Workplace benefits and special needs planning

How to enABLE inclusive savings in the workplace

Member for

1 year 9 months
Submitted by Matt Stagner on Fri, 02/19/2021 - 12:36

In addition to being the right thing to do for the community, being inclusive of people with disabilities and special needs and caregivers has a direct impact on a company’s recruitment, retention and business results.

ABLE accounts are unique tax-advantaged savings and investment accounts designed to improve quality of life for a person with a disability without interrupting government benefits. An individual with a disability onset prior to age 26 may be eligible to contribute to an ABLE account. Caregivers, loved ones and employers also can contribute to an ABLE account for an eligible individual.

ABLE accounts also can be a no- or low-cost workplace benefit for inclusive employers to offer their employees in the disability community. Employers can provide employees access to information and guidance on ABLE accounts and encourage direct deposit to the program of choice for employees.

With industry-leading educational content, webinars and information available at voyacares.com and through the Voya Cares® program, employers have an innovative partner to help their employees understand ABLE accounts and help employers add an ABLE program to their benefits offerings.

Traditional workplace benefits may exclude employees with disabilities

Many existing employer benefit and retirement solutions unintentionally may exclude employees with special needs or disabilities. Because they frequently opt out of valuable employer-sponsored benefits to maintain their government benefits eligibility, employees with disabilities or special needs may face serious short-term and long-term ramifications for savings accumulation and tax benefits. In addition, employees who opt out also may be giving up their employers’ matching contributions, often regarded as “free money” for those who participate.

The need for employee benefits that can help improve quality of life isn’t limited to employees with disabilities. Many caregiver employees are looking for ways to relieve the stress of providing for the day-to-day and long-term care needs of their loved ones without compromising the caregiver’s own financial goals.

Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) accounts in the workplace

Many people with disabilities or special needs and their caregivers rely on public assistance programs, like Medicaid and Supplemental Security Income (SSI), to help cover the day-to-day costs of care. These programs have eligibility requirements that force recipients to make difficult financial tradeoffs. For example, SSI recipients must keep assets, including all bank accounts, individual retirement accounts, and Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) below $2,000, limiting financial independence.

Now, ABLE account holders also can accumulate up to $100,000 in an ABLE account without affecting their benefit payments from SSI. Individuals can also accumulate up to $500,000 or more without interrupting their medical coverage and other supports through Medicaid, depending on specific state limits. This ability to save without affecting government benefits eligibility can make all the difference for those in the disabilities community who have long been discouraged from saving or investing their money due to strict asset limits.

Even those adults who have a disability but don’t qualify for Medicaid or SSI can benefit from ABLE accounts for the tax advantages that may be available, including tax-deferred growth, tax-free withdrawals, state-tax deductions or credits (in some states) and even the federal Saver’s Credit.

Employers can offer ABLE account education, support and contributions

Offered through the workplace, disability inclusive employers can provide their employees with ABLE account education, access and direct payroll deduction for contributions at no cost. Employers who truly are leaders in the area of disability inclusion can take the added step of contributing seed or matching contributions to their employees’ ABLE accounts, as a true alternative or complement to an employer-sponsored retirement plan for employees with disabilities and special needs and their caregivers.

To learn more about ABLE accounts and how they fit into an employer benefit program, see How employers can enABLE savings and enhance inclusion (PDF).

Subtitle
Offering ABLE account contributions and support to eligible employees can be a vital step to financial inclusion.
Compliance Code
CN1519088_0323
Business Owner
Mathew Stagner
Expiration Date
man working in cubicle office
Employers Workplace benefits and special needs planning

For more information on ABLE accounts, visit VoyaCares.com/ABLE or ask your Voya relationship manager.

For plan sponsor use only. Not for use with participants.

This material is provided for general and educational purposes only; it is not intended to provide legal, tax or investment advice. All investments are subject to risk. Please consult an independent legal or financial advisor for specific advice about your individual situation.

Short Title
ABLE accounts: an inclusive workplace benefit

Checklist for employers to help be more inclusive of the disabilities community

Member for

1 year 9 months
Submitted by Matt Stagner on Tue, 01/12/2021 - 13:54
  • Nearly 66 million Americans — one in five — care for an aging, seriously ill, or disabled family member or friend¹.
  • Three in four employers report caregivers being stressed at work as an issue for their company².

Employers can make a difference by being inclusive of employees with disabilities and employees with caregiving responsibilities. From inclusive hiring practices, to communication, to employee benefits, this checklist can be a guide to see where your company is today, and where you might be able to improve.

To-do items for employers:

  • Build a culture of understanding.
    • Help individuals with disabilities and caregivers feel comfortable disclosing their disability or special needs situation.
  • Provide support groups for caregivers and employee assistance programs (EAPs).
  • Help make sure caregivers and employees with disabilities know they aren’t alone.
  • Build inclusive hiring and employment practices.
    • Include accessible workspaces, technology, and participate in the Disability Equality Index at DisabilityIN.
  • Include guidance and language for beneficiary planning.
  • Educate employees about potential ramifications to government benefits eligibility.
  • Focus on flexible work schedules and paid family leave.
    • Help employees who are in need of time away from work, but depend on their income to make ends meet, to balance their work and caregiving responsibilities.
  • Review existing employee benefits package.
    • Demonstrate to employees how to make the most of the valuable benefits already offered.
  • Offer special needs planning resources and financial planning guidance.
    • Financial wellness programs
    • Online tools for document creation and storage, including Letter of Intent and special needs trusts
    • Informational resources like Voyacares.com
  • Offer benefits that are of specific interest to employees with disabilities and caregivers.
    • ABLE accounts
    • Paid caregiver leave
    • Care coordination programs

Download a copy of this Caregiver Employer Checklist (PDF).

Learn more about these strategies and how to implement them in your organization with our whitepaper.

Subtitle
Attract, retain, and support employees with disabilities and caregivers
Compliance Code
CN941582_0920
Business Owner
Mathew Stagner
Expiration Date
A group of small/mid-size business owners learning about the benefits of their retirement plan
Employers Workplace benefits and special needs planning For use with your clients Retirement

Not FDIC/NCUA/NCUSIF Insured | Not a Deposit of a Bank/Credit Union | May Lose Value | Not Back/Credit Union Guaranteed | Not insured by Any Federal Government Agency

Neither Voya® nor its affiliated companies or representatives provide tax or legal advice. Please consult a tax adviser or attorney before making a tax-related investment/insurance decision. Products and services offered through the Voya® family of companies.

  1. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Caregiver Resources & Long-Term Care (2017)
  2. Findings of an online survey of 510 HR Decision Makers respondents and an online survey of 1,815 employee respondents, both conducted by Voya Cares® in partnership with Lieberman Research Worldwide (LRW) during the period of December 2, 2018 – January 14, 2019
  3. Brandon Rigoni and Bailey Nelson, “Many Millennials Are Job-Hoppers – But Not All,” Gallup, 8/9/2016
Short Title
Voya Cares checklist for employers

Employee benefits: Advantages for people with disabilities and caregivers

Member for

1 year 9 months
Submitted by Matt Stagner on Fri, 01/08/2021 - 14:38

Benefits can be a key element of employee satisfaction. A recent study by Voya Cares and research firm LRW found that, overall, 87% of employees say that benefits are an important reason they stay at their company, and 90% say that benefits are equally as important to them as a higher salary.1

People may procrastinate when it comes to selecting employee benefits, an understandable reaction to large amounts of information that is peppered with jargon and numbers. In fact, a recent poll of 1,227 U.S. workers found that nearly half (49 percent) spend 30 minutes or less reviewing their benefits prior to enrollment.2 The process deserves more than 30 minutes of attention — especially if you or someone in your family has a disability or special needs or is a caregiver, because many benefits available through your employer may be challenging to get on your own.

Typical employee benefits

Looking at the variety and breadth of benefits offered through employers, it’s no wonder the process can be considered a confusing one. “Benefits packages vary from employer to employer,” explains Rebecca Winters, Employee Benefits senior voluntary product manager at Voya Employee Benefits. “But the core benefits most frequently offered by companies are medical, dental, and vision coverage, life insurance, disability income insurance, health or flexible savings accounts, and retirement savings plans. Companies may also offer Employee Assistance Programs that address a broad set of issues affecting mental and emotional well-being.”

Because these benefits can vary a great deal, it’s important to thoroughly read the information your employer provides, and if you have questions, ask someone in your company’s employee benefits department.

Let’s look at some of the advantages of these key employee benefits for an eligible employee or family member with a disability or special needs.

Medical, dental, vision

These medical benefits are the most desired among employees, according to a Harvard Business Review article. You may be able to choose from a variety of plans and can purchase coverage for your dependents, as well.

It’s important to carefully review covered services to be sure treatments, therapies, medical equipment and adaptations for your or your dependent’s diagnosis are included. Weigh deductibles and co-payment amounts against premium payments to see if a high-deductible plan would be more cost effective than a managed-care-type plan that may have lower deductibles and co-payments but higher monthly premiums.

Ask yourself:

  • Does your employer offer critical care insurance? This coverage is useful if you experience such unexpected covered illness or condition such as a heart attack, stroke, or cancer. Critical illness coverage could include a health advocacy program that can help you find products, services, and answers to questions you may have. “It’s the extra support you may need to help you navigate your way,” says Winters. It’s important to note that critical illness insurance is a limited benefit policy. It is not health insurance and does not satisfy the requirement of minimum essential coverage under the Affordable Care Act.
  • What’s your past history regarding dental and vision care? Is it more cost effective to pay for occasional care out of your own pocket than for premiums for insurance coverage that you may not fully use?

Health and flexible savings accounts

A 2019 study published in the American Journal of Public Health states that 66.5 percent of all bankruptcies were tied to medical issues — either because of high costs for care or time out of work.

Health Savings Accounts (HSA) and Flexible Spending Accounts (FSA) can help pay for unexpected medical costs by allowing you to set aside pre-tax income to pay eligible medical expenses, while reducing your annual tax burden, which can be a useful benefit for people with disabilities and caregivers. In essence, the tax savings help your money go farther. The eligibility requirements, use of the funds, and whether or not the funds saved in one year can be rolled over to the next vary by type of account.

Ask yourself:

  • If your medical costs are minimal now, could they rise in the future? Money in an HSA is yours to keep over time. If you leave your employer, you can keep the account or roll the funds into an HSA with a future employer. (Note: FSAs do not allow your savings to roll over into a new plan year. In essence, it’s a “use-it-or-lose-it” account.) And you can name a beneficiary to inherit the funds in your active HSA when you pass away. (See the next section for more about beneficiaries.)

Life insurance

Because getting life insurance protection can be challenging for people with disabilities to obtain on their own, these benefits available through your employer may be a great opportunity to obtain them with no or limited underwriting.

Your employer may offer basic life insurance, which is the amount they provide at no cost to you. You may also have the option to elect additional coverage called Supplemental Life Insurance. During your initial enrollment with your employer, specific coverage amounts often are available to purchase without any medical underwriting questions. It is helpful to take advantage of these guaranteed-issue amounts when you have them available to you, as electing coverage after your initial enrollment may require medical history questions or additional underwriting. In that situation and when evidence of insurability is required, the insurance company will need to approve it before coverage becomes effective.

Ask yourself:

  • Is the policy portable? If so, when you leave your employer, you can continue to pay the premium directly to the insurer and keep the coverage.
  • Does the coverage include a waiver of premium? If you can’t work because of a short- or long-term disability, this waiver keeps your policy active with no premium payments due.
  • Should you purchase life insurance for a dependent (spouse/domestic partner or children)?
  • Life insurance benefits may be used however the beneficiary elects so it’s important to consider such things as who would provide caregiving services, if you or a spouse were to pass away? “Hiring a caregiver to replace a spouse or partner who stays home to care for a child with special needs can be costly. Life insurance may provide the funds to assist with that,” says Jonathan R. Kurtz, a Voya financial advisor with Kurtz, Connor, Browning & Phillips, LLC, in Virginia, who is experienced in offering financial services to families with special needs.
  • Who will you name as beneficiary? For family members with a disability or special needs, receiving life insurance proceeds may make them ineligible to qualify for government benefits,” warns Kurtz. “Consider naming a special needs trust as the beneficiary instead.”

Disability income insurance

Disability income insurance will pay a percentage of your salary if you can’t work because of an illness or injury unrelated to your job. You may need to fulfill a waiting period before benefits can be paid. Generally, short-term disability insurance covers periods of six weeks to six months, with premiums often paid by the employer; long-term disability benefits begin once you have exhausted your short-term disability benefits, if applicable. Benefits are then paid for the duration of your medical condition to the maximum duration allowed by your employer’s plan or until you reach Social Security Normal Retirement Age.

If you are, or will be, a caregiver, consider the ramifications if you experience an illness or injury, and you have to replace the care you usually provide for your loved one. More than one in four of today’s 20-year-olds can expect to be out of work for at least a year because of a disabling condition before they reach the normal retirement age, according the Social Security Administration’s probability tables (PDF) published in October 2017. Nevertheless, life insurance is more readily purchased than disability income insurance.

Ask yourself:

  • How high is your risk? Look at your family’s health history and whether or not your personal activities could lead to injuries, especially for musculoskeletal disorders such as arthritis, cancer and mental health conditions such as depression and anxiety, which are some of the most common reasons for long-term disability claims, according to the Council for Disability Awareness (March 2018).
  • Would you have savings or other sources of income to cover expenses, during your recovery? For a long-term illness, you might qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), but it can take time to receive a decision after you apply for this benefit.

Retirement plans

People with disabilities and caregivers may delay saving for their own retirement, because day-to-day responsibilities and expenses may seem overwhelming. However, participating in your company’s 401(k) plan may make it easier. Because companies often match some or all of what the employee contributes, your retirement savings can grow more quickly. Plus your contributions are made with pre-tax dollars, reducing your current tax burden. Remember, you must secure your own future first, before ensuring the future of those who are dependent on you.

Ask yourself:

  • How much money are you leaving on the table by not contributing at least up to the amount your employer matches? The average 401(k) employer contribution rate, in terms of percentage of salary, reached 4.7% in Q1 20193.

Employee assistance programs

With services offered standardly at no cost to employees, EAPs offer counseling, referrals, and follow-up services to employees who have personal or work-related difficulties, including alcohol and other substance abuse, stress, grief, family problems, and psychological disorders. Obtaining these services on your own could be a significant cost to you. Some programs also offer legal services to put essential documents in place, such as wills, powers of attorney, guardianship, advance health care and financial directives and trusts.

Ask yourself:

  • Are you considering a special needs trust (SNT)? “For certain legal documents, such as an SNT, it’s wisest to use an attorney whose practice serves people with special needs,” says Kurtz. “It’s important to ensure that the wording of all legal documents supports your financial strategy. Planners who serve the special needs community can help a client determine when to use EAP legal services, and when it’s best to use an outside special needs attorney.”

Some final thoughts

Remember, you’ll have the chance to review and make adjustments to your benefits selections during your employer’s annual benefits enrollment period. However, if your current situation changes before then, take a look at the benefits you’ve selected or already have in force. You may be able to make a change. Call your company’s benefits manager to discuss your options.

“Or meet with your financial advisor to review your benefits package,” suggests Kurtz. “Your advisor can help you understand your benefits and how they’ll work with other aspects of your financial plan to fill gaps or supplement it.”

Some workers may worry about having too much deducted from their pay in premiums and savings contributions, but don’t pass up your opportunity to take the fullest advantage of your employee benefits. “You may think you’ll need that income for other things, but it’s not a case of robbing Peter to pay Paul,” says Winters. “You’re robbing from your future, if you don’t take advantage of the employee benefits your company offers.”

Subtitle
A look at some of the advantages of key employee benefits for an eligible employee or family member with a disability or special needs.
Compliance Code
CN1472289_0123
Business Owner
Mathew Stagner
Expiration Date
Two boys, one with Down Syndrome looking at laptop while sitting on the couch
Workplace benefits and special needs planning Maximizing employer benefits Voya Retirement
Short Title
Employee benefits for people with disabilities and caregivers

Five HSA benefits you might not know about

Member for

2 years
Submitted by Jennifer Song on Fri, 11/20/2020 - 10:27

If the COVID-19 pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that we have to be ready for the unpredictable. This is especially true when it comes to planning for unexpected medical costs. After all, no one plans to get sick or end up in the hospital. However, when you consider that roughly 4 in 10 Americans would struggle to cover a $400 emergency, many families could find themselves in a challenging financial situation if they got hit with an expensive and unplanned medical bill.

Health savings accounts, or HSAs, can help you take control of your health and financial wellness needs in today’s unpredictable world. Not sure how they work? Don’t worry — you’re in good company. New research from Voya Financial shows that only 2% of people are aware of the key attributes of an HSA.

To help you get up-to-speed, below are five facts to help break down what you need to know about HSAs. And with open enrollment season underway for many American workers, now is a good time to get educated on HSAs as you consider all your employer-sponsored workplace benefits.

Fact #1 – HSAs help offset costs of high-deductible health plans

An HSA is a medical savings account that’s available to you when you’re enrolled in a qualified high-deductible health plan (HDHP). The IRS defines these plans as those that have a deductible of at least $1,400 for an individual and $2,800 for a family in 2020. With the rising costs of health care, an increasing number of companies started offering HDHPs in their employee benefits packages. Prior to the pandemic, industry research showed that nearly half of Americans (46%) with private health insurance were enrolled in a HDHP.

Typically, most HDHPs are combined with an HSA, which is funded by pretax dollars that are deposited into your account, usually through a payroll deduction. As a result, HSAs have increased in popularity to help pay for qualified medical costs, while also helping employees plan for and cover the high deductibles associated with these health plans.

Fact #2 – HSAs offer triple tax advantages

Perhaps the biggest benefit of an HSA is the triple tax advantages it offers: 1) contributions are pretax and reduce your taxable income; 2) your HSA funds grow tax-free; and 3) when used to pay for eligible medical expenses, HSA withdrawals are tax-free.

HSA contribution amounts are capped each year by the IRS. For 2021, the HSA contribution limits are $3,600 for individuals and $7,200 for family coverage. Individuals who are 55 and older are eligible for an additional $1,000 catch-up contribution.

If affordable, it’s a good idea to consider maximizing your HSA contributions to get the full advantage of these triple tax benefits. Plus, when a person reaches retirement age at 65, those HSA funds can then be used to pay for general living expenses — housing, food or travel, for example — and will be taxed like any normal distribution from a retirement account. Unlike a 401(k) or an individual retirement account (IRA), HSA contributions made via payroll deduction aren’t subject to FICA (Social Security and Medicare) taxes, and a person is not required to take minimum distributions at any age.

Fact #3 – HSAs offer flexibility

Most people do not realize that when you enroll in an HSA through your company it’s not tied to your employment. Unlike your health insurance plan and your flexible spending account (FSA), which are generally tied to your employment, your HSA is portable — meaning you own the account. Therefore, if you get laid off, furloughed from your job or chose to leave, your account and funds stay with you and you can always use your HSA dollars to help pay for qualified medical costs.

In addition, unlike flexible spending accounts, HSAs are also not “use-it-or-lose-it” accounts, and your balance carries over each year. Also, when enrolled in an HDHP and HSA, you can choose to cover medical expenses out of pocket now and take a tax-free distribution in the future in the amount of your current expense. This approach allows you to use your HSA as a potential emergency savings vehicle. Just make sure to hold onto your receipts to verify all distributions. Plus, with an HSA, you have the ability to change your contribution amount at any time during the year. You’re not “locked in” to the amount you selected during your open enrollment period.

Fact #4 – New legislation makes it easier to use HSA dollars

Back in March, Congress passed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act to help Americans impacted by the pandemic. As part of this legislation, HSAs can now be used to purchase certain over-the-counter medical products and medicines — including those needed in quarantine and social distancing, and feminine hygiene products — without a prescription from a doctor.

The CARES Act also expanded coverage of telehealth services. Specifically, it now includes a provision that allows HDHPs to cover telehealth services before the deductible has been met. Until now, the IRS had not allowed these expenses to be reimbursed under a HDHP until the plan’s deductible had been reached.

Fact #5 – HSAs can help close the retirement health care gap

In addition to helping American workers take control of their health and financial wellness needs, HSAs can also provide an attractive investment opportunity. Account holders can contribute money in their HSA to plan for future health care costs, while also investing in mutual funds once the account reaches the investment threshold. These investment options are similar to lineups available in typical workplace retirement accounts and can include target-date series, active and passive equity, and bonds and fixed income. Therefore, an individual can put money into their HSA for 20 or 30 years and potentially be better prepared for retirement.

This design feature of an HSA is important when you consider the U.S. is facing a retirement crisis, due in large part to the ever-increasing costs of health care. Industry research shows 40% of American workers lack confidence that they will have enough money to take care of their medical expenses in retirement. And, those feelings may be justified, when you consider the average couple is estimated to need $296,000 in savings for a 90% chance of covering health care expenses in retirement.

Therefore, in addition to helping pay for health costs when you are working, HSAs can serve as a valuable long-term savings vehicle to help close the retirement health care savings gap.

Final Thoughts

While no one knows for certain when this global health crisis will come to end, it’s important we continue to prepare for the unexpected. During your open enrollment period, I would encourage everyone to take a closer look at HSAs. While misunderstood and often underutilized, now is the time to get smart on HSAs as a potential opportunity to help protect your family’s health and financial wellness needs.

About The Author

Rob Grubka, Fellow in the Society of Actuaries

President, Employee Benefits, Voya Financial

Rob Grubka is president of Employee Benefits for Voya Financial. In this role, he is responsible for product development and management, distribution and the end-to-end customer experience for Voya’s stop loss, group life, disability and supplemental health insurance solutions, as well as health savings and spending accounts, offered to U.S. businesses and covering more than 6.2 million individuals through the workplace.

This article was originally published on Kiplinger.com as part of its Building Wealth column. Rob Grubka, president of Voya Employee Benefits, is a regular industry contributor.

Subtitle
How HSAs can help you take control of your health and financial wellness needs
Compliance Code
CN1384175_1122
Business Owner
Jennifer Song
Expiration Date
Female caregiver with hands wrapped around elderly man's shoulders as they hug.
Individuals Protection and Insurance Health insurance Workplace benefits and special needs planning Maximizing employer benefits Retirement

How employer benefits can support caregiving employees in critical moments

Member for

1 year 11 months
Submitted by smoses on Thu, 11/12/2020 - 10:15

The COVID-19 crisis is affecting everyone, but employees who are caregivers may be experiencing a higher level of pressure and stress than their non-caregiver colleagues.

In addition to their professional careers, millions of employees provide care for loved ones who are aging or have special needs and disabilities. In fact, one in five American employees manage both a job and caregiving responsibilities, according to Voya Cares research (PDF). Yet, 44 percent of employers are unaware that up to 20% of their employees are caregivers.

While most employers are offering flexible schedules and remote work accommodations during the pandemic, employers are prompted to find more targeted ways to best support the needs of their employees who are caregivers.

The pandemic increases pressure on caregivers

The coronavirus pandemic has had a unique impact on employee caregivers. According to the National Alliance for Caregiving (PDF), about 43.5 million caregivers in the United States are likely to be impacted by the virus outbreak in some form. Voya Cares research shows that four out of five caregiving employees experience increased stress or anxiety as a result of their dual roles. Caregiving was already stressful, but the pandemic has made it more so, adding additional fear, anxiety and isolation.

Amid widespread layoffs, furloughs and salary cutbacks resulting from the pandemic response, the economic uncertainty is even more intense for caregivers. Even before the pandemic, 57% of employee caregivers surveyed were concerned about whether their financial resources would last. By comparison, only 39% of the general population felt the same way, Voya Cares research shows. The average caregiver spends $825 per month on caregiving expenses, and when economic uncertainty is high, that added expense can be difficult or even unsustainable.

How employers can support caregiving employees during the pandemic

Caregiving employees are looking to employers for help. In fact, Voya Cares research (PDF) shows 93 percent of caregiver employees say benefits are as important to them as a higher salary. However, certain benefits are valued more highly by caregivers than other employees. Here are a few of the top employee benefits that could be used to support caregiving employees, especially during COVID-19 crisis.

  • Health savings accounts and flexible spending accounts. 71 percent of caregiving employees say health savings accounts (HSA) and flexible spending accounts (FSA) are extremely important to them, compared with 54 percent of the general population.
  • Assistance in finding resources. Assistance in finding caregivers or medical providers is also extremely important to 73 percent of caregiving employees, compared to 40 percent of the general population.
  • Financial planning tools. Other benefits that are highly valued by caregiving employees include ABLE accounts, which are savings accounts that won’t jeopardize means-tested government benefits eligibility online tools to manage caregiving; financial wellness programs and long-term care insurance. Online resources like those found at Voyacares.com can help with easy access to relevant information and links to programs and services to support employees in their community.
  • Paid family or eldercare leave. Paid leave specifically to provide care can be a tremendous help for employees who are in need of time away from work, but depend on their income to make ends meet.

Wellthy can help create a more supportive environment

Portrait of cheerful indian woman in smart working from home. Beautiful middle eastern girl working as customer service representative with laptop. Smiling young woman at home with headset doing video call and smiling.

Voya is collaborating with Wellthy to offer its unique services to plan sponsors for their employees. Wellthy is a cutting-edge healthcare concierge service focused on helping families care for loved ones with complex, chronic or ongoing care needs. Through this program, a caregiving employee can be matched with a dedicated care coordinator who can help minimize the employee’s logistical and administrative responsibilities. The coordinator can also guide the family through a care plan, advocate for loved ones and manage tasks related to medical, in-home, financial, legal, housing and social and emotional needs.

Employees who have access to Wellthy enjoy:

  • Peace of mind and stress reduction.
  • Ability to focus on their job.
  • One place for managing care quality and costs.
  • Immediate expert help without added expense.

And it’s not just caregiving employees who benefit from this support, employers also experience:

  • Increased productivity.
  • Increased employee loyalty.
  • Improved retention of high-value employees.
  • Alleviation of employees’ unaddressed stress.

During the current crisis, Wellthy offers tailored COVID-19 support to help caregiving employees. That might include developing a plan B in case the caregiver gets sick, including developing an inventory of essential items and medications. COVID-19 support for caregivers also includes helping build a team of family, friends and local services who can help manage caregiving responsibilities during this stressful time.

When employers take time to provide robust benefits to ease the concerns of their caregiving employees, they’ll build loyalty and goodwill — and help employees become more engaged and productive.

Talk to your Voya representative for more information.

Compliance Code
Business Owner
Mathew Stagner
Expiration Date
Group watching man and woman talking in group
Employers Financial Professionals Individuals Workplace benefits and special needs planning Trending Topics Information about the disabilities community Information about the disability community
Short Title
Support your caregiving employees in critical moments

Caring for caregivers during COVID-19

Member for

1 year 11 months
Submitted by smoses on Wed, 11/11/2020 - 19:05
“There are only four kinds of people in the world: those who have been caregivers, those who are currently caregivers, those who will be caregivers, and those who will need caregivers.” — Rosalynn Carter
woman with daughter in a tent

When Rosalynn Carter spoke those words about caregivers, she may not have envisioned a time like the present when caregivers would be under such immense pressure to care for loved ones during the worst public health emergency in over a century.

Right now in America, more than one in five Americans (21.3%) is a caregiver, having provided care to an adult or child with special needs in the past year — and, of those, 61% work.1

That means millions of working people are caregivers, and you may be one of them. If so, you already know that caregivers are part of an overlooked group who sometimes feel isolated and ignored. In fact, 20% of you do not even identify yourselves as caregivers in the workplace, and your managers and colleagues may not be aware that as many as four out of five of you say you are under increased stress on a daily basis.2

Add to your “typical” day the current COVID-19 pandemic, and your stress is off the charts; as a result of the pandemic, those of you who make up the special needs community report experiencing increased levels of stress, fear and isolation: 37% say COVID-19 has had a severe impact on daily life vs. 25% of those who are not part of the special needs community.3

A Voya Cares® research study by LRW has identified the unrecognized needs that are often times unique or, if similar to the general population of working people, are amplified by your caregiving situations. Additional Voya Financial research in 2020 further measures the outsized added impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on caregivers. We’ll review what these research studies have told us and provide some practical steps that you can take as a working caregiver to help lighten your load.

Hiding in plain sight

One in five Americans has taken on the role of family caregiver. If you are that one person in five, your caregiving responsibilities may have been assumed suddenly, for example as the result of a birth, accident or illness. Or your process of becoming a caregiver may have been so gradual that you didn’t recognize that you, yourself, had become a caregiver, steadily taking on day-to-day help with errands, cooking, cleaning, budgeting, bill paying, medical care, transportation, or even just providing company. Whether you stepped into the role in one jump, or slowly assumed it over a period of time, a key differentiator of your role as family caregiver is that it’s an unpaid one — provided as a family member or friend.

With millions of caregivers like you in the U.S. workforce, employers might seem hard-pressed not to notice you. The reality, however, is that less than half of employers are aware of the national caregiving average, which indicates that more than 20% of their workers are caregivers.4

So you and your caregiver peers remain hidden; nearly one in five of you admits that you are reluctant to talk about your situation because it could negatively affect your pay, benefits, progress and employment at work5. At the same time, 79% of you feel that your employers could be doing more to help ease your concerns on the job and away from it.6

Your concerns are many. Along with working 40 or more hours, many of you spend up to an additional 32 hours each week providing care — nearly the equivalent of holding two full-time jobs7. Perhaps as a result, a staggering 83% of you report using sick days, personal leave or vacation time to provide care8. Overall, caregivers like you miss 5.2 days a month to provide care, as opposed to an average 2.8 days for your own personal reasons9. And 83 percent of you report that you use vacation or personal time to take off work to tend to your loved ones.10

One of the most concerning revelations from our research may not be a surprise to you. We found that caregivers report that their responsibilities caused them to cut back on work hours (56%), leave one job for another (31%) or quit work entirely (22%).11

The cost of these employment changes can be significant — exiting from the workplace can lead to more than $300,000 in lost wages and Social Security and pension benefits over an employee’s lifetime.

Days off, reduced hours and job changes generally mean less income for caregivers. Adding to that reality, caregiving employees report that they spend a monthly average of $825 out of their own pockets for caregiving needs and supplies.13

Financially, the sum total of all these factors add up to a big cost. Adding the COVID-19 pandemic into the mix only has increased the financial pressure on your shoulders, as a caregiver.

Navigating the Financial Straits

Close to half of those of you who are caregiving employees say you are living paycheck to paycheck and are barely getting by financially, compared to only three in 10 general population employees.14

Amid widespread layoffs, furloughs and salary cutbacks resulting from the pandemic response, the economic uncertainty is even more intense for caregivers. One in five reports an increased difficulty meeting the financial needs related to providing special care for your family, due to COVID-19.15

With caregivers’ budgets limited by the costs of providing assistance:

  • 60% cut back spending on necessities such as clothing and transportation and even utility bills each month.
  • 61% delayed major life changes and purchases, such as buying a new car or home, moving to a different apartment or making necessary changes to their current living space.
  • 69% cut spending on vacations and other leisure activity.16

Even more critical, more than half of caregivers express concerns that the money they have won’t last. And 30% have tapped their retirement funds for hardship loans since starting to provide care — a move that puts your future financial security at risk.17 And that was before the pandemic and the CARES Act eased up access to your retirement savings.

  • More than half of caregivers are concerned the money they have won’t last.
  • 30% have tapped those funds for hardship loans since starting to provide care.

What caregivers want – what caregivers need

Employers may mean well when it comes to helping you meet your unique needs as a working caregiver. Two out of five human resources experts agree that their companies aren’t meeting the needs of caregiving employees.18 More importantly, the majority of these HR administrators want to improve your situation. However, you don’t need to wait for your employer. There are some steps you can take now to help ease your burden.

The good news is that our research told us what benefits you, as a caregiving employee, are interested in seeing your employer provide you, and a good number of these benefits are ones that already may be offered. You ranked the following benefits significantly higher than your general population19 peers:

  • Paid family and elder care leave (85% caregivers vs. 60% general population)
  • Long-term care insurance (82% vs 57%)
  • Short-term and long-term disability income insurance (81% vs 65%)
  • Assistance in finding caregivers and medical providers (73% vs. 40%)
  • Health Savings Accounts and Flexible Spending Accounts (71% vs 54%)
  • Employee Assistance programs (70% vs 44%)
  • Financial wellness programs (66% vs 41%)
  • ABLE accounts (64% vs. 35%)

Handling your needs with care

Clearly, both you and your employer must work together to bridge the divide between what you need as a caregiver employee and the workplace solutions you are offered.

Although you could benefit from speaking up about your professional and personal responsibilities in order to get your needs recognized and better met, you may feel the risk is not worth the reward. Still, helping your employer better understand your needs and how to meet them is an important hurdle to be overcome and one that warrants further research and understanding.

As a caregiving employee, you can help close the gap by working to gain an understanding of the worksite benefits and services offered to you and how to use them to best manage you needs and responsibilities. In fact, all of your peer employees can benefit from the same understanding as well.

Finally, you should consult an experienced special needs financial representative about building a holistic financial plan that fits your needs as a caregiver, as well as your families’ individual needs. Look into establishing an ABLE account, special-needs trust, retirement plan and even a monthly budget. These steps seem like a daunting undertaking, when you also are trying to navigate the health, safety and financial fallout of a worldwide pandemic, provide enhanced care for your loved one, make ends meet sometimes in the face of reduced hours or a furlough, and, if not, hold down a job. If you are like most caregivers, you don’t have the resources or time to develop a plan for a secure financial future. We strongly recommend seeking the help of a proven professional.

As Rosalynn Carter said so eloquently, you probably know someone who was a caregiver, is a caregiver or will be a caregiver. Are you a caregiver? Whatever the case, everyone in the workplace needs to understand that we caregivers are amongst them and need everyone’s support.

View PDF version

Subtitle
Effects of pandemic amplified for caregivers
Compliance Code
CN1331297_0922
Business Owner
Mathew Stagner
Expiration Date
Mother and son at home.
Employers Financial Professionals Individuals Maximizing employer benefits Workplace benefits and special needs planning

LRW is not affiliated with the Voya® family of companies.

Products and services offered through the Voya® family of companies.

CN1331297_0922

  1. Caregiving in the U.S.: 2020 Report. AARP and National Alliance for Caregivers. May 2020.
  2. For the Benefit of All: How Organizations Win When They Recognize and Support Caregivers and Employees with Disabilities,” Voya Cares, May 2019, voyacares.com/forthebenefitofall.
  3. Caregiving and special needs in the time of COVID-19, Voya Financial, AYTM COVID-19 Consumer Tracker conducted via online survey, June 2020.
  4. For the benefit of all. Voya Cares
  5. For the benefit of all. Voya Cares
  6. For the benefit of all. Voya Cares
  7. Age Wave/Merrill Lynch. The Journey of Caregiving: Honor, Responsibility and Financial Complexity (2017).
  8. For the benefit of all. Voya Cares
  9. For the benefit of all. Voya Cares
  10. For the benefit of all. Voya Cares
  11. For the benefit of all. Voya Cares
  12. The Working Caregiver Crisis: A Whitepaper for Employers who have Employees that Double as Caregivers. TruSense. February 2018: mytrusense.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/TruSense-The-Working-Caregiver-Crisis-Employer-Version-FINAL.pdf
  13. For the benefit of all. Voya Cares
  14. For the benefit of all. Voya Cares
  15. Caregiving and special needs in the time of COVID-19, Voya Financial
  16. For the benefit of all. Voya Cares
  17. For the benefit of all. Voya Cares
  18. For the benefit of all. Voya Cares
  19. For the benefit of all. Voya Cares
Short Title
Caring for caregivers during COVID-19

Employee Benefit News

Member for

1 year 11 months
Submitted by smoses on Mon, 07/13/2020 - 09:49

EBN shines a light on Wellthy, a caregiving benefit company founded by Lindsay Jurist-Rosner who spent decades caring for her chronically ill mother. Wellthy’s caregiving benefit is catching on in the workplace with companies including Voya Financial now offering the benefit to its employees and employer clients.

benefitnews.com/news/ceo-wants-to-make-caregiving-benefits-more-accessible-to-employees

Compliance Code
CN1376647_1022
Business Owner
Mathew Stagner
Expiration Date
Co-workers sitting around in discussion at a table in an office with papers and tablets.
Employers Financial Professionals Workplace benefits and special needs planning Trending Topics Employee Benefits
Short Title
Employee Benefit News highlights Wellthy

How ABLE accounts can help employers be more inclusive

Member for

1 year 11 months
Submitted by smoses on Mon, 07/13/2020 - 09:35

We’ve seen a shift towards a broader line of thinking when it comes to the role of the employer and the financial wellness of employees. The growth of employer student loan programs, emergency savings programs, health savings accounts (HSAs), 529s and other accounts that allow direct deposit — and in some cases employer match — can help employees achieve financial goals that are important to them. Unfortunately, many of these solutions, along with defined contribution plans, may unintentionally exclude an important and growing segment of the workforce: people with special needs, disabilities and caregivers.

Orange image with human character outlines that says "1 in 5 employee caregivers may be at risk of quitting".

To best attract the diverse talent offered by people with disabilities and caregivers, employers are trending toward more inclusive employment practices, such as offering accessible workplaces and employer-sponsored benefits.

Employer-sponsored benefits vs. government benefit eligibility

Employers now have the opportunity to reverse years of disadvantages faced by people with disabilities and special needs and caregivers in the workplace.

People with disabilities or special needs have been at a financial disadvantage for years, in part due to restrictions imposed by government benefits programs that are often critical to managing care needs. Many government benefits require qualifying individuals to limit their income and keep accumulated assets — including retirement accounts, HSAs, and 529 plans — below strict limits, or risk losing their eligibility.

As a result, employees with disabilities or special needs often opt out of valuable employer-sponsored benefits — including 401(k) and 403(b) plans — to maintain government benefit eligibility. Opting out of one’s employer-sponsored retirement plan may have serious ramifications for savings accumulation and tax benefits. In addition to giving up the ability to save an individual’s own money for retirement and other goals, those with disability or special needs situations may also be giving up the employer match, which is a significant benefit to those employees who participate.

Caregiver challenges in the workplace

As noted in Voya’s own research (PDF), financial challenges extend to caregivers in the workplace as well. Caregivers and loved ones who are employed face additional stress as they attempt to balance their financial goals with the needs of their loved ones.

Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) accounts in the workplace

As employers recognize the needs of people with disabilities, special needs and caregivers in the workplace, a potential alternative to opting out of valuable employer benefits to maintain government benefit eligibility is emerging in the form of ABLE accounts. ABLE accounts (PDF) are state-sponsored, tax-deferred accounts under the same tax code as 529 education plans. However, instead of being strictly for higher education, they can be used for nearly anything related to quality of life for a person with a disability. Individuals with disabilities that began prior to age 26 may be eligible to contribute to an ABLE account. Caregivers, loved ones and even employers can also contribute to an ABLE account for an eligible individual.

Perhaps most importantly, assets accumulated in ABLE accounts are not counted toward government benefits resource tests. Account holders can accumulate up to $100,000 in an ABLE account without affecting their benefit payments from Supplemental Security Income (SSI). Depending on specific state limits, ABLE account holders can accumulate $300,000 or more without interrupting their medical coverage and other supports through Medicaid.

With plans available in every state, many with low-cost investments, low minimums and easy access that often includes debit cards, ABLE accounts are an easy, cost-effective way for families and individuals to save and invest for short-term needs and long-term goals. Contributions are limited to $15,000 for 2019, but individuals who are employed and not participating in employer retirement plans can contribute an additional $12,140 for a total potential contribution of $27,140 for 2019. It’s easy to see how employees can really make progress towards their financial goals with ABLE accounts.

Employers can offer ABLE account contributions and support

Orange image with handicapped and caregiver characters with text that says "Able accounts would be an important employer benefit" and "64 percent of caregiver employees agree" and "63 percent of employees with disabilities agree".

ABLE accounts are a relatively new development but are gaining traction as an option for parents to save for their children with special needs or disabilities. But, in the workplace, ABLE can be a viable complement to an employer-sponsored retirement plan for employers who want to be inclusive of people with disabilities and caregivers. Here are a few steps employers can take to offer ABLE account support to eligible employees:

  1. On the simplest level, employers can offer education about ABLE options and even help with access to a direct ABLE program.
  2. Employers can help employees with enrollment as well as allow for payroll deduction and direct deposit to facilitate saving.
  3. Employers that want to go a step further can even offer a matching contribution to ABLE accounts. This step can help bridge the gap between the benefits received by those who are participating in defined contribution retirement plans and those who might choose an ABLE account instead.

Communication, education and assistance are key to this process, as there’s a hurdle to overcome in the form of an understanding gap. Given the fact that ABLE accounts are relatively new and legislation has been evolving, there’s a need for quality educational content and guidance. Some individuals with disabilities are accustomed to strictly adhering to the asset limitation and are worried about saving even though the vehicle is designed for that purpose.

As use of ABLE accounts grows amongst the disabilities and special needs community, employers should consider how to incorporate ABLE into their benefits programs in order to help attract and retain quality employees. In doing so, they can make progress in financial inclusion and help all employees save for their own financial goals.

For more information on ABLE accounts, visit VoyaCares.com or ask your Voya relationship manager.

Subtitle
Elevating inclusion with employer-sponsored ABLE solutions
Compliance Code
CN972586_1021
Business Owner
Mathew Stagner
Expiration Date
Small group of happy colleagues talking with fellow colleague in wheelchair.
Employers Financial Professionals Workplace benefits and special needs planning For use with your clients Voya

This material is provided for general and educational purposes only; it is not intended to provide legal, tax or investment advice. All investments are subject to risk. Please consult an independent legal or financial advisor for specific advice about your individual situation.

Short Title
How ABLE accounts can help employers be more inclusive

Voya Cares research: Resources needed for caregivers in the workplace

Member for

1 year 11 months
Submitted by smoses on Thu, 07/09/2020 - 12:02

A growing subset of employees in the workforce is going unnoticed — caregivers and employees with disabilities and special needs. This group of employees is not only growing, but also made up of significant numbers of top-level staff members who are increasingly costly to replace in an organization.

Through our Voya Cares program — which advocates for and offers educational and planning resources and solutions to help people with disabilities, special needs and caregivers, plan for their futures — we conducted extensive market research to assess the complex realities and needs of caregivers and employees with disabilities to help inform employers on how to best support them.

The results showed that almost half of surveyed employers lacked awareness of the increasing numbers of caregivers and people who have disabilities and special needs in their workplace. One in five American employees is a caregiver, but 44% of all employers are unaware that so many of their employees are caregivers, as the national statistic indicates.

Nevertheless, 80% of employers recognize that their company could be doing more to help caregiving employees. They say the biggest barrier to doing more, however, is making a compelling business case to invest in additional relevant benefits.

Caregiving’s toll: Both employees and employers feel the effect

But why is the number of caregivers in the workforce worth paying attention to?

There’s a significant physical, emotional and financial impact on caregiving employees and employees with disabilities. Four out of five caregiving employees said that they experienced increased stress or anxiety as a result of their dual roles, and a majority also report using sick, personal leave, or vacation time to provide care. As a result, common issues reported by caregivers include trouble sleeping, depression and anxiety.

In addition, compared to the general population of employees, caregivers and employees with disabilities and special needs are in a more uncertain financial situation. More than half of caregivers and employees with disabilities surveyed are concerned that the money they have or the money they will save won’t last.

Employers cannot afford to ignore the needs of caregivers and employees with disabilities. The minutes, hours and days of productivity that are lost because of stress, reduced concentration, doctors’ appointments and more can add up very quickly over time. Consider the following:

  • Employee replacement cost – It is costly for employers to replace employees, and caregivers can feel like they do not have a choice but to leave a position, if they do not feel like they have the support or flexibility they need to juggle caregiving and work.
  • Productivity loss – It is common for caregivers to need to take time off to provide care, and one in five caregivers has quit work entirely due to caregiving demands and feeling like they cannot satisfy the demands of both roles.
  • Time spent on caregiving – Caregiving is time intensive and often cannot wait until the evening or weekends. Taking a child to a doctor’s or therapy appointment, calling insurance companies or local community services, dealing with the unexpected — it all takes time and energy that can sap productivity.

Note that none of these points suggest employing caregivers and people with disabilities has a negative effect on a company. In fact, recent research has shown that a majority of employee caregivers are senior level and likely some of the highest-performing talent in an organization.

However, there is a “caregiving crisis” in the workplace, and employers are increasingly realizing they have a role to play in solving it.

Strong benefits packages appeal to all workers, and they appeal as much — if not more — to employee caregivers and employees with disabilities.

When asked to rate which benefits are most important to them, all employees list three typical top choices: medical insurance, retirement plan and Paid Time Off (PTO). In addition to the benefits that are typically top choices, there are benefits and resources that especially appeal to caregivers and employees with disabilities and special needs. These benefits include:

  1. Legal benefits: More than half of employees with disabilities and special needs and caregivers rate this as an important benefit, as they may have additional considerations that drive demand for legal services.
  2. Health Saving Accounts (HSA) and Flexible Spending Accounts (FSA): All employees, especially individuals with disabilities and special needs and caregivers, value tax-advantaged benefits that help them save for current and future expenses.
  3. Disability and long-term care insurance: A large majority of caregivers and individuals with disabilities rate disability insurance and long-term care insurance as important benefits.
  4. Paid family or elder care leave: Caregivers and employees with disabilities understandably recognize the importance of specific paid leave for caregiving.
  5. Assistance finding providers and resources: Offering a benefit that helps caregivers find service providers and resources in their area can help relieve the stress and time demands that may otherwise detract from productivity.
  6. Online resource centers: Caregivers and employees with disabilities also indicated that they value digital tools to help manage caregiving, organize documents and find information to assist in special needs planning.

This information intends to raise awareness among employers of the prevalence of caregivers and people with disabilities and special needs in the workplace, foster understanding of their unique circumstances, and suggest actions — actions that are valued by all employees — that companies can take in order to avoid the high cost of employee turnover.

See For the Benefit of All: How Organizations Win When They Recognize and Support Caregivers and Employees with Disabilities for five specific recommendations to help employers address the needs of caregivers and employees with disabilities.

See Infographics: Caregivers in the workplace, Employers make a difference (download PDF) for a quick look at the Voya Cares market research that assesses the complex realities and needs of caregivers in the workplace to help inform employers on the effects and how to best support them.

See the Voya Cares Checklist for Employers (download PDF). From inclusive hiring practices, to communication, to employee benefits, this checklist can be a guide to see where your company is today, and where you might be able to improve.

Compliance Code
CN1376647_1022
Business Owner
Mathew Stagner
Expiration Date
Employers Financial Professionals Workplace benefits and special needs planning Thought leadership For use with your clients Information about the disabilities community Information about the disability community Voya
Short Title
Voya Cares research: caregivers in the workplace

How organizations win when they recognize and support caregivers and employees with disabilities

Member for

1 year 11 months
Submitted by smoses on Thu, 07/09/2020 - 11:59

A growing group of employees in the workforce may be going unnoticed — caregivers and employees with disabilities and special needs. Organizations that are slow to recognize them and meet their needs may be facing significantly increased replacement costs and decreased productivity. New research assesses the complex realities and needs of caregivers and employees with disabilities and suggests how employee benefits decision makers may be able to best assist them.

Preview of front page of the  for the benefit of all, how organizations win when they recognize and support caregivers and employers with disabilities whitepaper.

 

Compliance Code
CN1376647_1022
Business Owner
Mathew Stagner
Expiration Date
Group of a business people having meeting in a conference room.
Employers Financial Professionals Thought leadership Workplace benefits and special needs planning Voya
Short Title
Voya Cares Research: For the Benefit of all
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