Five Myths About Group Disability Insurance

 
Five Myths About Group Disability Insurance
You may think that the chances of becoming disabled during your working years are slight, and even if you did get hurt or had to miss time at work, you could get by because you have group disability insurance. Unfortunately, you may be in for a big surprise. Here are some myths and misunderstandings about group disability insurance.
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What You Can Do with a Will

 
What You Can Do with a WillA will is often the cornerstone of an estate plan. Here are five things you can do with a will.

 

Distribute property as you wish

Wills enable you to leave your property at your death to a surviving spouse, a child, other relatives, friends, a trust, a charity, or anyone you choose. There are some limits, however, on how you can distribute property using a will. For instance, your spouse may have certain rights with respect to your property, regardless of the provisions of your will.

 
Transfers through your will take the form of specific bequests (e.g., an heirloom, jewelry, furniture, or cash), general bequests (e.g., a percentage of your property), or a residuary bequest of what’s left after your other transfers. It is generally a good practice to name backup beneficiaries just in case they are needed.

 
Note that certain property is not transferred by a will. For example, property you hold in joint tenancy or tenancy by the entirety passes to the surviving joint owner(s) at your death. Also, certain property in which you have already named a beneficiary passes to the beneficiary (e.g., life insurance, pension plans, IRAs).

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How do TIPS help fight inflation?

How do TIPS help fight inflation?

 

One way to help protect your portfolio against a sudden spike in inflation is by investing in Treasury Inflation-Protected Securities (TIPS).

 

TIPS are guaranteed by the federal government as to the timely payment of principal and interest. They are sold in $100 increments and available in maturities of 5, 10, and 30 years. The principal is automatically adjusted twice a year to match any increases or decreases in the Consumer Price Index (CPI). If the CPI moves up or down, the Treasury recalculates your principal.

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How do economists measure inflation, and why does it matter to investors?

 

How do economists measure inflation, and why does it matter to investors?The Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) adjusts interest rates to help keep inflation near a 2% target. The FOMC’s preferred measure of inflation is the Price Index for Personal Consumption Expenditures (PCE), primarily because it covers a broad range of prices and picks up shifts in consumer behavior. The Fed also focuses on core inflation measures, which strip out volatile food and energy categories that are less likely to respond to monetary policy.

 

The typical American might be more familiar with the Consumer Price Index (CPI), which was the Fed’s favorite inflation gauge until 2012. The Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U) is used to determine cost-of-living adjustments for federal income taxes and Social Security.

 

The CPI only measures the prices that consumers actually pay for a fixed basket of goods, whereas the PCE tracks the prices of everything that is consumed, regardless of who pays. For example, the CPI includes a patient’s out-of-pocket costs for a doctor’s visit, while the PCE considers the total charge billed to insurance companies, the government, and the patient.

 

The PCE methodology uses current and past expenditures to adjust category weights, capturing consumers’ tendency to substitute less expensive goods for more expensive items. The weighting of CPI categories is only adjusted every two years, so the index does not respond quickly to changes in consumer spending habits, but it provides a good comparison of prices over time.

 

According to the CPI, inflation rose 2.1% in 2016 — right in line with the 20-year average of 2.13%.1 This level of inflation may not be a big strain on the family budget, but even moderate inflation can have a negative impact on the purchasing power of fixed-income investments. For example, a hypothetical investment earning 5% annually would have a “real return” of only 3% during a period of 2% annual inflation.

 

Of course, if inflation picks up speed, it could become a more pressing concern for consumers and investors.

 

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2017 (data through December 2016)

Medicare and Your Employer Health Plan

 

Medicare and Your Employer Health PlanIf you plan to continue working after you reach age 65, you may be wondering how Medicare coordinates with your employer’s group health plan. When you’re eligible for both types of coverage, you’ll need to consider the benefits and costs, and navigate an array of rules.

 

How does Medicare work with your group health plan?

 

You can generally wait to enroll in Medicare if you have group health insurance through your employer or your spouse’s employer. Most employers can’t require employees or covered spouses to enroll in Medicare to retain eligibility for their group health benefits. However, some small employers can, so contact your plan’s benefits administrator to find out if you’re required to sign up for Medicare when you reach age 65.

 

If you have Medicare and group health coverage, both insurers may cover your medical costs, based on “coordination of benefit” rules. The primary insurer pays your claim first, up to the limits of the policy. The secondary insurer pays your claim only if there are costs the primary insurer didn’t cover, but may not pay all the uncovered costs.

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