Why Record Keeping Can Help, Part 2

Why Keep Checking Account Records? To…

Balance Your Check Book. Keep track of your checking account balance by recording all deposits, checks written, ATM and debit payments, and cash withdrawals. By doing so, you avoid bouncing checks and paying expensive overdraft fees. And that helps you protect your credit, and ultimately, qualify for lower interest rates on loans.

If you bank or pay your bills online, be sure to compare your online banking and bill-pay transactions with what you’ve recorded in your check book.

Why Keep Health Care Plan Records? To…

Understand Your Medical Coverage. Your health care plan summary that describes your benefits is one of the most important documents you own. You may need to refer to it often to find out if you have coverage for the types of health care benefits and services listed below. By knowing exactly what benefits and services are covered, you may want to consider setting aside funds or investigating alternatives before getting an expensive service or treatment that is not covered by your health care plan.

  • Treatments
  • Therapies
  • Prescriptions
  • Clinical services
  • Practitioner services
  • Home- and community-based services
  • Assistive technologies
  • Transportation
  • Institutional and long-term care

Why Keep Receipts and Warranties? To…

Get Refunds, Reimbursements, and Rebates or Exchange Items: Sometimes new items don’t work the way they should or break during their warranty periods. A store may replace or fix an item still under warranty. Sometimes you’re eligible for a reimbursement or rebate if you can show proof of purchase. By keeping receipts and warranties, you avoid having to replace items sooner than you need to, or you get that rebate!

Why Keep Social Security Administration Documents? To…

Keep records of all communication or transactions with the Social Security Administration (SSA), initiated either by you or the SSA:

  • Payments received and sent.
  • Correspondence received and sent.
  • Notes of all telephone and in-person conversations with SSA agents.
  • SSA income and retirement benefits statements.

You may need to reference your SSA documents in order to maintain your child’s eligibility for benefits or to help avoid possible misunderstandings with the IRS. Also, SSA statements that document your annual income and future retirement benefits can help you determine how much you need to save for the future.

If you make an overpayment based on an obvious math error, the IRS will refund the overpayment only if you don’t owe the IRS other taxes. If you do, the IRS will apply that overpayment to any owed tax (see IRS.gov. “CP 12 - Changes to Tax Return, Overpayment” Retrieved from http://www.irs.gov/individuals/article/0,,id=125360,00.html on October 28, 2010).

Keep SSA documents forever. There is no expiration date for when the government can check on whether the SSA ever overpaid you (by error).

Why Keep Communication Logs? To…

Quickly Recall Important Information. Set up some system that makes sense to you so you can quickly recall important conversations and meetings or find important emails, notifications, announcements, and faxes. As an example, if someone doesn’t do what he or she promised to do and it ends up costing you money, you may be able to put together a good case for recovering that cost.

For conversations, keep a special notebook handy for recording just about everything you discuss about your child’s disability. Here is a short check list to help you make sure you record essential pieces of information:

  • Date and time
  • Name of the person and place of work
  • Issue
  • Things discussed (try to record these things in the order discussed)
  • Types of information you gave
  • Action items: who will do what and by when
  • Contact information
  • Case number (or some identifying code referencing the conversation)

For e-mail, if you use it, create subfolders in your inbox so you can quickly find important pieces of information. Create as many subfolders as you need to stay organized. Decide on a consistent way to file them.

For announcements, notices, and faxes, file these by subject matter or keep them all in a handy box.


Next Chapter: Managing Your Finances