The financial crisis happened in 2008, but six years later, we are still seeing the impact of this devastating economic recession. One area that has been severely highlighted is the issue of long term unemployment. Even though the federal government continue to post declining unemployment numbers, there is another side of the story that is not being told. And that is people who have spent so much time looking for a job (in some cases a year or two) that they’ve given up on the job search. They then drop off the government tracking list since the unemployment data only surveys people who are able and willing to work. Therefore, if you are just looking at the numbers that are officially announced by the government, then you are missing a very big part of the picture. So, how should we look at these people who clearly want to work but are exhausted by the job search process that they’ve given up?
Is it entirely their fault that they now feel discouraged to go back there and search again? Let’s look at it from their perspective. You have been working at a company for a long time, and say you are in your mid 50s, about 10 years away from retirement. Then you are laid off during the financial crisis. Now you have to go out there and compete with all these young people who perhaps have more computer and technology skills like you have. Also, they are probably more attractive to the employer because they can pay them less than the salary you think you deserve for the same job, based on your experience. But there are so many people out there in a similar situation that the companies are willing to drag out the process and find the best talent for very little money. That’s the situation many of these people who are close to retirement face. In a job market that pits them against young talent willing to work more for less, they don’t stand a chance. Some of them have also run out of the unemployment benefits money and no longer qualify for additional benefits from the government.
While we may pretend that the system will sort this issue out, we are leaving millions of Americans who through no fault of theirs find themselves with no money and no prospects for employment any time soon, mostly because of their age. Most have exhausted all the balance on their eppicard debit card and don’t qualify for any more money. The federal government, together with local government should step in and help these people either re-train for other industries or find jobs in their areas of expertise. It is a very tragic situation to have worked all your life, played by the rules, and then be left out by yourself when you are so close to the finish line of retirement. We as a society can do better and we should. No one should be left behind, especially when the economy is recovering and dreams are being reborn again.
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If you’ve been paying attention the last 5 years, you will notice that there is a growing proliferation of prepaid debit cards in the country. It used to be dominated by prepaid brands like the Rush Card, Vanilla Visa Card, Netspend and the Walmart Moneycard. However, lately, banks are also entering the space, with Chase, Citibank and Wells Fargo all offering their own branded reloadable debit cards. Other new entrants include the Bluebird Card by American Express, which they launched in partnership with Walmart. Another popular one is the Green Dot card. Here are three things you should know about these prepaids.
The first thing you should know about these bank issued cards is that they can either be reloadable or non-reloadable. With the non-reloadable ones, after you add money to it the first time, you cannot top it or reload it even if you wanted to. Once the funds you added when you purchased the prepaid card are used up, the card is worthless. These types of cards are great for short term needs, like travel expenses, holiday shopping to help you stay on budget or as a surprise allowance for your high school or college student to use. It may also be given as gifts for any occasion, including birthdays, house warming parties and anytime you want to give someone money but don’t want to give them cash because you may think it is insensitive.
The reloadable prepaid come in may forms. Most are issued by banks and aimed at the general public, especially people in unbanked communities. That is why prepaid cards like the Walmart American Express Bluebird Card have been very successful because they are aimed at people without traditional checking accounts or debit cards. However, reloadable prepaid debit cards are also issued by the government to pay benefits. States use them to pay unemployment benefits and child support payments under the Eppicard prepaid debit card program. They are also used to pay snap benefits, under what is called the EBT program. Most of these EBT Debit cards are issued by banks on behalf of the states that run the programs. Eligible beneficiaries apply for the programs through their appropriate state agencies, then once they are approved for food assistance, then they are issued prepaid debit cards called EBT cards. Then their monthly benefit payments are automatically deposited on the card at the due date for their convenience and they can use the card anywhere the card issuer’s cards are accepted, just like a regular debit card is used.
The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (also known as SNAP Benefits) is a program run by the United States Department of Agriculture to provide nutrition assistance to low income household. This is to help them purchase nutritious foods that they would not otherwise be able to buy due to limited household income. The program is popularly called Food Stamps. Once a household is approved for the program, they are issued a debit card called an EBT card, which can be used to buy food that is on the approved list. The SNAP benefits program is run at the state level but funded at the federal level. The federal government sets the broader guidelines for the program and states have to administer the program with these minimum standards set at the federal level but can add additional criteria specific to their states.
SNAP Benefits Fraud Video
Like many government programs, the food stamps program is a source of fraud and not a week goes by without a group of people getting arrested in one state or another and charged with food assistance fraud and YouTube is littered with videos of people that have been arrested and prosecuted for illegally using food support money. There are several ways this fraudulent activity happens. The first method is where people with Georgia EBT cards conspire with retailers to trade their funds for cash. They will swipe their entire balance at the store as if they are purchasing approved foods, then the retailer will give them cash instead – but it will be less than the value on the card. This way, the retailer pockets the difference and the cardholder gets cash to buy whatever they want.
Another method by which this kind of fraud happens is where retailers allow people to buy food that is not on the approved list. According to the USDA, these are the approved food items for EBT purchases:
Households CAN use SNAP benefits to buy:
- Foods for the household to eat, such as:
- breads and cereals;
- fruits and vegetables;
- meats, fish and poultry; and
- dairy products.
- Seeds and plants which produce food for the household to eat.
In some areas, restaurants can be authorized to accept SNAP benefits from qualified homeless, elderly, or disabled people in exchange for low-cost meals, especially those on social security benefits.
As you can see, the focus is on nutritious foods. But those who want to buy processed or cooked food are able to get around these limits my conspiring with retailers to get what they want at the expense of the tax payers whose aim for this program is to help households in need by the basic foods they need to be able to live a healthy lifestyle. But usually, some people who get these benefits want to use the money to buy unhealthy food, drugs and alcohol. The federal government is serious about catching these people and as you can see from the videos above, a lot of people are caught and sent to prison for a very long time for committing SNAP benefits fraud. Watch the video and pay attention to what they are being charged with.
This is a video that looks into Medigap Insurance Customer Service and what kind of support you can get from your state’s medicare supplemental benefits plan. Medigap is a plan that people who have Medicare plan A&B are able to buy to cover certain out of pocket costs that they would otherwise have to pay on their own, including co-payments, co-insurance and other payments that come out of the blue that Medicare holders don’t have the money to cover. Medicare is a very complicated program for anyone to grasp. There is plan A&B which are considered the traditional plans then there is the Advantage plan, which has certain benefits that the traditional plans do not have. Those who have plan A&B can get the supplemental coverage also known as Medigap to cover the things that the advantage plan covers that the traditional plans do not.
The video below goes into the question – what is medigap insurance plan – helping you understand how to sign up for a plan in your state since this program is administered at the state level and contact customer service to help you through the process.
As you can see from the, medicare only covers 80% of your medical expenses, leaving you with the other 20% that you have to cover. The supplemental insurance covers 100% of that 20% gap. This helps with a huge financial burden that people 60 and over have when they finally jump onto the government medical benefits program for people in that age category. Each plan with the same name offers holders the same benefits regardless of which carrier is issuing the plan but the cost may vary from carrier to carrier. Hopefully, the video was able to help you understand this program better and be able to make a decision about what plan of coverage is better for you.
AOL is a well recognized brand name in America and also around the world for bringing dial up revolution to the masses and revolutionizing the PC era and paving the way for broadband to replace Dial up and show is the possibilities beyond minutes to just check email to storing large amounts of data online the birth of cloud computing. Whether you are calling with a phone from lifeline program or regular phone, it should not matter.
But when it comes to customer service, this pioneering company in personal computing can be found lacking. AOL still has about 5 million people still using their Dial up service. Trying to get AOL customer service live person is not easy. It’s as if the company considers servicing these 5 million customers a burden. However, any company should be excited that there are 5 million customers out there using their service and they should move mountains to try and keep them happy, especially given they there are better technologies out there that are more inviting.
AOL may have transformed from a dial up company to a content powerhouse that includes the Huffington Post and Techcrunch. However, even their email service that revolutionalized email with the phrase “you’ve got mail” still has millions of account holders even after better services like gmail and yahoo mail came along with bigger space and more sophisticated offering like video calls and integration like Google drive. AOL lifeline phone customer service needs to improve if they are to hold on to their legacy businesses like the Dial up and email services, which is not a bad side business that generates money when there are better options out there.
Are you looking for an apartment to rent in Accra, Ghana? Have you become frustrated with the unavailability of a centralized place to browse through apartment listings? We can provide you a few tips on how to go about looking for an apartment in Ghana. The video below is probably the kind of apartment videos about Ghana you see on Youtube but that is not the reality when it comes to ordinary places to rent.
First, you need to find a realtor to help you in the search. That may sound basic, but finding a realtor in Ghana can be a challenge because the realtor industry is not formalized. You can search the web and it will be hard to find a trustworthy site advertising the services of a realty. And if you find one, reaching the person is not usually easy as it should. That’s because they will usually list their email address as their main contact information but they rarely follow up on emails, which makes you wonder why they provide this information in the first place.
The next tip is to be realistic in your expectations. You are not going to find western style apartments with all the appliances you are used to. There is probably a good chance the apartment will not have a washer or dryer. The kitchen may not have stove either and if it did, it may be a table top gas stove which you will have to get your own propane – LPG gas to run. Lastly, you need to know that you will have to pay a year or two advance rent. That is how is works in Ghana. Because of inflation, property owners collect a year or more in advance rent to protect their investment. That may come as a shock to many western renters but that’s how it works and you have to prepare for it.
The best advice is to give it time and keep trying different realtors until you get in contact with someone that knows the landscape and can give you a good idea of available listings and what amenities you may be able to get on your list. You can find a video like the BBC one above that promises all these luxury apartments in accra, but for the average person looking for a basic western apartment to rent, the pickings can be slip or hard to find.
If you are patient, you can still find an apartment in a good neighborhood that will make your stay in Ghana more pleasant. Just don’t get frustrated at the first obstacle or missing must have.
Food stamps have been on the chopping block since the great recession started. Every time politicians have their back against the wall, they turn to food stamps, otherwise known as SNAP benefits to serve on the chopping block. The cuts have been so bad that even retail giant Walmart is affected and reporting lower sales as a result.
But what is behind all these cuts? The first is that there is this perception that Food Stamps Benefits are only going to people who do not want to work. But the data available shows otherwise. Actually majority of people on food stamps have jobs and work at least part time. The problem is that they don’t make enough to cover even the basic needs like Food, that is why they need the help of the federal government to help them with basic nutritional needs.
As the video above from CNN shows, the cuts have been devastated, including school lunch program that were available for poorer children, who number 22 million. In all, there are 47 million americans who are going to be affected, including 9 million seniors and those on disability benefits. And even though the politicians talk about cutting waste, they are actually impacting real families who need the SNAP Benefits Program the most.
The effects of these changes is that states with a large percentage of their population under food stamps, like Oregon, Mississippi, Tennessee, Georgia, Alabama, Florida and South Carolina are seeing record number of people go hungry, including a large number of households with children.