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Pre-retirement earnings can limit Social Security survivor benefits

October 16, 2017

As financial advisers and their clients become more aware of Social Security rules, many realize that if someone claims Social Security benefits before full retirement age and continues to work, their wages can reduce or eliminate their retirement...

Social Security benefits to increase by 2% in 2018

October 13, 2017

Monthly Social Security benefits for more than 66 million Americans will increase by 2% in 2018, the largest increase in retirement and survivor benefits for workers and their families since 2012. The higher payments will begin in January. The...

Medicare rules are needlessly complex

October 9, 2017

People who collect Social Security benefits early are automatically enrolled in Medicare when they turn 65. But as increasing numbers of Americans delay claiming Social Security benefits until older ages when they are worth more, many of them...

Both spouses don't always need to delay Social Security until 70

October 3, 2017

It seems that 70 may be the new 66 when it comes to claiming Social Security benefits. Several financial advisers have asked me about the wisdom of having both spouses delay claiming benefits until age 70. Although that would certainly maximize...

Demand for Social Security advice growing

September 21, 2017

Less than 20% of older Americans work with a financial adviser who provides guidance on when to claim Social Security benefits. Despite the low incidence of this type of holistic financial advice, it marks an improvement from recent years, according...

Social Security COLA could get wiped out by Medicare costs

September 15, 2017

Consider this perverse scenario. Next year, typical retirees could see their expected Social Security cost-of-living adjustment for 2018 virtually wiped out by a big jump in Medicare premiums, but premiums for many higher-income clients could...

Reverse mortgages under fire again ​

September 6, 2017

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) issued a new report warning seniors against using a reverse mortgage as an income bridge to delay collecting Social Security benefits. While the report rightly points outs the potential risks of...

The challenge of the longer lifespan

September 1, 2017

"Live long and prosper," Star Trek's Mr. Spock and his fellow Vulcans liked to say as a valedictory blessing. But for most people, living long will pose the greatest threat to their prosperity, cautions "We'll Live to 100 – How Can We Afford...

Social Security underpaid some survivor benefits

August 21, 2017

Social Security survivor benefits can serve as a crucial lifeline for widows and widowers. But a newly released report by the Social Security Administration's Office of the Inspector General (OIG) found that more than 100,000 widows and widowers...

Surprising Social Security rules on divorce

August 16, 2017

Anyone who has read my columns about Social Security rules over the past several years undoubtedly knows that a couple must be married at least 10 years before divorcing to claim benefits on an ex-spouse's earnings record. Ho hum. But one astute...

How to fund a Social Security delay

August 11, 2017

The math is simple: For every year a person postpones claiming Social Security beyond full retirement age, benefits increase by 8% per year up to age 70, boosting benefits by up to 32%. The catch: What to do for income until then? For an increasing...

Good health is key to retirement security

August 8, 2017

The key to retirement security has traditionally focused on money. But lately, the discussion has embraced health as an increasingly important component in the retirement security equation. In fact, health status during working years and health-care...

A refresher course on Social Security claiming rules

August 2, 2017

By now, most financial advisers should be generally familiar with the changes to Social Security claiming rules that took effect last year. But it is the nuances of the new rules that can thwart a carefully crafted retirement income plan. Based...

On Social Security, financial advisers tell clients to not count on much

July 27, 2017

Ask two financial advisers what they think about the future of Social Security benefits, and you'll get two different answers. Ask three financial advisers the same question, and you'll get three different answers. And on it goes. Yet, for all...

Missing from Retirement Income Planning: A Plan

July 21, 2017

While it may be hard to believe, most pre-retirees and retired clients who work with a financial adviser do not have a written retirement income plan, according to new research from LIMRA Secure Retirement Institute, a research arm of the insurance...

How to fix Social Security

July 20, 2017

Alicia Munnell wants to make one thing clear. Social Security is not going bankrupt. The program that the economist calls "the most valuable component of our retirement system" is sustainable and can be fixed. America has just been avoiding...

American dream sinking into abyss of uncertainty

July 18, 2017

With informed discussion, creative thinking, and timely legislative action, Social Security can continue to protect future generations. That boilerplate language has been featured more or less verbatim in the yearly status report from the trustees...

Social Security reserves still expected to be depleted by 2034: annual report

July 13, 2017

The Social Security Board of Trustees on Thursday released its annual report on the long-term financial status of the Soecial Security Trust Funds. The combined asset reserves of the Old-Age and Survivors Insurance and Disability Insurance (OASDI)...

How Social Security treats the survivors of young workers

July 10, 2017

I just received a sad question from a financial adviser in Indiana who asked if there would be any Social Security benefits available for a young widow and child following the death of their 25-year old husband and father in a traffic accident....

Dual income couples complicate Social Security earnings test

July 6, 2017

With so many people planning to work beyond normal retirement age, dual-income couples create a challenge for financial advisers when it comes to recommending a Social Security claiming strategy. Anyone who claims Social Security benefits before...

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