Overcoming Hurdles at the Social Security Office

May 18, 2018 /

Every month, 61 million Americans collect some sort of Social Security benefit. So the process to file for and receive benefits must run like a well-oiled machine, right? Not necessarily. While the majority of Social Security beneficiaries enjoy a relatively simple and painless process when they apply for benefits, not everyone is quite so lucky. For some beneficiaries, the path to receiving monthly benefits may be littered with unexpected hurdles, pitfalls, and snags.

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Half of Americans Fail a Simple Social Security Quiz

May 15, 2018 /

Almost half of adults ages 50 and above—47 percent—failed a simple 5-question Social Security quiz that mutual life insurance company MassMutual recently sent out in an online survey. But there's a silver lining in that those results are actually an improvement from a similar survey conducted three years ago. That 10-question quiz resulted in a failure rate for 72 percent of the general population and a 62 percent defeat for those ages 50 and up.

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The State of Retirement: Healthier, Wealthier, and Living Longer

May 11, 2018 /

According to a new report from United Income, current retirees are healthier, wealthier, and living longer than any previous generation. The report, called “The State of Retirees: How Longer Lives Have Changed Retirement,” used a wide range of data from other surveys concerning retirees’ health, finances, time use, politics, and geography.

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Advisors Need This New Approach to Aging Clients

May 8, 2018

There are more people alive today than ever before, and those individuals are living longer on average and demanding much more in their later years than any generation before them. Speaking at the 2018 Health and Wealth Leadership Forum, Joseph Coughlin, director of MIT’s AgeLab, explained how these factors are going to fundamentally change the way advisors work with aging clients.

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Missing Accounts Cost Retirees Billions

May 4, 2018 /

It’s time to retire. So what exactly has become of that pension you earned decades ago and the 401(k)s you left with former employers? The answer may not be as straightforward as you think. Your former employer may have gone through a bankruptcy, merger or spin-off, making it tough to track down your retirement plan. Perhaps an employer transferred its pension liabilities to an insurance company, which now owes you an annuity—but the insurer has lost track of your contact information. And if you left a smaller 401(k) balance with a former employer years ago, it may have been transferred to an IRA without your knowledge or consent.

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New Survey Shows Pre-Retirees Are Ignorant About Social Security

May 1, 2018 /

Nearly two in three (63 percent) future retirees admit they are not confident in their knowledge of Social Security—and it shows. A quarter of U.S. adults (27 percent) in retirement say their Social Security payment is less than expected, and one in four (26 percent) future retirees believe they can live comfortably in retirement on Social Security alone.

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Retirees are Less Confident About Having Enough to Live On

Apr 27, 2018 /

The economy is strong and stocks are near record levels. But a long-running survey shows retirees’ confidence in having enough money to cover basic living expenses has dropped over the past year, due in part to concerns about medical expenses. Released Tuesday by the nonprofit Employee Benefit Research Institute, the survey shows that 80% of polled retirees are optimistic about their ability to afford basic expenses, down from 85% last year.

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Where Should I Retire? Questions to Ask Yourself

Apr 23, 2018 /

It’s one of the most basic questions people ask themselves when they start planning for retirement: Where am I going to live? It’s also one of the most crucial questions, and one that, surprisingly, many people don’t give a lot of thought to. Sure, they ask themselves some cursory questions—especially about the weather and affordability. But they rarely delve very deeply, even though making the right choice can offer a greater chance of having a more fulfilling life. With that in mind, here are nine questions people should ask themselves before they answer the big question about where.

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Don’t Forget About Taxes in Retirement

Apr 17, 2018 /

Are your clients aware of what retirement income will be taxed and what won’t be? Most people assume their tax bill will go down in retirement. But that’s a dangerous assumption to make.

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Retirement Surprises: What Retirees Wish They Had Known

Apr 13, 2018 / 1 Comments

Retirement isn’t exactly as expected for many, with surprises including a younger-than-expected retirement age and higher health care costs, according to the Wells Fargo/Gallup Investor and Retirement Optimism Index.

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Medicare Policies for 2019: What You Need to Know

Apr 10, 2018 /

On April 2, the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) announced its finalized policies for health and drug plans in 2019. Its aims are to lower the cost of drugs for beneficiaries and to provide additional plan choices. Here are 5 takeaways from the policies, as analyzed by the American Journal of Managed Care.

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National Celebrations a Chance to Reach Out

Apr 5, 2018 /

In April, the SSA celebrates National Social Security Month, a month dedicated to educating the public about who they are, why they exist, and the programs and services available to help Americans “Secure Today and Tomorrow.” Read more ...

Changing Attitudes Toward Social Security Spending

Apr 2, 2018 /

For 30 years, the General Social Survey has been asking Americans questions about everything from politics to civil liberties to religion and spirituality. It’s data is freely available and easy to persuse. One question in particular is relevant to this blog: Is the government spending too much, too little, or just the right amount on Social Security? The results are somewhat surprising.

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Yes, It’s True: Older People Depend on Social Security

Mar 26, 2018 /

Three researchers from the Social Security Administration have produced a comprehensive study that clarifies the role of Social Security by drawing data from three separate household surveys. The results from all three surveys are remarkably similar.

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The Growing Pension Risks Facing Boomers and Gen Xers

Mar 19, 2018 /

Boomers and Gen Xers may be in for some potentially unpleasant surprises in retirement. The pension they were expecting to receive every month from their former employer might not be coming from that employer. Instead, it may be turned over to an insurance company hired to manage the pension plan and turn it into monthly annuity payments.

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E*TRADE Study Reveals Varying Ways Couples Approach Saving and Investing

Mar 19, 2018 /

E*TRADE Financial Corporation recently announced results from the most recent wave of StreetWise, its quarterly tracking study of experienced investors. Results revealed the habits of married couples as they manage their shared investment portfolios.

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7 Estate Planning Mistakes

Mar 16, 2018 /

Experienced estate planners see a high percentage of clients with recurring mistakes. They know if a client has never seen an estate planner or hasn’t had a plan revised within the last three years, the plan is likely to have at least one of these costly mistakes. (Remember, even if someone hasn’t seen an estate planner, he has an estate plan, and it’s probably not a good one.) Bob Carlson, editor of Retirement Watch, has a seven-part series on Forbes about estate planning mistakes that are committed frequently and can be very damaging to your clients’ goals and loved ones.

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Investing in a Longer Life, Lived Well

Mar 5, 2018 /

Research demonstrates what may be the most significant challenge facing our society: A population that is living longer than ever while saving for retirement at record lows. For too long, we have measured life expectancy in number of years—this is longevity. But longevity ignores two more important factors.

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Survey Shows Employers Strengthening Defined Contribution Plans

Mar 2, 2018 /

With concerns mounting that employees aren’t saving enough for retirement, U.S. employers are making significant enhancements to their defined contribution (DC) plans, now considered the main retirement savings vehicle for most working Americans, according to a survey by Willis Towers Watson.

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Widows and Widowers Got Bad Social Security Advice

Feb 27, 2018 /

According to a report from the Social Security Administration’s Inspector General, an estimated 11,123 widows and widowers were eligible for higher benefits had they delayed claims until age 70. The misinformed filings resulted in about $131.8 million in underpayments to beneficiaries age 70 and older, and another $9.8 million in annual payments for those under age 70.

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