Mark Alaimo serves as a Principal at Wealth Management Advisors, LLC and within the Tax Department of Sullivan Bille PC, CPAs. Mark is skilled in providing objecting comprehensive advice in all areas of wealth management to wealthy individuals, families and select qualified plans helping them achieve their goals, piece of mind and most of all enabling to spend their valuable time on their families, passions and pursuits, rather than their finances.
Has your partner ever left you out of a major financial decision, forged your signature on important documents, or created debt in your name? If so, you may be one of the millions of Americans who experience economic abuse.
Economic abuse is a serious, and often overlooked, form of domestic violence, which can leave a partner completely dependent on an abuser to supply basic material needs for economic security. An abuser will control a partner’s finances and prevent him or her from accessing resources, maintaining control of earnings, and gaining financial independence. The abuser may also interfere with a significant other’s work performance or prevent education, job training, and the ability to find and keep a job.
Typically, economic abuse goes hand-in-hand with domestic violence, which is experienced by one in four women in their lifetime, constituting a significant public health issue. We usually associate domestic violence with physical or verbal abuse, but economic abuse is just as significant and can have long-lasting and devastating effects. The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence reports that over 1.75 million workdays—or $3 to $5 billion—are lost each year as a result of absenteeism, decreased productivity, and health and safety costs associated with domestic violence.
Economic abuse can also affect a victim’s access to health care and medicine. A victim of abuse may resist leaving an abusive partner because his or her children are dependent on that partner’s health insurance. Or, the victim may avoid medical care altogether because transportation options have been withheld or limited, or because he or she cannot pay for co-payments while a partner controls the finances.
It is important to remember that economic abuse, like other forms of domestic violence, can happen to anyone, regardless of age, race, gender, sexual orientation, marital status, or income. Controlling someone’s finances and opportunities for advancement limit the resources that are needed when a partner decides to leave. Victims of economic abuse often feel forced to choose between staying in an abusive relationship or face economic hardship and possibly poverty and homelessness.
These far-reaching consequences signify the need to do more to address domestic violence. If you or a loved one might be experiencing economic abuse, there are steps you can take and resources you can access to get help.
The key steps for achieving financial independence include:
- Taking a financial inventory;
- Obtaining a copy of your credit report to see if anything looks suspicious or unexpected;
- Keeping personal financial information in a safe place (i.e. at a friend’s);
- Keeping copies of home or car keys in your wallet along with extra money and emergency phone numbers;
- Determining what it would cost to live on your own and start setting aside money in a safe space (even if it’s a few dollars at a time); and
- Considering public assistance programs such as cash assistance known as Temporary Assistance for Needy Families or TANF or unemployment benefits, which can be accessed at your local Department of Health and Human Services.
Evidence shows that addressing domestic violence in a health care setting can have a positive impact on health and wellness. Abused women of all backgrounds repeatedly use medical services for treatment of injuries and chronic conditions resulting from violent relationships.
At Neighborhood Health Plan (NHP), we work at the intersection of health care and the communities we serve by partnering with community health centers (CHCs) and local organizations. Through the NHP Domestic Violence Initiative, we are strengthening awareness and resources, including working with CHCs to provide trainings and implement screening policies; and creating deeper community collaborations and gathering data on community needs.
Remember, if you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship, there are resources to help. The multilingual Massachusetts SafeLink Hotline is available at: 1-877-785-2020, TTY: 1-877-521-2601. If you are in immediate danger, dial 911.
Paul Mendis, MD is the chief medical officer for Neighborhood Health Plan. A graduate of Princeton University and Harvard Medical School, Dr. Mendis is board-certified in internal medicine and has practiced primary care for more than 20 years in urban health center environments.
National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, “Domestic Violence Fact Sheet
National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, “Economic Abuse Fact Sheet”
If your dream is to retire early, then you may get some help from an unexpected source: ObamaCare. Many people delay retiring until age 65 often due to healthcare costs in retirement. This tendency was recently studied by Boston College’s Center for Retirement Research in its working paper “Sticky Ages: Why is Age 65 Still a Retirement Peak?” It makes sense that individuals would delay retirement until they were eligible for Medicare (for most it’s age 65) because private health insurance is unaffordable for many, especially if you have a pre-existing condition or have reduced income due to retirement.
The Affordable Care Act (aka ObamaCare) helps to mitigate some of the cost of healthcare in retirement for certain individuals under age 65. To start with, ObamaCare makes it illegal for insurance companies to discriminate based on pre-existing conditions (effective January 1, 2014.)(1) This could make it possible for an older American with an illness to obtain insurance where before they may not have been able to in the private market. Secondly, ObamaCare states that an insurance company can only charge older Americans a maximum of three times the premiums it charges a young person, helping to rein in healthcare premiums for the older insured.
Further aiding young retirees are the subsidies built into ObamaCare. Subsidies are available to those individuals and families whose income is at or below 400% of the poverty line(1). In 2013 that amounts to $45,960 for an individual and $62,040 for a family of two. The level of subsidy increases or decreases based on your income in relation to the poverty line. Income for the purposes of the Affordable Care Act is based on Modified Adjusted Gross Income or MAGI.
The subsidies offered under ObamaCare increase in relation to one’s age. So for example, a 60 year old with $35,000 in annual income should receive a larger subsidy than a 25 year old with the same income. The plan was designed to help offset the higher premiums usually paid by older individuals compared to younger ones. Again, this is another benefit to someone considering retiring early and who has lower taxable income.
It is interesting to note that because the subsidies under ObamaCare are based on income rather than net worth, it could be possible for an early retiree who has a moderate or even a high net worth, but low taxable income, to qualify for the subsidies. Early retirees have a few things going for them when it comes to qualifying for subsidies. First, they are probably not receiving Social Security benefits yet because they have not reached their full retirement age. This could help reduce their taxable income. Secondly, many retirees have a good portion of their retirement savings in tax deferred vehicles like 401(k)s and IRAs. These vehicles are generally not taxed until distributions are taken out. So, it would be theoretically possible for a young retiree to have ample savings built up in tax-deferred saving accounts and still qualify for subsidies.
The Affordable Care Act is a large and complicated piece of legislation. I would encourage anyone interested in learning how the law affects their unique situation, to consult with their own tax and legal advisors.
D. Abraham Ringer, CFP® is a Financial Adviser with Morgan Stanley Global Wealth Management in Boston. He is registered in MA, NH, NY and several other states to which this article is directed. For more information please consult www.morganstanleyfa.com/ringer.
The information contained in this article is not a solicitation to purchase or sell investments. The strategies and/or investments referenced may not be suitable for all investors as the appropriateness of a particular investment or strategy will depend on an investor's individual circumstances and objectives. Investing involves risks and there is always the potential of losing money when you invest. Morgan Stanley Financial Advisors do not provide tax or legal advice. The views expressed herein are those of the author, D. Abraham Ringer, and may not necessarily reflect the views of Morgan Stanley Smith Barney LLC, Member SIPC www.sipc.org, or its affiliates.
Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards Inc. owns the certification marks CFP®, CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ and federally registered CFP (with flame design) in the U.S.
Call it the diaper index.
A new study published in the journal Pediatrics found that close to 30 percent of
mothers struggle to pay for diapers.
The study's authors examined responses to surveys about mental health, basic needs, and health care use from 877 mothers and pregnant women in New Haven, Conn.
The researchers found that women with trouble paying for diapers were significantly more likely to report mental health needs than their counterparts who can afford diapers, the study said.
That suggests, the researchers said, that helping mothers provide diapers for their children may be "a tangible way of reducing parenting stress."
An adequate supply of diapers costs $936 per year, per child, the study said. For a mother working full-time at the federal hourly minimum wage of $7.25, diapers would account for 6 percent of her gross $15,080 annual earnings, the study said.
This video from WPIX in New York provides tips on saving money on diapers. The tips include printing online coupons, signing up for newsletters from Pampers or Huggies to get coupons, and becoming a member of Amazon Mom.
If you're looking for a diaper bank in Massachusetts, The National Diaper Bank Network lists these resources on its website:
A Baby Center Address: 81 Willow Ave., Hyannis, Massachusetts 02601 Phone: (508) 771-8157 Email: email@example.com url: http://ababycenter.org Contact: Mary Pat Piersons Products Distributed: Diapers, Disposable Diapers
Allston Brighton Baby Diaper Bank Program
Address: c/o Sarah Correia, 7 Commonwealth Ct #13, Brighton, Massachusetts 02135
Phone: (857) 334-3347
Contact: Sarah Correia
Products Distributed: Diapers, Disposable Diapers, Baby Diapers
Anchor of Hope Diaper Bank, a Project of Saint Vincent De Paul-All Saints Conference
Address: 120 Bellevue Ave., Haverhill, MA Massachusetts 01832
Contact: Claire Hailson
Products Distributed: Disposable Diapers
Baby Basics, Inc.
Address: 47 Beaufort Ave., Needham, Massachusetts 02492
Phone: (617) 305-6899
Contact: Jennifer Haggerty
Products Distributed: Disposable Diapers, Baby Diapers
Cradles to Crayons -- Boston
Address: 155 N. Beacon St., Brighton Massachusetts 02135
Phone: (617) 779-4700
Contact: Kathy Fagan
Giving Diapers Giving Hope
Address: 8 Beckford St. Gloucester, Massachusetts 01930
Phone: (315) 491-9447
Contact: Kristen McCarthy
Products Distributed: Cloth Diapers
John Napolitano is president of the Financial Planning Association of Massachusetts and chief executive of US Wealth Management. He will be hosting a live Boston.com chat on Friday, Nov. 9 at 3 p.m.
We all eventually clean out a closet or basement, and find things that you forgot about and deem useful or valuable. From a financial perspective, the same process may also yield unexpected treasures. Living proof of this is your home state's unclaimed property list. In my home state of Massachusetts, it is estimated that one in 10 residents has unclaimed property.FULL ENTRY
Taxes and health care in the SAME entry?! I promise I'll make this quick and easy -- while saving you some cash in the process. While you're wading through all those forms during your annual health care open enrollment, make sure to look for information on flexible spending accounts. At their core, these accounts let your employer take money from your account before taxes that you can then put toward some medical costs, such as co-pays.
Think of it as a forced savings that is worth more than if you just put the money in a locked box under your bed.FULL ENTRY
People across the country are starting their annual human resources meetings to pick out health care plan options for next year. The task can be daunting. While you wade through the differences between an EPO and PPO, make sure to check out what your company offers for wellness incentives. You might be surprised.FULL ENTRY
This month employees across the country are going to start getting big'ol packets of information to narrow down a choice for health care. The decisions can be tough. The wrong checkbox could lead to you paying a lot more money in each paycheck for unnecessary benefits, or worse it could lead to you having to pay a lot during an emergency. The first question you have to ask during open enrollment: What type of plan to get?FULL ENTRY