Without LTC, retirement planning may be incomplete

Monday - 4/4/2011, 9:41am EDT

Paul Forte, CEO, Long Term Care Partners

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By Suzanne Kubota
Senior Internet Editor
FederalNewsRadio.com

If you've planned for retirement and haven't given a second thought to long term care, you're missing a big chunk of what you may need for retirement.

On this first day of open season for the Federal Long Term Care Insurance Program, Paul Forte, CEO of Long Term Care Partners, told Federal News Radio "we can't say when, of if, there will be another open season, so if you're actively at work, this may be your last chance if you're close to retirement to apply using the short form."

That short form, explained Forte, is the special thing about open season.

Persons who are actively at work have the chance to apply using what we refer to as "abbreviated underwriting," or short form underwriting. This is answering a minimum number of health related questions which makes the process faster and easier, and of course it means that you're more likely to be approved for coverage.

This applies to actively-at-work federal and U.S. Postal Service employees and their spouses or same-sex domestic partners, and active members of the uniformed services and their spouses.

If there happens to be a shutdown, federal employees can still apply whether they're furloughed or not. "They're still considered active," said Forte.

If you're already retired, said Forte, you'll have to fill out a longer form which asks more questions about your health and may ask you to provide an attending physician's statement "or evidence of your good health."

Long term care, stressed Forte, is something anyone in their late 40s or early 50s should be thinking about. "It's integral to a comprehensive retirement plan. If you've given a lot of thought to retirement, but you haven't thought about long term care, you're neglecting, potentially, a very significant financial liability that could upend that retirement plan."

While there are different levels of coverage, Forte said that about $100 a month gets you into a good plan, and the average age of a new enrollee is 52.

An "Online Consultant Tool" can be found on the FLTCIP website at www.ltcfeds.com/oct. According to a press release, "It helps determine the cost of long term care services in one's area and how to design a plan based on age, an individual's needs and his or her location. At the end of the process, those inquiring may print out a worksheet with the results to use as a reference for discussions with family members, a financial advisor or when applying for coverage."

The open season runs now through June 24.