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Financial Planning Insights from Bob Dockendorff JD, LL.M



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Financial Planning Win: The Value of Persistence

Sometimes, making good financial decisions is simply about understanding your options, choosing a course of action, and following through with persistence. 

My client had worked for the same employer since the mid 1970’s. He was on track to retire around age 67. In early 2019, however, he had a health event that caused him to be hospitalized for several weeks, with months of recovery thereafter. 

This was an unplanned retirement. 

Luckily, he had accumulated enough vacation and sick time to last nearly six months—which took him through the summer of 2019. 

He was very proud that he “never took a sick day” in over forty years of employment. 

During the spring, we chatted many times together to prepare for full retirement, which includes all the usual stuff.  His retirement portfolio was already positioned to provide a steady paycheck, as needed. We reviewed his Medicare options and revisited some Social Security strategies.

He was going to be OK.

I asked him whether or not he had a long-term disability policy through work. 

“I don’t think so,” he said. 

I suggested that we call into his HR department—which we did sometime in April, about two months after his health event. 

It turns out he DID have long term disability coverage through a private insurance company, and his HR Representative said they would be in touch about that “once they talked to their representatives.” 

Weeks went by, then a month. I checked in again—he said his HR group was taking care of it.  

A month later, I checked in again. He hadn’t heard anything. I pressed him to contact them again, and I could join him if needed. 

A few weeks later—his HR representatives gave him some details on the policy and said they would file a claim. 

Weeks after, we sat down with the details of the policy to strategize and plan out how this might help. The policy paid 65% of his monthly income for two years. 

Still no word from HR, so we called the company directly. Turns out the company had sold all of these policies to another large, well known, private insurance company. The hunt continued… 

By this time, we were into September, more than six months since his health event and his paychecks had run out. Finally, we heard from the insurance company directly and they said it would take another 45 days to review the claim. 

So, we had to wait some more.

I could sense the skepticism in my client’s voice that this whole situation wouldn’t work out and he should just begin taking Social Security. A tree had fallen in his yard, he needed work done, and he was low on cash. I told him he could take a distribution from an IRA if needed, but we weren’t giving up on the disability policy. 

I reminded him that this is the exact reason why disability policies exist. He should be working and would be working, as he did successfully for 45 years prior without ever missing a day, but for this health event. 

Yes, it would take paperwork, and follow up calls, and potentially arguing with someone in his HR group—but it was worth it. 

Finally, on a Monday morning around 10:30 he called and said he’d been approved for the disability policy. It would pay him $4,500 per month for the next two years. 

A total of $108,000 during the first few years of retirement. Now, he has serious planning options. He can defer social security to let it grow, or keep his retirement funds invested longer, or save the funds for a rainy day, or even go on a much-needed vacation. An extra $108,000 can only help.  

The Point Is… 

Without the help of an outside professional researching, helping, and encouraging follow through on this—it never would have happened. 

Many people don’t understand their financial options and planning opportunities. He didn’t even know he had a policy (we had to call HR to confirm his policy). 

Some may know that they have a policy, but don’t know how to file a claim (we had to remind HR on an almost weekly basis to follow through with the claim). 

Some might start a claim, but they fail to complete all the paperwork or follow through on it. 

With the help of a knowledgeable accountability partner in the form of a holistic financial planner, folks can hedge against letting something MAJOR slip through the cracks. 

In just a few months of persistent hard work, I’ve created value that greatly exceeds my annual fee. 

 

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