How to Plan for Retirement if You Don't Plan to Retire

Nov 17, 2017 /

Some people are counting the days until retirement, and there is nothing wrong with that. Others have decided to keep working out of financial necessity, and this seems to be a prudent decision. Still others, however, have assessed the situation and deemed that although they have achieved financial security for retirement they are happy with their current condition and feel like they want to keep working until Father Time tells them differently.Suddenly financial planning takes on a different meaning. You need to consider how this changes if your client continues working.

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Trump picks Alex Azar to lead Health and Human Services

Nov 14, 2017 /

President Trump has selected Alex Azar, a former pharmaceutical executive and a top health official during the George W. Bush administration, to lead the Department of Health and Human Services. Republicans predicted that, if confirmed, Azar would pursue Trump’s goals to tilt health-care policies in a more conservative direction through executive action. Leading Democratic health policy experts, while not sharing Azar’s views, said he is well qualified for the post.

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Social Security November 9 Newsletter Now Available

Nov 10, 2017 /

A financial advisor may be one of the first to notice cognitive decline in a client, even before the family. In this newsletter , Elaine lays out what a power of attorney is and how it is different for the SSA, in addition to sharing important news from around the Web.

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Know the Lingo With Social Security Glossary

Nov 6, 2017 /

Do you ever get confused by the alphabet soup of Social Security acronyms? If you take your retirement benefit at FRA, you’ll receive the full PIA. If you delay, you’ll get DRCs. Once you receive benefits, most years you’ll get a COLA. Check out the SSA’s glossary.

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Most Expensive States for Home Health Care

Nov 2, 2017 /

Long-term care makes up a good portion of retirement costs. No retirement planning would be complete without considering how to pay for eventual health care needs. This slideshow lists the 10 most expensive states for home health care.

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Retirement Savings Plans Have Nobel Prize Winner to Thank

Oct 30, 2017 /

You may not know that Richard Thaler, winner of the 2017 Nobel Prize for economics, regards his greatest contribution to the field to be changes in how people save for retirement. He successfully advocated for automatic 401(k) plans, which many companies now have. But that may also be responsible for a drop in employee contributions.

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Medicaid Trusts: One Way to Pay for Long-Term Care

Oct 25, 2017 /

Paying for long-term care is a concern for many seniors, and Medicaid might be the answer for some of them. However, according to the American Council on Aging’s Medicaid Planning Assistance website, in 2017 an individual’s total income must be under $2,205 a month to qualify. That leaves some unable to pay for nursing home costs but ineligible for Medicaid. But with proper planning, even mid- to upper-income people can qualify, through what is called a Medicaid trust.

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Savvy Social Security October 19 Newsletter Now Available

Oct 24, 2017 /

The COLA for 2018 has been announced, which will affect Social Security checks and Medicare premiums. In this newsletter , Elaine details exactly what these changes mean for your clients, in addition to tackling difficult SSA estimate questions.

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Savvy Social Security October 5 Newsletter Now Available

Oct 17, 2017 /

Under the annual earnings test, Social Security benefits can be withheld if a person is under full retirement age and works. In this edition, Elaine answers commonly asked questions about the earnings test.

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2018 COLA Announced

Oct 13, 2017 /

Social Security checks will be going up by 2% in 2018, SSA announced on Friday, October 13. A sharp rise in the gasoline index following the recent hurricanes was responsible for a blip in the CPI-W in the third quarter ending September 30. The maximum earnings subject to Social Security tax will be going up to $128,700 from the current $127,200. The earnings test threshold for 2018 will be $17,040 (up from $16,920) or $45,360 ($44,880) in the FRA year. To see SSA’ s new Fact Sheet click here:

For more on how the COLA is calculated, click here:

The average wage index, which determines the bend points and the increase in benefits for people who haven’t turned 62 yet, increased by just 1.18%, well below the average of about 4%. The bend points that will be used to calculate the PIA for people who turn 62 next year are $896 and $5,399 (compared to $885 and $5,336 this year). See more here:

Elaine will be covering the new COLA in depth in next week’s newsletter.

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How You Can Protect Yourself After a Data Breach

Oct 12, 2017 /

In the aftermath of the Equifax breach, one of the most important things a person can do is open an account at Otherwise, identity thieves could beat you to the site and apply for benefits in your name.

Anyone who has placed a freeze on their credit file would not be able to open an account. However, there are two ways to do it:

  1. lift the freeze temporarily, or
  2. visit a local office and ask for help opening an online account.

Read more here.

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Tom Price Resigns As Health and Human Services Secretary

Oct 5, 2017 /

On Friday, it was announced that Tom Price resigned as Health and Human Services Secretary amid investigations and criticisms that he was using taxpayer money to travel in private charters and military jets.

Price who is a former orthopedic surgeon, has been vocal about his opposition of the Affordable Care Act and making deep cuts to programs such as Medicare and Social Security. According to The Washington Post, he is a longtime member of an alternative medical group called the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons, which opposes Medicare and offers training to doctors on how to opt out of the program. The group also opposes mandatory vaccination as “equivalent to human experimentation.”

In the interim, Mr. Trump tapped Don J. Wright, a deputy assistant secretary for health and the director of the Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, to serve as acting secretary. Possible candidates for a successor include Seema Verma, the administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, and Scott Gottlieb, the commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration.

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Top 10 Best Places To Retire Around The World

Sep 27, 2017 /

Recently, CNBC published a list of the top 10 best places to retire in the world. The 13-category criteria they used in order to weigh and determine the locations included the cost of living, crime and safety, English spoken, entertainment, environmental conditions, expat community, health care, infrastructure, recreation, residency options and taxes, as well as real estate affordability and restrictions on foreign ownership.

Each year, they unveil the Overseas Retirement Index where they feature 30 destinations. This year they included 10 new destinations in their compilation. Coming in at number 10 is George Town, Malaysia, with “its English-speaking locals, exceptionally fine food, internationally accredited medical care and a low cost of living.”

You can view the full list here.

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Seniors Advised To Be Careful of New Scam Targeting Social Security Checks

Sep 22, 2017 /

Recently, government officials warned about a series of cons targeting Social Security beneficiaries in which the scammers posed as agents from the Social Security Administration.

The con tricks seniors into giving their private information such as Social Security numbers, birth dates, and parents’ names, claiming to provide the senior with an increase in their cost-of-living benefits. According to a statement in CBS News by Gale Stallworth Stone, Social Security's Acting Inspector General Administration, if the senior provides all the requested information, the scammer uses it to contact the real SSA in order to change the person's direct deposit information and steal benefit checks. Though data on the number of seniors taken in this scheme has not yet been determined, Stone noted in a consumer advisory that the agency was receiving numerous calls from all over the country complaining about the scam.

“This scheme targets unsuspecting persons and uses scare tactics to defraud them of their resources,” said Stone in a written warning. “If an unknown person pressures you on the phone into providing payments or making purchases for odd reasons, don't think twice about hanging up.”

It is important to be suspicious of any caller who appears to be from a government agency. If the Social Security Administration has a reason to call your clients, advise them to hang up and call the agency back at their listed local number on their toll-free headquarters number at 800-772-1213. If your client receives a suspicious call from someone professing to be with Social Security or the agency's Office of Inspector General, tell them to report the issue to the Office of the Inspector General at 1-800-269-0271 or online via

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Savvy Social Security September 14 Newsletter Now Available

Sep 20, 2017 /

In it, Elaine discusses dependent benefits. She covers who qualifies for dependent benefits, who handles the money, who pays taxes on the income, and how to apply. You can read the full discussion here.

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Savvy Social Security August 31 Newsletter Now Available Online

Aug 31, 2017 /

Here, Elaine discusses one of the trickiest and most critical Social Security planning strategies: survivor benefits for widows between the ages of 60 and 70. In this newsletter she goes over eligibility rules, how to use the Surviving Planning Calculator, how the earnings test works when it makes sense to take benefits before full retirement age, and the application process. You can read the full discussion here. You can read the full discussion here.

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Savvy Social Security August 3 Newsletter Now Available Online

Aug 22, 2017 /

In this edition, Elaine highlights how to file a restricted application. She discusses how it is possible for some individuals to receive a spousal benefit while their own benefits build delayed credits. While not everyone is able to do so, Elaine talks about grandfathered clients and goes through the process of how to receive a spousal benefit when a client’'s own benefit is higher. You can read the full discussion here.

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The Treasury Department Announces The End of myRA

Aug 1, 2017 /

The Treasury Department announced it would end myRA, a program similarly structured to Roth, but created under the Obama administration. It aimed to help low and middle-income workers who didn't have access to traditional retirement plans through employers.

“Unfortunately, there has been very little demand for the program, and the cost to taxpayers cannot be justified by the assets in the program,” said U.S. Treasurer Jovita Carranza in a statement.

According to a recent CNN report, around 30,000 people opened a myRA account in the span of three years and only 20,000 of those people had actually saved money in the account. The Treasury Department said it sent emails on Friday morning to all myRA participants notifying them of the change. Their accounts will remain open until further notice, but those with automatic contributions should stop future transfers, a spokeswoman said. The Treasury Department said it will be communicating frequently with participants to help them transfer their money into private investments.

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Savvy Social Security July 20 Newsletter Now Available Online

Jul 26, 2017 /

In it, Elaine discusses and analyzes the 2017 Social Security Trustees Report which was released last week. She highlights how the COLA may affect Medicare premiums and discusses reform proposals as well as national reactions to the report. You can read the full discussion here.

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Social Security Trustees Report Updated For 2017

Jul 14, 2017

The Social Security Board of Trustees on Thursday released its annual report on the long-term financial status of the Social Security Trust Funds. The combined asset reserves of the Old-Age and Survivors Insurance, and Disability Insurance (OASDI) Trust Funds are projected to become depleted in 2034, the same as projected last year, with 77 percent of benefits payable at that time. The DI Trust Fund will become depleted in 2028, extended from last year's estimate of 2023, with 93 percent of benefits still payable.

In the 2017 Annual Report to Congress, the Trustees announced:

  • The asset reserves of the combined OASDI Trust Funds increased by $35 billion in 2016 to a total of $2.85 trillion.
  • The combined trust fund reserves are still growing and will continue to do so through 2021. Beginning in 2022, the total annual cost of the program is projected to exceed income.
  • The year when the combined trust fund reserves are projected to become depleted, if Congress does not act before then, is 2034, which is the same as projected last year. At that time, there will be sufficient income coming in to pay 77 percent of scheduled benefits.
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