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Posts Tagged ‘social security’

Retirement Planning Tips for Women

Thursday, May 24th, 2018

For our parents, living to 75 amounted to a nice, long life, and Social Security was often supplemented by a pension. The Social Security Administration estimates that today’s average 65-year-old female will live to age 86.6. Given these projections, it appears that a retirement of 20 years or longer might be in your future.

Are you prepared for a 20-year retirement? How about a 30- or 40-year retirement? Don’t laugh; it could happen. The SSA projects that about 25% of today’s 65-year-olds will live past 90, with approximately 10% living to be older than 95.

How do you begin? How do you draw retirement income off what you’ve saved – how might you create other income streams to complement Social Security? How do you try and protect your retirement savings and other financial assets?

Talking with a Kendall Capital advisor may give you some good ideas. We understand the particular challenges that many women face in saving for retirement (time out of the workforce due to childcare or eldercare, maintaining financial equilibrium in the wake of divorce or death of a spouse). As we have that conversation with you, you can focus on some of the must-haves.

Plan your investing. If you are in your fifties, you have less time to make back any big investment losses than you once did. Protecting what you have is a priority. At the same time, the possibility of a 15-, 20-, or even 30- or 40-year retirement will likely require a growing retirement fund.

Look at long-term care (LTC) coverage. Women often have longer average life expectancies than men and can require weeks, months, or years of eldercare. Medicare is no substitute for LTC insurance; it only pays for 100 days of nursing home care and only if you get skilled care and enter a nursing home right after a hospital stay of 3 or more days. Long-term care coverage can provide a huge financial relief if and when the need for LTC arises.

Claim Social Security benefits carefully. If your career and health permit, delaying Social Security is a wise move for single women. If you wait until full retirement age to claim your benefits, you could receive 30-40% larger Social Security payments as a result. For every year you wait to claim Social Security, your monthly payments get about 8% larger.

Above all, retire with a plan. As fiduciary advisors, we see retirement through your eyes to help you define it on your terms, with a wealth management approach designed for the long term.

Examining the 2018 Social Security COLA and Increased Medicare Premiums

Thursday, December 28th, 2017

Seniors in the Washington D.C. area and the rest of the country received good news this fall. Next year, monthly Social Security income payments to retirees will increase by 2.0%. That will mean an extra $326 – roughly $27.40 a month – for the average Social Security recipient in 2018.

This is the largest cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) to Social Security benefits since 2012. In that year, retirees received 3.6% more in benefits than they had in 2011. Unfortunately, the 2.0% increase may not make much of a difference. After all, the COLA does not constitute a gain on inflation, but merely a response to it.

The Senior Citizens League, an advocacy group for retirees, thinks that rising Medicare premiums could absorb the 2.0% COLA for 70% of Social Security beneficiaries. Next year, you may pay considerably more for the same coverage. Whether that happens or not, some analysts think retirees deserve larger Social Security COLAs than the ones they receive.

For 2018, the standard monthly Part B premium is $134 – unchanged from 2017. The difference is that many more Medicare recipients will have to pay the standard Part B premium this year, rather than a discounted one as in 2016 and 2017.

There will be no change to the annual Part B deductible. It will stay at $183 in 2018. The annual Part A inpatient hospital deductible, though, is rising $24 to $1,340 in 2018. Those who happen to make more than $85,000 while receiving Medicare benefits face higher Part B premiums. They range from $187.50-$428.60 in 2018, the same as in 2017. On average, Part D premiums will drop by $1.20 in 2018.

Part C premiums are also projected to decrease. Medicare Advantage plans will have a mean monthly premium of $30.00 in 2018, according to CMS estimates, $1.91 lower than in 2017. If you are keeping your current Medicare Advantage plan, take note: the CMS projects that 77% of Medicare enrollees retaining their plans will see no premium increase or lower premiums in 2018.

In response to the increases in Medicare costs, should the method for figuring the annual Social Security COLA be changed? Perhaps it should be, as other metrics can be used.

When the federal government figures out annual COLAs for Social Security, it references the annualized advance in the Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers (CPI-W). Critics argue that the CPI-W is the wrong benchmark. They feel COLAs should be calculated using the Consumer Price Index for the Elderly (CPI-E). The CPI-E only tracks spending for households headed by those aged 62 or older.

Back in 2011, the Bureau of Labor Statistics scrutinized both the CPI-W and CPI-E. It determined that the CPI-E gave greater weight to rent and mortgage expenses and health care costs, but slightly less weight to education, food, entertainment, clothing, and transportation expenses. The CPI-E may, therefore, be a better measure of senior expenses – and if it is ever used as a yardstick to measure Social Security COLAs, those COLAs might be larger.

Given all this, why does the federal government keep using the CPI-W to figure out COLAs? The CPI-E, it turns out, has flaws of its own. It does not include any Medicare Part A expenses, and the larger COLAs it would potentially generate for retirees would also help to speed the drawdown of Social Security’s coffers.

A 2.0% raise may not be much, but it beats what happened in 2016 and 2017. The 2017 COLA was only 0.3%, and retirees went without any COLA the year before.

A Small Change to Social Security in 2017 with a Possible Medicare Premium Hike

Monday, October 24th, 2016

The average Social Security recipient will receive a whopping $5 per month raise next year. In 2017, Social Security’s mean monthly benefit is projected to rise, from the current $1,355, by this scant amount because of low yearly inflation measured by the federal government.

Social Security cost-of-living adjustments (COLAs) are tied to changes in the CPI-W. The CPI-W is the Consumer Price Index (CPI) that measures inflation for urban wage earners and clerical workers. If that seems a bit incongruous to you, it also does to senior advocacy groups. They would prefer that these COLAs be based on the CPI-E, a version of the CPI that tracks consumer costs for the elderly.

The CPI-E gives more weight to increases in medical and housing costs than the CPI-W. If Social Security COLAs were linked to the CPI-E, the thinking goes, they might be greater. Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics backs up this assertion, as healthcare costs alone advanced 5.1% in the 12 months ending in August 2016.

Medicare payments might jump for some seniors. While most Social Security recipients will see all of their 2017 “raise” go toward covering Medicare Part B premiums, some may not. Federal law governing Social Security limits annual Medicare Part B premium increases for 70% of Social Security recipients, with the other 30% left to shoulder most of the burden. Just who makes up that other 30%? Seniors who will be enrolling in Part B for the first time in 2017, Social Security recipients whose income already prompts them to pay higher Part B premiums, and people who currently receive Medicare benefits but collect no Social Security.

Those groups could see their Part B premiums rise 22% next year or $149 a month, according to the latest Medicare Trustees Report – unless the federal government acts fast. In late 2015, a large premium increase was reduced when the U.S. Treasury loaned $7 billion to Medicare.

The tiny 2017 Social Security COLA at least beats expectations. Social Security’s Board of Trustees had forecasted the mean monthly benefit to rise 0.2% in 2017, not even $3 a month for the average recipient. Monthly Social Security benefits have risen an average of 2.3% per year since 2000, even with no COLAs occurring in 2009, 2010, and 2016.

Reducing the Risk of Outliving Your Money

Tuesday, April 26th, 2016

“What is your greatest retirement fear?” If you ask retirees that question, “outliving my money” may likely be one of the top answers. A 2014 Wells Fargo/Gallup survey of more than 1,000 investors revealed 46% of respondents citing the fear of outliving their money; 42% of the respondents were making $90,000 a year or more.  

Retirees face greater “longevity risk” today. According to an analysis of Census Bureau data by the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College, the average retirement age in the United States is 65 for men and 63 for women. Many of us will probably live into our eighties and nineties. In 2014, over 72,000 Americans were centenarians, an increase of 44% since 2000.

If your retirement lasts 20, 30, or even 40 years, how well do you think your retirement savings will hold up? What financial steps could you take in your retirement planning to prevent those savings from eroding? As you think ahead, consider the following possibilities and realities.

Realize that Social Security benefits might shrink in the future. Today, there are three workers funding Social Security for every retiree. By federal estimates, there will be only two workers funding Social Security for every retiree in 2030. That does not bode well for the health of the program, especially since nearly one-fifth of Americans will be 65 or older in 2030.  

Social Security’s trust fund is projected to run dry by 2034, and it is possible Congress may intervene to rescue it before then. Still, the strain on Social Security will mount over the next 20 years as more and more baby boomers retire. With this in mind, there’s no reason not to investigate other potential retirement income sources now. 

Understand that you may need to work part-time in your sixties and seventies. The income from part-time work can be an economic lifesaver for retirees. Suppose you walk away from your career with $1,000,000 in retirement savings. In your first year of retirement, you decide to withdraw 4% of that for income, or $40,000. At that withdrawal rate, not adjusting for inflation, that money will be gone in 21 years. What if you worked part-time and earned $40,000-60,000 a year? If you can do that for five or ten years, you effectively give your retirement savings five or ten more years to last and grow.

Retire with health insurance and prepare adequately for out-of-pocket costs. Financially speaking, this may be the most frustrating part of retirement. Striving to work until you are eligible for Medicare makes economic sense. Building some kind of health care emergency fund for out-of-pocket costs is also a solid financial goal. According to data from Health Affairs, healthcare costs approached $16,000 a year in 2014 for Americans aged 65-84, and $35,000 a year for Americans aged 85 or older.

Many people may retire unaware of these financial factors. With luck and a favorable investing climate, their retirement savings may last a long time. Luck is not a plan, however, and hope is not a strategy. Those who are retiring unaware of these factors may risk outliving their money.

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Please be aware that you are leaving www.kendallcapital.com and will be redirected to a third party website. Kendall Capital has no control over information at any third party site accessed from www.kendallcapital.com. Kendall Capital makes no representation and is not responsible for the quality, content, nature, or reliability of any linked site. The inclusion of any link does not imply endorsement, investigation, verification or monitoring by Kendall Capital. In no event shall Kendall Capital be responsible for your use of a third party site. Thank you for visiting Kendall Capital's website.

Please be aware that you are leaving www.kendallcapital.com and will be redirected to a third party website. Kendall Capital has no control over information at any third party site accessed from www.kendallcapital.com. Kendall Capital makes no representation and is not responsible for the quality, content, nature, or reliability of any linked site. The inclusion of any link does not imply endorsement, investigation, verification or monitoring by Kendall Capital. In no event shall Kendall Capital be responsible for your use of a third party site. Thank you for visiting Kendall Capital's website.

Please be aware that you are leaving www.kendallcapital.com and will be redirected to a third party website. Kendall Capital has no control over information at any third party site accessed from www.kendallcapital.com. Kendall Capital makes no representation and is not responsible for the quality, content, nature, or reliability of any linked site. The inclusion of any link does not imply endorsement, investigation, verification or monitoring by Kendall Capital. In no event shall Kendall Capital be responsible for your use of a third party site. Thank you for visiting Kendall Capital's website.

Please be aware that you are leaving www.kendallcapital.com and will be redirected to a third party website. Kendall Capital has no control over information at any third party site accessed from www.kendallcapital.com. Kendall Capital makes no representation and is not responsible for the quality, content, nature, or reliability of any linked site. The inclusion of any link does not imply endorsement, investigation, verification or monitoring by Kendall Capital. In no event shall Kendall Capital be responsible for your use of a third party site. Thank you for visiting Kendall Capital's website.

Please be aware that you are leaving www.kendallcapital.com and will be redirected to a third party website. Kendall Capital has no control over information at any third party site accessed from www.kendallcapital.com. Kendall Capital makes no representation and is not responsible for the quality, content, nature, or reliability of any linked site. The inclusion of any link does not imply endorsement, investigation, verification or monitoring by Kendall Capital. In no event shall Kendall Capital be responsible for your use of a third party site. Thank you for visiting Kendall Capital's website.

Please be aware that you are leaving www.kendallcapital.com and will be redirected to a third party website. Kendall Capital has no control over information at any third party site accessed from www.kendallcapital.com. Kendall Capital makes no representation and is not responsible for the quality, content, nature, or reliability of any linked site. The inclusion of any link does not imply endorsement, investigation, verification or monitoring by Kendall Capital. In no event shall Kendall Capital be responsible for your use of a third party site. Thank you for visiting Kendall Capital's website.

Please be aware that you are leaving www.kendallcapital.com and will be redirected to a third party website. Kendall Capital has no control over information at any third party site accessed from www.kendallcapital.com. Kendall Capital makes no representation and is not responsible for the quality, content, nature, or reliability of any linked site. The inclusion of any link does not imply endorsement, investigation, verification or monitoring by Kendall Capital. In no event shall Kendall Capital be responsible for your use of a third party site. Thank you for visiting Kendall Capital's website.