Know Your Rights: Tips on How to Use This Downtime to Review Your Benefits
Every day, we hear repeatedly something about the coronavirus or COVID-19 pandemic around the world. This pandemic is not only causing sickness, and sometimes death, but it is also causing quite a few problems for workers, employers, and businesses all across the U.S.
Many workers may be experiencing working from home for the first time or a decrease in their hours.
During this downtime, now is the time to review your benefits in case you are diagnosed with a serious illness or are unable to work due to an injury.
Check with HR. Do you have short-term and long-term disability policies?
Review your benefits. Become famliar with the time limits associated with the policies. If you do have short-term and long-term disability policies, review those benefits for the time limits with making a claim under both policies. You need to know what these time limits are ahead of time, so you are ready in the event that you come down with an illness or sickness that precludes you from working.
Think about retirement. Review your retirement or pension plan documents. The same may be true if you're coming close to retirement age. It may be in your best interest, if you do come down with an illness or sickness, for you to go ahead and file for your retirement benefit claim or pension benefit claim. Review those plan documents because again, there are time limits as to when those benefits may start.
Review your estate documents. Do you have a power of attorney and a last will and testament? It's important to review those documents every five years because circumstances may change. A power of attorney is an important document to consider. If you come down with an illness, decisions have to be made, and you're not fit to make them, that agent or power of attorney, which you appoint, may be able to take action for you. And, of course, your will is a safety net in the event that there's some asset that doesn't immediately pass to someone else. Check to see what your will says, and make sure you are leaving your assets to the people that you want to leave them to.
None of us want to come down with an illness that might sideline us or make us very sick for a long time; however, there are reports of people having long-term respiratory illnesses from COVID-19. There is also a small percentage of people who have actually died from COVID-19. You need to know what your benefits are now, while you have time to review them. Take advantage of the time on your hands, and review your benefit plans from your workplace as well as your retirement/pension plans and estate documents.