Binc’s Qualifying Events Explained

A qualifying event can often be easily explained. It’s easy to understand how a serious medical could create an overwhelming financial hardship for a bookseller. Some of the other qualifying events are more complex. In a series of blog posts (with accompanying downloadable posters) we will dig deeper into a number of qualifying events to explore the many ways Binc can help booksellers in times of need.

Loss of Household Income Downloadable Poster

Loss of Household Income

Easily the most complex of Binc’s qualifying events is the Loss of Household Income category. This category encompasses a variety of personal events that can lead to household financial hardship, preventing the bookseller from being able to pay essential expenses. Let’s explore examples of unexpected situations that could lead a bookseller to apply for assistance under Loss of Household Income.Childcare or Eldercare

  • A bookseller is the parent or legal guardian of a child or the primary caregiver for a parent or relative in their household.
  • An emergency need arose for child or elder care (i.e. weather-related school closing, illness of child or elder).
  • 50% or more of the bookseller’s scheduled weekly income was lost due to the emergency.

Death in the household

  • A bookseller experiences the sudden death of a wage earner residing in their household.

Disability

  • The bookseller or another wage earner in the household experiences illness or injury that requires them to be off work for a prolonged period of time.

Disruption of business

  • A store is forced to close unexpectedly due to disaster or severe weather.
  • 50% or more of the bookseller’s scheduled weekly income was lost due to the emergency.

Divorce or separation

  • A bookseller’s spouse or partner leaves the household and does not provide financial support due to divorce or separation.
  • A bookseller experiences the loss of court-mandated child support.
  • In some circumstances, the unexpected loss of a roommate can qualify for assistance.

Job loss of partner or spouse

  • A bookseller’s spouse or partner loses their job through no fault of their own.
  • The bookseller has a second job and it is lost through no fault of their own.
    • The loss of a bookseller’s job at the bookstore does not qualify.

For any application to the Binc Foundation the following criteria apply:

  • The declared loss of income must cause the bookseller to be financially unable to pay essential household expenses.
  • In many instances, up to three months essential expenses may be provided if there is sufficient evidence that financial equilibrium can be achieved during that time.

If you are still wondering if your circumstances apply – call or email. Binc 866-733-9064 or help@bincfoundation.org

Burying a Loved One

Of all the unexpected expenses a bookseller faces, funerals can be one of the toughest to find help paying for. There is little public assistance available to help loved ones afford the financial burden of a funeral. Whether a bookseller is dealing with the loss of a child, spouse, parent, or sibling – they often don’t have enough savings to meet the expenses of a funeral. Because of the emotional stress, funeral expense requests are some of the most emotional requests for assistance that we receive at Binc.

Today, the average North American traditional funeral costs between $7,000 and $10,000. This price range includes services, burial in a cemetery, and installation of a headstone. While this is the average, funeral costs can vary widely depending on location. Even a simple cremation can cost $800 – $1,000, which is still an amount beyond the means of many booksellers.

Resources such as the FTC Funeral Rule can help keep costs down by making it possible for you to choose only those services you want, whether you are making arrangements when a death occurs or in advance. The Rule allows you to compare prices among funeral homes and makes it possible for you to select the arrangements you want at the facility you use.

There is a very limited amount of government assistance available, with one-time payments of $255 from Social Security, or $300 – $600 from the Veterans Administration. Which is obviously not enough to cover all of the expenses.

Paying funeral expenses from an estate (should one exist) presents its own set of obstacles. Funeral expenses can be paid with assets from an estate, but because of the legal process in most states, the funds will not be available immediately when needed. Most funeral homes require payment at the time that funeral services are provided, this often means that someone will need to cover the expenses up front and then be reimbursed from the estate. Again, this creates a problem for a bookseller living on a tight budget.

A U.S. News & World Report article stated that affording funeral expenses is a serious problem that seems to have grown worse over the years and one that spiked during the recession. So what does one do if there is no money for a funeral? If you lack the funding for a funeral, here’s what some experts say your options are.

  • CrowdFunding – GoFundMe, one of the largest fund-raising sites, says that 13% of its campaigns created in 2017 were described as memorials, which include funerals and are one of the company’s fastest-growing categories.
  • Local churches sometimes have funds set aside to help with funerals.
  • Some states have limited assistance available. Assistance for burial or cremation and the criteria for eligibility vary widely from state to state.
  • If you are a bookseller, and you are financially responsible for the funeral expenses of a family member, you can apply to the Binc Foundation for assistance.
    • Binc may be able to help with an assistance grant to cover basic burial expenses.
    • Binc can offer a Matching Grant of up to $2,000 to match funds collected through a GoFundMe or similar campaign used to raise funds for funeral expenses.

The loss of a loved one is traumatic enough, at Binc we want to help keep debt from making the situation even worse.

Extending Binc Assistance with Resources

At Binc we are always pleased to be able to pay overdue bills for booksellers. We know from experience that these payments give great relief to the household. Over the past twenty-two years of paying bills for booksellers, we have come to realize that this is only part of the solution, however. More often than not, additional help is needed. This help can take the form of partnering with another organization to add additional financial support, helping to negotiate existing bills, or providing financial education for the future. Whatever the need, Binc strives to provide additional guidance to each bookseller who reaches out to us for assistance, with the ultimate goal of preventing another financial hardship.

Calling on years of experience, Binc has compiled a useful Resource Guide to help anyone struggling with a wide variety of unexpected events. Whether you are experiencing serious medical expenses or are struggling to pay mounting utility bills, there are organizations out there ready to help beyond Binc. One important service that we provide, is helping to match booksellers with national and local assistance to supplement any help the Foundation provides.

Large national organizations like the Red CrossUnited Way and Community Action Partnerships are often the best places to begin a search for additional assistance. They are depositories for a wide variety of assistance resources specific to geographic location. We frequently refer to an amazing site called Need Help Paying Bills that lists resources by state, county, and city. These sites will provide a variety of resources from rent and utility assistance to food pantries and local thrift stores.

Medical expenses can be overwhelming and affording needed care is often difficult on a bookseller’s salary. One great Binc partner is NeedyMeds. They can help lower prescription costs or help you locate a no-cost or low-cost clinic. You can search their site by diagnosis or by prescription. NeedyMeds even has a funding platform for major medical expenses called HEALfundr.

If you are looking for help negotiating existing medical bills, we have compiled some tips in this flyer Medical Bill Negotiation How-To. Whether before your scheduled medical care or following emergency surgery, Binc strives to help booksellers maneuver the frustrating and confusing maze of health care billing.

Binc’s Resource Guide also has links to organizations geared to improving your financial well-being. There are some great websites with very useful and easy to follow steps to help booksellers save and work toward a healthy financial future. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is the government website with a wealth of information to help manage bills and credit. NerdWallet can help you make informed decisions about credit cards, bank accounts, loans and more. Check out their thorough comparisons before making financial choices. Sign up for the newsletter at The Simple Dollar and money saving tips and timely and useful articles will come right to your inbox.

We are always looking for more resources to share with booksellers, so if you have a favorite, please feel free to pass it along!

Booksellers Overcoming Disaster

 

Every year Mother Nature finds ways to remind us of her power. Wind, water, fire and ice all combined to make the 2017 year one of the worst disaster years in recent memory. Getting through a disaster, natural or otherwise, whether as an individual, a family or a business requires planning and the help of your community, both local and industrywide. Libris and the Book Industry Charitable (Binc) Foundation have put together a disaster checklist to help you be better prepared in case the worst happens.

Having provided insurance services to the book industry since 1997, Libris knows a lot about the claims process after disasters, and more importantly, how to prepare your business beforehand. Whitney Balaun, business development specialist with Libris, advises you first to know your policy. Make sure you understand what is covered and not covered. For instance, many bookstores often have special events, she said, adding that Libris’ policy has outstanding special events coverage, where some carriers have events exclusions. At the holidays, the Libris policy flexes to cover your seasonal increase in merchandise, whereas many other policies do not.

Most policies also exclude flood and earthquake. If your bookstore is in an area where this is a concern, you need a standalone policy for this coverage. Does your policy have a waiting period on business interruption or a wind and hail deductible? That knowledge is helpful in your disaster planning. Save contact information for whom you’ll call to call when you need to file a claim.

“FEMA says more than 40 percent of businesses never reopen after a disaster,” said Balaun. She recommends that booksellers start by identifying and assessing their hazards: how old is your building; how up-to-date is your fire sprinkler system? How many exits do you have and are they clearly marked for customers?

“Another area to consider is how you can strengthen your supply chain,” she said, adding that business disruptions will break the chain: You may be cut off from book suppliers. You may be unable to open for business due to building damages. All create a critical issue, quickly draining your financial reserves and weakening your customer relationships.

“What’s your Plan B, in case of an emergency?” she said. “That’s why we’ve created this checklist – so you can think through all these potential issues and prepare before there’s any threat of danger. Don’t wait until the threat is imminent – under the pressure, you won’t be able to think clearly and may forget important steps.”

Even with the best of planning a natural disaster can create a critical financial hardship for booksellers and bookstores. In those cases, the Binc Foundation serves as a safety net to help aid in recovery. Last year the Binc Foundation assisted a record number of stores and booksellers impacted by hurricanes, wildfires, and floods. Whether a bookseller’s home was destroyed by fire, a store was forced to temporarily close after a damaging storm, or a bookseller’s family couldn’t pay their bills because the wage earners were not able to work after a disaster, the Foundation was able to step in and help.

In one instance, a bookseller’s home was severely damaged in the flood waters following Hurricane Harvey. With no family living nearby and all hotel rooms within commuting distance filled to capacity, the family was forced to move back into the damaged home as soon as the waters receded. Binc helped purchase cleaning and building supplies to help make the home livable again. The bookseller was able to continue working at the bookstore by day, while working each night to repair their home. Kit Steinaway, Program Manager of the Foundation marveled, “The resilience and determination of these booksellers facing unbelievable loss was both heartbreaking and inspiring. Their desire to help the bookstore stay open and staffed while struggling with their own personal losses, speaks volumes to the dedication of booksellers.”

We all know that in the book world, “community” is more than just a catch phrase; it’s a way of life. The bookselling community shows its true character during times of greatest need. Last year we saw it manifest in many ways, with publishers helping damaged stores restock, booksellers offering up spare rooms in their homes to displaced colleagues, and communities digging in to help repair and reopen stores. Booksellers look out for each other and are always concerned for someone who “has a greater need than I do.” When we all pitch in to help each other, we strengthen the entire book industry and create a caring community of book people.

With another disaster season underway, both Libris and Binc have already heard from booksellers who have weathered Hurricane Lane, Hurricane Florence and the every present California wildfires. In our wish for very bookstore and every bookseller should make sure that they are prepared, Libris and Binc have put together this Disaster Checklist. Please download the checklist, store it on your computer at work and at home and use it to make sure your shop and family are prepared when Mother Nature decides to strike again.

Chuck’s Ride interview with Stirling Books and Brew

 

Chuck Robinson, of Village Books and Paper Dreams, and Richard Hunt, of AdventureKEEN, recently visited Staci and Jim Stuart, owners of Stirling Books & Brew in Albion, MI. They stopped to talk about how Binc and the Albion community came to Jim and Staci’s aid after Staci suffered a spinal injury just days before the store was set to open. You can join Chuck and Richard in supporting Binc, click here. You can also join in helping Staci with her recovery here.

 

 

Helping booksellers after the unexpected from Binc Foundation on Vimeo.