Medicare News

Earlier this year, Congress passed a last-minute budget deal that included provisions affecting Medicare benefits. Specifically, one provision will permit certain therapies to continue beyond the previous caps, subject to conditions. All therapy (physical, speech and occupational) must continue to be classified as “reasonable and necessary to treat the individual’s illness or injury.” 1

There had been ambiguity in the past as to whether Medicare would continue paying for sessions without measurable improvement. Now, however, therapy sessions may continue per the provider’s recommendation. Retroactive for this year, once therapy billing has reached $2,010 (about 20 sessions at $100 per visit), a provider must add an extra billing code to ensure payment. However, if total expenses subsequently pass a $3,000 threshold, they may be subject to medical reviews and audits.2

The federal budget agreement also accelerated the share-cost reduction during the so-called “doughnut hole” period in Medicare drug plans. Starting one year earlier — in 2019 — Medicare beneficiaries will pay 25 percent (instead of 35 percent) of drug expenses once they reach the stated annual limit (currently $3,750 in 2018).3

Medicare rules are always changing. It’s a lot like trying to make retirement planning decisions throughout your career — the bar is a moving target. One potential solution is to over-plan and overfund your share of expected health care expenses in retirement. If you’re looking for ways to help plan for possible increased health care expenses in the future, contact us.  We’d be happy to discuss your options based on your unique situation.

In April, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) issued a final ruling with updates for Medicare Advantage (MA) plans to provide more choices. Specifically, the rule expands the definition of “primarily health-related” benefits to cover products and services not considered direct medical treatments. Examples include air conditioners for people with asthma, healthy groceries, rides to medical appointments and home-delivered meals. Paid benefits also may include home modifications for mobility and balance, such as installing a wheelchair ramp or bathroom grab bars. Plans may offer benefits to help pay home aides who help with dressing, eating and other personal, daily-living care. MA plans must submit their bids for CMS approval by June 4 to begin offering these benefits in 2019.4

The new CMS rule also includes initiatives to address the national prescription opioid epidemic. Specifically, Medicare Part D plans now limit new opioid prescriptions for acute pain management to no more than a seven-day supply. The Overutilization Monitoring System (OMS) is expanding, increasing pharmacist accountability for patients already taking opioids.5

The CMS rule is part of a hardline approach to combating the opioid crisis. The White House has established a Safer Prescribing Plan initiative with specific goals that include cutting nationwide opioid prescription fills by one-third within three years.6

Content created by Kara Stefan Communications.

1 Judith Graham. Kaiser Health News. March 29, 2018. “Scrutinizing Medicare Coverage For Physical, Occupational And Speech Therapy.” https://khn.org/news/scrutinizing-medicare-coverage-for-physical-occupational-and-speech-therapy/. Accessed May 4, 2018.

Ibid.

3 Susan Jaffe. Kaiser Health News. March 14, 2018. “Lifting Therapy Caps Is A Load Off Medicare Patients’ Shoulders.” https://khn.org/news/lifting-therapy-caps-proves-a-load-off-medicare-patients-shoulders/. Accessed May 4, 2018.

4 Bruce Japsen. Forbes. April 5, 2018. “How Trump’s New Medicare Rules Boost Amazon And Walmart.” https://www.forbes.com/sites/brucejapsen/2018/04/05/how-trumps-new-medicare-rules-boost-amazon-and-walmart/#600a42d6786c. Accessed May 4, 2018.

CMS. Fact Sheets. April 2, 2018. “2019 Medicare Advantage and Part D Rate Announcement and Call Letter.” https://www.cms.gov/Newsroom/MediaReleaseDatabase/Fact-sheets/2018-Fact-sheets-items/2018-04-02-2.html. Accessed May 4, 2018.

6 The White House. Fact Sheets. March 19, 2018. “President Donald J. Trump’s Initiative to Stop Opioid Abuse and Reduce Drug Supply and Demand.” https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefings-statements/president-donald-j-trumps-initiative-stop-opioid-abuse-reduce-drug-supply-demand/. Accessed May 4, 2018.

We are able to provide you with information but not guidance or advice related to Medicare. Our firm is not affiliated with the U.S. government or any governmental agency.

We are an independent firm helping individuals create retirement strategies using a variety of insurance products to custom suit their needs and objectives. This material is intended to provide general information to help you understand basic retirement income strategies and should not be construed as financial advice.

The information contained in this material is believed to be reliable, but accuracy and completeness cannot be guaranteed; it is not intended to be used as the sole basis for financial decisions. If you are unable to access any of the news articles and sources through the links provided in this text, please contact us to request a copy of the desired reference.

Generation Fun

When we talk about planning for retirement, we’re usually referring to financial objectives and income strategies. These things are important, but they’re not the only ways to adequately prepare for retirement. In addition to creating an income strategy, consider developing a specific plan for what you want to do — day in and day out — for a retirement that could last 20 to 30 years.

After all, knowing what you want to do in retirement can help put a number on how much money you’ll need to save. For example, a retiree with big travel plans will likely need a larger nest egg than someone cultivating a vegetable garden. Give us a call; we’d love to meet with you to discuss your specific goals and begin drafting a detailed retirement income strategy.

For many people, retirement is a time to do all the things they never had time to do before. Merrill Lynch found that people between ages 65 and 74 reported having more fun than any other age group. However, it’s easy to sink into daily routines that can lead to boredom and lethargy.1

To help maximize your enjoyment in retirement, plan to have a plan. For example, carve out time for your passions or develop a new interest. Get out of the house regularly to discover places you’ve always wanted to visit — a local museum or restaurant, a neighboring city or a far-flung exotic locale. The top criteria retirees use when seeking new adventures are the arts, fine dining, learning, volunteering, outdoor water activities, outdoor land activities and — in its own category — golf.2


1 William P. Barrett. Forbes. July 14, 2017. “25 Great Places To Follow Your Passions In Retirement In 2017.” https://www.forbes.com/sites/williampbarrett/2017/07/14/great-places-to-follow-your-passions-in-retirement-in-2017/#3d003f0c92df.

Accessed May 10, 2018.

Ibid.

Strategies for Optimal Social Security Payouts

Social Security benefits are typically synonymous with retirement income. It would be inefficient to create a retirement plan without first estimating how much you will receive from the government.1 According to a 2018 report, Social Security benefits represent approximately:2

  • 33% of elderly income
  • 50% or more of income for about half of elderly married couples
  • At least 50% of income for 71% of elderly singles
  • At least 90% of income for 23% of married couples and 43% of singles

In a recent survey, more than half of pre-retirees said they expect Social Security to be their primary source of retirement income.3 With so many people relying on Social Security payouts, it makes sense to explore strategies to receive the largest possible distribution. In some cases, this could mean tapping into your personal investment portfolio to delay drawing Social Security.

If you’d like to discuss various insurance and investment strategies to help supplement part-time income or bridge the gap between retirement and Social Security, please come talk to us.

The earlier you start drawing benefits, the lower the payout will be — and your payout level is locked in for life (with the exception of periodic cost of living adjustments). Unfortunately, the most common age that people start taking benefits is the first year they are eligible. If possible, it often makes sense to wait longer so that benefits can accrue.4

If you can wait until age 70, benefits will earn an additional 8 percent a year past full retirement age for a maximum boost of up to 32 percent. Delayed retirement credits are technically accrued on a monthly basis, so even if you don’t wait until age 70, every month you delay past full retirement age will increase your payout.5

Delayed retirement credits also apply toward surviving spouse benefits. In other words, should you pass away before drawing benefits, your spouse will receive the amount you qualified for as of the month of your death.6

Social Security benefit strategies are complex, but considering the importance this income is to most retiree households, it’s a good idea to learn as much as possible to help optimize benefits for your particular situation. This Social Security quiz is a good place to start.7

Content provided by Kara Stefan Communications.

1 Social Security Administration. 2018. “Retirement Estimator.” https://www.ssa.gov/benefits/retirement/estimator.html Accessed May 1, 2018.

2 Social Security Administration. 2018. “Fact Sheet.” https://www.ssa.gov/news/press/factsheets/basicfact-alt.pdf.

Accessed May 1, 2018.

Mary Beth Franklin. Investment News. April 25, 2018. “Future retirees expect Social Security to be main source of income.” http://www.investmentnews.com/article/20180425/BLOG05/180429953/future-retirees-expect-social-security-to-be-main-source-of-income. Accessed May 1, 2018.

Ray Martin. CBS News. April 30, 2018. “How to claim your Social Security benefits wisely.” https://www.cbsnews.com/news/how-to-claim-your-social-security-benefits-wisely/. Accessed May 1, 2018.

5 Rachel L. Sheedy. Kiplinger. February 2017. “Why Your First Social Security Check May Be Smaller Than Expected.” https://www.kiplinger.com/article/retirement/T051-C000-S004-when-delayed-social-security-credits-get-delayed.html. May 1, 2018.

6 Laurence Kotlikoff. Forbes. April 27, 2018. “Ask Larry: ​​​​​​What If Either Of Us Dies Before 70?”

https://www.forbes.com/sites/kotlikoff/2018/04/27/ask-larry-%E2%80%8B%E2%80%8B%E2%80%8B%E2%80%8B%E2%80%8B%E2%80%8Bwhat-either-of-us-dies-before-70/#6f18b1ea4081. Accessed May 1, 2018.

Mary Kane. Kiplinger. April 18, 2018. “Do You Really Understand Social Security?” https://www.kiplinger.com/quiz/retirement/T051-S009-do-you-really-understand-social-security/index.html.

Accessed May 1, 2018.

We are able to provide you with information but not guidance or advice related to Social Security benefits. Our firm is not affiliated with the U.S. government or any governmental agency.

We are an independent firm helping individuals create retirement strategies using a variety of insurance and investment products to custom suit their needs and objectives. This material is intended to provide general information to help you understand basic financial planning strategies and should not be construed as financial advice. All investments are subject to risk including the potential loss of principal. No investment strategy can guarantee a profit or protect against loss in periods of declining values. 

The information contained in this material is believed to be reliable, but accuracy and completeness cannot be guaranteed; it is not intended to be used as the sole basis for financial decisions. If you are unable to access any of the news articles and sources through the links provided in this text, please contact us to request a copy of the desired reference.

Investing for the Long Term

What does the phrase “long term” mean to you? For children, long term can mean waiting for Christmas or summer vacation that feels like a million years away. For young adults, long term may reference how long it takes to pay off student loans. As we get older, we begin to understand that long term can be a really long time – even decades. We may wonder where the years went. Suddenly we’re in our 50s, 60s, 70s or older. Long term tends to be a subjective phrase depending on what stage you have reached in life and what your goals are.

When it comes to investing, its meaning is only marginally clearer. In other words, if we’re encouraged to invest for the long term, how long is that – 10 years, 20, 30? It largely depends on what your financial goals are – a house, college tuition for the kids, retirement and so on. We take the time to help clients define their financial goals and then create strategies using a variety of investment and insurance products to custom suit their needs and objectives. Give us a call so we can work with you to help you pursue your long-term goals.

It’s worth noting that even an experienced investor can’t say for sure whether they’ve got the right mix of investments for the long term. Take, for example, Jack Bogle, the founder of The Vanguard Group. He recently responded to a question he received from a young investor concerned about how potential catastrophes would impact his portfolio. Bogle replied by sharing his own portfolio mix (50/50 indexed stocks and short/intermediate bond indexes) but said that half the time he worries that he has too much in equities, and the other half that he doesn’t have enough. “We’re all just human beings operating in a fog of ignorance and relying on our common sense to establish our asset allocation,” he wrote to the investor. 1

The S&P 500 has nearly quadrupled in annualized returns since its low in 2009.2 Several prominent market analysts and investment firms suggest this means it’s about time for a market downturn.3 The question is, if you’re a long-term investor, do you sell in anticipation of a correction? After all, if the point is to buy low and sell high, it makes sense to take gains while prices are at their highest before they begin to drop. Or does it?

That’s not what long-term investing is about. The reason returns over 30 years tend to outperform those from, say, five years, is that time is what typically smooths out those periods of volatility. If we continue investing automatically, we may end up buying during those periods of price drops and we can potentially make stronger gains as prices rise again.4

If we base our investment decisions on when the market will take a turn for the worse, we could end up missing out on the future gains that could have been made. Long-term investing may involve patience, unlike children who anxiously await the holidays.

Investing involves risk, including the potential loss of principal.  No investment strategy can guarantee a profit or protect against loss in periods of declining values. It’s important to consider any investment within the context of your own goals, risk tolerance, investment timeline and the composition of your overall portfolio. This information is not intended to provide investment advice.

Content prepared by Kara Stefan Communications.

1 Andy Clarke. Vanguard Blog for Advisors. July 12, 2017. “Stocks and the meaning of “long term.” https://vanguardblog.com/2017/07/12/stocks-and-the-meaning-of-long-term/. Accessed Oct. 12, 2017.
2 Joe Ciolli. Business Insider. Sept. 15, 2017. “An investing legend who’s nailed the bull market at every turn sees no end in sight for the 269% rally.” http://www.businessinsider.com/laszlo-birinyi-interview-investing-legend-bull-market-sage-2017-9. Accessed Sept. 19, 2017.
3 Paul J. Lim. Money. Sept. 19, 2017. “ ‘Unnerved’: These 5 Big Wall Street Players Are Predicting a Downturn.” http://time.com/money/4943479/wall-street-prediction-stock-market-downturn/. Accessed Sept. 19, 2017.
4 Maya Kachroo-Levine. Forbes. Sept. 18, 2017. “Should You Invest As Usual When Stocks Are This High?” https://www.forbes.com/sites/mayakachroolevine/2017/09/18/should-you-invest-as-usual-when-stocks-are-this-high/print/. Accessed Sept. 19, 2017.

This material is intended to provide general information to help you understand basic financial planning strategies and should not be construed as financial advice.

The information contained in this material is believed to be reliable, but accuracy and completeness cannot be guaranteed; it is not intended to be used as the sole basis for financial decisions. If you are unable to access any of the news articles and sources through the links provided in this text, please contact us to request a copy of the desired reference.

AE10175114C

Financial Stress and What You can do About It

About half of the participants in a recent survey described financial security as not having to worry about day-to-day expenses.1 Unfortunately, the study revealed that 85 percent of Americans suffer from anxiety over their financial situation, especially how they would pay for an emergency expense. Sixty-seven percent believe financial stress affects their health, 61 percent admit it impacts their home life and more than half say it affects their social life.2

Another survey found that half of respondents were living paycheck to paycheck.3 It didn’t matter how much they earned; they all experienced relatively the same degree of financial stress. Even people earning more than $100,000 said they had a hard time putting money away for the future.4

Consider the following tips to help mitigate financial anxiety:

  • Create a budget to help keep track of incoming funds and outgoing expenses.
  • Establish a list of financial priorities for your discretionary income.
  • Develop a three-to-six month budget plan that includes larger, intermittent bills throughout the year, such as car and homeowner insurance and property taxes. Plug these line items into your master budget so you’ll know to apply discretionary income to those bills.
  • Stop ongoing expenses that you don’t use, such as a gym membership or subscriptions.
  • If you’re paying down revolving debt, consider ending your use of credit cards altogether.
  • Set specific financial goals, such as how much money you want to have saved by retirement. Then regularly save a fixed amount toward that goal.
  • Downsize your home or car for lower payments, insurance, taxes and maintenance bills.

A lot of financial stress can be alleviated by creating a strategy; simply taking proactive control of a situation can be very empowering. Once you’ve tasted relief, explore ways to create that sense of release more often. Physical exercise, such as walking, swimming or biking regularly can help.

Also consider taking classes where you engage in social activity with new people, such as yoga, tai chi, pottery or painting. While you don’t want to spend a lot of money on a new hobby, social interaction that enriches your life can do wonders for stress.

You’ll come to appreciate that some of the finer things in life don’t necessarily cost all that much.

1 Kim Blanton. Center for Retirement Research at Boston College. July 14, 2016. “Financial Anxiety Amid Economic Growth.” http://squaredawayblog.bc.edu/squared-away/financial-anxiety-amid-economic-growth/. Accessed Feb. 8, 2017.

2 Ibid.

3 Kim Blanton. Center for Retirement Research at Boston College. Jan. 12, 2017. “Financial Stress Rings in the New Year.”  http://squaredawayblog.bc.edu/squared-away/financial-stress-rings-in-the-new-year/. Accessed Feb. 8, 2017.

4 Ibid.

Content prepared by Kara Stefan Communications & Advisors Excel. We are an independent firm helping individuals create retirement strategies using a variety of insurance products to custom suit their needs and objectives. This material is intended to provide general information to help you understand basic retirement income strategies and should not be construed as financial advice.

The information contained in this material is believed to be reliable, but accuracy and completeness cannot be guaranteed; it is not intended to be used as the sole basis for financial decisions. If you are unable to access any of the news articles and sources through the links provided in this text, please contact us to request a copy of the desired reference.

Retirement Matters 

If you’re wondering how much of a Social Security payout you may receive, one number to keep in mind is 35.

Your benefit is based on your 35 highest years of earnings. If you work less than 35 years, the calculation uses zero for your annual income in the years you’re short. Here is an article that provides a description of how Social Security benefits are calculated.1

Social Security benefits were established during the Great Depression to help ensure Americans would not retire in poverty.2 However, they’re not meant to be the “end-all” retirement income plan. If you haven’t taken a good, hard look at all of the savings and assets that you’ve acquired to create a financial strategy for retirement, that’s where we can help. We can help identify potential retirement income gaps and create a financial strategy using a variety of investment and insurance products to help you pursue your financial goals.

It’s also important to assess your current financial strategy and determine what assets to draw from first, particularly in light of their tax status during retirement and the option to delay taking Social Security to potentially optimize your benefit. You should talk to a financial advisor and tax advisor about how to create a tax-efficient retirement income withdrawal strategy.

A common mistake in retirement planning is underestimating your life expectancy — maybe based on your parents’ or grandparents’ age — and not saving as much as you need. However, it’s more likely for people to live longer than previous generations, and also have higher medical bills.3 Even if one spouse dies young, it doesn’t mean the other won’t live late into their 90s.

Women who took time out of the workforce to care for dependents can be particularly vulnerable during retirement. One recent study found that, in a 10-year break early in their career, the shortage of contributions to Social Security and a retirement plan could result in a loss of up to $1.3 million in retirement savings.4

You also should consider the impact of inflation throughout retirement. Even though the inflation rate has been low in recent years, it can still make an impact over the long term. For example, an average 2 percent inflation rate over a 20-year timeframe can reduce the buying power of a dollar to just 67 cents.5

Also investigate the investment fees associated with your retirement account, as they can have a tremendous impact. A recent analysis revealed that many teachers who invested in 403(b) retirement plans could have account balances 20 to 50 percent higher had they invested in lower-cost holdings over their savings period.6

The same issues can be found with company-sponsored 401(k) plans. A plan that offers funds from only one fund family may not give you enough choices. It is also important to understand the fees you are paying.7

Our firm is not affiliated with or endorsed by the Social Security Administration or any governmental agency and does not provide tax or legal advice.

Content prepared by Kara Stefan Communications. 

Squared-Away Blog. Center for Retirement Research at Boston College. Oct. 20, 2016. “Your Social Security: 35 Years of Work.” http://squaredawayblog.bc.edu/squared-away/your-social-security-35-years-of-work/. Accessed Oct 23, 2016.
2 Ibid.
3 Jeff Brown. U.S. News & World Report. Aug. 3, 2016. “What’s Your Plan B for Retirement?” http://money.usnews.com/investing/articles/2016-08-03/whats-your-plan-b-for-retirement. Accessed Oct. 23, 2016.
4 Financial Planning. Oct. 9, 2016. “How retired clients can deal with small COLA: Retirement Scan.” http://www.financial-planning.com/news/how-retired-clients-can-deal-with-small-cola-retirement-scan. Accessed Oct. 23, 2016.
5 Jeff Brown. U.S. News & World Report. Oct. 13, 2016. “Pros and Cons in Investing with TIPS.” http://money.usnews.com/investing/articles/2016-10-13/pros-and-cons-in-investing-with-tips. Accessed Oct. 23, 2016.
6 Tara Siegel Bernard. The New York Times. Oct. 21, 2016. “Think Your Retirement Plan Is Bad? Talk to a Teacher.” http://www.nytimes.com/2016/10/23/your-money/403-b-retirement-plans-fees-teachers.html?_r=0. Accessed Oct. 23, 2016.
7 Jill Cornfield. Bankrate.com. Sept. 27, 2016. “Q&A: Fees and Your Retirement Plan.” http://www.bankrate.com/one-to-million/qa-fees-and-your-retirement-plan/. Accessed Oct. 23, 2016.

This material is intended to provide general information to help you understand basic financial planning strategies and should not be construed as financial advice. All investments are subject to risk including the complete loss of principal. No investment strategy can guarantee a profit or protect against loss in periods of declining values. 

The information contained in this material is believed to be reliable, but accuracy and completeness cannot be guaranteed; it is not intended to be used as the sole basis for financial decisions. If you are unable to access any of the news articles and sources through the links provided in this text, please contact us to request a copy of the desired reference. 

AE11165144C

Retiring Takes Effort 

The first things that come to mind when thinking about retirement may be rest and relaxation, but before you reach that point, you need a financial strategy that can support your post-career plans.

A recent study found many current retirees are worried about just making day-to-day expenses:1

  • The median annual income for married retirees is $48,000; $19,000 for singles
  • 25% of today’s retirees are still paying off credit card debt
  • 60% retired sooner than expected, typically due to downsizing or other employment-related reasons or health issues

Even if you are sufficiently prepared for retirement, it’s good to establish a budget and stick to it. The Employee Benefit Research Institute recently found that nearly half of households spend more money in the first two years of retirement than they did while they were still employed.2

It’s important to recognize that retirement is much like your career — you get out of it what you put into it. That goes for both your finances and your enjoyment. Being financially prepared for retirement means more than just having enough income, you also need to plan for unexpected expenses, potentially large health care bills and the possibility of long-term care.3

We’re here to help you create a financial strategy to help you feel confident that these types of expenses won’t prevent you from living your preferred retirement lifestyle.

But let’s talk about something other than financial preparedness for just a moment. Keeping in mind that people live longer — but not necessarily healthier — lives these days, have you thought about what you’ll do on a day-to-day basis during retirement? Without a “lifestyle plan,” many retirees sink into a state of isolation, lack of mobility and bad habits.

Some people think, “I’m doing nothing but playing golf when I retire” — an admirable goal indeed. But if you eventually grow tired of walking the course five to seven days a week, it’s good to have fallback options to fill your schedule. Here’s a possible idea: Most community colleges offer courses for retirees, so why not go back to school and study something you’ve always been interested in? Not only will you engage your mind, you’re likely to meet other retirees who share your interests. Maybe team up and start an “encore career.”4

In Australia, a nonprofit organization started an initiative called the “Men’s Shed,” a place where retired men show up every day to drink coffee, debate the issues and work on community projects.5

There are plenty of occupations and hobbies out there that let you work on what you enjoy, without the constraints of working 40 hours a week. Whether you’re already retired or getting ready for it, just remember that what you put into retirement is often what you’ll get out of it.

Content prepared by Kara Stefan Communications.

Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies. April 2016. “The Current State of Retirement: A Compendium of Findings about American Retirees.” http://www.transamericacenter.org/docs/default-source/retirees-survey/tcrs2016_sr_retiree_compendium.pdf. Accessed Sept. 29, 2016.
2 Tanisha A. Sykes. USA Today. Sept. 28, 2016. “More free time could mean risky spending for new retirees.” http://www.usatoday.com/story/money/personalfinance/2016/09/28/spending-overspending-new-retirees-free-time/90498760/. Accessed Sept. 29, 2016.
Emily Zulz. ThinkAdvisor. Oct. 3, 2016. “Morningstar’s ‘Must-Know’ Stats About Long-Term Care.” http://www.thinkadvisor.com/2016/10/03/morningstars-must-know-stats-about-long-term-care. Accessed Oct. 11, 2016.
4 Knowledge@Wharton. Jan. 14, 2016. “The Retirement Problem: What Will You Do with All That Time?” http://knowledge.wharton.upenn.edu/article/the-retirement-problem-what-will-you-do-with-all-that-time/. Accessed Sept. 29, 2016.
Gavin Fisher. CBC News. March 17, 2016. “Kelowna’s ‘Men’s Shed’ replaces isolation with purpose in retirement.” http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/kelowna-s-men-s-shed-replaces-isolation-with-purpose-in-retirement-1.3496600. Accessed Sept. 29, 2016.

We are an independent firm helping individuals create retirement strategies using a variety of insurance and investment products to custom suit their needs and objectives. This material is intended to provide general information to help you understand basic financial planning strategies and should not be construed as financial advice. All investments are subject to risk including the complete loss of principal. No investment strategy can guarantee a profit or protect against loss in periods of declining values. 

The information contained in this material is believed to be reliable, but accuracy and completeness cannot be guaranteed; it is not intended to be used as the sole basis for financial decisions. If you are unable to access any of the news articles and sources through the links provided in this text, please contact us to request a copy of the desired reference.

AE09165126C

Gender Disparities in Retirement

Everywhere we turn, it seems, there’s an article or newscast about how women are at an economic disadvantage, especially regarding lower wages. Just imagine how much more women could contribute to economic growth if such disadvantages were eliminated.

But we want to work toward counteracting some of those challenges, particularly where retirement income planning is concerned. Even married couples with their retirement savings on track may not be aware of different scenarios that could potentially leave a widow with an income shortfall during her retirement years. We’re happy to review retirement income strategies for your household and make recommendations tailored for your financial situation; just give us a call.

In the meantime, let’s take a look at some of these gender disparities and how they can impact a woman’s personal financial future. For example, women tend to borrow more for college undergraduate student loans than men and take longer to pay them back.1

Presumably, one of the reasons it takes them longer to pay back student loans is that women, on average, tend to earn lower salaries than men. For example, in the United States, white women are paid about 76 cents on the dollar relative to white men.2 Black women receive only 67 cents per dollar.3 This may seem like a woman’s issue, but it’s not. In theory, the longer it takes to pay off student loan debt, the less women can save for retirement, and the less women save, the more reliant they might be on Social Security for retirement income. A demographic that relies heavily on Social Security for retirement income could potentially cause an increase in FICA taxes, which can affect everyone.

One of the ways working women can improve their retirement income situation is by working longer. There are several advantages to this. First, for women who take time out of the workforce for raising children and general caregiving, working longer provides more tax years from which the 35-year calculation for Social Security benefits is drawn.4 Second, women tend to live longer, so they could feasibly work until an older age.5 And finally, researchers have determined that the average woman who works to age 70, rather than retiring at 62, can increase her monthly Social Security check by 12 percent.6

Another area in which women can improve is financial literacy. In a recent study, 18 percent of women ages 60 to 74 passed a 38-question quiz on retirement income topics, compared with 35 percent of men the same age.7 Fortunately, this is an area in which any woman can take the initiative to pursue on her own. It doesn’t require wage legislation passed by Congress; salary negotiation skills with employers; or shortening the time spent out of the workforce for caregiving.

The more women can learn about retirement income planning, the better prepared they can be for their long-term financial future. Planning for retirement is a skill that we believe should not be delegated to fathers, husbands, boyfriends and male children. At the very least, it’s a shared responsibility — but be aware that chances are good a woman will be managing money on her own at some point during adulthood due to divorce or widowhood.8

Content prepared by Kara Stefan Communications.

1 Kim Blanton. Center for Retirement Research at Boston College. June 8, 2017. “Is There a Student Loan Gender Gap?” http://squaredawayblog.bc.edu/squared-away/is-there-a-student-loan-gender-gap/. Accessed July 31, 2017.

2 AAUW. Spring 2017. “The Simple Truth about the Gender Pay Gap.” http://www.aauw.org/research/the-simple-truth-about-the-gender-pay-gap/. Accessed July 31, 2017.

3 Casey Quinlan. ThinkProgress. July 31, 2017. “Black women’s ‘equal pay day’ reminds us how persistent the wage gap is.” https://thinkprogress.org/black-women-wage-gap-ca285791a371. Accessed July 31, 2017.

4 My Retirement Paycheck. National Endowment for Financial Education. 2017. “How are Social Security benefits calculated?” http://www.myretirementpaycheck.org/Social-Security/How-are-benefits-calculated. Accessed Aug. 7, 2017.

5 Social Security. “Calculators: Life Expectancy.” https://www.ssa.gov/planners/lifeexpectancy.html. Accessed Aug. 7, 2017.

6 Kim Blanton. Center for Retirement Research at Boston College. May 18, 2017. “Women Get a Bigger Social Security Bump.” http://squaredawayblog.bc.edu/squared-away/women-get-a-bigger-social-security-bump/. Accessed July 31, 2017.

7 Christopher Robbins. Financial Advisor. July 27, 2017. “4 Out Of 5 Older Women Flunk This Retirement Literacy Quiz.” http://www.fa-mag.com/news/4-out-of-5-older-women-flunk-this-retirement-literacy-quiz-33885.html?section=. Accessed July 31, 2017.

8 Susan L. Hickey. Newsmax. June 23, 2017. “Many Women Will Spend Their Later Years Alone; Are They Ready for That?” http://www.newsmax.com/Finance/Personal-Finance/older-women-alone-financially/2017/06/22/id/797691/. Accessed July 31, 2017.

We are able to provide you with information but not guidance or advice related to Social Security benefits. Our firm is not affiliated with the U.S. government or any governmental agency.

 We are an independent firm helping individuals create retirement strategies using a variety of insurance products to custom suit their needs and objectives. This material is intended to provide general information to help you understand basic retirement income strategies and should not be construed as financial advice.

The information contained in this material is believed to be reliable, but accuracy and completeness cannot be guaranteed; it is not intended to be used as the sole basis for financial decisions. If you are unable to access any of the news articles and sources through the links provided in this text, please contact us to request a copy of the desired reference.

AE09175094B

Potential Reasons to Put the Retirement Countdown on Hold

Retirement is still something most people look forward to, but over the years, some of the reasons for anticipation have dwindled. During the industrial age, more people worked jobs requiring manual labor that were hard on the body.

By mid-century, many rank-and-file workers could look forward to a pension waiting for them upon retirement. Workers simply had to accumulate enough credits to retire knowing that a pension would provide income for the rest of their lives.

Now, physically demanding jobs are more of a rarity for pre-retirees, and modern-day ergonomic training is available to help ease the aches and pains of the daily grind. Pensions are also more uncommon, giving way to employee-contribution retirement vehicles like 401(k)s. Instead of looking forward to retiring, working longer can enable employees to save and invest longer.1

Workers today understand they may have to provide for a substantially greater share of their retirement income thanks to longer average lifespans. There’s also the possibility retirement could last multiple decades, and some retirees might miss the daily intellectual and social engagement a job provides.

This makes retirement income planning different than, say, college planning. When saving for a child’s education, parents have the advantage of knowing when the student will go to college and generally how many years he or she will be there. The “when” and “how long” are unknown factors when it comes to retirement.

As financial professionals, these are the types of variables we help address when advising clients. It is important to have the experience of helping clients make financial decisions and contingency plans throughout their retirement — experience we can use to guide the financial strategies we help our clients create every day.

Here are some other reasons today’s workers may be inclined to keep working past the traditional retirement age:

Increase Savings

According to a recent survey, the most common financial reasons older employees work in retirement are to:2

  • Give their nest egg more time to grow (19%)
  • Earn “fun money” for discretionary purposes (31%)
  • Leave a better legacy to heirs or charities (6%)

Increase Social Security Benefit

Sometimes it’s necessary for retirees to start taking Social Security benefits early, but that doesn’t mean they can’t continue or go back to work; nor does it mean they necessarily lock into a lower benefit for life. If you earn more than $16,920 in 2017 while receiving benefits prior to full retirement age, Social Security will deduct one dollar in benefits for every two dollars in earnings above $16,920.3 However, once you reach full retirement age, your benefit will be increased to account for benefits withheld due to earlier earnings and working once you reach full retirement age doesn’t affect your benefits. The agency will also recalculate your benefit based on your “new” highest 35 years of annual earnings, which could increase your overall benefit.4

Company Benefits

Some seniors continue to work because their employer’s health insurance is better and less expensive than Medicare.5 Please note that even if you have coverage through a current or former employer, you may still need to make some important Medicare enrollment decisions.

Switch Jobs, Work Longer

Some people retire because they dislike their job. However, a new study revealed that when workers take the initiative to switch to a more enjoyable position say, in their 50s, they tend to work longer — increasing both their income potential and job satisfaction. That’s no small improvement on both fronts.6

Feel Valued

Retirees have been known to go back to their old jobs because they get bored. At least one retiree observed that returning to work in a part-time capacity not only led him to enjoy the job more, but he felt better valued by his employer.7 We all know that sometimes we don’t appreciate what we have until it’s gone, and that can certainly apply to employers.

Content prepared by Kara Stefan Communications

1 Kim Blanton. Center for Retirement Research at Boston College. May 25, 2017. “Fewer Older Americans Work Part-time.” http://squaredawayblog.bc.edu/squared-away/fewer-older-americans-work-part-time/. Accessed July 10, 2017.

2 Emily Brandon. U.S. News & World Report. Feb. 17, 2017. “8 Reasons to Work in Retirement.”

https://money.usnews.com/money/blogs/planning-to-retire/articles/2017-02-17/8-reasons-to-work-in-retirement. Accessed July 10, 2017.

3 Social Security Administration. 2017. “Fact Sheet: 2017 Social Security Changes.” https://www.ssa.gov/news/press/factsheets/colafacts2017.pdf. Accessed Aug. 7, 2017.

4 ElderLawAnswers.com. April 1, 2016. “Incentives to Keep Working While You Collect Social Security.” https://www.elderlawanswers.com/incentives-to-keep-working-while-you-collect-social-security-15312. Accessed July 10, 2017.

5 Jean Chatsky. CNBC. Jan. 20, 2017. “Retirement doesn’t have to be the end: How working longer benefits you.” http://www.cnbc.com/2017/01/20/retirement-doesnt-have-to-be-the-end-how-working-longer-benefits-you.html. Accessed July 10, 2017.

6 Kim Blanton. Center for Retirement Research at Boston College. March 23, 2017. “The Benefits of Late-career Job Changes.” http://squaredawayblog.bc.edu/squared-away/the-benefits-of-late-career-job-changes/. Accessed July 10, 2017.

7 Kim Blanton. Center for Retirement Research at Boston College. April 20, 2017. “A Californian’s ‘Retirement’ is Part-Time.” http://squaredawayblog.bc.edu/squared-away/a-californians-retirement-is-part-time/. Accessed July 10, 2017.

We are able to provide you with information but not guidance or advice related to Social Security and Medicare benefits. Our firm is not affiliated with the U.S. government or any governmental agency.

We are an independent firm helping individuals create retirement strategies using a variety of insurance and investment products to custom suit their needs and objectives. This material is intended to provide general information to help you understand basic financial planning strategies and should not be construed as financial advice. All investments are subject to risk including the potential loss of principal. No investment strategy can guarantee a profit or protect against loss in periods of declining values. 

The information contained in this material is believed to be reliable, but accuracy and completeness cannot be guaranteed; it is not intended to be used as the sole basis for financial decisions. If you are unable to access any of the news articles and sources through the links provided in this text, please contact us to request a copy of the desired reference.

 AE07175091C

Strategic vs. Tactical Asset Allocation

In recent years, the markets, the economy and the global political scene have evolved considerably. We’ve witnessed both remarkable volatility and remarkable resilience in these areas. The reality is that less predictability in today’s economic landscape requires more vigilant risk diversification, coupled with the ability to adapt to a fast-changing environment.1

We work with our clients to set financial goals and make strategic and tactical recommendations to help them reach their individual financial objectives. Equally as important, we want to encourage clients to work with us to monitor their financial progress and let us know when their personal or financial situation changes. Investing mirrors life in many ways: You make plans, but they often get disrupted, waylaid or delayed. By closely monitoring your financial strategy, we can help you determine if and when it’s time to make changes.

To this end, it may be beneficial for you to understand the distinction between strategic asset allocation and tactical asset allocation. Strategic allocation establishes and maintains a deliberate mix of stocks, bonds and cash designed to help meet your long-term financial objectives.2

Tactical asset allocation, on the other hand, is more market focused. While an investor may set parameters for how much and how long he wants to invest in a certain asset class, he may want to then increase or decrease his allocations by 5 percent to 10 percent over a short time based on economic or market opportunities.3

It is important to be aware that tactical asset allocation strategies present higher risks but also the opportunity for higher returns. It’s a good idea to set percentage limits on asset allocations and time benchmarks for when you may want to exit certain positions.4 Tactical asset allocation is, in fact, a market timing strategy, but its risk lies more in asset categories rather than individual holdings, and a crucial key for this type of allocation is to actively manage that risk.5

To help diversify and manage risk, some financial advisors recommend exchange traded funds (ETFs). These are passively managed funds that can be bought and sold throughout the trading day. While ETFs are passively managed, they provide a means for an investor to tactically expand or shrink exposure to a specific asset class in her own actively managed portfolio. Proponents of ETFs favor them because of their low cost, tax efficiency and trading flexibility.6

Content prepared by Kara Stefan Communications.

1 Nasdaq. June 26, 2017. “Asset owners must be more innovative to fulfill investment missions.” http://www.nasdaq.com/press-release/asset-owners-must-be-more-innovative-to-fulfill-investment-missions-20170626-00612. Accessed July 8, 2017.

2 Chris Chen. Insight Financial Strategists. July 1, 2017. “Tactical asset allocation can enhance a long term strategy.” http://insightfinancialstrategists.com/asset-allocation/?utm_source=ReviveOldPost&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=ReviveOldPost. Accessed July 8, 2017.

3 Ibid.

4 Ibid.

5 Girija Gadre, Arti Bhargava and Labdhi Mehta. The Economic Times. June 19, 2017. “5 smart things to know about tactical asset allocation.” http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/wealth/invest/5-smart-things-to-know-about-tactical-asset-allocation/articleshow/59189407.cms. Accessed July 8, 2017.

6 Robert Powell. MarketWatch. June 9, 2017. “Why financial advisers prefer ETFs over mutual funds.” http://www.marketwatch.com/story/why-financial-advisers-prefer-etfs-over-mutual-funds-2017-06-09. Accessed July 8, 2017.

We are an independent firm helping individuals create retirement strategies using a variety of insurance and investment products to custom suit their needs and objectives. This material is intended to provide general information to help you understand basic financial planning strategies and should not be construed as financial advice. All investments are subject to risk including the potential loss of principal. No investment strategy can guarantee a profit or protect against loss in periods of declining values. 

The information contained in this material is believed to be reliable, but accuracy and completeness cannot be guaranteed; it is not intended to be used as the sole basis for financial decisions. If you are unable to access any of the news articles and sources through the links provided in this text, please contact us to request a copy of the desired reference.

AE07175090C