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Member Benefits E-Direct

Fall 2014

Issue Issue 12 11

Cutting the financial apron strings for your child

Inside this issue: Protecting the Disabled Beneficiary .........pg 6 Home Buying Regrets to Avoid ..... ...........pg 8 Selecting a Pet Insurance Provider...........pg 9 Member Appreciation Month ..................pg 10

800 Troy-Schenectady Road Latham, NY 12110 800-626-8101 M-F 9:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. (EST) memberbenefits.nysut.org

NYSUT Member Benefits Trust NYSUT Member Benefits Corporation ŠCopyright 2014


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Table of Contents

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From the Director...................................................................................................... 3 Director Lynette Metz provides an update on new endorsed programs along with changes to existing programs.

Cutting the financial apron strings for your child ................................................. 4 Are you a boomer parent that is reluctant to cut the financial apron strings for your child?

Protecting the disabled beneficiary ............................................................................ 6 Parents always worry that their children are happy, healthy and independent, but these concerns can be amplified for parents of disabled children.

5 home buying regrets to avoid ................................................................................... 8 A recent survey found that one in four American homeowners wouldn’t buy their home again if they had a second chance.

Picking the right pet insurance provider .................................................................. 9 Pet insurance allows you to make crucial decisions regarding your pet’s health without having to worry about the cost of treatment.

Member Appreciation Month is coming! ................................................................. 10 Member Benefits will be offering a series of special prize drawings every day of the month in February 2015.

Member Benefits E-Direct is a quarterly publication produced by NYSUT Member Benefits designed to educate NYSUT members about a variety of topics and issues of importance to them and their families. The goal of this e-newsletter is to serve as an educational and informative piece that helps our hard-working members to make better informed decisions in their lives. For information about any of our programs or about contractual endorsement arrangements with providers of endorsed programs, please contact NYSUT Member Benefits at 800-626-8101 or visit memberbenefits.nysut.org. Agency fee payers to NYSUT are eligible to participate in NYSUT Member Benefits-endorsed programs.


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From the Director With Thanksgiving and the holidays right around the corner, you’re likely getting a lot of fall clean-up done before the arrival of winter. And while you’re doing that, now is a great time to check out the vast array of endorsed programs & services offered by NYSUT Member Benefits to help save you a little money. Whether you’re looking to purchase a new computer or appliance for yourself or someone else, seeking interest-free purchasing opportunities or looking for discounts on trips to Disney World and other destinations, we can help! Or maybe you’re looking to improve the value of your home while reducing your utility bill? The newly endorsed Solar Solidarity Program from American Solar Partners offers NYSUT members the opportunity to do just that by installing a solar power system. And NYSUT members can own a solar power system with virtually no money out of pocket; state & federal grants along with tax credits normally cover about two-thirds of the cost of a system and the balance can be financed with a low-interest loan. In other endorsed program updates, the Member Shopping Program powered by PayCheck Direct recently announced a change to its purchasing policy. All eligible NYSUT

members can now make multiple purchases during the year as long as they do not exceed their purchasing limit. If you’re on the hunt for a new vehicle, why not check out the Buyer’s Edge, Inc. Auto Buying Service? NYSUT members receive “guaranteed savings” with this program and have saved an average of $3,221 off the manufacturer’s suggested retail price on new vehicles. Finally, there have been some important changes to the Member Benefits Trust-endorsed Legal Service Plan, effective September 1, 2014. Current Legal Service Plan participants no longer need to purchase the Elder Law Rider to get the Legal Security Packet (Will, Health Care Proxy & Living Will) for a spouse or domestic partner. The Power of Attorney document -- which used to be included in the Legal Security Packet -will remain free to participants; however, spouses or domestic partners of plan participants and individuals covered under the Elder Law Rider will pay an additional charge directly to Feldman, Kramer & Monaco (the program provider) for this service. More information about the changes to the plan can be found in the “For Your Information” section of the Member Benefits homepage. And as always, we encourage you to visit our site at memberbenefits.nysut.org to learn more about these endorsed programs & services along with information about all of our other offerings as well. You can also call us with any questions at 800-626-8101.

-- Lynette A. Metz Director, NYSUT Member Benefits Trust CEO, NYSUT Member Benefits Corporation

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Cutting the financial apron strings for your child he Baby Boomer generation is setting yet another milestone. No other Tgeneration in history has spent so much money on its children – grown

children, that is! Credit counselors are reporting that more and more boomer parents are still financially assisting their adult children.

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An Ameriprise Financial study found that Your empty nest has become full two-thirds of parents assist their children again – If you’re permitting your 30with college loan payments and more than year-old son to move back home, half helped their child purchase a new decide on the terms. Is it only until he vehicle. And even saves a specific more surprising, amount of money, Type of financial support parents are giving... one-third of those pays off his debts, surveyed assist finds employment, their adult children or reaches another with routine living benchmark? expenses! And with the holidays on the horizon and the potential for an even greater need for financial assistance, it’s time to carefully consider whether you’re really helping your children or if you’re actually doing them a disservice. Are you a boomer parent that is reluctant to cut the financial apron strings for your child? Ask yourself if you’re guilty of the following:

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You’re sacrificing your own needs... even when you shouldn’t be – Before you offer to bail out your grown-up children, consider your own situation. Determine whether allowing your children to remain financially dependent on you may ultimately jeopardize your own financial well-being.

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You’re ALWAYS there when your child needs you – Is this a one-time offer of financial support during a particularly trying period for your child? Or are you encouraging your adult child to perpetuate an irresponsible “adolescent” lifestyle?

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You’ve become an open-ended checkbook for your kids – If you decide to help a child pay Consequences of down debt, draft a parents giving formal agreement that defines the financial support loan terms and sets a repayment schedule.

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You have a hard time saying “no” – Although it can be difficult as a parent National Endowment for Financial Education 2011 to feel like you’re depriving your children of something they want or need, it’s important for them to forge their own path in life. Don’t be afraid to say “no” to your kids if your own financial well-being could be affected.

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You tend to favor one child over another – If you have multiple children, consider the “equal treatment” argument. Your other children

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are bound to raise this issue. If you decide to bail out one child or permit one child to “boomerang” back home for a while, be prepared to field similar requests from their siblings. Remember: Your main goal should be to provide your adult children with the tools necessary to become financially independent and empower them to manage their own income and expenses.

Special Tip: Beware of the “grandparent scam” -- Senior citizens are victimized by financial scams to the tune of approximately $3 billion each year. Oftentimes, the victim will receive a phone call or email from someone claiming to be their grandchild; the scammer says he or she is in great distress and in desperate need of money. Don’t be blindsided by this scam. If you get a phone call or email like this and something doesn’t feel right, trust your instincts and don’t send any money!

If you’re unable to have a fruitful discussion with your adult child about finances, encourage your son or daughter to consult a professional. Member Benefits has an endorsed relationship with ClearPoint Credit Counseling Solutions that provides a variety of opportunities to educate your adult children about budget and financial issues. In addition, the Member Benefits-endorsed Financial Counseling Program – provided by Stacey Braun Associates, Inc. – offers unbiased, objective advice customized to your specific financial situation. To learn more about either of these endorsed programs, call 800-626-8101 or visit memberbenefits.nysut.org. Special thanks to ClearPoint Credit Counseling Solutions for providing the content for this article.

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Protecting the disabled beneficiary By Candace Dellacona, Esq.

Since the beginning of time, parents have always worried about whether their children are happy, healthy and independent. This worry can be greatly amplified, though, when it comes to parents of a disabled child. Depending on the disability, many parents recognize that their child may have financial, educational and emotional needs that exceed those of most children. Some disabilities even require the assistance of government agencies for proper care, treatment and financial assistance. The concern arises when parents face the reality that one day they will likely become elderly or infirmed and eventually pass away. The question that keeps many parents awake at night is: How will my child navigate this system and continue to qualify for government benefits without his or her family’s resources?

New York State The good news is that New York state makes it possible for loved ones to leave assets to a disabled child or disabled adult in a trust that will not negatively impact his or her government benefits. The most common of these trusts are referred to as Supplemental Needs Trusts (SNTs); these can be established by a disabled person with his or her own funds, or by a parent, grandparent, loved one of the disabled person, or the court system.

In order to determine who should establish the trust, the first question is:

Who is the true owner of the assets? Are the assets owned by the disabled individual via a medical malpractice settlement or an inheritance?

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If so, the Trust established is referred to as “self-settled”; these trusts are often referred to “Special Needs Trusts.” The purpose of the SNT in this case is to protect the funds in the trust for the use of a disabled person, and pay for additional living expenses that government benefits do not cover – while allowing the disabled individual to continue to receive his or her government benefits. One of the negative features of self-settled SNTs is they are required to state that if there are assets left in the trust after the disabled individual dies, the government agencies that provided care during his or her life will be reimbursed. This requirement is commonly referred to as a “payback provision.” In addition, it should be noted that any self-settled SNTs must be established before the disabled person reaches 65 years old. SNTs can be an integral part of any family’s estate plan when it comes to ensuring the security of a disabled loved one. If you have a disabled child or loved one whom you wish to consider in your estate plan, it’s important to speak with a disability planning or elder law attorney to ensure the SNT is drafted with care and by a professional with a keen understanding of public benefits. For an annual fee, the Member Benefitsendorsed Legal Service Plan can offer legal expertise on a variety of personal legal matters ranging from drafting these types of trusts to dealing with speeding tickets. For more information about this program, please call 800-626-8101 or visit memberbenefits.nysut.org. Special thanks to the Legal Service Plan’s Preventive Law Guide for providing the content for this article.

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home buying regrets to avoid

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fter looking at literally dozens of homes, you finally found one that your family could agree upon and decided to make an offer. Sure, the 50-year-old home still had its original windows along with a furnace from the turn of the century – the 20th century! Minor issues, you thought to yourself.

Two months after moving into the home, you realized these so-called “minor issues” were not so insignificant after all. Now you’re fed up and you want out! You’re not alone... buyer’s remorse seems to be a common issue these days. A recent survey by the online home-buying site Redfin found that one in four American homeowners say they wouldn’t buy their homes again if they had a second chance.

Avoid joining the 25% of buyers who regret purchasing their home. Check out the following common regrets people have after moving into a new home: Regret #1: Failing to account for maintenance & repair costs – Buyer regrets are often financially-based. According to MSN Real Estate, many people overlook costly maintenance and repair projects such as faulty roofs or heating & cooling systems that quickly do a number on your finances.

Regret #2: Buying before you’re ready – Owning a home is an important part of the traditional American dream and far more attractive than paying rent each month. That said, if you rush into buying but aren’t financially equipped to handle the new expenses, you could experience major buyer’s remorse.

Regret #3: Forgetting to complete a secondary inspection – Before completing a purchase, a required inspection should ensure that nothing is seriously wrong with your future

home. However, it’s a good idea to also have a second inspection conducted to make sure everything checks out. Failure to complete this step can lead to costly repairs after you move in.

Regret #4: Buying a home that is too small – A home is an investment in your future, so it’s important to consider what your life will look like in five or 10 years. It doesn’t make sense to purchase a home that you’ll have to move out of if you have children, so make sure there’s enough living space for a growing family. Regret #5: Not checking out the neighborhood & surrounding areas – It’s not enough to just check out the home you plan on purchasing. Talk to your potential neighbors to find out what they like and don’t like about the area. And ask yourself whether you would still like the home if you didn’t like the neighbors so much!

Don’t forget that you’re going to need homeowners insurance for your new purchase. If you have questions about your current homeowners insurance policy or would like to learn more about our endorsed MetLife Auto & Home program, please call MetLife toll-free at 866-NYSUT-22 (866-697-8822) or visit the MetLife Auto & Home website. Special thanks to Mercer Consumer for providing the content for this article.

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Picking the right pet insurance provider For many people, pets are more than just animals or birds that simply live in your home. They are crucial members of the family that offer unconditional love and affection to the humans in the home – something that is especially important during the holidays. So wouldn’t you want to take the appropriate measures to protect their health and well-being? Pet insurance allows you to make crucial decisions regarding your pet’s health without having to worry about the cost of treatment. Selecting a pet insurance carrier can be difficult, though. Consider the following questions to help make an educated decision before you purchase a policy: 1. How do you select a company you can trust? – Take the time to find out if the company you’re considering has a proven track record, including how long it has been in business and how many current policyholders it has. Ask what rating the company has received as those with an A+ or A++ rating are considered superior. 2. Is your veterinarian familiar with the company? – During your pet’s next visit to the vet, ask your veterinarian if he or she has heard of the company you’re considering for your pet.

3. Does the company allow you to visit any licensed veterinarian? – Find out whether the company limits policyholders to a network of veterinarians and requires pre-authorization, or if you have the freedom to visit any licensed veterinarian in the world. 5. How are benefits determined? – Benefits are reimbursed veterinary expenses that the company covers under its policies. Find out if the company supplies a list outlining available reimbursements for specific conditions and treatments that are easy to understand. 6. What isn’t covered under a policy? – In order to keep policy premiums affordable for all pets, companies typically will not cover pre-existing, congenital or hereditary conditions. Some companies may offer exceptions for pre-existing conditions proven to be cured, while others may offer additional coverage for hereditary conditions.

If you would like to learn more about the Member Benefits-endorsed pet insurance program, please call 800-626-8101 or visit memberbenefits.nysut.org. Special thanks to VPI Pet Insurance for providing the content for this article.

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Member Appreciation Month is coming! NYSUT Member Benefits has designated February 2015 as Member Appreciation Month. NYSUT Member Benefits and our endorsed program providers will be teaming up for a special month-long event this February in celebration of the NYSUT membership and in recognition of all you do to make our union strong. Member Appreciation Month will feature a series of special prize drawings each day of the month. To be eligible for these drawings, you simply need to be a member of our voluntary MAP Alert email service or sign up before January 31, 2015. MAP Alerts are a convenient way to learn about new endorsed programs; updates to current programs; and special offers unique to MAP Alert participants. Prize drawings will be held each day, with the winners announced exclusively on the Member Benefits website throughout the month of February.

For more details about this exciting event and to join our MAP Alert service, visit memberbenefits.nysut.org or call 800-626-8101.

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