How Covid-19 Affected Typical Retiree Costs in 2020

Jan 22, 2021 /

A new list compiled by The Senior Citizens League (TSCL) indicates that, by late 2020, price increases for many of the expenditures of older Americans far outstripped the modest 1.3 percent cost of living adjustment (COLA) boost that Social Security recipients start receiving this month. “This list is a snapshot of how COVID-19 affected prices of certain items through the end of November 2020,” says Mary Johnson, a Social Security policy analyst for The Senior Citizens League. “There are surprising price aberrations that we haven’t seen before,” Johnson says. “Never in my wildest dreams would I have thought that toilet paper and disinfecting wipes could wind up on our annual list of fastest growing retiree costs,” Johnson says.

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Financial Security at Older Ages

Jan 19, 2021 /

This paper uses financial data from a major credit bureau for a nationally representative 2 percent random sample from more than 250 million consumer records to examine the financial health and indebtedness of older adults. The data cover the years 2010 through 2019 and follow the same consumers over time. Consumer records include numerous sources of debt and information on their total credit available, total balances, amounts past due, debt in collections, and bankruptcies and foreclosures. Consumers ages 50 and older are decreasingly indebted since the Great Recession. This trend masks the increase in indebtedness among adults ages 70 and older due primarily to mortgages. Not only are they more indebted, but our findings suggest that their financial health—reflected by their credit scores and capacity to borrow—has worsened over time.

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Nationwide Employer Mandate Could Dramatically Boost Retirement Savings

Jan 15, 2021 /

As a handful of states roll out employer-mandated retirement-savings programs for their workers, a group of researchers is now advocating for a nationwide policy, arguing that a universal mandate could dramatically boost savings rates and ease the strain on federal assistance programs. “There’s a significant gap in access to workplace retirement plans because employers in the United States are not required to offer a retirement savings plan to their employees, and we know that they are much more likely to save if they have that access—as much as 15 times more likely,” said Angela Antonelli, executive director of Georgetown University’s Center for Retirement Initiatives.

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Here’s What Happens With Social Security When Someone Dies

Jan 12, 2021 /

When a loved one receiving Social Security benefits passes away, you may wonder how the government knows to stop sending that monthly money. Or, maybe there’s a surviving spouse or dependent who relied on that income and wonders whether some sort of payment can continue. While Social Security rules can be complicated, the bottom line is that the decedent’s benefits stop at death. For survivors, how to get benefits—or whether you qualify—depends on several factors.

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Underpayments Payable to Terminated Old-Age, Survivors and Disability Insurance Beneficiaries

Jan 5, 2021 /

According to SSA policy, an underpayment is any monthly amount due a beneficiary that SSA has not been paid. Terminated beneficiaries include living and deceased beneficiaries who are no longer receiving benefits. SSA should issue underpayments to living terminated beneficiaries after it makes direct contact to obtain a current address and bank information. When underpaid beneficiaries are deceased, SSA should pay the underpayment to a surviving spouse, child, or parent or to the legal representative of the decedent’s estate. SSA’s systems identify underpayments for terminated beneficiaries and record them as a special payment amount underpayment on the Master Beneficiary Record.

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Survey: Many Unprepared for Retirement Planning

Jan 1, 2021 /

Retirement planning is not just about building a nest egg. It’s also about knowing what questions to ask in order to reach the goal. Failure to ask the right questions could leave people unprepared for the retirement they hope to live. MoneyRates.com asked people within 20 years of retirement age or older how they’re planning for retirement. The survey found that a significant portion of the population doesn’t know much about retirement planning and doesn’t have the information they’d need to make good decisions. If knowledge is power, millions of Americans may be headed toward retirement powerless to control their financial futures.

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Coordinating Social Security Benefits For Those Who Lived Or Retire Abroad

Dec 29, 2020 /

For many Americans, Social Security income plays an integral role in retirement planning, and while retirement planning is generally straightforward for Americans with income solely from US employment that pays into Social Security, the situation becomes more complex when income from multiple countries is involved. As working in a foreign country may not count towards US Social Security benefits, either reducing benefits or even rendering the worker with insufficient quarters of coverage to be eligible for Social Security benefits at all. In addition, receiving non-US pension or foreign Social Security benefits can impact US benefits, and there is the potential for double-taxation of benefits when more than one country seeks to tax the same individual (the foreign country because the US citizen lives there, and the US because it taxes all citizens on all of their income worldwide!).

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’Twas the Week Before Christmas

Dec 25, 2020 /
Holiday Special: Merry Christmas to all our Savvy advisors! Here is an advisor-themed take on the classic Christmas poem, “A Visit From St. Nicholas” to help you get into the spirit. Read more ...

Audit Finds Improper Payments to Retired Beneficiaries Who Worked Before Full Retirement Age

Dec 22, 2020 /

SSA did not properly adjust the benefit amounts for 53 of the 100 beneficiaries in a sample taken by the Office of the Inspector General. Based on our sample results, we estimate SSA improperly paid 3,963 beneficiaries approximately $6.9 million. If SSA does not take corrective action for the remaining beneficiaries, we estimate it will improperly pay them approximately $1.4 million over the next 12 months. As of January 2020, SSA had taken corrective action for 13 of the 53 beneficiaries we identified.

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Female Workers Could Take Another Pandemic Hit: To Their Retirement

Dec 18, 2020 /

Policy experts have long acknowledged a gender gap in retirement security. Women tend to earn less than men, and they are more likely to take time off from work to care for children or elderly parents. Even brief career interruptions diminish wage growth, retirement savings and Social Security benefits, which are determined by wage history. Women also tend to outlive men, needing to stretch resources over more years. In particular, they face higher health care expenses in retirement. Now, the pandemic recession is disproportionately damaging the careers of women—so much so that some experts call it a “shecession.”

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You Can Now Invest in Longevity Funds, But Should You?

Dec 15, 2020 /

Longevity now ranks as one of the most significant forces shaping the global economy, opening up multi-trillion dollar opportunities to reshape societies, hopefully for the better. As a result, money managers lately have been coming up with ways you can invest to—ideally—profit from longevity trends, through specialized exchange-traded funds (ETFs). These newish funds, with mildly amusing stock symbols, include Globl X Longevity Thematic ETF (symbol: LNGR); CI Global Longevity Economy Fund (LONG) and the Long-Term Care ETF (Old).

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How Caregiving for Parents Reduces Women’s Employment

Dec 11, 2020 /

We find that women who provide personal care for parents or parents-in-law tend to be from more advantaged sociodemographic groups, with larger differences by socioeconomic status than by race and ethnicity. Prior to initiating care, caregivers also have greater labor market attachment than non-caregivers. In contrast, although less likely to provide care, women from less advantaged groups tend to provide more time-intensive care when they do provide care, particularly in the extreme upper-end of the distribution of care hours. We find strong negative associations between caregiving and employment, hours, and earnings, both immediately and over a longer 10-year period. The relationship between care and work is similar across the sociodemographic groups that we examine.

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How Covid-19 Will Change Retirement and Aging

Dec 8, 2020 /

As the pandemic wreaks havoc on our mental and physical health, it is also quietly reshaping how Americans will face retirement and old age in the years to come. Some changes in store will be stressful. Rising government deficits and falling bond yields are creating so much uncertainty about financing retirement that most people who can continue to work will—and for as long as possible. Lessons learned from the virus may even help us combat ageism. Surveys and studies indicate that older adults are coping emotionally better than younger generations. Here are 10 ways aging and retirement are likely to change:

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Lawmakers Actually Agree These 3 Retirement Savings Changes Should Be Made

Dec 4, 2020 /

Judging by their retirement account balances, Americans need more help saving for retirement. And there’s a chance they may actually get it soon from Washington, D.C. That’s because the Securing a Strong Retirement Act of 2020 is bipartisan legislation introduced recently by House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal (D-Mass.) and Ranking Member Kevin Brady (R-Tex.). With bipartisan support, the bill actually stands a chance of becoming law. If it does, here are three big changes that could affect your client’s retirement plans.

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A Majority of Seniors Have Been Targeted By a Social Security Scam In the Last 3 Months

Dec 1, 2020 /

If you (or your clients) receive a text, email or phone call purporting to be from the Social Security Administration, think twice before responding. The people on the other end are likely fraudsters. And they’re looking to catch individuals off guard and take advantage of their fears. The November Retirement Confidence Index from SimplyWise found 47% of Americans have been targeted by a Social Security scam in the past three months. The rate was even higher for seniors, 53% of whom were the target of those schemes in the past three months. What’s more, 21% of seniors received more than three Social Security fraud attempts in that time.

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5 Ways to Exercise Your Gratitude Muscle

Nov 27, 2020 /

2020 has been a whirlwind of a year, and it’s not over yet. However, there are undoubtedly things you are grateful for, if only a good night’s sleep. In fact, studies show that better sleep is one of many benefits of practicing gratidude. Gratitude also encompasses awe (such as seeing a sunrise); abundance (a stocked pantry, having all the children home for a holiday); appreciation for the present moment (a good cup of coffee, a lunch date, clean sheets); a sense of good fortune (it could be worse) and more. Here are 5 ways to develop and build your “gratitude muscle.”

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74% of Americans Believe Social Security Would Have to Be Insolvent For Congress to Act

Nov 24, 2020 /

PlanGap, an annuity company, conducted a survey of over 2,000 U.S. adults. The survey found that 74 percent of Americans believe Social Security would have to be in immediate crisis (e.g., the trust fund would become insolvent) for Congress to attempt to fix the program. Those ages 35 to 44, and 65 and over, are particularly pessimistic, with nearly 4 in 5 (79 percent each) agreeing that Social Security would need to be in crisis before a fix is attempted by Congress.

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Results from a Q3 Retirement Security Survey

Nov 20, 2020 /

Principal conducts periodic periodic “pulse” surveys with customers, employers, financial professionals, and consultants to gain insights into timely topics. The survey findings reported here explore consumer concerns and actions surrounding saving for retirement, financial behaviors related to market volatility, and Covid-19.

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Biden Plan to Boost Social Security and Medicare Already Looks Wobbly

Nov 17, 2020 /

President-elect Joe Biden won’t take office for another 10 weeks, but it looks like one of his biggest ideas to help retirees is already in trouble. The problem for Biden, of course, is that he was counting on a stronger hand in Congress. He wants to boost Social Security benefits, particularly for low-income households, by raising taxes on corporations and individuals earning $400,000 a year. But it’s hardly likely that McConnell and his fellow Republicans will go along with a tax hike of any kind.

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Changing Social Security: Who’s Affected?

Nov 13, 2020 /

Due to the strength and agility required for physical labor, half of blue-collar workers sign up for Social Security as soon as they’re eligible—at age 62. But a large majority of white-collar workers wait so they can lock in a larger monthly check for retirement. In a new study, Lindsay Jacobs at the University of Wisconsin found that blue- and white-collar workers would also respond very differently to potential increases in the program’s two benchmark ages: the earliest eligibility age and the full retirement age.

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