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1 Life & Health Insurance Advisor MRCT Benefits Plus is a comprehensive employee benefits, wellness and Human Resources consulting firm offering a variety of financial services to businesses and individuals Disability Insurance May 2012 Volume 5 Number 5 Why Group Disability Benefits May Not Be Enough 230 S. Bemiston; Suite 900 Clayton, MO (314) FAX (314) According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, nearly all employees eligible for an employerprovided short-term or long-term disability income program participate. However, if you have group disability insurance, you probably need additional coverage. Read on to find out why. When you receive longterm disability coverage through an employer-paid group program, the value of the premiums does not appear on your W-2 as taxable income. Business owners who have their company buy their coverage can enjoy even more tax savings, depending on their business structure the business can deduct the cost of premiums as a business expense, while the value of the benefits is not considered personal income. This Just In May is Disability Insurance Awareness Month, a good time to review your disability income resources and needs. Did you know that workingage individuals have a three in 10 chance of suffering a disabling illness or injury that would keep them out of work for three months or more? Health and lifestyle factors influence the likelihood of disability; to calculate your odds, download the disability calculator from the Council on Disability Awareness, per_pdq.pdf Workers compensation will not pay for non-work disabilities, and Social Security disability benefits are difficult to get

2 Health Insurance Everyone likes to save on their taxes. As long as you remain healthy, paying for disability insurance with pre-tax dollars makes financial sense. However, if you become disabled and need your benefits, that strategy could backfire. Here s how. To start, a group disability income policy typically replaces only a maximum of percent of your pre-disability income. If you receive or buy coverage with pre-tax dollars, taxes will take a bite, since any benefits received will count as taxable income. So if you have a policy that pays $10,000 per month and are in the 33 percent tax bracket, you will net only $6,600 in benefits. The tax savings you enjoyed while healthy and able to work could end up costing you thousands in benefits when you need them most. Solutions Solution 1: The IRS allows eligible employees to make an irrevocable election to have the employer pay for their disability coverage on an after-tax basis. In other words, you will be taxed currently on the premiums your employer pays, but any benefits you receive from the policy will not be taxed as income. This election applies to the entire cost of coverage, so you cannot elect after-tax treatment for only a portion of the premiums. If you elect after-tax treatment, the employer allocates the appropriate proportion of the group premium to you and includes that amount in your gross income for the year in which the payments are made. If you have a disability within three years of making an election, the three-year look back rule applies. This means the portion of any benefits you receive that is attributable to employer contributions shall be considered taxable income; the portion attributable to your after-tax contributions will not be considered taxable income. Solution 2: You can supplement your group disability coverage with an individual long-term disability policy. Since you pay premiums on an individual policy with after-tax dollars, any benefits the policy pays will not count as taxable income. Individual policies provide additional advantages. They don t depend on your employment status and are fully portable if you leave your current job. You can often obtain higher monthly benefits than with group policies. Individual policies often have more liberal definitions of disability, which could mean higher claims payments in the event of a disability. Most offer additional options, or This Just In about 45 percent of those who apply for SSD benefits are initially denied. If you do get approved, benefits average $1,063 monthly inadequate to replace the average worker s income. Disability income insurance can fill the income gap. To calculate your needs, try the calculator at sponsored by the Life and Health Insurance Foundation for Education. The calculator considers all income streams that will continue after disability, including existing disability income insurance, income from a spouse and investment income, and compares them to your normal expenses. However, keep in mind that a disability could require extra expenses, such as modifications to your home and vehicle(s), household help, etc. riders, that can enhance your coverage. And buying and maintaining individual coverage guarantees your insurability for the rest of your working years. Most disability policies contain a coordination of benefits (COB) provision, which entitles the insurer to coordinate benefits under its policy with benefits you may receive under a group policy or other coverages. This prevents disabled policyholders from getting a windfall where their post-disability income is higher than their pre-disability income, creating a disincentive to return to work. For information on some of the features and advantages of an individual disability income policy, please call us.

3 Life Insurance End-of-Life Planning Nobody likes to think of their eventual demise, but having the proper arrangements and finances in place can be a final act of love for your family. The need to plan and pay for a funeral can come up suddenly, while settling an estate can take many months. Ensuring you have the financing available to pay for a funeral as well as outlining your final wishes can save your family worry and stress at an already emotional time. However, keep in mind that preplanning does not mean the same as prepayment you can preplan your funeral arrangements and memorial service and not prepay. How Much Should I Budget? To prepay your final expenses, you need to know what type of arrangements you want. Funeral expenses can vary greatly; in general, you will pay more for a burial than a cremation. The National Funeral Directors Association reported that the average adult funeral cost $4,265 in This does not include the cost of a casket or vault, which pushes the cost up to $7,755. Cemetery plots, markers and flowers all cost extra, which can make the total exceed $10,000. Cremations generally cost less than burials; in fact, the leading reason people choose cremation is to save money, followed by saving land. However, your wishes should dictate your choices. To do that, you should ensure your family has the money needed at the time it s needed. Options include the following: Traditional life insurance. You can use a whole life or term life policy to cover your funeral expenses. You can name a family member as beneficiary, with the understanding that he or she will use proceeds to cover funeral expenses. You will also want to ensure your beneficiary knows your funeral plans. Depending on your age and circumstances, you might opt to pay premiums over time or in a lump sum. Burial or final expense insurance. A burial insurance policy is simply a form of life insurance that covers burial expenses. Most often a whole life policy, it builds cash value and premiums remain level throughout your life. Burial policies often have lower face values than other life policies, paying from $5,000 to $25,000 on your death; insurers will often write these policies with no medical exams. A final expense policy might have somewhat higher limits, as it s intended to cover final expenses, including any final medical costs. You may be able to pay for these policies in low weekly or monthly installments. You can name either a family member or a funeral home as the policy s beneficiary; for many reasons, though, the latter might not be your wisest financial move. You or your family members might move outside the area; the funeral home could go out of business; your plans/needs might change. Pre-need insurance. Millions of Americans have entered into contracts with funeral homes to prearrange their funerals and prepay some or all of the expenses involved. Although an individual generally needs a life/health insurance license to sell life insurance, some states allow funeral directors to sell pre-need plans. Many of these are a specialized form of life insurance or an annuity that, upon your passing, will pay predetermined expenses of a funeral, cremation or burial. Funeral homes often promote pre-need plans as a way to re-

4 Life Insurance lieve your loved ones of the duty of planning and paying for your funeral and of locking in current prices. As with any contract, be sure to read the fine print. Many pre-need plans do not cover all expenses. And since the funeral home is the beneficiary, your heirs lose control of the disposition of funds after your passing. Read the Fine Print According to the Federal Trade commission: Laws of individual states govern the prepayment of funeral goods and services; various states have laws to help ensure that these advance payments are available to pay for the funeral products and services when they re needed. But protections vary widely from state to state, and some state laws offer little or no effective protection. Some state laws require the funeral home or cemetery to place a percentage of the prepayment in a state-regulated trust or to purchase a life insurance policy with the death benefits assigned to the funeral home or cemetery. The FTC further cautions: If you re thinking about prepaying for funeral goods and services, it s important to consider these issues before putting down any money: Y What are you are paying for? Are you buying only merchandise, like a casket and vault, or are you purchasing funeral services as well? Y What happens to the money you ve prepaid? States have different requirements for handling funds paid for prearranged funeral services. Y What happens to the interest income on money that is prepaid and put into a trust account? Y Are you protected if the firm you dealt with goes out of business? Y Can you cancel the contract and get a full refund if you change your mind? Y What happens if you move to a different area or die while away from home? Some prepaid funeral plans can be transferred, but often at an added cost. Be sure to tell your family about the plans you ve made; let them know where the documents are filed. If your family isn t aware that you ve made plans, your wishes may not be carried out. And if family members don t know that you ve prepaid the funeral costs, they could end up paying for the same arrangements. You may wish to consult an attorney on the best way to ensure that your wishes are followed. Informal revocable trust account: You can set up this special type of trust fund at a bank; it can also be called an in trust for, payable on death, as trustee for account or a Totten Trust. You choose the beneficiary and deposit any amount you choose; the funds will transfer to the named beneficiary on your death outside of probate. Using life insurance to fund your final expenses has several advantages: 1 Funds are available almost immediately upon presenting proof of death. 2 Generally, life insurance proceeds pass to the beneficiary free of income taxes. 3 You can change the beneficiary during your lifetime if your circumstances change. 4 Buying coverage from a reputable, high-rated carrier provides a high rate of safety. For more information on using life insurance in end-of-life planning, please contact us.

5 Medicare Traditional Medicare vs. Medicare Advantage: Which Should You Buy? If you re about to turn 65 or otherwise qualify for Medicare coverage, you face an important decision: whether to stay in the original federal Medicare program and buy supplemental coverage, or whether to buy a Medicare Advantage plan. We ll discuss the pros and cons of each. Currently, about one-quarter of seniors opt out of original Medicare and buy a Medicare Advantage plan provided by a private insurer. Created by the Medicare Modernization Act of 2003, Medicare Advantage plans must provide all of traditional Medicare s benefits; most provide more. Many Medicare Advantage plans are HMOs or PPOs, which limit patient choice but in exchange can offer richer benefits and/or lower copayments and deductibles. These plans appeal to seniors on limited budgets or those accustomed to managed care plans. Like other health insurance plans, Medicare Advantage plans take many forms. Depending on where you live, you might have access to one or more Medicare health maintenance organizations (HMOs), Medicare preferred provider organizations (PPOs), Medicare private fee-for-service plans, and Medicare medical savings accounts. Medicare HMO plans: As with most HMOs, these will only cover doctors, specialists or hospitals on the plan s list except in an emergency, and you usually need a referral from your primary care physician before seeing a specialist. Your costs may be lower than in Original Medicare and/or your plan might cover extra benefits, such as extra days in the hospital. However, your selection of Medicare HMO plans might be limited in rural areas. These plans are good for seniors who want to limit their out-of-pocket costs and don t mind being limited to certain providers. Medicare PPO plans: As with other PPOs, you pay less if you use doctors, hospitals, and providers that belong to the network. You can use doctors, hospitals, and providers outside of the network for an additional cost. These plans work well for enrollees whose providers are included in the PPO s network. Medicare private fee-for-service (PFFS) plans: This type of plan resembles traditional fee-for-service health insurance. One major difference between a PFFS Medicare Advantage Organization (MAO) and other MAOs is that, in most cases, people who join a PFFS MAO are not required to use a network of providers. Beneficiaries can see any provider who is eligible to receive payment from Medicare and agrees to accept payment from the PFFS MAO. This type of plan works best for Medicare recipients who want to maintain control over their selection of medical providers. Medicare medical savings account (MSA) plans: Like Health Savings Accounts linked to a high-deductible health plan, this type of plan combines high-deductible health insurance plan with a medical savings account. The plan will only begin to cover your costs once you meet a high yearly deductible, which varies by plan. The Medicare MSA Plan deposits money into your savings account, which you can use to pay any healthcare costs, including costs you incur before meeting your plan s deductible or costs not covered by Medicare. Funds and interest in your account aren t subject to taxes as long as you use money for healthcare costs. When you use funds from your account, you must report spending on a special form when you file taxes. This type of plan works best for those able to budget for their routine healthcare needs and who will be actively involved in their healthcare decisions, but who want protection for catastrophic costs.

6 Other Considerations Do your retirement plans include foreign travel? Original Medicare (Parts A & B) won t pay for healthcare or supplies you get outside the United States, except in certain limited instances, as in an emergency situation where a hospital in Canada Medicare at a Glance is closer to the insured s home than one in the U.S. The term outside the U.S. means anywhere other than the 50 states of the U.S., the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam, American Samoa, and the Northern Mariana Islands. Some Medicare Advantage plans will provide some coverage for care outside the U.S.; some don t. Be sure to check plan documents. If you do plan to travel and need coverage for care outside the U.S., you can buy travel insurance please contact us for information. Medicare will be in the news a lot during the coming year, as presidential candidates debate which federal programs to trim and how. How much do you know about this important topic? Test your knowledge with the Kaiser Family Foundation s Medicare quiz, quiz.kff.org/medicare/medicare-quiz.aspx. Meanwhile, here are some fast facts about Medicare. Medicare beneficiaries, 2011 Medicare beneficiaries as a percentage of total population Medicare Advantage enrollment, 2011 Percent of beneficiaries under age million 15 percent Medicare Part A monthly premium, 2012 $451* 11.5 million (24.2 percent of all Medicare beneficiaries) 15.7 percent Medicare Part B monthly premi um, 2012 $99.90** Medicare Advantage monthly premium, 2012 Your Part B premium + MA premium (varies by plan, HMO plan average = $33) Medicare Part D (drug plan) monthly premium, 2012 $38 (average) Spending per Medicare enrollee, 2009 $10,365 Healthcare spending, per person, total population (2009) $8,086 *For those who pay a premium. **Higher-income consumers may pay more. SmartsPro MARKETING The information presented and conclusions within are based upon our best judgment and analysis. It is not guaranteed information and does not necessarily reflect all available data. Web addresses are current at time of publication but subject to change. SmartsPro Marketing does not engage in the solicitation, sale or management of securities or investments, nor does it make any recommendations on securities or investments. This material may not be quoted or reproduced in any form without publisher s permission. All rights reserved SmartsPro Marketing. Tel

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