Eric Jorgensen

Eric Jorgensen is a retired Navy veteran blogger who writes regularly about financial planning for families with disabilities and other Special Needs. Uses his first-hand experience as a widowed disabled veteran and father of a son with Autism to help his readers navigate the complex world of financial planning and advocacy

ARTICLES FROM Eric
Check Yourself

This year my son turns 18, which by any measure is a major milestone; but I'm finding it especially noteworthy as I consider what it means with regards to my estate planning and his disability. When he was younger I could delude myself into thinking there may be a miracle cure, he'd suddenly wake up one day and no longer have the cognitive delays he's had since birth. Some of this is hyperbole, I'm certainly being melodramatic - but it has been weighing on my mind.

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Clutter & Chaos, or Collections & Tranquility?

I'm often told "I'm overwhelmed, I don't know where to start" by my clients; and it's understandable - without systems in place it's easy for anything to get out of control. I will admit to some OCD-like tendencies, perhaps because of spending so many years living on a submarine and having no room for anything. There were several years where I was hot-racking, sharing 2 racks between 3 people; out of necessity you learn how to pack and bring only what you absolutely need. Add to that my training as a Lean Six Sigma Green belt and it's a wonder I don't have my everything in my house labeled and it's location identified (I don't, I promise : p ). I am NOT a professional organizer, although I do know a few and will gladly recommend them if asked.

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Investment vs. Expense?

When I used to think about hiring someone my immediate thought was "how much is this going to cost"; and in this article I'm going to share why - at least for me - this was the wrong question to ask. When I was younger I was convinced I could, and should, master anything I wanted. While to some degree it's probably accurate to say if I put enough time and energy into learning something I may be able to perform adequately, it's not realistic - if for no other reason there is only so much time in the day. Not to mention all the things I just don't like doing - like cleaning the house, yard work, etc.

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Deductable and Non Deductable Medical Expenses

This week, rather than the blog you traditionally see, I would like to share with you a list of medical expenses you can, and cannot deduct. This list is not meant to be all-inclusive, when in doubt please consult with a tax professional. The IRS doesn’t allow you to deduct medical expenses until they’ve exceeded 10% of your income, but for many of us who are caring for sick/aging parents and/or a child/relative with a disability, it’s reasonable to expect you’ll meet this requirement.

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Automate This…

I realize what I'm about to say goes against what I perceive to be "conventional wisdom". When I was Active Duty I earned my Lean Six Sigma Green Belt and I understand, quite well I think, how to become more efficient and eliminate waste. I’m not a fan of having my clients set their bills up for auto-pay, for a couple reasons.

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Roth/Traditional – What’s the Difference?

As I think most of us are aware, there are (2) types of IRAs – a Traditional and a Roth. These options are growing in availability within employer-sponsored retirement plans, and I think some explanation about the difference is warranted. Traditional accounts are tax-deferred, meaning the money put into the account is not taxed and thus your annual income is lowered. For example, if you are earning $80,000 a year and you’re filing Married Joint, you would start in the 25% bracket. If you contribute 6% of your income to a traditional retirement plan (401k, 403b) your taxable income drops to $75,200 and you end up in a lower tax bracket (15%).

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Charitable IRA Distributions

Most of us are aware the IRS requires us to take distributions from IRA’s no later than the year you reach 70 ½ (Source IRS.gov). For those who don’t necessarily “need” the money this can become an extra tax burden, and could impact how much they are paying for Medicare; because Medicare Part B premiums are based upon income reported (2) years ago (Source medicare.gov). So, what can you do if you don’t want to pay an increased income tax, increased Medicare and you don’t really “need” the money?

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College – It’s not for everyone (and that’s OK!)

If there is one theme I feel very confident in saying I run into in almost every planning encounter I do for families with young children, it's college planning. Yet the research I've done, using Pew Research Center, indicates only "56% of students earn degrees within 6 years". Combine this with an average student loan debt amount of almost $29,000 per borrower ($28,950, Institute for College Access & Success, 2015) and you have a recipe for financial disaster. Because if these students are not finishing their degrees, are they finding jobs paying enough to cover the loans, or did they fall victim to a feeling of failure and take unskilled labor positions?

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Why it’s tough to save (and how to help)

I think most of us can relate to having wondered if we'd be able to save enough for our goals at some point in our lives. For one thing, it can be much more fun to spend than to save - especially with the instant gratification of receiving whatever it is you just purchased. Saving can seem like it takes forever, and it may not look like the money is growing, or it isn't growing fast enough.

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Charitable Giving - A Gift To Yourself

I think most of us know it's possible to receive a deduction from your income taxes when you donate to a charity, whether it's clothes, cash or even a vehicle; but if you're like me this in and of itself is not enough incentive to give.

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THEY DID WHAT????!!!!!!

I think it's safe to say we've all either been in a position to say this, or know someone who has. This article is specifically focused on the titling of your estate. Far too often, in my opinion, there is conflict or confusion about what to do when someone passes away, and which is the last thing anyone should have to deal with when mourning.

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Where do I Start??!!

The New Year has lost it's luster, many of us who started with the best of intentions and a resolution of "this year's gonna be different" are finding ourselves back on the treadmill to nowhere, and may be getting very discouraged. Or maybe you aren't a resolution person, but you do have something you want to change and aren't sure where to begin. With so many possibilities how do you know which is right for you?!

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Beware the Deal

Ever feel like the deck is just stacked against you when it comes to saving money? After all, no matter how hard you try, something always seems to come up - and usually just when you're starting to get ahead. No doubt sometimes this is true, after all, I think we've all had those "oh crap" moments and watched our emergency savings dwindle away to nothing. However, I think if we were an impartial viewer we may draw some different conclusions. Having an unforeseen crisis occur and wipe out the money you saved is not to be confused with not having an emergency fund established because of bad saving habits, compounded by life event which would not have been considered "traumatic" if you'd done a better job saving.

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Look Before you Leap

How many of us have had something so enticing dangled in front of us we felt we just had to take advantage of it? Could have been a new car, a new home, new job - you get the idea. Frequently though, there are unintended consequences; that if we'd taken a little more time to step back and consider whatever it was unemotionally we may not have made the same decision. Or, if we had made the same decision, we would have been more prepared for what came next.

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Taking Your First Steps Towards Financial Fitness

Wow - it's already a week into 2017, and this year we're really going to get our finances straight. It's a common theme, yet something happens and often nothing changes. It's tough, overcoming what has become - whether you want to admit it or not - a habit. Much like quitting smoking or dieting, there are frequently reasons you can't save "yet". Welcome to life; where curve balls seem to be the order of the day - so what can we do?

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New Year, New You?!

Welcome to 2017! How many of us have resolved this year will be different? Perhaps this is the year you get rid of those stubborn pounds and fit back into your high school/college jeans, or maybe your focus is on paying down debt and increasing your savings. Whatever the goal, what can you do to make it happen?

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Stop Labeling Yourself

In my profession, a question I hear posed to prospects and clients very frequently is "are you a spender or a saver?" In fact, until recently I was guilty of doing this as well - unfortunately it's not helpful. You may enjoy spending or saving, but it's not "who" you are; any more than enjoying a good book makes you a "reader". We (humans) are not one-dimensional creatures, yet we assign labels almost willy-nilly to help put those we interact with into a box.

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Don’t Buy into the Hype

If you’re watching the markets you’ll have seen them enter record territory, and people predicting all sorts of potential endings. At the end of the day it doesn’t matter what the market is going to do in the immediate future unless you plan on withdrawing from your accounts. And if you’re planning on withdrawals, my hope is you’ve already shifted to a more conservative stance.

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Get Rich, Quick?!

In my experience, there are (3) time proven methods to getting "rich" consistently. And much like losing weight and keeping it off, none of them are magic buttons or are going to happen overnight. Sure, there will always be those who win the lottery or inherit, but for most of us this is not our reality. For us it comes down to increasing income, decreasing living expenses, and/or decreasing debt.

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How to Make Successful Resolutions in 2017

I don’t think any of us plan to work at our New Year’s resolutions for just a few months before giving up, but that’s exactly what many of us end up doing. Changing a habit is hard, and resolutions require that. Here are three characteristics of successful resolutions. The examples deal with saving money, but this advice can apply to other financial goals or goals about fitness, being more conscientious, keeping in touch with friends and family, and other aspects of our lives.

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Why to Avoid Financial Planning Over the Holidays

It’s that time of year when retailers step up their game and try to convince you that you need what they sell and that you can save so much more by buying from them. On the flip side, you can’t get away from advice to set up a plan to save for your goals — no matter how many times you’ve tried before and failed. For many people, this all leads to the nagging sense that they really should sit down with a financial advisor and make a plan.

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Why you should wait until 70 to file for Social Security when you have disabled child

Social Security makes up a very large portion of the income most people receive in retirement, and it makes sense why they would want to start collecting it as soon as possible. However, according to the social security administration, if you start collecting it before your full retirement age you could be leaving between 20 - 30% of your benefit on the table - meaning you will forever miss out on this money. However, if you wait until age 70 before collecting benefits you could earn an additional 5.5 - 8% each year you delay past your full retirement age (delayed retirement credits).

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Gifts - It's Okay to say "No"

I'm always a little nervous about sharing this particular opinion, especially during this time of year; because of the passion people seem to have about gift giving. I find myself wondering if they're truly caught up in the spirit and overwhelmed with generosity, or do they feel an overpowering sense of duty to give because they "know" they'll be getting something and/or it's expected. Maybe there is a little bit of both going on.

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What to Know About Tax Breaks for Disabled Individuals

It can feel overwhelming to provide the care and services a disabled family member needs. And unfortunately, many families overlook tax credits and deductions that could help defray the costs of that care. These include the medical expense deduction and the child and dependent care credit, and disabled taxpayers may take deductions for impairment-related work expenses.

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A Life Insurance Strategy for Families With Special-Needs Children

‍For families who have children with special needs — for example, a mental or physical disability — the question isn’t whether the parents should own life insurance, it’s how much they can afford. Generally speaking, families with special needs are planning retirement for two generations — the parents and the child — because the child may not be able to earn income as an adult and support himself or herself.

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Don’t Skimp on Your Insurance

Often I hear people say, “Insurance is a scam” or, “It’s too expensive.” But I’ve never heard anyone complain about insurance when they’ve needed it. Some types of insurance are required. Banks require you to purchase homeowners insurance when you buy a home, for example, in order to protect their loan and make sure they get paid. But some types of insurance are voluntary. Nobody is forcing you to purchase policies that protect your income or assets, or that ensure your funeral expenses will be taken care of. Let’s take a look at a few of these voluntary policies and highlight key points you should know:

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Long-Term Care Benefits for Veterans

Veterans have access to health and long-term care benefits that can have a significant impact on their family’s finances. The Department of Veterans Affairs will pay for certain long-term care services for disabled and low-income veterans. With help covering long-term care costs, many veterans and their families can focus on other important aspects of their financial planning. There are many options for veterans to take advantage of as they age and require care, but often veterans don’t even know they may be eligible. Here’s a look at the various benefits available:

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ABLE Accounts Help Foster Independence for Disabled People

Most parents don’t expect to provide financial support to their children for their entire lives. But families of children with disabilities may have to. Recent legislation makes it easier for families to set aside money explicitly to provide for the needs of loved ones with disabilities, while also helping them to become more independent. New state-sponsored accounts allow disabled people to accumulate assets in their own name, without the risk of losing their Social Security disability benefits.

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Enjoy Your Summer Vacation — Without Maxing Out Your Credit Cards

School is out, and summer is upon us. It’s time to let loose and have some fun. That sounds great in theory, but it can be horrible for our finances if we aren’t careful — especially when it comes to taking summer vacations.

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Break the Cycle

Recently my son’s teachers and I met for his IEP (individualized education plan) and one of the goals we discussed was using money.

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Why Hire a Professional?

Over the years I’ve been asked, and I used to ask myself, why hire a professional – I can do this myself and save some money! This has ranged from things as complex as my estate plan to as mundane as getting a housekeeper; but they all have a few common themes.

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