Former SSA Commissioners Propose Budget Reforms

Jun 14, 2019 /

A worsening customer service crisis at the Social Security Administration has prompted three of its former commissioners to urge the U.S. Congress to fix the annual budgeting process that has starved the agency of the resources it needs to do its job. A letter calling for administrative budget reforms signed by the former commissioners—two appointed by Democratic presidents, and one by a Republican—was delivered to congressional leadership last week.

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Husbands Ignore Future Widow’s Needs

Jun 11, 2019 / 1 Comments

The amount of money a widow receives from Social Security can mean the difference between comfort and hardship. Husbands have a lot of control over how this will turn out. Each additional year they postpone collecting their own Social Security adds another 7.3% to the amount a future widow will receive every month from the program’s survivor benefit. But husbands can be a stubborn lot.

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Do You Want to Live to 100?

Jun 7, 2019 /

Do you want to live to be 100? Living to 100, once a rarity in the U.S., is on the rise. Centenarians now number around 82,000, up from 50,000 in 2002, according to census figures; those 100-plus are the country’s second-fastest growing age group, just after those 85 and older. In the next decade, the number of centenarians is expected to rise to about 140,000. Researchers think we can live even longer: While average life expectancy for men is 76 and women is 81, the limit of human life is widely set at 122, the reported age of Jeanne Calment, who died in 1997.

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Knowledge of Social Security Woefully Low

Jun 4, 2019 /

As you know, Social Security offers two types of benefits for spouses: spousal and survivor benefits. Ideally, married individuals think about the impact of their Social Security choices on their spouse. However, if people do not fully understand the rules for the spousal and survivor benefits, they may make suboptimal choices, not only about Social Security claiming, but perhaps also about labor and marriage decisions. This paper from the University of Michigan uses new data from the Understanding America Study to assess understanding of these benefits. Overall, the results suggest that knowledge of spousal and survivors benefits is low. Furthermore, people’s perceptions of their knowledge is misaligned with their actual knowledge, with many thinking that they know more about Social Security than they actually do.

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Worry About Social Security Falls to a New Low

May 31, 2019 /

Most of the news about Social Security is usually doom and gloom. Recent financial reports show we’re still on track to run out of money in the reserves within 15 years. So it’s a bit surprising that a recent Gallup poll shows that fewer people than ever are worried about Social Security.

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All You Ever Wanted to Know About the Social Security Earnings Test

May 28, 2019 /

The Social Security rules are extraordinarily complex and create a virtual labyrinth that retirees must successfully navigate to get the most out of the system they have likely been paying into for most of their lives. In particular, the timing of when benefits are claimed can have a significant impact, not only because benefits are adjusted (i.e., reduced) for those who retire “early,” but also because the so-called Social Security Earnings Test applies to anyone who receives Social Security benefits early. Many retirees—and advisors—don’t fully understand how the Earnings Test works. This Nerd’s Eye View post looks at multiple possiblities, with examples.

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COLAs Still Not Enough for Seniors

May 24, 2019 /

No matter how high the government sets next year’s cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) for Social Security recipients, it will fail to offset the declining purchasing power of American seniors. According to a new report from The Senior Citizens League, Social Security recipients have lost 33% of their buying power between 2000 and 2019.

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76% of Pre-Retirees Would Switch Advisors If Not Advised On Social Security

May 21, 2019 /

When it comes to Social Security, there is a lot that America’s workers nearing retirement don’t know. The sixth annual survey from the Nationwide Retirement Institute, conducted online by The Harris Poll among 1,315 U.S. adults ages 50 or older who are retired, or plan to retire in the next 10 years, finds that nearly half (44%) say Social Security will be their main source of retirement income, followed by just 23% of older adults relying on their pension. Here are some of the disturbing facts:

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Nearly 40% of Americans Wish They Had Filed for Social Security Later

May 17, 2019 /

If you can, wait. That’s the advice from today’s to tomorrow’s retirees. In a new survey commissioned with Age Friendly Ventures, the MassMutual Social Security Pulse Check accessed people in their 70s who are “paying it forward” by advising the next generation to defer claiming social security benefits in order to maximize monthly payments.

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American Confidence in Retirement Rises

May 14, 2019 /

The Retirement Confidence Survey gauges the views and attitudes of working-age and retired Americans regarding retirement, their preparations for retirement, their confidence with regard to various aspects of retirement, and related issues. The RCS is the longest-running survey of its kind and is conducted annually by the Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI) and the independent research firm Greenwald & Associates. Here are some results from the 2019 survey. You can find more here.

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Will the SECURE Act Actually Bring Security to Older Americans?

May 10, 2019 / 1 Comments

For the 75 million boomers marching into old age and the Generation X cohort that follows, the future looks bleak. One in five working-age Americans has no savings, and another 10% have squirreled away less than $5,000 for retirement. The retirement income crisis has spurred Congress into action; both the House and Senate introduced bills which would provide U.S. workers with expanded opportunities to participate in employer-provided retirement plans. Beltway insiders say the SECURE Act is on track to become law. So, will it provide financial security to boomers and Generation X in their retirement years? The answer is yes and no.

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Behavioral Insights About Social Security

May 7, 2019 /

Say the word “annuity” and many people turn up their noses, yet are anxious to take their Social Security benefits as soon as they can. What can help more people embrace something that guarantees lifetime income and delay taking Social Security so they can have greater income in retirement?

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Dementia and Managing Money: A Growing Threat

May 3, 2019 /

The perils of aging generally escalate around 75, and they are becoming more pervasive as more Americans live to very old ages. One of these perils—declining cognitive ability—often creates financial problems. Currently, dementia afflicts roughly a quarter of seniors in their early 80s. And geriatricians and demographers have predicted for years that dementia will become a serious societal problem in the future as the tsunami of baby boomers reach older ages.

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A Glaring Omission in the Latest Social Security Report

Apr 30, 2019 /

The latest report on Social Security’s trust funds came out last week, and it revealed that the troubles in Social Security’s futures aren’t just going away. Yet the report also revealed another glaring problem that has now gone on for years: The two leadership spots that are supposed to be filled by members of the public remain vacant. Until public trustees take their role among the other members of the trust funds’ governing body, the general public will lack the direct representation they deserve in having their interests in the future of Social Security acknowledged.

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Social Security and Medicare Trustees Release Annual Report

Apr 26, 2019 /

The big news this week is that the Social Security and Medicare trustees issued their annual reports detailing last year’s financial results and their 75-year projections. Here’s what Elaine Floyd has to say about the news:

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Nobel Laureate Proposes Merging 401(k)s and Social Security

Apr 23, 2019 /

Richard Thaler, who won the Nobel Prize in 2017 for his work on behavioral economics, wants to mesh 401(k) plans with Social Security benefits to help Americans simplify what is perhaps their most daunting and complex financial issue: drawing down retirement assets. He said Americans should be allowed to contribute more into Social Security using a portion of their 401(k) benefits when they retire, which would increase the size of their monthly Social Security checks.

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Social Security Chief Actuary Weighs In On Paid Leave Proposal

Apr 19, 2019 /

Senator Marco Rubio and Representative Ann Wagner recently propsed a bill that would allow parents to take paid leave through Social Security in exchange for delaying retirement. According to information put out by Rubio’s office, “nearly all parents below the median household income of about $60,000 will be able to take significant leave at a rate of two-thirds of their prior wages,” with richer parents receiving a lower replacement rate. What does that mean for Social Security? The Chief Actuary has weighed in.

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59% of Americans Fear Running Out of Money More Than They Fear Death

Apr 16, 2019 /

As more people are living into their 80s and 90s, more than one out of every two Americans has their sights set on even greater longevity. According to a survey by AIG Life & Retirement, a surprising 53% say their goal is to live to 100 years. Thirty-nine percent identify deeper family relationships as the main benefit of such a long life, 32% name seeing the world change and 17% want to remain productive.

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Congress Inches Toward Retirement Legislation

Apr 12, 2019 /

In 2006, Congress passed the Pension Protection Act, which, among other provisions, encouraged 401(k) plan sponsors to offer automated-enrollment programs and expanded the use of target-date funds. Since that bill’s passage, though, Congress has effectively ignored retirement issues. At long last, that is changing.

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Elderly Report Financial Abuse By Kids

Apr 9, 2019 /

A son uses his elderly mother’s ATM card at casinos and liquor stores or takes her to the bank to withdraw money from her account. A woman reports that her sister stole thousands of dollars’ worth of jewelry from their mother, who suffers from dementia. News accounts like these are rare. But reports about financial abuse of the elderly are increasing. The problem lurks largely in the shadows, because parents view it as a private family affair and are loathe to file a police report. Read more ...