificing their own financial security to save for their children’s future education. Judith Ward, senior financial planner with T. Rowe Price, says: “Make sure you’re on track for your own retirement first,” and then figure what more can be set aside for college savings. One of Ward’s personal finance tips is for parents to try and save 15 percent of their salary, including an employer match in a  401(k) plan

Start a Budget to Meet Your New Family’s Needs

No matter how many great personal finance tips you are armed with, undoubtedly expenses will grow as you expand your family. There will be expected and unexpected expenses at each stage of your child’s development. offers a great calculator to help get you started in calculating some of the costs you’ll incur in your newborn’s first year.

Start your budget now or adjust an existing one to include all the new expenses as a result of your new expanded family.

While some might be uncomfortable or a burden, applying these six personal finance tips today will help secure your financial well-being for many decades to come.

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