Debunking the Most Common Long-Term Disability Insurance Myths

When was the last time you thought about what would happen to your family if you suddenly couldn’t work? If you have to think about it, then chances are, it’s been a while.

The simple truth is that one out of every four workers will be diagnosed with a long-term disability before they reach the age of retirement. But despite this startling statistic, many still feel like long-term disability insurance is coverage they can live without.

Myth #1: “I have enough protection through Workers’ Comp and Social Security.”

According to the Council for Disability Awareness, only approximately five percent of accidents or illnesses are workplace-related meaning that the other ninety-five percent will not be covered under workers’ comp.

When seeking to collect social security disability benefits, you may be in for a wait of anywhere from three to five months for an initial decision to be made regarding your case. If like 66 percent of applicants, your application is denied, you have the option to appeal, but in 2017 the backlog of appeals cases hit over one million with an average processing time of over fifteen months, according to research conducted by Allsup.

Can your family really afford to wait for benefits when you need help?

Myth #2: “I’ll still have to fight for a payout in the event of a long-term disability diagnosis.”

We’ve all heard stories about people struggling to receive payout benefits from their insurance company. However, not all of these cases are related to long-term disability insurance and those that are, are very rare.

Upon enrolling, all of your benefits and circumstances surrounding a potential payout are laid out in front of you. If you aren’t going to receive the amount of coverage you are looking for, then it may be worth looking into other options.

Myth #3: “I can’t receive long-term disability insurance because I’m a government employee.”

If you are a government employee enrolled in a Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS) plan, you are still able to apply for long-term disability benefits. According to the Council for Disability Awareness, “While you can buy private supplemental long-term disability insurance in addition to having FERS benefits, you may not get as much coverage as you expected.”

Getting the Coverage You Can Count On

Ready to make sure your family’s financial future is secured in the event you are diagnosed with a long-term disability? To learn more about long-term disability insurance, please visit the info page.

The 3 Most Important Reasons to Invest in Dental Insurance

Over the last year we’ve spent a lot of time focusing on staying healthy. We’ve washed our hands to the tune of happy birthday, worn face masks in public, and stayed home instead of going out. But when was the last time we focused on our oral health? Science has shown that problems that begin in our mouths can have an impact on the rest of our bodies.

But aside from daily flossing and brushing, taking care of our teeth and gums can be expensive. Dental insurance can help you cover the cost of keeping your teeth and gums as healthy as possible.

So, what else can dental insurance help you cover?

1) Emergencies

Dental pain is often a double-edged sword. There’s the physical pain – and for those without insurance – the pain of a hollowed-out wallet.

If you find yourself experiencing tooth pain, there’s a chance it is the result of something left unattended for too long and now requires major restorative work.

Most dental insurance plans offer deep savings on major restorative dental work and cover all or most preventative care which can help you avoid dental emergencies in the future.

2) Prevention

The American Dental Association recommends that you visit a dentist at least once a year for an exam and cleaning.

You may not always know what dangers could be just around the corner for you and your pearly whites—but a dentist can. Minor issues can lead to bigger and more costly ones down the road.

But the good news is that costly and painful dental problems can often be avoided with regular visits to a dentist and maintaining an oral hygiene routine at home.

3) Orthodontia Coverage

According to the Pennsylvania Dental Association, roughly 4 million people in the U.S. wear braces. But perfectly straight teeth can come at a hefty price.

The cost of dental braces can range anywhere between $3,000 and $10,000 (not including any other orthodontia services that may be required to help you achieve perfectly straight teeth).

And while not all dental insurance plans cover orthodontia, the ones that do can save you thousands, making you or your children’s path to a great smile a lot less painful.

Keeping Your Smile Bright

Dental insurance can help you and your family maintain your smiles for years to come. Tackle dental emergencies knowing you’re covered, address concerns before they become problems, and prevent future issues while saving on your out-of-pocket costs.

Visit our dental insurance page to see rates, review plan details, and enroll today.

How to Work From Home With Pets

Millions of Americans are having to adjust to working remotely due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition to all the technological changes that has led to, it also means that you and your family have had to adjust to significant changes to your routines—including those involving your pet.

Pet owners should spend 1-2 hours a day with their cat or dog. But when working from home, you can expect that amount of time to increase. It’s important to develop a new sense of normal with your pet, without them expecting your complete attention during working hours.

So, what can you do to make sure you’re still able to be productive while working from home?

Start the Day Off on the Right Paw

When working from home, it may be tempting to sleep in without having to worry about the commute, but that extra time in the morning may be better spent with your pet. Providing food and playtime in the morning will help tire your pet and leave you with more time to work uninterrupted.

Redirect Attention

Have an upcoming call or task that will require your undivided attention and concentration? Be sure to attend to your pet’s needs in advance. Potty breaks, food and water, and toys can help keep your pet distracted and entertained without you (at least for a while).

Practice Positive Reinforcement

Has your coworker been good? Reinforce their good behavior with treats, their favorite toy, or some one-on-one playtime. As with any kind of training, it’s important to reward good behavior and work to improve the bad.

Keeping Your Pet Healthy

As of August 2020, only 20 dogs and cats have been positively diagnosed with COVD-19 in the United States. So while it is possible to pass the virus on to your pet, it appears to be far less contagious to animals than it is to humans.

If your pet ever does get sick, the cost of treatments and medications can put an unnecessary strain on your finances. To help offset these costs, we have teamed up with Nationwide to offer discounts on pet insurance to members. To learn more, or to request a quote, please visit the pet insurance page today.

woman smiling while on her computer

The 2021 COVID-19 Special Enrollment Period: What You Need To Know

On Thursday, January 28, 2021, President Biden announced plans to reopen the federal health insurance markets for a nation-wide Special Enrollment Period. This action is being taken in response to the massive economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic which has resulted in some of the highest unemployment rates in decades.

When does it start, and how long does it last?

The 2021 Special Enrollment Period will begin on February 15 and run through May 15, 2021. Coverage effective dates for those who enroll during this time will begin on the first day of the month following an enrollment date. (For example, an enrollment date of March 4 will have an effective date of April 1.)

Will there be another Open Enrollment Period later this year?

Yes. The annual Open Enrollment Period will run from November 1 through December 15. Individuals who enroll during this time will have a January 1, 2022 coverage effective date.

I enrolled during the Open Enrollment period last year. Will I need to sign up for my plan again?

No. If you are currently enrolled in health insurance coverage, you do not need to enroll again. However, if you are interested in changing your coverage, this is your chance to secure ACA-compliant health insurance outside of the annual Open Enrollment Period. Just keep in mind that if you decide to change your plan, your deductible and out-of-pocket maximum will reset based on your new coverage details.

Is this only available to those impacted by COVID-19?

No. Even though this is being called a 2021 COVID-19 Special Enrollment Period, you do not need to have experienced COVID-19, or even a Qualifying Life Event to enroll in (or change) coverage.

Get Ready to Apply

To learn more or to begin shopping plans, visit our Health Insurance page or schedule an appointment to speak with a licensed benefits counselor.

5 Ways to Help You Stay Healthy This Holiday Season

The holidays are going to look a lot different this year due to COVID-19.

Every year millions of Americans pile into each other’s homes to celebrate the season with food, family, and football. That urge has never been stronger than this year. With millions of people working from home and many states enacting safer-at-home measures, Americans are feeling the financial, physical, and mental health effects of living in a coronavirus-infected world.

But in addition to practicing social distancing, there are several things you can do to remain healthy while minimizing the risk of contracting and spreading COVID-19 (or any illness).

1) Consult local, state, and federal guidelines and restrictions before traveling.

According to the CDC, “travel increases the chance of getting and spreading the virus that causes COVID-19. Staying home is the best way to protect yourself and others.” And as COVID-19 cases continue to spike throughout the country, many experts are urging Americans to avoid holiday travel.

Many states are imposing new limitations on gathering sizes, extending mask mandates, and even issuing mandatory quarantine periods (or negative COVID-19 test) for people traveling from other states. If you or your loved ones are considering traveling internationally during the holidays, please be sure to make sure the country you are traveling to is granting entry to travelers from your point of origin.

2) Embrace video chat.

Technology can help us feel connected to our loved ones when we can’t be there in person—something that has proven to be essential for so many people this year.

Video calls have skyrocketed in popularity this year professionally and personally. Zoom did its part to bring people together safely by lifting their 40-minute limit on free meetings for Thanksgiving Day this year.

Consider using video chat services or avoiding in-person contact altogether through the holidays if you or a family member are at a high risk of contracting the COVID-19 virus.

3) Do your holiday shopping online.

You may want to consider skipping the check-out lines this year and put your health first by shopping for gifts online.

Traditional brick and mortar stores will still be dangerous areas despite heightened cleaning measures. The CDC has listed “Going shopping in crowded stores just before, on, or after Thanksgiving” as a higher-risk activity.

Due to the anticipated surge of online shoppers this season, many big-name retailers have announced changes to their traditional holiday sales such as online-only sales, online pick-up options, and more.

4) Wear a mask around others.

Studies continue to affirm the effectiveness of wearing a mask in helping to prevent the spread of COVID-19. And both local and federal government branches have cited the importance of wearing a mask when around other people who do not live in your home. So if you find yourself going out in public or spending time with friends and family, consider wearing a mask to protect yourself and others.

5) Find the right health insurance coverage.

Modern medicine has yet to fully discover the long-term effects of COVID-19 but there are many health conditions scientists can already link to the virus.

According to the Mayo Clinic, “COVID-19 symptoms can sometimes persist for months. The virus can damage the lungs, heart and brain, which increases the risk of long-term health problems.”

Having health insurance coverage for you and your family can help cover the cost of both major and preventative medical care – and now is the best time to get coverage. The annual individual health Open Enrollment period began on November 1 and runs through December 15.

This is the only time of year to enroll in ACA-compliant health coverage unless you experience a Qualifying Life Event.

For more information on health insurance or to start shopping available plans, visit the individual health insurance page today.

Smiling female entrepreneur sitting at home talking on her cellphone

How We Help Members Through the Individual Health Insurance Open Enrollment Process

Shopping for something as important as health coverage can feel overwhelming—especially if you’re looking for a plan to help protect your whole family.

With the health insurance landscape changing every year, we know that it can be difficult to stay on top of which carriers and plans are available, so we do all that for you.

Tap Into Our Knowledgebase

By scheduling a 15-minute appointment with one of our licensed benefit counselors you’ll gain access to experts with vast industry insight—who are have studied state regulatory changes and are familiar with the latest available coverage options. Our counselors take the time to get to know your needs, concerns, and budget, to help find you the right plan, not just any plan.

Preparing for Your Appointment

After scheduling your appointment, you’ll want to gather the following information:

  • The basics: your address, phone number, date of birth, SSN, household size, income level
  • Plan and premium details for any employer-based plan available to you or your household
  • List of current medications
  • Name and zip code of the current healthcare providers that you’d like to continue using
  • Payment information

Having this information ready when your counselor calls will help them efficiently guide you toward the best coverage for your needs.

Taking the Next Step

This year’s Open Enrollment period is November 1 – December 15. If you enroll in an ACA-compliant health insurance plan during this period, the effective date will be January 1, 2021. This is the only time of year to receive ACA-compliant health insurance coverage, unless you were to experience a qualifying life event.

If you’re ready to see what the 2021 individual health insurance marketplace has to offer, we recommend scheduling an appointment with a licensed benefit counselor now. (Appointment availability becomes more limited beginning in the second half of November.)

For more information or to start shopping plans, visit the individual health insurance page today.

man diagnosed with long term disability contemplating future

5 Most Common Long-Term Disability Claims

According to the Council for Disability Awareness, it is estimated that one out of every four Americans will find themselves diagnosed with a disability prior to retiring at the age of 65. Additional studies show that less than half of individuals and families have enough money saved to sustain their living expenses for even one month before feeling the financial strain— illustrating that a long-term disability diagnosis can not just be devastating for the individual but also financially devastating for their entire family.

In short, no one plans to become disabled. And yet, it can happen to anyone at any time and the chances of it happening only increase with age, lifestyle choices, and even the type of work we do on a daily basis.

Popular Long-Term Disability Claims

But while the majority of people may imagine someone who struggles with a long-term disability as wheelchair bound, the fact of the matter is that long-term disabilities can manifest in a host of different ways— some visible, some not.

Below are the top five long-term disability diagnosis types by category according to our own research and the CDA’s 2013 Long-Term Disability Claims Review:

  1. Musculoskeletal/Connective Tissue Disorders and Conditions

According to the CDA’s 2013 Long-Term Disability Claims Review, nearly one-third of all long-term disability claims are due to musculoskeletal and connective tissue disorders. These are best described as issues related to neck and joint pain as well as back and neck issues; muscle and tendon problems; foot, ankle and hand disorders as well.

More specifically, the following are among the most commonly diagnosed musculoskeletal and connective tissue disorders and conditions:

  • back pain
  • degenerated disk
  • arthritis
  • osteoporosis
  • rheumatism
  1. Nervous System-Related Disorders and Conditions

Most nervous system disorders are common and can be helped or managed with treatments such as physical therapy and/or medication. Nevertheless, with some being generative, working full-time or even part-time can prove extremely difficult.

Below are a few common nervous system related disorders:

  • Multiple Sclerosis (MS)
  • Alzheimer’s Disease
  • Parkinson’s Disease
  • Epilepsy and Seizures
  • Shingles
  1. Cardiovascular/Circulatory Disorders and Conditions

According to the American College of Cardiology (ACC), it is estimated that an average of one person dies every 40 seconds in America due to cardiovascular disease. But for those individuals who experience cardiovascular issues and require surgeries and rehabilitation services, the time spent recovering can have a serious impact on their livelihood— limiting them from earning a paycheck as well as increased difficulties managing day-to-day activities.

  1. Cancer and Tumors

Studies estimate that 41% of men and 38% of women will develop some form of cancer within their lifetime. And while hereditary factors and lifestyle choices can play a part in determining one’s risk factor, there is no fool-proof way of determining if or when you will be diagnosed with cancer.

If a cancer diagnosis or tumor does occur treatments such as chemotherapy, radiation, and surgeries can leave your body sick, exhausted, and bedridden among other things. During this time, it may be difficult or impossible for you to keep up with your job duties.

  1. Mental Disorders

Depression and anxiety, are among the most common mental disorders that can affect one’s ability to work. Though the systems may not appear physical (though they can), mental disorders are nothing to be brushed off. If you experience lingering or worsening symptoms of depression or other mental disorders for a period of two weeks or more, talking to your doctor may prove helpful.

Most disorders can improve over time with the proper medical attention but leaving them untreated can lead to worsening symptoms that can have an effect on every facet of your life and limit you from living your best life.

Planning For The Future

Just because no one can predict the future, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t still plan for it.

If you wish to receive more information about how you can safeguard your financial future in the event of being diagnosed with a long-term disability, please visit https://amsa.memberbenefits.com/long-term-disability/ to view the complete long-term disability brochure or to download an application.

profile of senior dog

5 Reasons to Adopt a Senior Pet

Every year approximately 3.2 million animals are adopted from shelters in the United States. And while everyone loves how cute puppies and kittens can be, adopters sometimes find that they aren’t able to handle the needs of their pet. When this happens, the animal is often returned to the shelter, or worse — put outside on the street to fend for themselves.

Finding the right pet for you or your family comes down to finding the right fit — which may not always be an energetic and untrained puppy or kitten. In fact, there are many older dogs and cats that have already settled into adulthood, gone through training, and just need a home and a human to call their own.

So what are some of the ways adult and senior dogs and cats differ from their younger selves?

Temperament

Puppies and kittens seem to have two modes: asleep or crazy. But older dogs and cats, who’ve had time to mature, are usually more mellow because everything isn’t shiny and new. The biggest changes to an older cat or dog’s personality may occur in the first few weeks after bringing them home for the first time. Even still, they are unlikely to do a complete personality flip from when you first met them.

If the idea of an energetic pet makes you nervous, a calm, older animal can make a great companion for new pet owners and senior citizens.

Training

Many older dogs who end up at shelters have already had some training and may know some basic commands. They will almost certainly be housebroken and may even be crate trained. Even if your new pet is not trained in all the areas you would like, building on existing training fundamentals is a much easier place to start from.

Exercise

Much like humans, as cats and dogs mature their energy levels tend to decrease resulting in a need for fewer long walks and less playtime. However, they should still be taken outside at regular intervals and played with for extra bonding time. Dog parks are also a great way for your dog to expend some of their excess energy while socializing with other dogs.

Cats, on the other hand, are notoriously independent. Given a proper assortment of toys to choose from (or cat furniture and scratching posts) most will exercise themselves. However, playing with your cat can do every bit as much good for your wellbeing as for theirs. Is your cat acting out? Playtime can also help relieve your cat of aggression they may be showing. Just be sure to put the squeaky and jingly toys away before bed or your cat may decide it’s time to play at 3 am.

Veterinary Care

When adopting a pet from a shelter or rescue you’ll receive a breakdown of the animal’s medical history. Adult and senior animals will almost always be spayed or neutered, whereas some puppies and kittens may be too young for the procedure upon adoption. In cases like these, the surgery will need to be scheduled when they are old enough. Vaccination records, current medications, and general health concerns should also be discussed.

Love

A puppy or kitten will love you no matter what because it has also never known (or has no memory of) a life before you. But the best part of adopting an adult or senior dog is that they have every bit as much love to give you and your family as a puppy or kitten would — maybe even more.

By adopting an older dog or cat, this animal will love you unconditionally because it knows what life is like without you, or worse — what life is like without anyone. Dogs and cats that come from the street spend their lives scrounging for food, dodging cars, and staying away from other more aggressive animals or predators. Being in that constant state of fight or flight, they may need a little time to adjust to their new surroundings and understand that they are safe. Once this happens, there is no limit on their love, loyalty, and gratitude.

Keeping Your Pet Happy and Healthy

Have you recently adopted a pet, or are you considering it? Regardless of a pet’s age, accidents can happen and veterinary bills can be expensive. Members of the AMSA have unique access to a special discount on pet insurance from Nationwide Insurance. To learn more or to request a quote, please visit https://amsa.memberbenefits.com/pet-insurance/ today.

A Smile Has More Power Than You Think

The act of smiling is part of a universal language that everyone understands. When someone cries, they are sad or hurt; when someone laughs, they felt something was funny; and when someone smiles, they are happy or being friendly. No matter where you are in the world, a smile will always be welcomed and understood.

But could smiling have more health benefits we thought?

Health Benefits of Smiling

According to NBC News, “science has shown that the mere act of smiling can lift your mood, lower stress, boost your immune system and possibly even prolong your life.”

Smiling triggers the body to produce serotonin and dopamine resulting in an elevated mood. Not only are these chemicals part of the recipe for happiness, they may also play a part in boosting the immune system.

In one study, participants were separated into two groups, and both exposed to a virus. The first group was exposed to happiness-inducing stimuli and the second group was not. The results of the experiment showed that the group not exposed the happiness-inducing stimuli experienced higher infection rates than the other, leading some scientists to suggest that happiness can have an impact on one’s immune system.

This is just one study of many to suggest a link between those who are unhappy and those with weaker immune systems.

In addition to boosting immune systems, smiling has also been scientifically linked to:

  • lowering heart rate
  • lowering blood pressure
  • longevity

What does your smile say?

Wouldn’t it be nice to smile with confidence? Whether you find yourself in need of costly dental repair or just a good bi-annual cleaning, as a member of the AMSA, you have access to unique savings on dental insurance.

With the Comprehensive PPO Dental Plan you have the freedom to visit any licensed dentist in the country and enjoy an annual max of $1,750. To learn more about the Comprehensive PPO Dental Plan or what other options are available to you as a member of the AMSA, visit https://amsa.memberbenefits.com/dentalvision/ today.

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