Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Medicare, Insurance, Disability - Things you need to know

This article was writen years ago but it is as relevant today, as it was then.  This is not my whole life anymore, but has been a huge portion of my adult life and hopefully, it will help you get to know me better, know why I write and how much I care about the human condition.

A friend on Twitter got me thinking about how many people are in the same boat.  I hope this helps you, or you can pass it to anyone who can be helped by it.

I speak from the heart when I write this article, I hope it benefits you and your family:

Long term disability insurance was not part of our vocabulary. We never gave it a second thought, all of our employers provided it and we had a vague idea that it was necessary.

We were healthy, young and strong. We did not pay attention to the standard forms that we signed and hence, our mistake. Instead of retiring at a respectable old age with the company and a healthy 401K, we found ourselves immersed in medical appointments, surgery, physical therapy and our income had gone down to 60%. Add to that the infant and toddler and if you can visualize stress flowing off the charts, you have just gotten a glimpse of our lives.

Disability insurance provided by the employer is typically the minimum required by law in some states. In others, long term disability insurance is a voluntary choice and it is up to the employee to pick up the coverage they need.

If you are in a car accident or your house burns to the ground, chances are that you are going to be emotionally distressed, but in the back of your mind, you know that insurance will replace your losses and your heartbreak will be relegated to the family keepsakes that cannot be replaced. Life goes on after a fashion and soon you have a new roof over your head and you get to start over.

However, If you are injured at work and are unable to work ever again due to the fact that you no longer can perform the duties of your job (specially a physically demanding job), you will be receiving zero income almost immediately.

In our case, the insurance company gave us 60% of our income. That is a whooping 40% less income to live on. Furthermore, the contract clearly stated that this income was there until social security kicked in. In fact, through a series of mishaps, Social Security did not kick in until almost 4 yrs later. That 60% had to pay for all medical expenses since "pre-existing" conditions were not covered by medical insurance.

Upon social security coming into place, all retroactive pay from social security went to the insurance company (another little nugget buried in those forms we did not pay attention to) and they stopped paying.

As far as medical coverage, Medicare does not kick in until 2 yrs after receiving social security benefits, so all medical expenses need to come out of that little check every month.
Had we requested additional information from the insurance company, we would have learned that for a small deduction we could have had 100% coverage FOR THE REST OF OUR LIVES from the disability insurance, and that they would not be entitled to any of the retroactive money paid by social security. That means that we would have had the FULL salary check and the social security check in addition (are you ready for this? the almost $200,000 retroactive pay).

As stated earlier, some employers are not required to provide permanent disability coverage, but if they do, the people to check with is NOT your employer's HR representative, but calling the insurance company directly and telling them you want to increase your coverage beyond what your employer offers. Request a meeting and set a time where you can devote your full attention to what they have to offer and you can comfortably afford.

Let me tell you that even if you know next to nothing about insurance coverage, common sense dictates that you don't want to have LESS money that what you have now. This is an excellent starting point to visualize your future financial picture.

Don't let them tell you that you won't need the coverage if you go on Social Security Disability because Social Security pays less than 50% of the income you currently receive and it is highly dependent on how many work credits a person has contributed. To make it even simpler, the average Social Security payment is under $900 a month and many get a lot less. To add insult to injury, there is a maximum amount any family can get. Typically, it is slightly above poverty level or far below.

Imagine yourself healthy, strong and with a full life ahead of you and all of the sudden you need to live on less than $900 a month, or less, and are riddled with pain and constant medical appointments. If you are married, chances are that your spouse will bear the financial and emotional brunt of making ends meet while providing the best quality of life you and your family can have.

The Spousal Caregiver is expected that he, or she, will make ends meet and adjust accordingly. Unfortunately, there are too many variables in our loved one's conditions that keep the playing field from being level or fair.

Chronic conditions come with a host of unexpected crisis and upheavals that cause emotional stress and empty wallets. Complications and the progression of illness and disability has forced many to loose their homes and downgrade the living standards substantially.

In a perfect world we could live on love, but it is a fact that we need money for everything; a roof over our heads, food on the table, clothes for the family, cars and insurance, utilities, etc. These things are not going to disappear or be reduced to anyone's current income level. Therefore, it is important to maintain your income levels as high as possible in the event of a major loss due to disability or illness.

I urge you to check your coverage and crunch the numbers. I urge you to not put it off, because this should not happen to you.

This happened to us and we were in our mid 30's. The financial hell and the decisions we have had to made are not wished upon anyone.
Thank you for listening.

Wishing you PEACE

Related Articles:  
The Naked Patient   The Naked Spouse 
The Naked Doctor

Image: Medicare By Arturoportilla at en.wikipedia [Public domain]

Monday, September 27, 2010

UFO Conference

50 years ago Rosswell, New Mexico got famous.  People claim that a UFO was sighted.  Controversy and cover-up theories abounded.  Annual pilgramages begun and continue to this day and a new business enterprise developed in an area of the desert that was, well... , deserted.

Fast forward to September 27, 2010 and we have video testimony by military personnel regarding sightings of UFO's at  Nuclear Weapons bases.

Likewise, Great Britain released documents spanning 2 decades on UFO sightings.

From AP news "The men were air traffic controllers. Experienced, calm professionals. Nobody was drinking. But they were so worried about losing their jobs that they demanded their names be kept off the official report.
No one, they knew, would believe their claim an unidentified flying object landed at the airport they were overseeing in the east of England, touched down briefly, then took off again at tremendous speed. Yet that's what they reported happened at 4 p.m. on April 19, 1984."  For the full contents and video click here.

Friday, September 17, 2010


We have all heard about Stephen Colbert and John Stewart's dueling rallies on 10.30.10 in Washington DC.  Colbert's march is dubbed "To Keep Fear Alive" and Stewart's rally is "To Restore Sanity".  Both are going to be a lot of fun and provide much needed comedy relief for a few hours.

However, there is a more serious event scheduled to take place on 10.02.10 on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial.  It is called ONE NATION and it is meant to show unity among all Americans to move this country forward.  It is a family event meant to honor our working men and women who have been loosing jobs in the millions due to the economic downturn and massive exodus of manufacturing jobs to other countries.

From the event's website:

"The march aims to bring working people, young people, retirees, civil rights activists and many others together on the Mall to show the obstructionists in Congress that we are many and diverse, strong and that united-and we will fight together for the American Dream.

Many of our unions are already committed to work as a part of ONE NATION. The unions of the AFL-CIO proudly join this coalition and pledge to work collectively to add our support to this great effort. "

Those who wish to add their voices to the serious efforts to bring this country together in order to save American jobs, restore unity and move forward in rebuilding our country should attend the ONE NATION march in DC if they are able.

For comedy relief, a second trip to our Nation's Capitol at the end of October is highly recommended.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Political Thoughts

As a political junkie, the current state of our country is enough to make a sane person insane, but reaching out to virtual friends across the miles can have a soothing effect on frayed nerves. 

I pondered about our humanity and what the media keeps insisting on reporting.  I have pondered reading blogs and lurking as an observer about the state, not of our union, but our collective psyche and frayed humanity.  Why are there so many obstacles in our way and who keeps putting them there?

Fortunately, the human race is more interconnected than we are able to comprehend.  Perhaps Twitter, Stumble Upon, Google and Facebook have made possible to grasp our collective unity a little better, but we are still far from full comprehension.

I spoke with someone who is a full-timer (they live in their 200K motor home year round and visit as much of the world as possible).  He said: "When I go camping, I only meet great people.  Perhaps it is because those are my expectations".

Keeping that comment in mind, I have looked at the bruhaha of political bizarreness (sure, it is a word) and  instead of declaring the screaming crowds as lunatics, I have decided to look at their humanity and see what I can find there instead.

I found racists, I found people filled with hatred and unbridled rage, I found people who can't imagine a world filled with "others".

I dug deeper and found what I was looking for:  Fear.

Obama tapped into their fears at a visceral level.  He did not offend them for being half-white.  He terrified them because he represented what they fear most: Change. 

When I hear the opposition rebel against tax cuts for the middle class or when they state that we are going to be a country like France, I see fear.  Fear of better. Fear of different.  Fear of adaptation. 

Most importantly, I see human beings who have always been terrified of dying but are now terrified of living.

It is going to take a lot of patience and understanding to let people know that is okay to feel joy and happiness and we need to work together to get there and secure it in our lifetime for us and our loved ones.

It is easier to look into people's fears by reading their tweets or Google-ing their websites.  The connectivity on the Internet should make it easier for us to reach out and touch someone rather than slapping them. Instead we seem to degrade one another without giving a second thought to the fact that we are all in the same boat. 

Paddling needs to be a team effort or we are all going to drown together.

- Additional Thoughts -

We all know there are fringe elements everywhere and constant media attention to what the majority would consider bizarre is only making more of them crawl out of the woodwork.  What makes this scenario more dismal is the snake-oil salesmen that are taking this opportunity to make millions of dollars at the expense of people's fears.

Very few understand the connection between the Fox empire and Saudi Arabia.  Very few understand that every time they purchase magazines their money builds Dubai.  Very few understand who is signing the paychecks for the Glenn Becks, Rush Limbaugh, Sarah Palin and O'Reileys of this world.

In the blindness that is fear, they neglect to ask the pertinent questions of those seeking office.  No one has yet asked a governor or senator seeking re-election why they want a job, paycheck, perks, staff, health care and retirement from the government when they claim the government is our enemy.  Are they not the enemy as well?

If they hate it so much, why are they spending millions of dollars to get elected to a government position?  Do they seek to destroy the government?  If so, they should not be elected.

After all, if we stop to think instead of feeling rage, we may realize that what they are saying needs to be destroyed is US, because WE are the government.  Each and everyone of us.

The government is not some ethereal location like Shangri-La, but a representation of our collective humanity that is ever inching closer thanks to the marvel of scientific discoveries and its applications.

If we can't paddle together, Perhaps it is time to get on the bus towards our collective future and leave behind those who are filled with hatred and fear.  They will eventually realize that things got better and so did their lives, even if they feel like grumbling, at least they won't be shouting. 

Frankly, we can't wait any more.  The entertainment value of the current circus is not worth the price of admission.

May tomorrow bring you and yours the PEACE we all crave.

Olivia Emisar.

Monday, September 13, 2010

What To Do If You Win The Lottery

There have been several shows made on lottery winners and the disastrous results of people indulging their every fantasy without planning for the future. It is a sad statement that people who have never lived beyond their means start behaving as if the entire world was up for grabs and the money supply will never end.

The odds of winning the lottery are minute, but when people win, they win such large sums of money that it seems inconceivable to them that they will ever end up in worse financial shape than before they won... Read More

Natural Remedies for Bed Bugs

There are many types of bed bugs and the type of pesticides used to getting rid of them is dependent on the type of species found in the household. While most people will panic and call an exterminator, there are some natural remedies that are non-toxic and will eliminate current infestations while preventing new ones. However, be aware that a severe infestation may be beyond any natural remedy and pesticides may be necessary to rid a home that has been infected beyond the capabilities of natural methods.

Getting rid of a bed bug infestation requires disinfecting the whole room, not just the bed....  Read the rest of the article here

image credit: By Charlysays (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Healthy Foods You Can Save On At Costco

Costco sells a lot of different products but have not skimped on product selection when it comes to organic and healthier fare than the typically pre-packaged convenience foods. There are some products that are typically less expensive than going to a health food market.


100% Organic Quinoa – A nutrient rich grain that is fairly recent to the United States but that is gluten free and a complete protein, making it an ideal food for those cutting out meats or sticking to a vegetarian or vegan diet. It is grown in the Andes in a sustainable environment and a 4 lb bag is less than $10.00. Similarly packaged Quinoa can cost upwards of $30.00...

How To Recession Proof Your Marriage

The most successful marriages are all around us. Taking a few pages from their shared history will enable any marriage to successful maneuver the inevitable life adversities, including the country’s financial recession.

- Communication –

At this point in time, there is no place for games. This is the time when men and women discuss their financial concerns and current situation openly and without casting blame. The process involves establishing the facts clearly, listening to each other’s concerns, and addressing each issue with a plan of action that both partners are willing to follow through...

Friday, September 10, 2010

Tips For Women: How To Leave An Abusive Relationship

One call can save your life and provide you with a safe house in your area. Memorize the phone number to the National Domestic Violence Hotline (800) 799-SAFE (7233).

Steps to get out

Get a mail box at a commercial location and do not make a change of address with the post office because your new address is very easy to find.

Instead, establish your address in the town or city you are planning to move to with a private outfit. (Boxes, Etc for instance)...

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Personal Stuff

Today was a rough day filled with economic issues and resolutions.  Bad news on the health front of a couple of friends whose spouses are unlikely to recover and the usual "stuff" that percolates into every day life (just like everyone else in the planet).

Writers Block... or simmering...

A character is having a difficult time adjusting to paranormal experience and accepting the role that must be played.  Simmering on this front, we have moved on to the other characters who are more fascinated than horrified.  One wonders how a real person would react to realizing that there is no escape from discovering facts they could never reveal to another soul.  ... simmering....

USA News that I found disturbing:

Some guy who was kicked out of Germany set up shop in Florida and decided to use 9/11 to burn a holy book.  The media goes nuts. The General explains why this is a bad idea and would harm the troops. The talk radio can't stop talking.  Some spew hatred and venom while others worry about the safety of Christian Missionaries overseas.  Guy receives a sign from his God and packs up his bags to visit New York on 9/11.  Burning averted.  Everyone goes nuts.

My thoughts:  One man can incite violence and hatred around the world, but millions of people can't foster love and acceptance? 

This is disturbing at some many levels that even as a writer I find it difficult to find the correct words to express a multitude of feelings that range from surprise, to rage, to exhaustion.

Perhaps comic relief is the way to go on days such as this.  Anyone watch John Steward? The skit on Supreme Court Justices from Rhode Island was pretty funny.

Have a great night and more than ever, I wish you PEACE-Olivia

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Musings of a writer

Some days I wish I had not been such a hard-headed mule and listened to those who said "forget about being a writer, it will never pay off" and found a passion in Wall-Street investments instead. Unfortunately, the blood through my veins is thick with ink (from those decades ago when computers were only found in secret government buildings) and writing I must do.

Perhaps it is easier to put thoughts on paper than in words because the only interruptions are the voices in my head.

Let me assure you that I have no valid diagnosis to cement any suspicions that may have crept up into your grey matter. By way of explanation, the voices in my head are the characters in almost finished novels begging me to finish up what started out as a very promising life (for them, of course).

Torturing the characters is not part of the agenda, even though sometimes, they require a little simmering before it is decided what route they will take. No, my friend, the problem is me and my inopportune life that requires time and attention.

Family has a way of grounding the restless soul and redirecting imagination into practical thinking.

(What a bore!) Practical thinking and concrete solutions to pressing problems seem to take precedence over creative writing every day.

Cramping my style upsets the charachters who languish in agony over their half-finished lives.

On the other hand, creative thinking can instill a sense of pride on being a trend setter by wearing different color socks. (laundry is never ending and you know what happens when a pair of socks is placed in the dryer).

One could even venture that we really don't need to eat every day, or even several times a day.

Perhaps they could extend the school day, or maybe, just maybe, we were wrong about this 24 hour thing and in reality I don't sneak out to write until 3:00 a.m.

Perhaps this is enough information for now. I hope to see you tomorrow.