Benefits With Friends
Some Good News In Paying For Health And Disability

Zen Mensch Accounting

This issue brings together recent developments and strategies about paying for health care and disability. It’s a complicated — but important — subject. I hope there is something useful for everyone. (And if not, there is a little family anecdote.)

Q: Is there anything GOOD that came out of the last budget bill?
–M. McConnell, Louisville

A: Actually, yes. There is now a special, tax advantaged vehicle for disabled individuals. Modeled after the 529 college plans, eligible ABLE plan participants must have been diagnosed with a disability by age 26. Investments are not tax deductible but grow tax-free and withdrawals must be used for qualifying services or be subject to tax and penalty on the earnings.

Importantly, creation of such accounts would not jeopardize one’s eligibility for social security disability benefits or Medicaid. Nevertheless, an ABLE account will not be accessible to everyone, and is only a small step in addressing the enormous financial challenges of families with special needs. I recently participated in a webinar on this vital subject. E-mail me for information about future webinars.

Q: I am told my company has to buy insurance through the “exchange” to continue receiving business tax credits. Can I hate Obamacare and still love the tax credits?.

A: Yes. Effective January 1, 2014 the tax credits offered to businesses offering health insurance to their employees is increased from 35% to 50% of eligible premiums (from 25% to 35% for non-profits). However, such premiums must be now paid through Obamacare’s state “SHOP” exchanges in order to be eligible for the credit.

ALSD can help you navigate your health insurance options, and we will soon be eligible to be a Rhode Island company’s “broker of record” for the SHOP program through Healthsource R.I.,the state’s exchange. E-mail me for details.

Q: Health insurance is still expensive, and now I must ask employees to contribute a portion. What else can I do? My employer benefits are already meager.
–Google, Palo Alto, CA

A: There is a rare win-win available to employers, called a “Section 125 cafeteria plan”. It allows the employees’ health insurance contributions to be deducted from their pay pre-tax. It therefore reduces the employer’s payroll taxes as well. Your payroll service company should be able to administer this for a small fee.


Q: What does “Streitfeld” really mean?
–Distant relative

A: Family lore has it that my ancestors were traversing Europe around the turn of the century and wanted a militaristic surname because of anti-Semitic activity in Germany. “Streitfeld” may have derived from “Schlachtfeld”, or “battlefield”.

The thread continues with my eldest son, whom we named “Yonah” — in part because of it’s proximity to “Jonasz”, a Polish name his (Polish-born) Mom liked. Yonah is Jonah, Hebrew for “dove”and the symbol of peace. Thus “Yonah Streitfeld” means “peace on the battlefield”!

It gets better. Yonah’s younger brother is Malcolm — we just liked the name. We found out later that Malcolm means “follower of Saint Columba.” And how has Columba been translated? “Dove.”

Because you asked… (and please, keep asking).

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