The Social Security Debate Shifts Left

Oct 18, 2019 /

The Social Security debate has moved left, according to The Wall Street Journal. That shift, evidenced by presidential candidates’ plans and a bill backed by nearly 90% of House Democrats, departs from years of conversations about an elusive bipartisan compromise where Democrats agree to lower promised benefits and Republicans accept higher taxes. Instead, President Trump has ruled out cuts to future benefits. Democrats have lined up behind larger benefits and higher taxes.

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2020 COLA Announced

Oct 15, 2019 /

The big day has finally arrived! Oct. 10 was the release date for the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ September inflation data, which contains the last puzzle piece needed to calculate Social Security’s cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) for 2020. The official number is a 1.6% “raise.” But how do they get to that number?

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Survey Reveals Why Seniors Are Putting Off Retirement

Oct 11, 2019 /

After years of long work, retirement is the ultimate reward. It represents more time to spend with family, travel, discover new hobbies and to relax. However, according to the Social Security Administration, the current age to receive full benefits is 66 years old (for those born in 1955) and many cities across the country have at least 20% or more of their senior population still in the workforce. Provision Living surveyed 1,000 seniors age 65 and older to ask them why they are putting off retirement.

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Social Security Fraud Costs Taxpayers Hundreds of Millions

Oct 7, 2019 /

A growing number of targets who have come under the government’s radar in recent years for what prosecutors describe as a pervasive and costly crime: the theft of dead people’s benefits. These scammers have cost taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars. Last year alone, inspector general audits found that the Social Security Administration paid out more than $40 million to 500 dead people in just three states: Texas, Maryland and Michigan.

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Curious Behaviors

Oct 4, 2019 /

We all know that humans are not always rational, even (especially?) when it comes to money. But not everyone knows how to put the pieces together, to realize that they need to understand emotional biases and reality. This can lead to unfounded optimism about retirement and a lack of planning. The Center for Retirement Research at Boston College has put together an interactive video tool that you can use with clients to help them learn more about money behaviors and how that relates to retirement.

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Advisors and Future Retirees Not Discussing Health Care Costs

Oct 1, 2019 /

Talking about health care can be uncomfortable for financial advisors and their clients. But having this very important conversation may help reduce the stress for clients, especially those nearing retirement. A recent Nationwide Retirement Institute survey highlighted concerns about health care costs and the reasons for not discussing those concerns, as well as client gaps in understanding and miscalculations about health care costs in retirement.

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Americans Want to Retire Before FRA, But Many Regret Not Saving Enough

Sep 27, 2019 /

The American Dream may have changed since the days of pensions, but one thing remains the same: the desire to retire. Almost half of non-retired Americans (49%) see themselves retiring before age 67, according to a new NerdWallet survey. But they might want to consider whether they’re doing what it takes to reach that goal. More than half of today’s retirees (54%) have regrets about the way they saved for retirement, and their No. 1 regret is not saving aggressively enough.

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Lots of Excitement for FIRE But Not Much Talk About Mental Health

Sep 24, 2019 /

FIRE—Financially Independent, Retire Early—has been gaining a lot of traction on social media. From Reddit threads to Facebook groups, the community of individuals scouring the internet for saving hacks, investing tips, and simple calculations to retire well before they hit 65 has grown considerably. Some people cut out all the nonnecessities from their budgets, downsize their homes, and work extra jobs to save enough. Others pick up investment books and read through personal finance bloggers’ posts looking for the right figure before they call it quits. Having enough money in the bank and the potential to never work an office job again excites many people on the journey to FIRE, but they often overlook the possible downsides.

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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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