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TheStreet Open House

Tomorrow Is National Employee Benefits Day

DES MOINES, Iowa, April 1, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- If you're a full-time employee, your benefits likely contribute an additional one-third to your total compensation, according to research from the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics. 1 While many of us think benefits are "out of sight, out of mind," ARAG ®, a global provider of legal solutions, encourages us to honor National Benefits Day on April 2 by taking time to evaluate all the extras our employers offer.

(Logo: http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20130122/CG45741LOGO-b)

"If you're not aware of everything your company offers, including voluntary benefits and discounts, you may be leaving money on the table," says ARAG Chief Human Resources Officer Erin Barfels. "When you make informed benefits decisions, you strengthen your financial safety net, provide much needed, cost effective products for your family and save money on services you may already be using." Barfels suggests asking yourself the following questions to find out if you are taking advantage of everything you may have coming to you.

  1. Are you using the 401(k) match, if offered? When it comes to investing in your retirement, it's hard to find a better option than an employer offering a full or partial match to your own savings. In most programs, your employer will offer to match your contributions up to a certain percentage of your salary. This could be a full or partial match, and could vary depending on the amount of time you've been with the company.  Talk to your financial advisor to find out how much difference using your match can make to you.
  2. Do you have access to a legal plan, financial planning resources or any other voluntary benefits? In order to attract and retain the best employees, many leading companies offer additional types of insurance beyond health insurance. One common type of voluntary benefit is a legal plan. According to " Measuring the Effects of Legal and Financial Woes," a study conducted by Russell Research and commissioned by ARAG, three out of four employees experienced a legal event in the past 12 months. Furthermore, employees' legal and financial problems can impact engagement and productivity at work. Enrolling in voluntary benefits such as legal and financial solutions can help you solve these personal problems more efficiently to minimize the impact on your work, as well as increase your physical and financial wellness.
  3. Does your healthcare plan still make sense for your current situation? Many of us chose a healthcare plan when we started with the company, but haven't reconsidered if it still makes sense for the ways our lives have changed. For families, choosing the right health insurance plan requires a thorough review process. Keep track of your medical expenses throughout the year so you can review to ensure you are using the plan that works best for you. Take into account any life changes like having a child or new health issues you've developed since you last enrolled in benefits.
  4. Are you taking advantage of wellness discounts and reimbursements? Most employers recognize the importance of exercise as part of a healthier lifestyle and provide reimbursements for health club memberships and the purchase of exercise equipment. Many companies also have discounts in place with organizations such as gyms and nutritionists. Take a look at the wellness section of your company intranet to make sure you are taking full advantage of these healthy offers.

Besides taking time to get your benefits in line, National Benefits Day also acknowledges the hard – and often unseen – work performed by corporate benefits teams and human resources professionals across the country. If you need help understanding your benefit program, stop by your human resources department. You can get answers to your questions and offer a little appreciation in return. Remember, there are no dumb questions when it comes to your benefits: over time, the answers could save you hundreds of dollars.

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