Why Recordkeeping Can Help You Make the Most of What You Have and Become a Better Advocate for Your Child

We mentioned that staying organized and on top of your finances helps you become more effective in advocating for your child. Here’s why. You will frequently need to refer to and provide documentation for a variety of situations in caring for your child. Take a look at the two examples below. 

  1. To qualify for medical assistance, you may have to demonstrate financial need through:
    a. Pay stubs.
    b. Income tax returns.
    c. Receipts for disability-related expenses.

  2. To challenge denial of a health care claim, you may need to reference your:
    a. Health care plan’s Summary of Benefits.
    b. Your doctor’s visit Explanation of Benefits (EOBs).
    c. Notes from conversations with health care plan representatives.

The more accessible and organized you keep financial and disability-related information, the quicker you can meet your child’s needs. Listed below are other reasons for organizing your records that can have a financial pay-off.

Why Keep Income Records? To...

Create a Spending Plan: Through your spending plan, you may be able to identify areas to cut back and make it easier to spend within your means and avoid expensive costs of using credit.

Complete Income Tax Returns. You must declare all of your income on income tax returns. Keeping your income records organized will help you complete your tax returns faster and more accurately. That will help you avoid having to pay penalties that result from filing incomplete, incorrect, or late tax returns.

Apply for Benefits. Many kinds of benefits, not just medical ones, are based on financial need. To demonstrate that, you’ll need quick access to your income through pay-stubs or the prior year’s income tax return. With accurate income records on hand, you may be able to receive benefits that you don’t have to pay for yourself.

Why Keep Living Expense Receipts and Bill, Loan, and Credit Card Payments? To…

Request Credit. There are times you may need to request credit, and therefore, demonstrate your history of paying bills. We talk more about credit later, but paying bills on time, every month, is the single most important thing you can do to establish and maintain good credit. Your billing statements help create your payment history.

Challenge Items You Did Not Buy but Charged to Your Account. Occasionally a mistake occurs. You may find you have been incorrectly charged for something, or incorrectly charged a fee. Or, someone may have stolen your credit card. By regularly reviewing your expense documents, you will be able to quickly identity when something isn’t right.

Create a Spending Plan. You will use the amounts of recurring monthly expenses to create your spending plan. Through your spending plan, you will know when it’s time to look for lower costs of credit, find inexpensive alternatives to certain monthly expenditures, or learn to do without non-essential items you’ve been spending money on.

Complete Income Tax Returns. You may be able to deduct certain expenses, such as home mortgage interest, on your income tax returns. By reviewing your expense documents, you may find expense items that can lower your income tax liability (the amount you owe). Speak with a financial or tax professional for (1) information on what expenses you might be able to deduct on income tax returns and for (2) an overall tax strategy. 

Why Keep Documentation of Special Expenses Related to Your Child’s Disability? To…

Complete Tax Returns: You may be able to also deduct some disability-related expenses on your income tax returns. Again, speak with financial or tax professional about which expenses are allowable. Also, the IRS provides a list of toll free numbers for individuals to ask tax-related questions.

Here is a list of disability-related expense items that might be deductible. Be sure to save and file receipts for these items:

During hospitalization

  • Transportation to and from treatment
  • Parking while at treatment
  • Lodging (if you must be away from home for treatment)
  • Child care costs for your other children
  • Tutoring

After hospitalization

  • Special dietary supplements or food
  • Medical equipment
  • Assistance with activities of daily living
  • Special home care
  • Utility costs
  • Home modifications