May 2011 - Susman
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The Evolution of Assisted Living/Residential Care

Pioneering institutions across the country are emphasizing the “living” in assisted living/residential care facilities and focusing on personalized accommodations and services as they pursue the goal of greater client satisfaction. Common assisted living/residential care services may include such amenities as 24-hour emergency response services, three daily meals, personal care, transportation, housekeeping, and laundry services. However, an increasing number of assisted living/residential care facilities also aim to provide seniors with a living situation that caters to their active lifestyles. Adopting the motto “no two people are exactly alike,” they are offering an ever-increasing variety of choices in accommodations, activities, and personalized services.

Residential Options

Although assisted living/residential care facilities originated in private organization-based homes, today, the emergence of chain companies allows clients to choose a facility from a range of locations while being offered a consistent level of service. These facilities offer prospective residents the choice of buying or renting apartments or villas, with extra options of reserving guest suites and seasonal rentals. In addition, clients may select the type and size of accommodation—some offer spacious layouts that may include two bedrooms, two bathrooms, living room, dining room, den, and deck.

Diverse Services

Apart from the individualized choice of residence, assisted living/residential care communities are focusing on independence and freedom by offering a diverse roster of activities and services. Residents are encouraged to remain physically active through swimming, yoga, and other fitness classes, and they are also offered a range of educational programs that may include courses in computers, investing, nutrition, or bird watching. Entertainment is often provided on-site with movies, concerts, and even concierge services.

In terms of health care, many facilities offer assistance with daily activities, as required, in order to enhance independence as much as possible. The resident can choose the level of care that he or she may need, with the option of adding more services. An increasing number of institutions embrace the concept of “aging in place,” providing additional medical services as the client ages and requires. As an example, basic help with medications and dressing are common services; however, if the client discovers he or she needs more skilled and personalized attention due to a medical condition, he or she may have the option of moving to the nursing wing of the residence. Some facilities even offer medical and check-in services through “at home” assisted living/residential care.

Today’s seniors are more active and healthier than ever before. As our population ages, the need and desire for more personalized services will increase. Changes in assisted living/residential care facilities that promote an active and independent lifestyle are a positive indicator of the future of senior health care.

Copies of Choosing An Assisted Living Facility is one of a series of Since You Care guides for caregivers produced by the MetLife Mature Market Institute in cooperation with the National Alliance for Caregiving. Single copies are available free to the public.

Copyright © 2010 Liberty Publishing, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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This article appears courtesy of Karl Susman. Karl Susman is a representative of the New England Life Insurance Company. He focuses on meeting the individual insurance and financial services needs of people on the West Coast. You can reach Karl at the office at (424) 785-4337. New England Life Insurance Company, 501 Boylston Street, Boston, MA 02116

Dealing with Debt

Most everyone has, at some point in their lives, accumulated personal debt—some more than others. Whether debt is a cause for concern depends upon a number of factors, including how the economy is functioning, your particular earning and economic prospects for the short and long term, and the type of debt you incur. By being conscious of your spending habits, including credit card use and large purchase habits, you can better understand ways to control debt—before it starts to control you.

To gain a perspective on personal debt, it is useful to distinguish between healthy and unhealthy debt. Healthy debt refers to borrowing in order to purchase assets that are likely to appreciate in value, such as a home or business. Healthy debt is especially worthwhile to assume if you are able to itemize certain repayments (e.g., home mortgage interest) on your tax return and, as a result, qualify for certain tax deductions.

Unhealthy debt, on the other hand, refers to borrowing in order to purchase consumables or assets that are likely to depreciate in value, such as a vacation or an automobile. Unhealthy debt has taken an even more negative turn since the government stopped allowing tax deductions for most consumer debts, such as personal loans and credit cards.

Debt Management Basics

For most people, managing debt effectively is a learned skill. The following pointers may help you get your debt under control:

Categorize debts. To gain control of personal debt, you might start by developing an overall picture of your current debt situation. Debts should be categorized as healthy or unhealthy. Then, they should be scheduled according to whether they are short-term (e.g., credit cards), intermediate-term (e.g., auto loans), or long-term (e.g., mortgages and home equity lines of credit). The interest rate for each type of debt should be noted.

Pay off the “right” debt first. It usually makes the most sense to pay off high interest rate debt first, especially if the interest is not tax deductible (e.g., credit cards). Ideally, you should have enough in savings to pay off short-term debt, if needed. Because credit cards are typically used to purchase consumables, rather than assets that appreciate, they can easily tempt consumers to live beyond their means. Thus, it is best to develop the habit of paying off this type of debt on a monthly basis.

Avoid the minimum payment trap. Interest that accumulates by stretching out payments can make even a “bargain” costly in the long run. To understand the impact of making only minimum monthly payments, you may want to ask your credit card company how long it would take to pay off your current balance at that rate, and how much total interest you will ultimately pay. This information prompts many individuals to adopt a “pay-as-they-go” strategy.

Curb impulse spending. If you are prone to impulse spending, you may find it best to avoid shopping when you don’t have a specific purpose in mind. Or, you could try to delay impulse purchases for 24 hours. Once you have had a chance to “sleep on it,” you may discover the impulse has passed.

Benefits in Good Times and Bad

If you are like many people, spending may not be based solely on financial considerations. Emotional factors may sometimes cause confusion between what you think you need, and what you actually do need. Still, the reality of living in the twenty-first century may leave you with little choice but to amass at least some debt. However, with discipline and planned spending, you can most likely manage your debt and live within your means.

Pursuant to IRS Circular 230, MetLife is providing you with the following notification: The information contained in this article is not intended to (and cannot) be used by anyone to avoid IRS penalties. This article does not support the promotion and marketing of any particular product. You should seek advice based on your particular circumstances from an independent tax advisor.

MetLife [New England Financial] representatives do not provide tax or legal advice. Please consult your tax advisor or attorney for such guidance.

Copyright © 2010 Liberty Publishing, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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This article appears courtesy of Karl Susman. Karl Susman is a representative of the New England Life Insurance Company. He focuses on meeting the individual insurance and financial services needs of people on the West Coast. You can reach Karl at the office at (424) 785-4337. New England Life Insurance Company, 501 Boylston Street, Boston, MA 02116

Disability Income Protection—Are Your Bases Covered?

Like most people, you may have life insurance to help protect your family against the financial impact of your unexpected death. You may also insure your home, car, and other personal possessions against financial loss resulting from fire, theft, or damage. However, you may have overlooked insuring one of the more important aspects of your financial life—the ability to earn an income.

Thinking the Unthinkable

Have you ever contemplated how long the combined resources of you and your spouse might last if you were suddenly out of work due to a disability? What long-term impact would exhausting your savings during a disability have on your ability to provide for your family and even yourself during your retirement years? If those resources provide less than your monthly expenses, including taxes and regular savings, or if exhausting them would significantly impact your ability to provide for yourself and your family on a long-term basis, you may need disability income insurance. Whether you need an individually owned policy depends on the extent of your liquid assets, your spouse’s income, and other potential sources of disability income, such as employer-sponsored group disability insurance, Social Security, and veterans or union benefits.

Depending on your income and the risk level of your occupation, the maximum coverage you can buy will generally replace 45% to 75% of your pre-disability earnings. The higher your income, the lower the percentage of replacement benefit may be. Typically, premiums will depend on your age, your health, the risk level of your occupation, and the type of coverage.

Examine Policy Provisions

To make sure your disability income insurance offers the protection that you and your family need, your policy should include the following:

  • A definition of total disability that is consistent with the risk of your occupation. You may also want to look for a policy that pays some benefits in the event you are not totally disabled, but you suffer a “loss of income” due to a disability. Often these provisions are called partial or residual disability provisions.
  • A non-cancelable clause that states the insurance company cannot cancel the policy or increase the premium until a certain age (as specified in the policy).
  • Benefits that are payable for the maximum amount of time for which you are eligible based on your occupation and health. Most often, you can find policies that provide benefit eligibility for two years, five years, or all the way until you reach age 65, or even payments beyond 65 for the rest of your life.
  • A waiting period that is consistent with your overall financial resources. The waiting period is the amount of time you must be disabled before becoming eligible for disability benefits. The longer the waiting period you choose, the lower the premium on your policy will be. Typically, you may purchase coverage that provides eligibility for benefits after 30 days of disability or for as long as after two years of disability.

Act Now

Now is the time to investigate the relative benefits and costs of disability income insurance to determine how much you need to spend to attain adequate protection. In addition, it is important to review the particular details and provisions of the policy you are considering with a qualified professional to help ensure your financial needs will be met.

Copyright ã 2010 Liberty Publishing, Inc. All rights reserved.

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This article appears courtesy of Karl Susman. Karl Susman is a representative of the New England Life Insurance Company. He focuses on meeting the individual insurance and financial services needs of people on the West Coast. You can reach Karl at the office at (424) 785-4337. New England Life Insurance Company, 501 Boylston Street, Boston, MA 02116

In the Spotlight: Disability Statistics

How secure will Social Security help you be if you are unable to work? It is emotionally difficult to prepare for the possibility that you may suffer a disability as a result of an accident or illness, but it is financially imperative to plan. Your quality of life tomorrow may depend on your efforts today.

The Latest Figures

The Social Security Administration (SSA, 2010) estimates that three in ten of today’s 20-year-olds will suffer a disability before reaching age 67.1 In another sobering statistic, the SSA reports that 69% of the private sector workforce has no long-term disability insurance.2 Essentially, seven out of ten workers would have to rely on their own personal savings, limited state-run insurance, and Social Security for replacement income in the event they could not work because of a disability. In 2009, the estimated average monthly Social Security benefit for all disabled workers was $1,006.3 Over the course of a year, that totals approximately $12,072, and for many workers and their families, that is significantly less than their annual expenses.

Men vs. Women

Throughout history, men have generally earned more than women. The SSA reports (2010) that as of the year 2007, the average salary for women was 78% of the average for men.4 This disparity affects women in two ways. Because disability benefits are based on earnings, the benefits for disabled male workers are typically higher than those of disabled female workers. However, the spousal benefit for widows is generally higher than that of widowers for the same reason—the median income of men is higher than that of women. These demographic trends are important to consider for families planning their financial security.

Supplemental Income Sources

In addition to Social Security and personal savings, there are additional options for workers and their families. Personal disability income insurance is a viable option for workers looking to manage the risk of losing their income. It offers coverage beyond workers compensation, which is state-run insurance that replaces a percentage of an employee’s income only for injuries that occur on the job or illnesses that are work-related.

Disability income insurance policies vary, but here are some key questions to ask:

  • Are you covered for both accidents and illness?
  • Does the policy define disability as the inability to perform your own job or any gainful employment?
  • How long must you wait before benefits begin?
  • How long will benefits last?
  • Does the policy offer cost-of-living adjustments?
  • Are benefits available for total and/or partial disability?
  • What percentage of income will the policy replace?

Disability income insurance policies contain, exclusions, limitations, reductions of benefits and terms for keeping them in force.  Speak with your representative for costs and complete details.

If you lack insurance against disability, or are underinsured, you are possibly exposing yourself to serious financial risk. Avoid becoming another statistic—plan your future today.

1The Social Security Administration, “Social Security Protection If You Become Disabled,”

2The Social Security Administration, “Social Security Basic Facts,”

3The Social Security Administration, “2009 Social Security Changes,”

4The Social Security Administration, “Social Security Is Important to Women,”

Copyright ã 2010 Liberty Publishing, Inc. All rights reserved.

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This article appears courtesy of Karl Susman. Karl Susman is a representative of the New England Life Insurance Company. He focuses on meeting the individual insurance and financial services needs of people on the West Coast. You can reach Karl at the office at (424) 785-4337. New England Life Insurance Company, 501 Boylston Street, Boston, MA 02116