Elizabeth Warren’s Plan for Social Security

Sep 20, 2019 /

Sen. Elizabeth Warren came out last week with a dramatic proposal to expand Social Security benefits and make the tax base that funds the program sharply more progressive. Warren’s proposal doesn’t come out of nowhere. The Massachusetts lawmaker has been a proponent of expanding Social Security benefits since her first year in the Senate, and the idea that the government needs to do more to account for households’ basic financial needs has been integral to her thinking since long before that.

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Combating Social Security Insecurity

Sep 17, 2019 /

Not only is this article about discussing Social Security solvency with clients relevant, it also features quotes from Elaine Floyd, Peter Murphy (longtime Savvy SS member and Elaine’s co-presenter at workshops), and Nan Lesnick, another Savvy SS member! Enjoy the full article here.

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The Break-even Argument: Pros and Cons

Sep 13, 2019 /

The Squared Away Blog, a production of the Center for Retirement Research at Boston college, recently published a blog post about the merits of delaying Social Security to improve one's retirement outlook. It sparked tons of comments both pro and con. Click here to read the orginal article and comments, and here to read the response article (and more comments).

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Social Security Fast Facts & Figures

Sep 10, 2019 /

Social Security rules and regulations are important. But sometimes you just want a whole bunch of statistics and charts to geek out with. The Social Security Administration provides just that, with Fast Facts & Figures About Social Security, an annual publication whose 2019 edition has just been released. Use the data as trivia questions at your next workshop, impress your clients with in-depth knowledge about Social Security, or just feel smart. Here’s a sample of some of the fast facts and figures:

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An Aging Population and the U.S. Economy

Sep 6, 2019 /

U.S. economic growth has been underwhelming for some time, averaging around 2% these days. In recent months, economic commentators have intensified their search for the underlying reason why the economy can’t kick into higher gear. They’ve landed on this highly disputable explanation: Too many old people. The economic core of the fear-based narrative is that—with more Americans expected to be 65 and older than 18 and younger by 2035—there’ll be too few young workers to financially support too many dependent elders. Consequently, these analysts say, the U.S. economy is condemned to a permanent state of stagnant growth at best, and possibly much worse.

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Increases in Medigap Premiums Outpacing Social Security COLAs

Sep 3, 2019 /

According to a new survey by The Senior Citizens League, premiums for Medicare supplemental insurance, known as Medigap, grew more than twice as fast as Social Security cost-of-living adjustments (COLA) in the past year. About 41 percent of survey participants who are covered by a Medigap policy report robust premium increases in the past 12 months of at least 6 percent or more, particularly for individuals who were covered by a policy for more than two years.

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Ageism in the Workplace Still an Issue

Aug 30, 2019 /

The number of aging workers in today’s workforce is on the rise—AARP reports that employees aged 65 and older make up the fastest growing segment of America’s workforce. Yet today’s late-career professionals face a unique set of obstacles rooted in age discrimination, from biased assumptions around skill sets and relevancy to a looming sense of job insecurity. And, as new research shows, the onset of ageism may start sooner than you’d think.

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FINRA Seeks Comments About Senior Fraud Protection Rules

Aug 27, 2019 /

FINRA is conducting a retrospective review to assess the effectiveness and efficiency of its rules and administrative processes that help protect senior investors from financial exploitation. The protection of senior investors is a top priority for FINRA. As such, they are interested in whether additional tools, guidance or changes to FINRA rules or administrative processes are appropriate.

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How Unpaid Debt Reduces Social Security Payments

Aug 23, 2019 /

As a group, older Americans’ debt burden continues climbing. In the 60–69 age group, total consumer debt—i.e., mortgages, loans, credit cards—is nearly $2.2 trillion, compared with $380 billion in 1999, according to the latest data from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. Among those age 70 and older, it’s close to $1.2 trillion, up from $180 billion in 1999. At the same time, people in their 60s are typically transitioning to retirement and going on Social Security. Social Security promises guaranteed monthly income, except for those who have certain kinds of unpaid debt.

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Social Security Works for America

Aug 20, 2019 /

As we celebrate the 84th anniversary of the enactment of Social Security—and the 63rd anniversary of the addition of its vital disability protections—it is time to recall the contributions that our Social Security system has made to American economic security. Social Security Works for America is a series of reports that provides information about Social Security’s history, character and vitality, as well as relating compelling, real-life stories. The report includes statistics about the number of people who receive benefits, the types of benefits they receive, and the total amount of funds flowing from Social Security into each state, including its congressional districts. These are just a few of the statistics. Find the full report here and the state reports here.

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SSA Admits to Some Wrong Statements

Aug 16, 2019 / 1 Comments

Who would imagine that you could get a wrong estimate of your Social Security benefits from the Social Security Administration? The story is yet another reminder about how you need to double-check your numbers, take a hard look at what you’re being told, and keep good records of previous Social Security statements. In an odd quirk, Social Security finally acknowledged in early August that a glitch caused the agency to send out some incorrect “On Request” statements. The troubled reports were triggered if you asked for information on your Social Security account via a paper form, known as an SSA-7004.

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The Reality of Spending in Retirement

Aug 13, 2019 /

Our ability to avoid outliving our money is, in large part, due to our expenses in retirement. Turns out, a new study reveals, we’re pretty lousy at predicting how much we’ll actually spend on housing and health care when we retire. And another study shows our spending just before retirement and in the first years of retirement is often wildly volatile.

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Nine Charts About the Future of Retirement

Aug 9, 2019 /

Social Security cuts, shrinking employer-sponsored pensions, low savings rates, and longer life spans have raised fears of a looming retirement crisis. But other trends point to better retirement outcomes, such as women’s increased employment and earnings, longer working lives, and economic growth that raises wages. How will these conflicting trends play out? How will the next generations of older Americans fare in retirement relative to those who came before? And what will happen to retirees if Congress cuts Social Security benefits to address the program’s long-term financing gap? These nine charts and commentary, based on projections from the Urban Institute’s Dynamic Simulation of Income Model 4 (DYNASIM4), provide some answers.

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Eight Numbers About the Social Security 2100 Act

Aug 2, 2019 /

Advocates of Social Security expansion have declared their intention to move the “Social Security 2100 Act” through the House of Representatives quickly. The bill, introduced by Rep. John Larson (D., Conn.), has more than 200 co-sponsors. Its sponsors deserve credit for putting forth a comprehensive Social Security plan that is specific, scored by the Social Security Administration Chief Actuary, and doesn’t shy away from difficult policy and political choices. Rather than debate the subjective value judgments made in the legislation, this article presents key facts and figures that highlight some of its problematic features.

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Retirees Abroad Face Health Care Challenges

Jul 30, 2019 /

As the number of American retirees living overseas grows, more of them are confronting choices about medical care. Medicare doesn’t pay for care outside the country, except in limited circumstances. Expatriate retirees might find private insurance policies and national health plans in other countries. But these may not provide the high-quality, comprehensive care at an affordable price that retirees expect through Medicare. Faced with imperfect choices, some retirees cobble together different types of insurance, a mix that includes Medicare.

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Why the Discovery of LATE Dementia Is Important

Jul 26, 2019 /

Researchers recently pinpointed another form of cognitive decline with many of the same hallmarks as Alzheimer’s, but which actually involves different brain processes. This newly discovered dementia may partly explain why some people haven’t been helped by current Alzheimer’s drugs or why some drugs being tested haven’t been as successful as scientists have hoped.

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Social Security Statements Have an Impact

Jul 23, 2019 /

This paper from the Michican Retirement and Disability Research Center examines how the 2014 reintroduction of the Social Security statement, staggered by every fifth birth year, affected Americans’ Social Security expectations, savings behavior, and labor supply. You might think the statement would be one more piece of mail opened then thrown away, but that is not the case. The majority of individuals who were sent a statement recall receiving one, and highly valued them. Here are the key findings.

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Women in Two-Income Households Face Greatest Retirement Risk

Jul 19, 2019 /

For women, the road to retirement security has become more challenging over the course of just a few generations. As recently as the 1950s and 1960s, young women could expect to spend most of their adult lives married. Husbands worked outside the home while wives, in many cases, managed the household and child care. For retirement income, women could typically rely on spousal and survivor benefits from the Social Security program, and perhaps survivor benefits from their husband’s pension. Today the landscape looks much different. Combine the declining availability of pensions with Social Security spousal benefits that become less relevant when both spouses work, women today simply cannot look to the experience of previous generations, when more financial safeguards were in place, and assume their own retirement will work out as well financially.

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How to Present Claiming Decisions to Risk-Averse Clients

Jul 16, 2019 /

It has become standard practice that risk tolerance questionnaires are completed for almost every client during a financial planning or investment planning process. But risk tolerance isn’t just insightful for investing, it could be helpful with Social Security decisions, too. Advisers can use risk tolerance for guidance on how to approach Social Security planning with their clients.

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Social Security Statements May Be Coming Back to Mailboxes

Jul 12, 2019 /

Since 2012, the Social Security Administration has scaled back the mailing of paper statements after it established a website, My Social Security, that offered access to that information online. The agency was able to save on the costs of mailing paper records—in 2018, the total cost was $7.6 million, compared to $24 million in 2016. During those years, the cost per statement was 52 cents. But a new bill, called the Beneficiary Education Tools, Telehealth, and Extenders Reauthorization Act of 2019, or BETTER Act, includes a provision that would reinstate mailed Social Security statements.

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