Tag: 062216

2016 Acreage Reporting Deadlines

  Black Hawk County producers are reminded to file a crop certification report by the applicable deadline, in order to comply with FSA program eligibility requirements. Dates are as follows:
July 15, 2016 – All crops other than Perennial Forage, Fall-Seeded Small Grains and December 15, 2016 – Crop year 2017 Perennial Forage, Fall-Seeded Small Grains.
The following exceptions apply to the above acreage reporting dates:
If the crop has not been planted by the above acreage reporting date, then the acreage must be reported no later than 15 calendar days after planting is completed.
If a producer acquires additional acreage after the above acreage reporting date, then the acreage must be reported no later than 30 calendars days after purchase or acquiring the lease. Appropriate documentation, such as a dead or a lease, must be provided.
If a perennial forage crop is reported with the intended use of “cover only,” “green manure,” “left standing,” or “seed,” then the acreage must be reported by July 15th.
For questions regarding crop certification and crop loss reports, please contact the Black Hawk County FSA office at (319)296-3185.

View Point: We’re Working Together to Secure Today and Tomorrow

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 By Andrew Hardwick
Social Security Public Affairs Specialist
Your first job is a landmark occasion. You’re meeting new people, making professional connections, and probably cashing that first paycheck. You might be a little surprised when you see a portion of your earnings go to a tax called “FICA” for the Federal Insurance Contributions Act. This deduction goes to Social Security and is your way of helping us secure your today and tomorrow. It’s our job to keep the safety net of Social Security strong through your incremental contributions.
Understanding how important your contribution is takes some of the sting away because your taxes are helping millions of Americans. By law, employers must withhold Social Security taxes from workers’ paychecks. While referred to as “Social Security taxes” on an employee’s pay statement, sometimes the deduction is labeled as “FICA.” This stands for Federal Insurance Contributions Act, a reference to the original Social Security Act. Sometimes, you will see “OASDI,” which stands for Old Age, Survivors, and Disability Insurance, the official name for the Social Security Insurance program.
The taxes you pay now mean a lifetime of protection — for retirement in old age or in the event of disability. And when you die, your family (or future family) may be able to receive survivors benefits based on your work.
You probably have family members, grandparents, for example, who already enjoy benefits that your Social Security taxes help provide. Social Security is completely solvent through 2033. At that point, retirement benefits will be reduced to 75 percent, unless changes are made to the law. In the past, Social Security has evolved to meet the needs of a changing population and you can count on Social security in the future.
Because you’re a long way from retirement, you may have a tough time seeing the value of benefit payments that could be many decades in the future. But keep in mind the Social Security taxes you’re paying can provide valuable disability or survivors benefits, if the unexpected happens. Studies show that of today’s 20-year-olds, about one in four will become disabled, and about one in eight will die before reaching retirement.
To learn more about Social Security and exactly what you’re earning for yourself by paying Social Security taxes, take a look at our online booklet, How You Earn Credits, at www.socialsecurity.gov/pubs/10072.html.


Practical Money Matters – June 22, 2016

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 By Nathaniel Sillin

How to Research and Reduce Healthcare Costs
Whether you’re planning a future procedure or navigating care after a sudden illness or accident, smart consumers have a plan in place to avoid hidden costs and billing errors common to our ever-changing healthcare system. You should too.
The Affordable Care Act (http://www.hhs.gov/healthcare/) (ACA) made it possible for all Americans to get some form of healthcare coverage regardless of their medical history. That’s the good news. The bad news is that everyone’s personal health circumstances and solutions are different, and we’re still far away from the day when the coverage we buy – either individually or through our employers – can prevent us from getting unexpected bills for services and procedures our insurer didn’t cover or errors made in the billing process.
It’s also important to know that many health insurers are adjusting to the reality of universal coverage by narrowing the assortment of doctors in their networks, leaving more patients at risk of “surprise” (http://kff.org/private-insurance/issue-brief/surprise-medical-bills/) bills if they are treated by practitioners outside their insurer’s network.
There are some helpful resources – both public (https://www.medicare.gov/coverage/surgery-estimating-costs.html) and private (https://healthcarebluebook.com/) – which have emerged that price health procedures. Using those resources can help avoid some major out-of-pocket healthcare expenses. It’s also essential to determine what practitioners may be in or out of network, particularly if it’s an emergency.
So what can you do to prevent these unexpected health costs? If you are not on Medicare, (https://www.medicare.gov/what-medicare-covers/index.html) which tends to have more standardized pricing and coverage, you need to question practitioners (or their billing departments) and price-comparing procedures the way you would any major purchase. Depending on your local medical resources, you may have the option to conduct your research online. Here are some ways to begin.
Know how you’re covered for both emergencies and non-emergencies. It’s easier to plan for a hip replacement you’ll need in six months than for emergency surgery after an accident or sudden illness, but it’s important to think through how your coverage works in both situations:
Emergency: Emergencies are a challenge to price because it’s tough to know which practitioners and services you’ll actually need. The key is to make a plan for emergencies. Speak to your insurer now – and consult your primary care physician – to confirm that you have a good range of in-network emergency doctors at the hospital of your choice. If not, you might want to think about switching plans during your next enrollment period. Put an easy-to-find “in case of emergency” card in your wallet next to your health insurance card that makes your preferred hospital visible to first responders or other helpers. Also, list your primary care doctor’s and your health care power of attorney’s (http://www.practicalmoneyskills.com/personalfinance/experts/practicalmoneymatters/columns_2016/0606_Estates.php) contact information. Finally, make sure the person you designate as your health care power of attorney has access to your insurance and physician network information so he or she can guide your care more affordably if you’re incapacitated.
Non-emergency: If your doctor is recommending a particular in-hospital or outpatient procedure in the coming weeks or months, you’ve got time to plan, so do it. Query your physician or his or her billing department about the cost of the procedure and what other practitioners (such as an anesthesiologist) might be involved. Then spend equal time speaking with your insurer about what you’ve learned and how extensively the procedure in question will be covered. Make sure you understand if your insurer covers the procedure on an inpatient (hospital) or outpatient (office) basis – some insurers are reportedly cutting back (https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/economy/employers-push-limit-of-obamacare-by-excluding-outpatient-surgery-in-plans/2016/01/21/94537954-bbc5-11e5-99f3-184bc379b12d_story.html) on outpatient coverage.
Know your deductible. The latest annual Kaiser Foundation employer health benefits survey (http://kff.org/health-costs/press-release/employer-family-health-premiums-rise-4-percent-to-17545-in-2015-extending-a-decade-long-trend-of-relatively-moderate-increases/) indicated some whopping figures for health care deductibles – the out-of-pocket total you have to pay before the bulk of your health coverage kicks in. For example, if you have a $3,000 deductible that you haven’t touched this year, that’s the initial out-of-pocket amount you’re going to have to pay for any big procedure. Keep that figure in mind as you continue your research on medical options. That’s why it’s important to keep such amounts in an emergency fund or, if you have the option, set aside in a health savings account (https://www.irs.gov/publications/p969/ar02.html) where you can keep funds not only for the deductible, but for other potential out-of-pocket health costs.
Review bills closely. One recent study (http://abcnews.go.com/GMA/story?id=127077&page=1&version=meter+at+1&module=meter-Links&pgtype=article&contentId=&mediaId=&referrer=&priority=true&action=click&contentCollection=meter-links-click) has reported significant errors in medical bills, particularly for hospital stays. Keep in mind that the price-comparison exercise doesn’t stop on the way in to a procedure. You need to keep an eye on pre- and post-procedure bills from practitioners, hospitals and your health insurer for accuracy. If you see an error, contact the appropriate party or parties immediately to correct the problem.
Bottom line: There are very few industries going through as much change as healthcare. Universal coverage is good, but it’s important to know exactly what it pays for before you need it. Set aside time to think through your health issues and do your research to help reduce healthcare costs that can impact your overall budget. Learning to save money now can preserve your budget later.


Meditations – June 22, 2016

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 By Rev. Doug Rokke   American Lutheran Church, La Porte City

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, or about your body, what you will wear.   ~ Matthew 6:25“Do not worry about food or clothes.” It sounds so easy and yet one estimate that I saw said that families average $150.00-180.00 a week on food. Another said the average person will end up spending around $67.00 per month on clothing. Other top worries that people have include financial worries, health worries, credit card spending and more. What are the worries you have? It isn’t always helpful to have someone tell us not to worry about life, or food or clothing.
And yet as Jesus was speaking here he wasn’t giving the disciples another commandment to follow. Rather these words which were spoken during Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount might be read more like an invitation or a call to faith. After his words about worrying Jesus goes on to talk about how God cares for the birds and clothes the lilies of the field. He said aren’t you of more value than these things. So don’t worry about these things.
As I said I believe Jesus words are more of an invitation to faith. It’s like Jesus is saying if we seek God’s kingdom and put faith first some of these other worries may be put into perspective. My hope for you this month is that as you look at the birds and flowers and other matters of creation around us, that you too will worry less and offer more praise.


Classifieds – June 22, 2016

Adoring couple long to share outdoor adventures, dance, theatre & loving extended family with 1st baby. Expenses paid. Beth & Jim 888-330-3388 adoptingtogether.com (INCN)
Spacious 3 bdrm, 2 bath home for rent. Back yard privacy fence. 809 Pine St., La Porte City. $450/month. Call 319-610-3592 after 5:00 PM  23-3-pd
DRIVER TRAINEES NEEDED! Become a driver for Stevens Transport! NO EXPERIENCE NEEDED! New drivers earn $800+ per week! PAID CDL TRAINING! Stevens covers all costs! 1-888-589-9677 drive4stevens.com (INCN)
OTR-DRIVERS – $1000 sign-on bonus. Dependable, Motivated, 23 yrs old+, 2 yrs Class A CDL experience. Good driving record, paid vacation, home weekly. 877-424-3136 (INCN)
Class A CDL Drivers/Tankers. Great Pay, Home Weekends, and Benefits! Potential of $60,000 plus per year! Contact Tony 608-935-0915 Ext 16 www.qlf.com (INCN)
CDL A DRIVERS: First Class Family Company offers respect, home EVERY weekend, new equipment, full benefits, $1,000 sign-on bonus, and lots more! www.DriversBeHomeBeHappy.com 888-616-0368 (INCN)
RECRUIT an applicant in this paper, plus 42 other papers in Northeast Iowa for one week for only $110! Includes 25 words and runs in all the newspapers at one time! Call 800-227-7636 or order online: www.cnaads.com (INCN)
GUITAR WANTED! Local musician will pay up to $12,500 for pre-1975 Gibson, Fender, Martin and Gretsch guitars. Fender amplifiers also. Call toll free! 1-800-995-1217. (INCN)


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