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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More Than Half of All People on Medicare Do Not Compare Their Coverage Options Annually

Nov 10, 2020 /

Each year, people with Medicare have the opportunity to review their coverage options and change plans during the open enrollment period (October 15 to December 7). Medicare beneficiaries with traditional Medicare can compare and switch Medicare Part D stand-alone drug plans or join a Medicare Advantage plan, while enrollees in Medicare Advantage can compare and switch Medicare Advantage plans or elect coverage under traditional Medicare instead. Kaiser Family Foundation analysis shows that only a small share of Medicare beneficiaries voluntarily switch plans. This “stickiness” may indicate that beneficiaries are satisfied with their current coverage, but it may also indicate that many people on Medicare find it difficult to compare plans, are unaware of the open enrollment period, or are not confident in their ability to select a better plan.

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Cognitive Decline Meets Covid-19 Scams

Nov 6, 2020 /

The federal government warns that older Americans are being targeted by a battery of financial scams, including telemarketers offering to do contact tracing— for a fee—or to reserve a slot for a future vaccine. Others are soliciting donations to charities purportedly helping people in need during the economic slowdown. Covid-19 makes this a perilous time for people struggling with cognitive decline.

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2021 COLA Adjustment: Crucial Takeaways for Your Clients

Nov 3, 2020 /
Watch this short video to learn what you need to know to advise your clients regarding the 2021 COLA adjustment. Read more ...

5 Ways to Make Zoom Webinars Engaging and Irresistible

Oct 30, 2020 /

Dry. Dull. Boring. Exhausting. Painful. Waste of time. Forgettable. Those are the words and phrases that came up when I asked people this question: What word would you use to describe the Zoom Presentations/webinars you attend? And it’s true, most webinars are likely to be uninspiring…and forgotten shortly after you attend them. They aren’t wildly engaging, and their impact on your success is likely minimal. One thing that impedes their ability to wow is that they aren’t very different from other meetings you attend online. To counteract the challenges that this medium imposes, consider these five enhancements.

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Why Social Security Calculations Matter

Oct 27, 2020 /

Social Security is the cornerstone of retirement savings for 20% of Americans, thus the cost of living adjustment determined yearly by the Social Security Administration has an impact on retirees. The COLA is calculated using the CPI-W, a consumer price index reflecting increases for urban wage earners and clerical workers that is based on a fixed market basket of goods and services. COLAs have surpassed 2% only twice since 2010.

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Prepare for the Expected: Dementia Can Be Financially Devastating

Oct 23, 2020 /

Of the many risks to financial well-being, it’s clear that an extended long-term care event ranks at the top of the list. A dementia-related diagnosis can be financially devastating, and the number of people affected is on the rise. Currently, cognitive decline affects 5.8 million people, and that is expected to double by 2040, according to the Alzheimer’s Association. Not only is there a significant financial impact to the person affected by the disease, but on their caregivers as well. Yet few families factor this impact into their wealth plans.

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Lawmakers Push for Emergency 3% COLA in 2021

Oct 20, 2020 /

House lawmakers are proposing emergency legislation to increase the 2021 Social Security cost-of-living adjustment to 3%. The move comes just days after the Social Security Administration announced that the COLA for 2021 would be 1.3%. “Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, seniors are facing additional financial burdens in order to stay safe,” said Rep. Peter DeFazio, D-Ore., in a statement on Thursday. “This absolutely anemic COLA won’t even come close to helping them afford even their everyday expenses, let alone those exacerbated by COVID-19.”

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SSA Announces COLA for 2021

Oct 16, 2020 /

Social Security checks will be going up by 1.3% in 2021. The adjustment will take effect in December and appear in January’s checks. In December Social Security beneficiaries will receive a letter informing them of their new benefit amount. This information will also be posted on their online mySocialSecurity account. Clients can do their own math now by logging into their Social Security account and bringing up their benefit verification letter which shows the gross amount of their benefit before deductions. Then they can just multiply that amount by 1.013.

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COVID-19’s Impact on Older Workers: Employment, Income, and Medicare Spending

Oct 13, 2020 /

From the earliest days of the pandemic, COVID-19’s disproportionate impact on the health of people age 65 and older—in rates of infection, hospitalization, and death—has been painfully apparent. Yet the pandemic’s impact on the financial well-being of older people—in terms of employment, income, and health insurance coverage—has received little, if any, attention. To fill that gap, this issue brief describes the demographics of older workers and assesses their pandemic-related loss of employment, income, and employer-sponsored health insurance coverage. It also considers the potential effect of these losses on federal spending for Medicare.

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COVID-19 Derails Retirement Contributions

Oct 9, 2020 /

For many Americans, saving for retirement is a luxury they simply cannot afford right now. Although investing for the future is essential, COVID-19 has left millions across the U.S. concerned more about the present as they struggle to cope with record unemployment and unprecedented economic uncertainty. In the second annual FinanceBuzz retirement survey, we look at how the coronavirus is impacting retirement goals, as well as how much Americans are able to save during these turbulent times.

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Congress Moves to Limit Medicare Premium Hikes

Oct 6, 2020 /

Congress has made a move to head off a potential premium spike for some Medicare beneficiaries. As part of a short-term government funding bill passed by the Senate on Wednesday and signed by President Trump, any increase in Medicare Part B premiums for 2021 would be capped at 25% of what it otherwise would be for 2021. While it’s still uncertain what the standard premium would be for 2021—it is based on an actuarial formula and typically revealed in early November for the next year—estimates have proved tricky this year due to economic upheaval from the coronavirus pandemic.

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SSA Office Closures Mean More Hardship for Seniors

Oct 2, 2020 /

Without Social Security, more than 40% of elderly Americans would live in poverty. That’s according to an analysis by the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP), which says the data underscores just how important Social Security is, and without it, how millions of Americans would slip into destitution. Kathleen Romig, CBPP senior policy analyst, says moving online has likely kept countless citizens who have become eligible for benefits from applying. “A lot of people don’t know they’re eligible, or just can’t handle the application process on their own.”

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Women Face Unfortunate Retirement Future

Sep 29, 2020 /

Older adults represent a growing portion of the U.S. population and older women have a longer life expectancy, on average, than older men. Prior GAO work has found that challenges women face during their working years can affect their lifetime earnings and retirement income. For example, we found women were overrepresented in low wage professions, paid less money than their male counterparts during their careers, and were more likely to leave the workforce to care for family members. Taken together, these trends may have significant effects on women’s financial security in retirement. GAO was asked to report on the financial security of older women. This report examines (1) women retirees’ perspectives on their financial security, and (2) what is known about the financial security of older women in retirement.

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Does Overconfidence Increase Financial Risk Taking in Older Age?

Sep 25, 2020 /

Using data from the Rush Memory and Aging Project, this research provides new and updated evidence that overconfidence in financial knowledge may lead to excessive financial risk taking in older age. Older adults manage an increasing share of national wealth in the United States and other graying nations. Risky decisions by aging investors may have effects on financial markets in general but certainly have critical effects on the longterm health and well-being of the individual decision maker. Taking excessive financial risk in older age can be devastating as opportunities to recover lost wealth are limited as an individual ages.

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How to Help Americans Claim Social Security at the Right Age

Sep 22, 2020 /

Social Security is the foundation of retirement security in America. Among households headed by someone aged 65 or over, more than half rely on Social Security benefits for a majority of total income, while 19% depend on Social Security for at least 90% of income. One of the key financial decisions facing older Americans is when to claim Social Security retirement benefits. While these benefits are available as early as age 62, claiming later permanently raises monthly benefits, with the maximum benefits available to those who claim at age 70. Delaying claiming is thus equivalent to purchasing a greater inflation-adjusted annuity that will be paid for as long as the beneficiary lives. Most people, however, do not claim Social Security at their optimal age, usually because they claim too early. This brief examines why older Americans typically do not claim Social Security optimally and how public policy can help them make better claiming decisions.

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