Tag Archives: Better

Social Security Disability Insurance Recipients Need Better Understanding of Pros and Cons of New Debit Card, Allsup Says


Belleville, IL (Vocus) March 27, 2008

Starting next month Social Security Disability Insurance recipients in some states will have the option of receiving their benefit payments electronically on a debit card, rather than via a paper check. However, eligible individuals — many of whom are “unbanked” — should have a clear understanding of the pros and cons of opting for the debit card, particularly the financial ramifications, according to Allsup (http://www.allsup.com), which represents tens of thousands of people in the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) process each year. It also offers services that support the financial and health well-being of individuals with disabilities.

“Before signing on to or totally dismissing the idea of the debit card program, potential cardholders should look at how they are likely to use a card,” said Paul Gada, personal financial planning director of the Allsup Disability Life Planning Center. “For some, the card may make sense. For others, they may realize after looking at their spending habits that getting a bank account may really be the best option. And there will be others that will always operate with cash only, regardless of the drawbacks it presents.”

The debit card program, called Direct Express, is run by the U.S. Treasury Department through Comerica Bank with the intent to encourage Social Security recipients who do not have a bank account to elect to have their benefits loaded electronically onto a debit card. The Direct Express program will be introduced this spring in Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma and Texas before being phased in across the nation during the summer.

The cost savings for the government could be significant, based on estimates from the Treasury’s Financial Management Service. For example, it cost 89 cents for the government to issue a paper check in 2006 compared with 9 cents to process an electronic payment. As a result, if the 4 million recipients of Social Security, SSDI and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) who don’t have bank accounts were to sign up for the debit card, the savings could be $ 44 million annually.

Having monthly benefits electronically deposited onto debit cards also has its advantages for recipients, most notably convenience and security. In the case of individuals with disabilities who may have limited mobility, for example, having the debit card would mean that they would not have to make a special trip to cash their SSDI award or be concerned if they were hospitalized or otherwise unable to retrieve their benefit payment when it was due to arrive. Additionally, funds on the card are FDIC insured, just like money in a bank account, so the money is fully protected if the card is lost or stolen; though a card replacement fee will be assessed the second time a card needs to be replaced in any given year.

Evaluating the Costs

While cost savings for the government — and taxpayers — are obvious, the cost savings may not be as clear-cut for debit-card recipients. They might end up paying even more in transaction fees than the average $ 6 to have a paper check cashed, especially if they don’t pay attention to how they’re using the debit card.

Among the questions Gada recommends potential cardholders consider before signing up for a debit card include:

Social Security Disability Insurance Recipients Need Better Understanding of Pros and Cons of New Debit Card, Allsup Says


Belleville, Ill. (Vocus) June 10, 2008

The nationwide rollout has begun and Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) recipients in some states already have the option of receiving their benefit payments electronically on a debit card, rather than via a paper check. However, eligible individuals many of whom are unbanked should have a clear understanding of the pros and cons of opting for the debit card, particularly the financial ramifications, according to Allsup, which represents tens of thousands of people in the SSDI process each year. It also offers services that support the financial and health well-being of individuals with disabilities.

Before signing on to or totally dismissing the idea of the debit card program, potential cardholders should look at how they are likely to use a card, said Paul Gada, personal financial planning director of the Allsup Disability Life Planning Center. ”For some, the card may make sense. For others, they may realize after looking at their spending habits that getting a bank account may really be the best option. And there will be others that will always operate with cash only, regardless of the drawbacks it presents.”

The debit MasterCard program, called Direct Express, is run by the U.S. Treasury Department through Comerica Bank with the intent to encourage Social Security recipients who do not have a bank account to elect to have their benefits loaded electronically onto a debit card. Direct Express has been introduced in 10 states: Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina and Texas. The rest of the nation will be phased in throughout the summer.

Cost savings for the government could be significant, based on estimates from the Treasurys Financial Management Service. For example, it cost 89 cents to issue a paper check in 2006 compared with 9 cents to process an electronic payment. If the 4 million recipients of Social Security, SSDI and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) who dont have bank accounts signed up for debit cards, the savings could be $ 44 million annually.

Having monthly benefits electronically deposited onto debit cards also has its advantages for recipients, most notably convenience and security. For example, people with limited mobility who have the debit card would not have to make a special trip to cash their SSDI check or be concerned if they were hospitalized or otherwise unable to retrieve their benefit payment. Funds on the card are FDIC insured, just like money in a bank account, so the money is fully protected if the card is lost or stolen, although there will be a fee the second time a card needs to be replaced in any given year.

Evaluating the Costs

While cost savings for the government and taxpayers are obvious, it may not be as clear-cut for debit-card recipients. They may pay even more in transaction fees than the average six dollars to have a paper check cashed, especially if they dont pay attention to how theyre using the debit card.

The following questions are among those that Gada recommends before signing up for a debit card:

How accessible to you is an ATM in the Comerica network?
How often would you make ATM withdrawals and would they be at in- or out-of-network ATMs?
How often would you use the electronic bill payment feature?
Will the companies you are paying electronically charge you a fee for electronic payment?
Is there a bank in your area that could provide you with a more cost-effective solution for the features you want, such as ATM, electronic bill pay or direct debit?
If you are concerned about opening a bank account, have you spoken with a local bank to see if they can help alleviate your concerns?
Social Security recipients participating in the Direct Express program are allowed one free ATM cash withdrawal per month from a designated ATM. They are assessed a 90-cent fee for each additional ATM withdrawal. Cardholders may be charged an additional surcharge fee by ATM owners outside of the Comerica Bank network, which issues the debit cards. Additionally, program participants have access to online bill payment for a fee of 50 cents per online bill payment and can receive a paper statement for a 75-cent monthly fee.

Gada advises potential cardholders to consider how they would use the debit card. For example, rather than having to pay for a cashier check or carry large amounts of cash and pay bills in person, incurring a small transaction fee for electronic bill payment may be worth it, particularly for individuals who have a difficult time getting around. However, Gada noted, individuals should check to see if the organization they are paying will assess an additional charge for accepting electronic bill payment.

On the other hand, people who are going to head for an ATM every time they need cash will find transaction fees quickly adding up to little added value.

”In these cases, its time to seriously consider what is preventing you from getting an account at your local bank, because that probably would be your best option,” said Gada. ”Many banks offer no minimum balance checking accounts where you can have your Social Security benefits direct deposited and electronically pay bills or use their ATMs at no additional charge.”

Overcoming Banking Barriers

One of the reasons that some Social Security recipients continue to insist on paper checks is the fear that their bank accounts could be attached by creditors. However, under federal law, Social Security benefit payments are protected from attachment, meaning creditors do not have the right to take these funds from a recipients bank account. The same rules will apply to funds placed on Direct Express debit cards. There are a few explicit exceptions to the rules guarding against attachment of Social Security benefits. For example, Social Security funds can be taken to pay child support or alimony payments the individual owes.

”At any given time, there are likely millions of dollars in Social Security payments that are at risk because people on fixed incomes got into debt or are having a dispute with a creditor,” said Gada. ”Unfortunately, they are acting on inaccurate information that has them afraid to put their money into bank accounts where it can be protected and they can be afforded other benefits of being banked.”

About Allsup

Allsup, Belleville, Ill., is a leading nationwide provider of financial and healthcare related services to people with disabilities. Founded in 1984, Allsup has helped more than 100,000 people receive their entitled Social Security Disability Insurance and Medicare benefits. Allsup employs more than 500 professionals who deliver services directly to consumers and their families, or through their employers and long-term disability insurance carriers.

For more information, visit http://www.Allsup.com .

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SET Boutique Offers a Better Way to Give Donations as Gifts


San Francisco, CA (Vocus) November 1, 2010

SET Boutique (Support Ethical Trade) continues to expand its Give&Get program by adding a fourth non-profit partner. The program was created in response to consumer demand for gifts with more substance. Sending donations on the behalf of friends, co-workers, or family members is rising in popularity for gift giving. SET Boutique owner Lindsay Sullivan saw an opportunity to fill a gap in the gifting market. Before the Give&Get program there were two gift options; a product or a donation. Now it can be one package. Sullivan explains that even with the popularity of donation gifts the majority of people want their recipient to unwrap a tangible present. The Give&Get program makes the act of donating more accessible and integrated into the shopping experience.

How it works:

Shop for fair trade clothing and accessories at SET Boutique, and add items to the cart as usual. Then visit the Donation Directory to choose a non-profit organization that cares for victims of human trafficking, or prevents at risk youth from being vulnerable to trafficking. Customers can make a donation as small as $ 10.00 to one of these organizations, and they receive a personalized thank you card, free gift wrapping, and a coupon for 20% off their next purchase. This is all packaged together with their merchandise. The result is a gift that is personalized to the recipient, spreads awareness, and brings more meaning to the individual items.

The Partners:

Four non-profits have joined the Give&Get program to date, and each have an exceptional mission. SAGE (Standing for Global Exploitation) raises awareness about commercial sexual exploitation, and provides outreach and services to survivors. Freedom House opened the first shelter solely for victims of human trafficking in the San Francisco Area. They provide long term shelter to survivors, as well as legal, health, and reintegration assistance. ECPAT works to build collaboration among local civil society actors and the broader child rights community to form a global social movement for protection of children from sexual exploitation. And the newest partner in the Give&Get program is Project Enlighten whose mandate is to create funding for a variety of education and skills training programs for children to succeed in Cambodia, Laos, Burma, and Thailand. One powerful way to prevent human trafficking is to prevent at-risk youth. SET Boutique is proud to include Project Enlighten in the Give&Get Directory because they help vulnerable children gain education and avoid trafficking predators.

Non-profit organizations who would like to join the Give&Get program can contact SET Boutique for more information.

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SofterWare Inc. Receives A+ Rating from the Better Business Bureau


Horsham, PA (PRWEB) October 18, 2011

SofterWare today announced that it has been accredited by the Better Business Bureau, and has become a BBB Accredited Business with an A+ rating, the highest rating possible.

Dr. Nathan Relles, SofterWares President and Co-Founder, stated The BBB accreditation and the A+ rating are a reflection of our long standing commitment to integrity, excellent service, and good business practices. Prospective clients can feel secure knowing that in our 30 year history, we have always conducted business in the highest, most ethical manner. We consider the good name of our company, its products and all our associates to be one of our most valuable assets.

According to the accreditation, the Better Business Bureau (BBB) has determined that SofterWare, Inc., the makers of management software for nonprofits, schools, childcare centers and summer camps, meets BBB accreditation standards, which include a commitment to make a good faith effort to resolve any consumer complaints. As for the A+ rating, the BBB stated the following:

Factors that raised the rating for SofterWare, Inc. include:


Length of time business has been operating (30 years).
No complaints filed with BBB.
BBB has sufficient background information on SofterWare.

Douglas Schoenberg, SofterWares CEO and Co-Founder, added The Better Business Bureau has a long-history of protecting consumers and encouraging good business practices, and were delighted to now be an accredited Better Business Bureau member.

About SofterWare, Inc.

SofterWare Inc., provides software for several vertical markets and the companys client base includes thousands of organizations throughout North America and the world. SofterWare currently offers DonorPerfect Fundraising Software and Donor Management, EZ-CARE2 and EZCare Online Child Care Management Software for Daycare Center Management and School-Age Child Care Management; EZ-CAMP2 Camp Management Software and Camp Online Registration; and MMS for Schools: Student Information Systems. For more information on SofterWare and its products, please visit http://www.softerware.com.

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US Forest Service, National Environmental Education Foundation Connect Kids with Nature Through Prescriptions for Fun, Better Health


Washington, DC (PRWEB) March 28, 2012

The U.S. Forest Service is offering its 193 million acres of forests and grasslands as a prescription for healthier kids through an initiative of the National Environmental Education Foundation that connects children to nature.

The foundations Children & Nature Initiative trains health care providers to take a childs environmental history and give patients and their guardians a written prescription for outdoor activity, connecting them with a particular forest, park, wildlife refuge, nature center or other public land near their neighborhood. Outdoor activity can help prevent serious health conditions like obesity and diabetes but also can reduce stress and serve as a support mechanism for attention disorders.

Our nation’s forests and grasslands offer tremendous physical, psychological and spiritual benefits to an increasingly urbanized populace, said U.S. Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell. We hope kids and parents alike will follow the doctor’s orders when given a prescription for fun.

The initiative gives health care providers the technical support, tools and resources they need to be effective in prescribing outdoor activity to patients. Providers are trained to become nature champions for children in their communities.

There are wonderful and inspiring places managed by the U.S. Forest Service for children and their families to explore, while also benefiting from being active outdoors, said Leyla McCurdy, senior director of the foundations Health & Environment Program. We are excited to work with the Forest Service in making the Children & Nature Initiative even more accessible to families around the nation.

Disadvantaged children are at higher risk because they are often more cut-off from nature and their environment, in part because of conditions such as poor housing and less access to green space.

Dr. James R. Roberts, a pediatrician at Medical University of South Carolina and chair of the Children & Nature Initiative Advisory Committee, said the initiative is vital because with competing priorities and numerous entertainment options available to kids today, they are spending less time outside. A nature prescription gives kids something to take home and reminds them turn off their electronic gadgets and get outdoors to play when they can.

The Forest Service has a long history of environmental education for children and adults. This year, the agency continued to expand its availability of Childrens Forests and More Kids in the Woods programs, both of which provide young people with the knowledge and skills to become future land stewards. Those same programs complement President Obamas Americas Great Outdoors program and First Lady Michelle Obamas Lets Move Outside initiative, both of which outline the need for children to engage in more unstructured outdoor activity.

Last summer, the Forest Service and the Ad Council began a public service announcement campaign to unplug, an effort to motivate families and their children to disconnect from their electronics and reconnect with nature. Viewers are directed to DiscovertheForest.org, where they can search for areas to explore and ideas on what to do outdoors.

Chronic conditions associated with a more sedentary lifestyle and physical inactivity have greatly contributed to the numerous health problems children face today. Conditions such as asthma, attention-deficit disorder, vitamin D deficiency, as well as childhood obesity have all increased the past few decades. These same conditions could lead to adult pulmonary, cardiovascular and mental health problems.

The nonprofit National Environmental Education Foundation provides knowledge to trusted professionals who, with their credibility, amplify messages to national audiences to solve every day environmental problems. The foundation partners with professionals in health, education, business and public land management.

The mission of the U.S. Forest Service is to sustain the health, diversity, and productivity of the nation’s forests and grasslands to meet the needs of present and future generations. Recreational activities on our lands contribute $ 14.5 billion annually to the U.S. economy. The agency manages 193 million acres of public land, provides assistance to state and private landowners, and maintains the largest forestry research organization in the world.

USDA works with state, local, and Tribal governments and private landowners to conserve and protect our nations natural resources helping preserve our land, and clean our air and water. President Obama launched the Americas Great Outdoors initiative in 2010 to foster a 21st century approach to conservation that is designed by and accomplished in partnership with the American people. During the past two years, USDAs conservation agencies the U.S. Forest Service, Natural Resources Conservation Service, and the Farm Service Agency have delivered technical assistance and implemented restoration practices on public and private lands. We are working to better target conservation investments: embracing locally driven conservation and entering partnerships that focus on large, landscape-scale conservation.

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USDA is an equal opportunity provider, employer and lender. To file a complaint of discrimination, write: USDA, Director, Office of Civil Rights, 1400 Independence Ave., S.W., Washington, D.C. 20250-9410 or call (800) 795-3272 (voice) or (202) 720-6382 (TDD).







The Law Offices of Eugene G. Bruno becomes Better Business Bureau Member


San Diego, CA (PRWEB) September 19, 2012

The Law Offices of Eugene G. Bruno, P.C. focuses on providing aggressive legal representation to victims of car accidents and other accidents who are battling insurance companies for compensation. Now the firm has been recognized by the Better Business Bureau (BBB) as a business that meets high ethical standards in terms of serving consumers. The firm has become an accredited member of the BBB, meaning it has demonstrated that it reaches a certain level of transparency and integrity in their business practices. The firm currently has an A+ rating through the organization.

The BBB, a network of national and local business operations, aims to provide unbiased information for consumers. The organization keeps consumers informed about businesses through reviews, ratings, complaints, reports and accredited business listings. Accreditation through the BBB is reserved for businesses that have met the organizations high standards, according to the BBB. These businesses not only have to meet the organizations Standards of Trust, but they also have to agree to continue doing business by these standards in the future. The Standards of Trust are are a set of policies, procedures and best practices that focus on fair and honest treatment of consumers.

There are many requirements for becoming an accredited BBB member. One requirement is that the business must build a positive track record in the marketplace through steps such as having at least a B rating through the organization and remaining free of negative government action. Other requirements for accreditation include following certain advertising and selling standards; honestly representing products and services; making certain business information transparent and available to consumers; honoring promises; being responsive to marketplace disputes; protecting consumers privacy; and agreeing to the use integrity. The BBBs services are widely relied upon by consumers. The organizationwhich provides information about businesses in the United States and Canadahad more than 103 million business and charity information requests from consumers in 2011, marking an all-time high for the organization.

By becoming an accredited BBB member, the Law Offices of Eugene G. Bruno shows its dedication to providing the highest quality of service to its clients. Besides using honest business practices, the firm has also built up a strong track record with its 99.7 percent success rate. Attorney Eugene G. Bruno, who focuses fully on litigation, has handled multimillion-dollar catastrophic injury cases. He handles many different types of vehicle-related cases, such as car accidents, motorcycle accidents, truck accidents and pedestrian accidents. He also represents victims of accidents involving drivers without insurance, as well as those who have been denied insurance claims. The attorney uses a hands-on approach in helping accident victims come up against large insurance companies that might not want to provide fair compensation. More information about the firm is available at http://www.CarAccidentLawyer-SanDiego.com.

San Diego car accident attorney Eugene G. Bruno has more than 24 years of experience helping accident victims obtain the compensation they deserve. He is an aggressive litigator who assists those having to deal with large insurance companies, whether a claim is being denied or the company is not offering a fair settlement amount. The Law Offices of Eugene G. Bruno, P.C. provide legal representation for a variety of situations, from car and motorcycle accident cases to child injury and wrongful death cases. Contact the firm to set up a free consultation and learn about the options for handling your case.







Funamo Tablet Management System Makes Android Tablets a Better Choice for Schools than iPads


Cupertino, CA (PRWEB) October 31, 2012

Funamo, a leader in parental control software for mobile devices, is pleased to announce the start of the Beta program for its Tablet Management System School Edition. Schools and districts interested in participating in the Beta program please contact Funamo to sign up.

Schools are adopting mobile technologies in the classrooms, integrating tablets into their curriculum. said Howard Li, Funamos founder and CEO. Funamo Tablet Management System is designed to empower teachers and schools with all the tools that they need to effectively deploy, manage, update and administer these tablets in a controlled environment.

Funamo Tablet Management System School Edition is a comprehensive cloud-based solution. It consists of three main components Funamo Android application, Funamo Control Panel and Funamo Tablet Configurator.

The Funamo application runs on all versions of Android devices including the popular Google Nexus 7 and Amazon Kindle Fire Tablets. It offers highly robust internet filtering technology and application control capability to keep students safe and on-task. Funamo blocks pornography web sites and enforces SafeSearch for major search engines, making the tablets CIPA (Child Internet Protection Act) compliant. Teachers can customize internet access with their own blacklist and whitelist, or they can use the whitelist-only mode to block all websites except for the ones pre-selected in the whitelist. The application control feature allows teachers to pick specific applications for their classes and prohibit access to others.

The cloud-based Funamo Control Panel is a web service that enables school IT administrators to easily manage all tablets from any web browser. Teachers can also use it to make changes to the control settings for their class and the changes are synchronized with all student devices in real time. The web interface is easy to use and requires minimal training.

Funamo Tablet Configurator is a cross-platform tool for school IT administrators to create and maintain device profiles which can be replicated onto all student devices in the same class. It automates all the manual and repetitive work, significantly reducing the provision time for deploying hundreds or thousands of tablets.

Schools participating in the Beta program will receive Funamo Tablet Management System free of charge during the Beta period and additional discount in final deployment. Please contact support@funamo.com to request more information or a live demo of the total solution.

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Funamo provides comprehensive parental control and accountability software for mobile devices with patent-pending web filtering, safe search, application protection/restriction and device monitoring. More information, including detailed video tutorial and FAQs, is available on Funamo website.







The National Human Services Assembly Asks: Is There a Better Way to Help Prevent More School Shootings from Taking Place?


Washington, DC (PRWEB) December 20, 2012

Given the national debate in the wake of the Newtown school shootings about the issues of gun regulation, school safety, and violence in the media, the National Human Services Assembly, which represents more than 80 major human services organizations, today argued for the critical importance of a new approach early identification and treatment of individuals who might commit a crime like this while actively working to connect them, long before an incident can take place, to their communities.

Irv Katz, President and CEO of the National Human Services Assembly, said, School personnel are increasingly well practiced at locking down classrooms and protecting the children in their care when these incidents arise. What is also needed, however, is an upstream solution that ensures that people with whom we entrust the care of our children can help us assure that every child has healthy community connections, can identify children who are at risk of harm to themselves or others, and know what actions to take.

This approach would need to be comprehensive, he noted, and would involve:

Universal training for personnel who work with youth in schools and community settings;

Proactive efforts by these organizations and parents to ensure that all children are connected to their community in meaningful ways at every stage of development;

Connecting with parents, both in preventive ways but also in very direct and helpful ways when signs of concern are identified; and

School-based and school-linked services to identify and treat children who are off track emotionally and socially.

He added, Getting school and youth development organization personnel to this state of understanding and action would surely take a lot of training but, as we are learning about school safety training, it is both possible and necessary.

About the National Human Services Assembly

The National Human Services Assembly is an association of more than 80 national nonprofit human service organizations working collaboratively, though the National Assembly, to continuously improve research, policy and practice relative to human services.

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Media contact:

Rosalia Scampoli

Marketcom PR

212-537-5177, Ext 7

rscampoli(at)marketcompr(dot)com







Improved Scheduling Capabilities and Better Visibility of Logistics Costs are Critical Success Factors in Crude Pipeline Scheduling, OpenLink Survey Reveals

New York, NY (PRWEB) October 03, 2011

Open Link Financial, Inc. (OpenLink), a leading provider of energy, commodities, trading, and risk management (ETRM/CTRM) solutions, which support the entire transaction lifecycle, has released survey results from a webinar conducted with Accenture, the global management consulting, technology services and outsourcing company.

Results show that 46% of participants believe improved scheduling capabilities and better visibility of logistics costs are the critical success factors in crude pipeline scheduling (CPS), followed by controls around real-time exposure management (32%).

Lyn Bird, Senior Executive, Accentures energy industry group, noted, As North American crude production increases across frontiers, there is more pressure on crude logistics handling. Currently, there are a number of crude logistics constraints, such as infrastructure bottlenecks, trucking capacity and intricacies of localized markets. With large crude margins at stake, sound analytics and insight will be at the heart of the success stories crucially, this will be driven by technology that can deliver data in real-time.

In contrast to the key success factors, only 8% of those polled believe their standardization and IT support is adequate to meet their needs, while 48% of respondents thought there were too many different formats and processes involved in pipeline nominations.

Dr. Wolfgang Ferse, EVP, Energy and Commodities Solutions, OpenLink, remarked, Based on the current environment in the North American crude market, the opportunities for business improvement are tremendous. The data from the survey supports our vision that the deployment of standardized technology and applications that integrate all the important elements of the CPS value chain especially trading, scheduling and nominating, and risk management will be decisive to achieving the key success factors identified. To drive margins requires an ETRM/Logistics platform, which integrates physical and financial positions and exposure data to be instantaneously available and presented in a meaningful way, such as those provided by OpenLink.

When asked what areas of crude pipeline scheduling and logistics those polled considered most important and were most interested in learning more about, the top four results were: