Money Shame Surfaces in Tough Times

Apr 7, 2020 /

It’s easy to overlook the emotions that swirl around money. But they often come to the surface when our financial security is thrown into question. The spread of the coronavirus has kicked Americans’ financial anxieties into high gear, a Kaiser Family Foundation poll found last week. More than half of the workers who were surveyed fear they will lose income when their workplace is closed or their hours are reduced. Even when financial problems stem from events that are outside of an individual’s control, a feeling of shame can take over. Shame is the thread running through three TED videos that explore the emotions around money.

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Warn Your Clients About Coronavirus Scams

Apr 3, 2020 /

Crisis brings out the best in some people and the worst in others. The COVID-19 pandemic is no exception. Scammers are working overtime preying on people's very real uncertainty and anxiety. Federal agencies are sounding alarms about Social Security and Medicare beneficiaries in particular, since this population is often more vulnerable to fraud. Here are some of the most common scams, and what your clients need to know.

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Social Security Beneficiaries to Receive Stimulus Checks Too

Mar 31, 2020 /

Federal lawmakers enacted a $2 trillion economic stimulus package Friday that will send most Americans checks of up to $1,200, as a way to put money directly in the pockets of families struggling to manage the economic fallout of the coronavirus pandemic. Individuals who are collecting Social Security benefits for retirement, disability or Supplemental Security Income will be eligible for the stimulus checks, based on their tax returns or Social Security Administration data. AARP successfully fought to guarantee that low-income Social Security recipients will receive the full $1,200 check, not $600 as originally proposed. Here’s what you need to know. Read more ...

WEP and GPO Relief No Longer in Sight

Mar 27, 2020 /

Long-shot legislation that would eliminate or modify two laws that reduce/eliminate the Social Security benefits of several million retired federal and public sector employees or their surviving spouses is almost certainly dead for the year, as the world seeks ways to halt the coronavirus. Opponents of WEP and GPO have been seeking repeal or modification for decades without success. Odds of any relief this year were already slim because this is an election year. And that was before the pandemic which has the country and Congress on a virtual lockdown.

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What to do Now That Social Security Offices Are Closed

Mar 24, 2020 /

As of Tuesday, March 17, all Social Security offices are closed to the public for in-person services. As the Social Security Administration press release states, “This decision protects the population we serve—older Americans and people with underlying medical conditions—and our employees during hte COVID-19 pandemic. However, we are still able to provide critical services.” Read on for how you can access support.

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Medicare Coverage for COVID-19

Mar 20, 2020 /

As the number of cases of COVID-19 (also called coronavirus) increases, so does the importance of programs like Medicare in helping older adults, people with disabilities, and their families build and maintain their health and economic security. Accordingly, policymakers are taking critical steps to ensure program preparedness, keep beneficiaries and the public informed, and facilitate timely access to appropriate care. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) is working to address the spread of the disease and inform people with Medicare about the services that Medicare covers.

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A History and Analysis of Payroll Tax Holidays

Mar 17, 2020 /

As Congress and the White House consider ways to shore up the economy in the face of a public health crisis, President Donald Trump has suggested suspending the entire payroll tax for the duration of the year. This would cost about $950 billion if the tax is suspended between April 1 and December 31, and if implemented would be a major change in tax policy in terms of revenue and economic effects. A payroll tax cut or suspension may support firms facing liquidity problems and considering layoffs, easing the impact of an economic slowdown. It is important to keep in mind the history and arguments behind payroll tax holidays before moving forward. Payroll tax holidays have a mixed economic record, repeat the problems that plague temporary tax policy more broadly, and may not be the most effective tool for responding to a growing economic downturn.

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Pre-Retirement Debt Is Rising Over Time

Mar 13, 2020 /

Baby boomers have a lot more debt than their parents did. By all accounts, the parents were in pretty good shape for retirement because they held their debt levels down to a mere 4 percent of their total assets in the years immediately before retiring—ages 56 to 61—according to a new study. At those same ages, the typical baby boomers’ debt has ranged from 19 percent to 23 percent of their assets, thanks in large part to the 2008 drop in stock portfolios and in the housing market. Generational trends in debt levels are difficult to analyze, and the issue is far from settled among researchers. This study notes, for example, that the situation might not be as grim as the rising debt indicates.

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Debt Among Older Americans Increases Dramatically

Mar 10, 2020 /

Older Americans have seen their debt levels increase sharply over the past two decades, straining seniors’ finances at a delicate time—when they’re preparing to retire or have already entered their golden years. The total debt burden for Americans over age 70 increased 543% from 1999 through 2019, to $1.1 trillion, according to data from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. Similarly, those in their 60s saw debt, such as mortgages and auto loans, balloon by 471% to $2.14 trillion.

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Why More Older Workers Are Finding Themselves Unemployed

Mar 6, 2020 /

Many Americans plan to save for retirement in their 50s. But what happens if you’re laid off at that age instead? According to researchers, the situation is common, and older workers have a harder time finding a new job—especially one that pays their previous salary. PBS Economics correspondent Paul Solman talks to 59-year-old Jaye Crist, who works three jobs for 70% of his former income. You can find the video and a full transcript here.

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Managing the Emotional Shift From Saving to Spending

Mar 3, 2020 /

Retirement is one of the most impactful emotional transitions in life. As clients face the shift from earning a paycheck to relying on sources other than work for income, it is normal for difficult emotions and deeply buried money scripts to surface. Here are some common retirement “money scripts” one advisor sees and the truths you can use to bring clients back to reality.

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Achieving Retirement Equality for Women

Feb 28, 2020 /

Globally, only 21 percent of women workers (25 percent U.S.) believe they are on course to achieve their retirement income needs, according to a new report, The New Social Contract: Achieving retirement equality for women, based on an annual survey of 15 countries spanning Europe, the Americas, Asia, and Australia. It is a collaboration between Aegon Center for Longevity and Retirement (ACLR), and nonprofits Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies (TCRS) and Instituto de Longevidade Mongeral Aegon. “Women’s workforce participation and access to career opportunities have soared in recent decades,” said Catherine Collinson, CEO and president of nonprofit Transamerica Institute and TCRS, and executive director of ACLR. “However, the gender pay gap persists. Combined with women taking time out of the workforce for parenting and caregiving, it undermines their ability to achieve a financially secure retirement and increases the risk of living in poverty.”

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New SSA Commissioner Shares His Thoughts

Feb 25, 2020 /

When Andrew M. Saul, 73, was confirmed by the U.S. Senate as the new commissioner of Social Security last June, it brought to an end a six-year period in which the Social Security Administration (SSA) was run by a sequence of temporary appointees. Saul is now in charge of one of the most important operations in the federal government, an agency that pays out more than $1 trillion every year to more than 64 million Social Security beneficiaries. Saul—who started his career managing national retail clothing chains and also helmed the Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board—is tasked with solving problems, such as slow customer service, that have troubled the SSA for years, and newer issues like scams run by people pretending to represent the agency. He spoke with the AARP Bulletin about what he's doing to help the SSA face these challenges, and here are edited excerpts from the conversation.

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New FICO Scores Could Affect Retirement Planning

Feb 21, 2020 /

Fair Isaac, the giant credit score company, recently announced the biggest change since 2014 in how it determines its FICO credit scores. This new FICO 10 system—expected to go into effect by year’s end—could affect your retirement in big ways, possibly for the worse and possibly for the better. Having good credit is especially important in retirement. It can save you thousands of dollars with a lower interest rate on a mortgage, car loan or credit card. And a high credit score could help you get a rewards credit card or a better interest rate with one, making travel in retirement less expensive. Insurance premiums, utility bills and apartment rents may also be more affordable when your credit is in good shape.

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Only 1 in 300 Seniors Know These 5 Social Security Rules

Feb 18, 2020 /

In 2019, 64 million Americans were estimated to have received Social Security benefits, and for more than half of elderly beneficiaries, Social Security represented over 50% of their income. Nonetheless, a recent SimplyWise survey found that less than one in eight Americans aged 60 to 70 considered themselves “very knowledgeable” on the topic. Worse, only one out of 300 people asked knew the correct answer to all five of the following questions. These questions are fundamental and confusions lead to people missing out on income they desperately need.

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This Word Describes Social Security—But Not Everyone Wants to Hear It

Feb 14, 2020 /

“Entitlement” often refers to Social Security and Medicare, but critics argue that’s the wrong way to describe it. Many Americans take to social media saying they’ve paid into the system their entire careers, and thus, the benefit they will receive belongs to them. And they’re right—which is a big part of the reason they’re called entitlements, experts say, because recipients are indeed entitled to them.

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Overwhelming Lack of Understanding Surrounding Social Security, Survey Finds

Feb 11, 2020 /

A recent Schroders survey on retirement trends found that there is significant concern of outliving one’s assets, with 42% of people classifying themselves as being concerned or very concerned about outliving their assets and 35% of those already retired being concerned or very concerned about outliving their money. Respondents are split 50/50 between men and women and are categorized into three age cohorts: 45-59 (336 respondents), 60-69 (335 respondents) and 70+ (333 respondents).

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A Need For Evidence-Based Retirement Policies

Feb 7, 2020 /

Retirement saving plays an important role in the U.S. economy. Americans hold more than $18 trillion in private retirement accounts like 401(k)s and IRAs, while defined benefit pensions in the private and public sector hold trillions more. Social Security and Medicare comprise nearly 40 percent of the federal budget. The government also provides tax subsidies for retirement saving, and funds Medicaid. Yet despite existing research, policymakers do not have access to robust empirical consensus when making decisions that affect the retirement security of tens of millions of families. There are many major outstanding questions:

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Do 40% of Retirees Really Rely on Social Security for Their Entire Income?

Feb 4, 2020 /

Americans are concerned and even afraid for their retirement security. And the news headlines often don’t make them feel better. The latest is a claim from the National institute for Retirement Security that “A plurality of older Americans, 40.2 percent, only receive income from Social Security in retirement.” If true that’s very worrying. But does this frightening factoid hold up?

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Examining the Nest Egg

Jan 31, 2020 /

Retirement security is built on a foundation of secure income during retirement. For decades, researchers, financial advisors, and others have encouraged working Americans to pursue the so-called “three-legged stool” of retirement savings: Social Security, a defined benefit pension, and individual savings, typically through a defined contribution plan. This National Institute on Retirement Security report examines the actual sources of retirement income for older Americans to find out, in part, just how many older Americans actually achieve on the three-legged stool in retirement.

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