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Medicare Interactive
April 24, 2019

 

Medicare Interactive Pro (MI Pro) is a comprehensive online curriculum designed to empower any professional to help their clients, patients, employees, retirees, and others navigate their Medicare coverage to access affordable health care.

Building on the Medicare Rights Center’s almost 30 years of health care counseling and educational expertise, MI Pro offers a four-level Core Curriculum, with four to five interactive courses in each level. Among the topics included are “Medicare Basics,” “Medicare Appeals and Penalties,” and “Medicare and Other Insurance and Assistance Programs.”

Additionally, “Special Topics” courses augment the Core Curriculum to address specific Medicare subjects in detail for users who want to develop expertise in key Medicare areas, like Fall Open Enrollment.

MI Pro subscribers have access to:

  • Interactive activities and knowledge quizzes
  • Automatic course bookmarking so learners can continue where they left off
  • An array of printable supplementary tools and fliers
  • Review tests at the end of every course – pass the course with a grade of 80 percent or higher and download a certificate of completion
  • Educational content vetted by a team of Medicare Rights Center experts
  • Closed captioning

MI Pro is structured so that each course level builds on the information learned in previous levels. A free assessment places users into the appropriate course and level, and quizzes and downloadable materials accompanying each course test subscribers’ knowledge.

MI Pro is available today. To learn more, please visit https://www.medicareinteractive.org/wcc

WealthCare Connect may receive compensation from this provider for purchases you make through the above link.

Social Security Pro
June 7, 2019

 

Timing is everything, and the arrival time of your monthly payment from Social Security can be key to keeping your financial house in order.

As you budget to pay your bills and save for future needs, keep in mind that your monthly retirement or disability benefit will be paid at the same time each month. To see your next payment date, create or log on to your my Social Security online account and go to the “Benefits & Payments” section.

In general, here’s how we assign payment dates:

  • If you were born on the 1st through the 10th of the month, you’ll be paid on the second Wednesday of the month;
  • If you were born on the 11th through the 20th of the month, you’ll be paid on the third Wednesday of the month; and
  • If you were born after the 20th of the month, you’ll be paid on the fourth Wednesday of the month.

There are exceptions. For example, children and spouses who receive benefits based on someone else’s work record will be paid on the same day as the primary beneficiary.

For others, we may issue your payments on the 3rd of each month. Among other reasons, we do this if:

  • You filed for benefits before May 1, 1997;
  • You also receive a Supplemental Security Income (SSI) payment;
  • Your Medicare premiums are paid for by the state where you live; or
  • You live in a foreign country.

Individuals who receive SSI payments due to disability, age, or blindness receive those payments on the 1st of each month.

If your payment date falls on a federal holiday or weekend, you can expect to receive that month’s payment on the weekday immediately prior.

You can see a current schedule for Social Security and SSI benefit payments in an easy-to-read calendar.

Author: 

Andy Landis
December 27, 2016

 

Avoid retirement surprises by understanding the Social Security computation. Let’s go back to school to study the math behind your Social Security. A little understanding of the numbers goes a long way to avoiding retirement surprises and shortfalls. Like other pension systems, your Social Security is based on three factors: eligibility, earnings, and age. SSA puts its own twist on each factor. Math 101: Compute your eligibility To be eligible for Social Security retirement payments, you need 40 Work Credits (WCs). You can earn up to 4 WCs per year, so they’re sometimes called quarters. In 2015 you earn one WC for each $1220 you earn anytime in the year. So if you earn 4 x $1220, or $4880 in 2015, you get all 4 WCs for the year. (Only work where you pay Social Security taxes counts. The cost per WC generally increases annually with inflation.) 40 WCs ÷ 4 WCs per year = 10 years of part-time work needed for a retirement payment. Math 102: Compute your average earnings The second factor is your lifetime average earnings. Many pensions are computed on your best 5 years of work. Not Social Security. It’s based on your best 35 years of work. Here’s how: • SSA records each year’s earnings subject to Social Security taxes. • When you hit 62, every year is multiplied by an inflation factor to make it more comparable to today’s pay level. • The top 35 years of inflated earnings are selected and averaged together. The years need not be contiguous (in a row or block). That 35-year average determines your Social Security payment—a higher average means higher Social Security. 35 years are used, even if you don’t have 35 years of work. Missing years post as zeros, reducing your 35-year average. A little math hocus-pocus (see http://www.socialsecurity.gov/OACT/COLA/piaformula.html) converts your 35-year average into your Social Security payment. Avoid two mistakes here. • First, high late-career earnings don’t always mean high Social Security, if you had low earnings earlier. It’s a lifetime average. • Second, retiring a few years early after lifelong work won’t drastically reduce your Social Security. A few zeros have little impact on your 35-year average. Math 103: Compute your age The third factor is your age when you start payments. That’s based on your Full Retirement Age (FRA). Your FRA is between 65 and 67, determined by your birth year. (See http://www.socialsecurity.gov/OACT/ProgData/nra.html) Whatever your FRA, you can start payments any month from 62 to 70. Start payments at your FRA and you get a 100% payment. Start payments earlier and you get a small reduction for each reduction month. For example, if your FRA is 66, and payments start at 62, your 48 reduction months yield a 75% payment. Start payments after your FRA and you get a raise for each month’s Delayed Retirement Credit (DRC). For example, if your FRA is 66 and payments start at 70, the 48 DRCs yield a 132% payment. Age factors top out at 70; don’t delay filing after that. An SSA calculator at http://www.socialsecurity.gov/OACT/quickcalc/early_late.html#calculator figures the percentage for any month from 62-70. More schooling • Get SSA’s estimate of your future payments at www.ssa.gov/myaccount. • Math nerds: See a sample computation dissected by SSA at http://www.socialsecurity.gov/OACT/ProgData/retirebenefit1.html or in my book, available at http://andylandis.biz/index_files/Page403.htm. • Compute your own estimate at www.ssa.gov/pubs/index.html. Type “your retirement” in the lower search box (under the “Publications” headline), and select your birth year in the “PDF” button. It all adds up. So as always, keep on planning.

How to Win in Court
March 2, 2019

 

Want to drive your opponents nuts?

Tie them down with word-power!

Stuff your opponents in a word-box and win your case!

Most pro se people don't understand ... so they lose, needlessly.

Many lawyers don't understand ... so they also lose, needlessly ... and take their client's money anyway!

Sentences with ONE VERB.

Sentences with ONE SUBJECT.

One subject. One verb. And only the absolutely necessary adjectives and adverbs.

If it's important to say your opponent's nose was gigantic, say so. Otherwise, leave it out!

Each sentence is a complete thought.

Mrs. Edgerton taught me that in Second Grade, and it's helped me win countless court battles.

 

Click HERE for information on Win Without a Lawyer's online Legal Self-Help Course

Hard Assets Alliance
March 20, 2019

 

 

I don’t like to speculate on what the market is going to do next, but there are three things that have me worried right now...
 
See this chart?

 

This shows how much US households are spending on goods and services…

And spending has absolutely CRATERED!

Like, “we haven’t seen this since 2008” kind of bad.

The personal savings rate has made a HUGE jump...

 

 

And most disturbing of all…

The number of major S&P 500 tumbles in the last three-year window has hit its highest level since the 1940s!

 

What the heck is going on here?
 
Is this a warning sign for trouble ahead?
 
Or are people just getting jittery, and it’ll all be okay?

 

P.S. Precious metals – like gold, silver, platinum and palladium – are a great option to consider if you’re looking for a reliable safe haven from the stock market.

 

For more info, click HERE

How to Win in Court
March 22, 2019

 

People complain their "rights" are being taken away.

A few are ready to fight-and-die to protect our "rights".

But only a few know their #1 Right!

In fact, the main reason we're losing so many rights these days is because too few of you know your #1 Right!

What is this "right" too few of you know?

It is your right to know how to enforce your rights!

Government isn't telling you!

Your tax-supported schools aren't teaching you.

The legal profession is doing a bang up job hiding it from you!

An old adage says, "Ignorance of the law is no excuse," yet neither government nor the legal profession has at any time in the history of the world made any genuine effort to teach the public how justice is secured in courts. Nothing about the rules of evidence. Nothing about the rules of procedure. Nothing about how to use the rules to get Justice! Nothing!

Your rights are nothing but empty promises if you don't know how (or can't afford a lawyer) to enforce them!

Think about it!

Without your #1 Right (or tens of thousands of dollars to pay lawyers) what good are all those "rights" your government promises you?

If you don't know how to enforce your rights, do you really have any?

Think carefully!

Rights without the know-how to enforce them are just empty promises for anyone but the filthy rich!

They are like carrots on a stick, encouraging us to be good little boys and girls, working hard and buying things to keep the economy going for the benefit of the well-to-do who can afford lawyers to fight for them!

You've been lied to long enough!

Read Luke 11:52 in your Bible to discover how long the wool has been pulled over the public's eyes by lawyers who've been running the world far too long by purposely keeping you in the dark so lawyers can get rich at your expense!

Your blindfold is coming off!

The legal profession cannot hide your #1 Right any longer!

Your #1 Right is easy-to-learn!

For information on the "How to Win in Court, self-help course, click HERE.

How to Win in Court
April 15, 2019

 

Many people "assume" they know what it takes to win in court

Most of them lose!

They think, "The facts and law are on my side. I should win!"

That's not how our courts work!

Facts and Law are not enough!

You must PROVE your case using the Rules.

Some people just get angry ... and lose!

Others think they can use one of the internet's legal mythology silver bullets ... and lose!

A fact may be certain, yet not be "admissible evidence"!

Those who march into court with their "facts", without knowing how to get those facts into the court's record as "admissible evidence" lose!

Only "admissible evidence" wins in court..

Know how to get your evidence admitted.

For information on the "How to Win in Court, self-help course, click HERE.

Axos Bank
June 5, 2019

 

As a financial advisor, you rely on having a strong presence in your local community. Your business depends on your reputation as a trustworthy and astute handler of finances being spread from person to person, from business to business, throughout the region in which you offer your services. The further your reputation extends, the more accounts you are able to add to your client base.

 

In your particular niche, there is no promotion for your services quite as powerful or as effective as word-of-mouth. In 2016, however, word-of-mouth is no longer confined strictly to physical interactions or telephone conversations between people. Given that you are reading an online blog article about Local Search Engine Optimization (SEO), you surely know this. We live in a world in which digital and online methods of communication are as valid and integral to our daily lives as boardroom meetings and conversations at the dinner table.

The question is how you can best take advantage of these distinctly 21st century methods of communication to promote and grow your financial advisory business and bring new clients aboard at the pace you desire. There was a time when simply having a website for a niche subject such as “Financial Advisor Services” along with the geographical keywords for which you wanted to be found would likely have been sufficient. Now, however, there is far more to being found locally for your services, even for a niche financial service such as yours – especially for a niche financial service such as yours.

By keeping the following Local SEO tips in mind as you promote your services as a financial advisor online, you can strengthen your Internet presence and grow your client base substantially.

Local SEO: The New Boss Is Not the Same as the Old Boss

It’s hard to remember a time when we, as Internet users, couldn’t simply turn to Google, put in a search term, and trust that the first ten results are probably the best possible results for that query, or at least among them. However, ten years ago, Google and other search engines could still be fairly easily manipulated by so-called “black hat” SEO practices. If a financial advisor in, say, Houston, Texas wanted to appear on page one of Google for his services, he (or, more likely, his hired “SEO expert”) would makes sure that the phrase “Houston, Texas financial advisor” appeared as many times on the page as possible. It didn’t matter if the page was readable or not; as long as it rose to the top of Google’s rankings, it would attract users.

At that time, web pages such as these were so loaded with geographic qualifiers that sentences read more like Google Map directions than descriptions of services, especially if more than one location was being targeted by that page. Therefore, a sentence like this would not have been fairly common in 2006: “If you are looking for a Houston, Texas financial advisor serving Pasadena, South Houston, Pearland, Dyersdale, Missouri City, and the Greater Houston area, then our Houston, Texas financial advisor is the right choice for you.” Unreadable drivel, yes – but also effective at manipulating the search results.

In 2016, tactics such as these thankfully no longer work, and they haven’t for some time. In fact, they will get your website dropped from Google’s index quickly, if it’s indexed in the first place. Whatever the scope of your SEO strategy, quality content will be the most important factor in its success. That doesn’t mean that your content has to be Pulitzer-worthy, but it does have to be timely, focused, and relevant to the query for which Google produces it. If users are able to interact with it meaningfully, you have a solid base on which to build your Local SEO strategy.

Does this mean that geographic keywords are no longer important? Not exactly – they’re still important; they’re just not as important as they once were. Let’s get keywords out of the way with the first tip and proceed methodically to the elements that have are now more important to Local SEO from there.

Tip #1: The title tag is one SEO element where traditional keywords still carry a fair amount of weight.

The title tag is the page title that usually appears as a clickable link just above the page description in Google’s search results, as well as the title that appears in a browser’s tab when you open a web page. Although keywords have become less important in terms of how often they appear in the actual body content of a web page, they remain important indicators of what a page is about, both to Google and to Google’s users.

Inasmuch as the primary location of your business is important to communicate to prospective clients, the title tag would be one element where you would want to be sure to include a location keyword. According to commonly held current SEO best practices, you should include the city in which your advisory firm is located along with the postal abbreviation of your state (e.g., “Houston, TX”). If you live in a small town or a suburb of a larger city, then it may be appropriate to include the name of both your physical location and the nearest metropolitan area (e.g., “Sunnyside – Houston, TX”) or just the metropolitan area.

There are varying opinions as to how long a properly optimized title should be; some SEO experts suggest that it should be no more than 55 characters including spaces, while others state that it can be as long as 75 characters including spaces. Usually, Google will cut off any title tag that is longer than 70 characters, which is the primary “penalty” of exceeding that character limit.

Tip #2: Do not stuff the content with keywords – especially geographic qualifiers.

Remember the example of a “black hat SEO” sentence above? In 2006, a prospective client might have muddled through such a sentence to determine whether your services were worth procuring, but in 2016, there are plenty of other websites he or she can turn to for information. If you clutter your content with unnecessary references to where you are located, you will likely alienate users and cause them to “bounce” – that is, leave the page without clicking on a link or otherwise interacting with your site. A high bounce rate communicates to Google that a given web page within your site is not considered a good resource by users and therefore should not be produced for queries. It is the surest way to lose local rankings.

Location keywords should generally not appear more than twice on a page: once in the introduction and, possibly, once in the call-to-action at the bottom of a page. If a page is particularly brief, once is generally the limit. (Of course, if it makes sense in the context of the page to include more than two references to the name of a location, then this “rule” can be thrown out the window.)

This cannot be stated strongly enough: Google knows where you are located. Undue repetition of location keywords will not improve your local rankings. Think of the inclusion of geographical qualifiers as a way of promoting a good user experience – a means of reinforcing your commitment to the community that you share – and not part of an attempt to get found locally.

Tip #3: Don’t cast the net too wide, geographically speaking.

As a financial advisor, you may feel that you provide the best financial guidance in your state, and you may be right. However, if you have only one office location, and you tend only to draw clients from the local area, don’t get overambitious in the locations you attempt to target. Again, Google knows where you are located, and listing locations you want to be found for does not mean that Google will produce you for users in those locations. In fact, the greater the competition in those locations, the less likely you will ever be produced for local search queries in those locations.

Take, for instance, our financial advisor in Houston. He may wish to attract clients from Dallas, which is roughly 250 miles away. Let’s assume that he is a relative unknown in Dallas and has never done business in that area. He decides to revise his page title to “Financial Advisor Houston & Dallas, TX” and adds phrases such as “If you are searching for a qualified financial advisor serving Houston and Dallas” throughout the content. Would this have the slightest chance of working?

If it were 2006, possibly. In 2016, there is virtually no chance. Google’s own reputation is reliant upon the search engine producing the best, most relevant results in response to its users search queries. If it produces a relatively unknown financial advisor that it knows to reside in Houston for the search “Dallas financial advisor,” especially when there are many excellent local alternatives, then Google will lose face with its users. And the search engine behemoth is not going to risk this.

As you consider which locations to target in your copy, ask yourself the following:

  • Do I currently attract clients from this location?
  • Could I reasonably expect clients to travel from this location to my office?
  • What is the competition for financial services like in the location I want to target?
  • Would I be willing to travel to this location to offer my financial services?
  • Is there a possibility I could one day open an office in this location?

Also remember that it is better to be found consistently for a lesser-searched geographic keyword attached to an affluent community than to never be found for a popular, highly searched geographic keyword that has little relevance to your actual location.

Tip #4: Set up business listings on local sites and make sure that they are consistent.

The first part of this tip – set up business listings on local sites – probably comes as no great surprise. Indeed, you may already have set up some of these listings. If you haven’t, you will want to look into Google My Business, Bing, Yelp, Angie’s List, Merchant Circle, LinkedIn, Foursquare, and other sites that offer free local business listings. You may find that many of these sites already have listings for your advisory firm, at which point you need to go through the process of claiming the listing as your own.

The second part of this tip is the one that you really need to pay attention to, as it is essential to both your Local SEO and your branding efforts. You must make sure that your business listings are all consistent, down to the finest detail – not just with one another, but also with your website. This is particularly true of:

  • Your NAP information: “NAP” refers to name, address, and phone number. Too often, businesses and individuals fall at what should be a fairly simple hurdle to jump. Your NAP information should be consistent across all of your marketing materials, from your website and your brochures to your stationary and your business cards. Your name should not be “Frank Albert” on one listing, “Francis S. Albert” on another, and “Frank S. Albert, MBA” on your website. Your firm should not be represented as “Smart Money, LLC” on Google My Business and “Smart Money Advisors” on Bing. Don’t present a toll-free number in one location and a local number in another. It’s confusing to search engines and prospective clients alike, and you can quickly lose the trust of both.
  • The services you provide: Don’t try to cater to certain audiences in certain listings. Be clear about the services you provide and, when prompted, list the same services across all listings. Remember, prospective clients who research you online are likely to consult more than one website, and if they see inconsistencies in the services you provide, they may become suspicious of which services you actually do provide.
  • The category of your business: Most listings ask you to place your business in a category. Again, be as consistent as you can be, given the restrictions imposed on you by the listing service. Try to use the same category across as many listings as you can, and if that category is not available in a certain listing, pick the category that comes closest.

Treat your brand with the same reverence and respect online as you treat it offline, and you will build a similar trust, loyalty, and sense of identity among Internet consumers as you have among terrestrial consumers.

Tip #5: Promote real reviews from real clients.

Encourage your clients to review your services on a variety of business review websites, such as Yelp, Google+ Local, and Angie’s List. Let them know that it’s okay for them to be honest, straightforward, and balanced in their reviews. If they have no negative feedback, that’s fine, but if they have some constructive criticism, they should include that along with their words of praise. In fact, having a few three- and four-star reviews scattered in among your five-star reviews will only reinforce your credibility and make you seem more trustworthy and reputable, especially if these reviews are detailed and read authentically.

Review sites are not only a powerful source of referrals, but they can truly help to bolster your Local SEO campaign. When one of your actual clients writes a review from a location outside of the city where your firm is physically located, it sends a strong signal to Google that you really do attract clients from that location. If more clients write reviews from that location, Google will begin to view your firm as a good resource for people who search in that region, regardless of its distance from your business.

We now find ourselves with a plausible scenario in which our Houston financial advisor might start showing up for Dallas searches. Although having actual clients in Dallas write legitimate, balanced reviews about his services wouldn’t guarantee such results, it would certainly help his cause. More realistically, if clients from Galveston – a city just 50 miles away – started posting legitimate reviews, he would have a very real shot at being produced for local searches in that region.

Tip #6: Engage with local users.

Around 2010, SEO experts around the country began urging business owners to “get involved in social media” if they wanted to compete locally. This was a time when Facebook was still considered by many to be “just for kids,” so trying to convince business owners that they should invest time they didn’t have in a social media content strategy was an uphill battle, to be certain. Six years later, there are very few businesses, local or otherwise, that do not have multiple corporate social media channels. The problem is that many of these businesses do not provide regular, let alone useful or engaging content, to these channels.

From a local SEO perspective, supplying a steady stream of social content is indeed better than supplying no content at all. However, there are few promotional strategies that offer a better potential return on your investment than true engagement with prospective and current clients on social media networks and review sites. When you or a representative of your firm responds even briefly to comments, questions, and concerns about your services, you demonstrate that you truly care about what they have to say. This allows you to take active control of your reputation management in a way that no other method of public communication could. It gives you the unprecedented opportunity to shape your message and personalize it to individuals, making them feel heard and important.

This is a highly effective way not only to convert potential clients into actual clients and spread positive word-of-mouth, but also to signal to Google that you are an active participant in discussions and reviews regarding your business. This will help to establish you as an authority in Google’s metaphorical eyes, increasing the chances that your website will be produced for local queries over the websites of competitors who are not actively engaged in educating the public about their services.

Think Big and Be Found Locally

Ultimately, you don’t have to think small to be found locally. As you develop content for your website and contribute to online discussions, present yourself as the definitive authority that you are. As a trusted, experienced financial advisor, you have knowledge and offer services that will benefit people throughout your region. By representing yourself with content that reflects your professional excellence in terms of its tone and quality, Google will have no choice but to pay attention to you. Remember that Google’s goal is to present the best, most relevant results to its users for any given search. Position yourself as among the best, most relevant results for the financial services you provide in the entire nation, and you will be found locally.

 

Axos Banking services at: https://bit.ly/2WpWkxL

How to Win in Court
January 22, 2019

 

What is good legal writing?

  • Impress the judge?
  • Confuse the opponent?
  • Or ... win your case?

 

Your goal is: make a winning record!

Too many pro se litigants miss this point.

Any words not making a winning record must go!

Learn to write with punch, power, and persuasive effect

Legal writing is NOT story-telling!

Any fact not "relevant" and any law not "controlling" must be eliminated.

The purpose for every word must be to make your winning record.

Say what needs to be said and stop!

Our onlineLegal Self-Help Course shows you what to say and what to leave un-said.

Click HERE for more information.

How to Win in Court
February 6, 2019

 

Arguing with judges is like arguing with baseball umpires. You better know the rules AND HOW TO USE THEM!

Here are a few rules from the Official Major League Baseball Rulebook:

  • A player is not permitted to step or go into a dugout to make a catch.
  • A player is permitted to reach into a dugout to make a catch.
  • If a player makes a catch outside the dugout and his momentum carries him into the dugout, the catch is allowed as-long-as the player does not fall in the dugout.

Simple enough?

But, what if one team doesn't know the rules?

Will it do any good to argue with the umpire?

Probably not!

And will only get you thrown out of the park!

To argue with a baseball umpire or judge in a courtroom, you must know the Rules ... and how to use them tactically. Know the official rules and how to use them ... or lose!

Click HERE to learn more legal tips and tatics with Win Without a Lawyer's online Legal Self-Help Course