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.

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.

Music Plays Instrumental Role in Healing Ailments

Hearing a familiar song from a happy period in your life, such as childhood, can instantly make you feel joyful. It’s as if you’re right back there — toe tapping, head bopping and singing along. Just as with our sight, smell and taste senses, positive auditory memories can enhance mood and transport us back to a happier time.

The power of music has led researchers to study various applications of music therapy to help people overcome the pain of health conditions, emotional challenges and even the cognitive decline that often accompanies old age.1

It’s not enough to believe we will all grow old gracefully. This usually doesn’t happen without planning. A big part of planning for retirement isn’t just how to provide enough income for the rest of our life, but how to help ensure we still enjoy a high quality of life no matter our age.

As an independent financial services firm, we help people create retirement strategies using a variety of insurance products to custom suit their needs and objectives; just give us a call. As for creating a plan to help enhance quality of life, consider some of these music therapy applications.

Music therapy is now a board-certified health profession. With approximately 7,500 practitioners throughout the country, the practice has become prevalent in nursing homes and hospices. The American Music Therapy Association reports about 10 percent of musical therapists work with terminally ill patients in a new discipline called end-of-life music therapy.2

 A growing body of research indicates music therapy can help improve cognitive function in patients with Alzheimer’s disease.3 It also can be used to aid in stress and pain management, memory enhancement, communication and physical rehabilitation.4

Further, the discipline has been found to help people with psychiatric problems, such as depression, trauma and schizophrenia. Music can help calm patients as well as help them process emotions, trauma and grief.5

Interestingly, the military has used forms of music therapy since the post-World War I era. Trained musical therapists use it as a tool to help wounded, injured or ill soldiers express their thoughts nonverbally. Research also shows music can be effective at increasing neuroplasticity in the brain, which is an important role in helping veterans address symptoms of PTSD and traumatic brain injuries.6

 Content prepared by Kara Stefan Communications.

1 Sharon Otterman. The New York Times. Jan. 15, 2018. “Music Therapy Offers an End-of-Life Grace Note.” https://www.nytimes.com/2018/01/15/nyregion/music-therapy-nursing-home-hospice.html. Accessed April 13, 2018.

2 Ibid.

3 Sherry Christiansen. Alzheimer’s Universe. July 24, 2017. “Quick Alzheimer’s Prevention Pearl: Studies Show Music Improves Cognition in People with Alzheimer’s Disease.” https://www.alzu.org/blog/2017/07/24/how-music-helps-with-alzheimers-prevention/. Accessed April 18, 2018.

4 American Music Therapy Association. 2018. “What is Music Therapy?” https://www.musictherapy.org. Accessed April 13, 2018.

5 Molly Warren. National Alliance on Mental Illness. Dec. 19, 2016. “The Impact of Music Therapy on Mental Health.” https://www.nami.org/Blogs/NAMI-Blog/December-2016/The-Impact-of-Music-Therapy-on-Mental-Health. Accessed April 18, 2018.

6 Frank Otto. Drexel University News Blog. March 20, 2018. “3 Things to Keep in Mind About Music Therapy in the Military.” https://newsblog.drexel.edu/2018/03/20/3-things-to-keep-in-mind-about-music-therapy-in-the-military/. Accessed April 13, 2018.

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.

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Notes on U.S. Infrastructure

The American Society of Civil Engineers has given the U.S. an overall infrastructure grade of D+. Throughout the next decade, it will take more than $4.5 trillion to fix our aging infrastructure — including upgrades to roads, mass transit, wastewater treatment plants and the electrical grid.1

We’ve reached the mission-critical stage. One industry analyst observed, “We’re at the point where our infrastructure is becoming an impediment to productivity and long-term economic growth.”2

The idea of national infrastructure may remind us of personal retirement preparation. If you are still working and thinking about retirement options, consider your own “infrastructure” situation. First, are you considering relocating or downsizing, or are you committed to aging in your own home? If you prefer the latter, it’s a good idea to check out your home from top to bottom to see whether you need any major repairs or maintenance while you’re still earning a paycheck.

This inspection should include considering a new roof, checking for mold buildup in your crawl space and researching new windows or other energy-efficient features that can help lower your utility bills. Even replacing older appliances could impact your household budget once you’re living on a fixed income.

Given our dramatic weather pattern swings, we should also prepare for the possibility of a natural disaster that could affect our daily living. Consider how you might plan for a long-term disruption in power or clean water supplies, such as installing a generator, solar panels, tiles and/or a battery pack. While it may seem farfetched, remember that the citizens of Puerto Rico probably never thought they would have to adapt for long-term power outages, as seen after Hurricane Maria.3

One way the U.S. is trying to address some of these issues is by incorporating green stormwater infrastructure (GSI) in sewer overflow control and integrated wet-weather plans. The idea is to evaluate the performance of GSI systems for future development.4

With all the discussion about funding at the federal level, one little-known fact is how much infrastructure is controlled at the local level. In fact, 40 percent of the nation’s bridges and 46 percent of all public roads are owned and maintained by counties. Furthermore, counties help fund one-third of the nation’s airports and 78 percent of public transportation programs.5

The news isn’t all bad. According to the World Economic Forum, the U.S. international ranking for overall infrastructure quality improved from 25th to 12th place last year out of 138 countries. However, when it comes to specific categories, we show mixed results — the U.S. ranks second in road infrastructure spending but ranks 60th for road safety. The U.S. also lags behind other developed countries when it comes to infrastructure resilience and future sustainability.6

Content prepared by Kara Stefan Communications

1 Merrill Lynch. 2018. “Getting a Bigger Bang for the Infrastructure Buck.” https://www.ml.com/articles/getting-a-bigger-bang-from-the-infrastructure-buck.html#financial-research-and-insights. Accessed April 20, 2018.

2 Ibid.

3 Camilla Domonoske. NPR. April 18, 2018. “Puerto Rico Loses Power — Again.” https://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2018/04/18/603569966/puerto-rico-loses-power-again. Accessed April 20, 2018.

4 Water Environment Federation. April 4, 2018. “Data analyses confirm GSI value in overflow control.” http://stormwater.wef.org/2018/04/data-analyses-confirm-gsi-value-overflow-control/. Accessed April 20, 2018.

5 Mary Scott Nabers. Infrastructure USA. April 9, 2018. “County government — a critical component of America’s greatness.” https://www.infrastructureusa.org/county-government-a-critical-component-of-americas-greatness/. Accessed April 20, 2018.

6 Hiba Baroud. PBS News Hour. Feb. 18, 2018. “Measuring up U.S. infrastructure against other countries.” https://www.pbs.org/newshour/nation/measuring-up-u-s-infrastructure-against-other-countries. Accessed April 20, 2018.

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.

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Cultural Influences From Abroad

They say variety is the spice of life. A variety of cultural experiences may even contribute to a longer life and cognitive sharpness. A new study links cultural activities, including exposure to other languages, as a strong influence in the way we learn, amass and assimilate new information.1

Some cultural influences may well impact longer lifespans. In Japan, which has one of the world’s oldest populations, people live with a philosophy of “ikigai.” Roughly translated, this phrase means “a reason to live,” or identifying one’s purpose in life. To discover one’s ikigai, start by answering the following questions:2

  • What do you love?
  • What are you good at?
  • What does the world need from you?
  • What can you get paid for?

This idea of living for something more spiritual than, say, a job or material possessions is also practiced by the people of Costa Rica. Ticos, as Costa Ricans are called, use the term “Pura Vida” to convey a range of greetings, from hello and goodbye to “everything’s cool.” The real value of the phrase, however, is that Pura Vida reflects the way many Ticos live: relaxed and appreciative of the simpler things in life. This attitude toward life has gained the country recognition as one of the happiest places in the world. To live “Pura Vida” means you’re thankful for what you have and do not dwell on what you lack.3

Whether finding your ikigai or living a Pura Vida lifestyle, these influences may be able to enrich an American’s retirement, even if we don’t have the means to travel extensively. Reading, watching documentaries and movies, and listening to foreign music all can help expose us to other cultures and expand our mind and thought processes. Ultimately, this may help us appreciate the lifestyle we’ve created for our retirement years. If you’d like help creating a retirement income strategy to help you pursue your retirement lifestyle goals, please call us for ideas.

In the U.S., perhaps the most influential culture is that of the Hispanic or Latino population, which the U.S. Census Bureau describes as people of “Cuban, Mexican, Puerto Rican, South or Central American or other Spanish culture or origin regardless of race.” At an estimated 54 million people, Hispanics are the largest minority in the U.S., and the Census Bureau expects that number to rise to 119 million by 2060.Their impact can be felt in all aspects of U.S. culture, including language, food and entertainment.

While the U.S. is influenced by other cultures, it also wields cultural power of its own. In a 2017 survey by U.S. News & World Report, the U.S. was ranked as having the third most influential culture in the world, largely due to popular contributions in music, movies and television. In first place was Italy, followed by France, with Spain and the United Kingdom rounding out the top five.5 In a separate portion of the survey that ranked overall influence, the U.S. ranked first, followed by Russia.6

Content prepared by Kara Stefan Communications.

1 Science Daily. Aug. 4, 2017. “Cultural activities may influence the way we think.” https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/08/170804103911.htm. Accessed Oct. 17, 2017.

2 Laura Oliver. World Economic Forum. Aug. 9, 2017. “Is this Japanese concept the secret to a long, happy, meaningful life?” https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2017/08/is-this-japanese-concept-the-secret-to-a-long-life/. Accessed Oct. 17, 2017.

3 Vacations Costa Rica. 2017. “Pura Vida! Costa Rica Lifestyle.” https://www.vacationscostarica.com/travel-guide/pura-vida/. Accessed Oct. 17, 2017.

4 CNN. March 31, 2017. “Hispanics in the US Fast Facts.” http://www.cnn.com/2013/09/20/us/hispanics-in-the-u-s-/index.html. Accessed Oct. 27, 2017.

5 U.S. News & World Report. 2017. “Cultural Influence.” https://www.usnews.com/news/best-countries/influence-rankings. Accessed Oct. 17, 2017.

6 U.S. News & World Report. March 7, 2017. “Most Influential Countries.” https://www.usnews.com/news/best-countries/international-influence-full-list. Accessed Oct. 17, 2017.

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.

Personal Productivity

Do you ever feel as if you don’t get enough done in a day? Many of us tend to do what we absolutely must, tackling easy tasks instead of launching into bigger projects or the pursuit of longer-term goals. In other words, we cook, clean, answer emails and catch up with the day’s news – but do we ever start that novel or the side business we’ve been considering?

One of the causes of poor productivity may be lack of a plan. Ben Franklin planned out everything he would do each day at what time, tracked in half-hour time blocks.1 In fact, studies have shown that writing a plan is an effective way of improving productivity. Further, writing out a plan by hand – as opposed to typing it on a computer or smartphone calendar – is even more effective. Apparently, it makes us feel more connected to the material because we use the frontal lobe of the brain for both writing and planning, as well as problem solving.2

According to a recent article in Inc. magazine, a few simple habits can help make us more productive. They include setting basic building blocks toward a goal, creating benchmarks for incremental success and using only essential tools – don’t spend a lot of time and money unnecessarily.3

Some of these tips are also worthwhile practices for retirement saving and budgeting. After all, it’s a good idea to have a strategy for retirement income – a written one is best. Focusing on small, regular savings can help you meet incremental goals, and making commonsense decisions about what you do and don’t need to spend money on in retirement can help reduce the amount of income you’ll need. If you’d like some more ideas on ways to help make your retirement savings more productive through the use of insurance products, please give us a call.

Sometimes all we need to make ourselves more productive is to take a break from the action. However, it’s best not to take a long one – just enough to distract your brain so it returns to the task re-energized. In that break, you could stand and stretch, complete a quick chore – like paying a bill online – or respond to a text or email.4 Other productivity boosters include taking a 20-minute power nap and spending some time outdoors – preferably in the sunshine.5

Bear in mind that productivity isn’t about how many hours there are in a day, but how well you use them. A new study out of the United Kingdom said the average worker would be more productive if he or she were expected to work only three hours a day. That’s because the average office worker is generally engaged in actual work for only that long – the rest of the day is spent checking social media, visiting news websites, chatting with coworkers, etc. If we weren’t expected to be at our job for a full eight hours – if we could leave as soon as we got “X” amount of work done – it’s easy to imagine that people would become a lot more productive in less time.6

If you’re retired, consider translating this idea into your usual day. Imagine that long-term task you want to accomplish is your job, and you have to be “at work” for a full hour each day. The rest of the day is all yours for everything else. Would you be more productive in that one hour?

Content prepared by Kara Stefan Communications.

1 Amy Carleton. TheCut.com. Oct. 11, 2017. “The Centuries-Old Strategy That Turbocharged My Productivity.” https://www.thecut.com/2017/10/the-centuries-old-strategy-that-turbocharged-my-productivity.html?utm_campaign=sou&utm_source=tw&utm_medium=s1. Accessed Oct. 24, 2017.

2 Ibid.

3 Julian Hayes II. Inc.com. Oct. 25, 2017. “These 5 Overlooked Habits Will Instantly Make You More Creative and Productive.” https://www.inc.com/julian-hayes-ii/5-simple-habits-that-will-immediately-boost-your-productivity.html. Accessed Oct. 25, 2017.

4 Richard Moy. Inc.com. Oct. 20, 2017. “A 5-Minute Routine to Jolt Your Productivity.” https://www.inc.com/the-muse/how-to-boost-energy-at-work-5-minute-routine.html. Accessed Oct. 25, 2017.

5 Stephanie Vozza. Fast Company. Oct. 12, 2015. “15 Habits That Will Totally Transform Your Productivity.” https://www.fastcompany.com/3051540/15-habits-that-will-totally-transform-your-productivit. Accessed Oct. 24, 2017.

6 Arielle Tschinkel. Hellogiggles.com. Sept. 28, 2017. “A new study shows that a 3-hour work day may be better for productivity.” https://hellogiggles.com/lifestyle/money-career/3-hour-work-day-productivity/. Accessed Oct. 24, 2017.

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 Conversations: What Do You Do?

We spend a lifetime working, building a career, raising a family, etc. Then we retire, and some unsuspecting acquaintance asks, “What do you do?” It’s a whole new ballgame now.

This can be a difficult question for new retirees. Our gut instinct is to identify ourselves by our occupations — “I’m a lawyer,” I’m an office manager,” “a teacher” or a “stay-at-home mom.” When you spend that much time in one role, it becomes a part of who you are. But is that still who you are once you retire? Some people might say, “I used to be a lawyer.” After a while, they may get used to simply saying, “I’m retired.” Yet this process of figuring out how to respond may be directly correlated to how long it takes to figure out who we are in retirement.1

Some people spend years dreaming about what they’ll do when they retire, so they might answer, “I’m now an amateur golfer.” Or gardener. Or grandchild-babysitter. It’s worth taking some time to build a retirement identity for yourself; not just to answer that question, but to establish your own purpose for getting up in the morning. One of the keys to the retirement you desire is aligning your lifestyle goals with your retirement income.  Please feel free to contact us to discuss creating retirement strategies through the use of insurance products that can help you work toward your long-term retirement income goals.

A recent study conducted by Humana found that the more optimistic people are by nature, the younger they feel. In fact, the most optimistic retirees also rated high in areas of good health, getting enough sleep, feeling confident and overall happiness. The study concluded that working on a more positive attitude is important to retirees’ overall health and well-being.2

But what if you aren’t naturally optimistic? One tip for achieving optimism is to practice. Work on identifying negative thoughts and replacing them with positive ones. The general idea is to “fake it until you make it.”3

Researchers at Stanford University analyzed a longevity study of 60,000 diverse U.S. adults between 1990 and 2011 in areas such as demographics, medical history, physical exam and physical activity data. One of the more interesting findings was that people who perceived themselves as “a lot less active” than peers had a higher risk of death — regardless of how much they exercised or other health risk factors such as smoking or obesity. Apparently, it’s not just our health that matters, but also how we feel about ourselves.4

If we believe we are less active than everyone else — and are stressed and depressed about that — it can negatively impact our health. This is an important issue for physicians to consider, because warning about dangerous behaviors such as smoking, inactivity or overeating apparently can actually worsen the problem.5

Perhaps one way to foster optimism is to create a plan for how to spend your days. For example, start a new venture. It doesn’t matter if it’s for profit or not; the main incentive is to provide a purpose. Maybe follow up on a good idea that no one in your area is doing or find a need you can fulfill. When people retire, they often find they have time to do things that they never got to do before, and they also may have time to do things that need to get done — that no one else has time to do.

For the first time in history, there are about to be more people over age 65 than under age five.6 Furthermore, we have a shortage of care providers. Of course, not everyone will need a full-time caregiver; some may just need a little help — perhaps with remembering to turn off appliances or going to doctor appointments. Companies are currently looking at artificial intelligence for more ways — more gadgetry — to help address these issues and allow people to age longer at home.7

But for now, small, kind and oh-so-helpful gestures may be all some people need. Life is full of these types of opportunities — ways to feel good, help others and get the exercise we need without going to a gym. Here’s one idea: Some elderly people have a hard time getting their trash can to the curb for pickup, so perhaps that’s a volunteer job that provides purpose and exercise for a younger retiree while helping others.

Look around. See how you can contribute. And the next time someone asks you what you do, create yourself a brand-new identity title.

Content prepared by Kara Stefan Communications.

1 Joe Casey. Booming Encore. “Answering in Retirement: So, What Do You Do?” http://www.boomingencore.com/retirement-what-do-you-do. Accessed Nov. 13, 2017.

2 Humana. Oct. 4, 2017. “Survey: Sense of Optimism Linked to the Perceived Mental and Physical Health of Seniors.” http://press.humana.com/press-release/current-releases/survey-sense-optimism-linked-perceived-mental-and-physical-health-sen. Accessed Dec. 5, 2017.

3 Susan Williams. Booming Encore. “The Relationship Between Optimism, Health and Aging.” http://www.boomingencore.com/relationship-optimism-health-aging/. Accessed Nov. 13, 2017.

4 Monique Tello. Harvard Health Publishing. Aug. 14, 2017. “Mind over matter? How fit you think you are versus actual fitness.” https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/mind-over-matter-how-fit-you-think-you-are-versus-actual-fitness-2017081412282. Accessed Nov. 13, 2017.

5 Ibid.

6 Elena Holodny. Business Insider. May 16, 2016. “We’re about to see a mind-blowing demographic shift unprecedented in human history.” http://www.businessinsider.com/demographics-shift-first-time-in-human-history-2016-5. Accessed Dec. 5, 2017.

7 Ian C. Schafer. Software Development Times. Nov. 7, 2017. “IBM expands AI research to support an aging population.” https://sdtimes.com/ibm-expands-ai-research-support-aging-population/. Accessed Nov. 13, 2017.

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.

Anticipated Changes in Workplace Demographics

Online shopping has become the norm in the Western part of the world. Experts say mature economies adopted e-commerce quickly because of its strong infrastructure and a trusting financial landscape.1

In other words, consumers could count on receiving goods ordered, vendors knew they would get paid and any conflicts were protected by a reputable credit and court system. These things weren’t true in many developing countries, thus e-commerce was slower to gain traction there.

However, now that emerging markets have put a secure infrastructure in place, many expect online sales to soar — which could help bolster those waning economies. The global online market offers new prospects for struggling brick-and-mortar retailers in the U.S. Just about any retailer, large or small, that can adapt its sales model to a global e-commerce market could be poised for massive opportunity.2

That’s one of the interesting parallels between life and commerce — where some doors close, others open; we just need to see where opportunity awaits. The same can be true when planning for retirement. Please feel free to contact us to discuss creating retirement strategies through the use of insurance products that can help you work toward your long-term retirement income goals.

Interestingly, one of the biggest economic issues of the day comes from a social phenomenon: As older people are living longer, younger people are having less children. To be exact, the first of the baby boomer generation turned 70 last year while, at the same time, the fertility rate in the United States reached its lowest point since records began in 1909.3

The ramifications of this population shift will likely be widespread and long lasting. For example, retirees tend to contribute less to the consumer economy, with an average reduction of 37.5 percent in household spending. This, in turn, affects company revenues and, subsequently, returns in the investment market.At the same time, retirees may be drawing down invested assets for income, further reducing available capital.

The elderly population boom also is expected to cause economic drains in targeted areas of the country. For example, states that have long been popular retirement havens, such as Florida, Arizona, Oregon and South Carolina, are among at least 14 states where the cost of elderly care is rising.5

In Florida alone, 20 percent of the population is over the age of 65; more than 40 percent is over 50. While it’s easy to write this off as the result of Florida being a retirement haven, that is no longer the case. Within about 10 years, the entire country will have a similar demographic composition — we will become “a nation of Floridas.”6

Another problem with the sizable gap between retirees and babies is an anticipated drop in the number of workers. The workforce may not be large enough to support the government programs older people are entitled to after years of contributing into the system. This issue is hardly isolated to America. Between 2025 and 2050, the number of people age 65 and older is projected to nearly double worldwide.7

To help mitigate the drain on resources, many are raising the eligible age for government-sponsored pensions and encouraging people to work well past traditional retirement age. Whether due to lack of retirement savings or the desire to work longer, the share of people working longer has grown during the past decade: a 6 percent increase in Germany, 10 percent in the U.K. and 18 percent in the U.S.8

Content prepared by Kara Stefan Communications.

1 Knowledge@Wharton. Nov. 1, 2017. “Why Emerging Markets Are the Next E-commerce Frontier.” http://knowledge.wharton.upenn.edu/article/why-emerging-markets-are-the-next-e-commerce-frontier/. Accessed Nov. 22, 2017.

2 Ibid.

3 Stephen McBride. World Economic Forum. Sept. 14, 2017. “Retiring baby boomers are going to have a huge impact on the economy.” https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2017/09/retiring-baby-boomers-are-going-to-have-a-huge-impact-on-the-economy. Accessed Nov. 22, 2017.

4 Ibid.

5 Sue Chang. Marketwatch. Nov. 8, 2017. “These maps show just how crazy fast the world is aging.” https://www.marketwatch.com/story/these-maps-show-just-how-crazy-fast-the-world-is-aging-2017-11-08?link=sfmw_tw. Accessed Nov. 22, 2017.

6 Joseph F. Coughlin. Time. Nov. 8, 2017. “There’s No Such Thing As ‘Old Age’ Anymore.” https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/other/theres-no-such-thing-as-old-age-anymore/ar-BBEJG0u. Accessed Nov. 22, 2017.

7 Suzanne Woolley. Bloomberg. Sept. 17, 2017. “Retirement, Delayed.” https://www.bloomberg.com/quicktake/retirement-redesigned?cmpid%253D. Accessed Nov. 22, 2017.

Ibid.

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.

The Impact of Income Inequality

As it turns out, income inequality can be an issue for all society, not just the poor.

A new study of high-earning clients of a bank’s wealth management unit tracked the fortunes of male and female young adults to learn how income inequity would impact their lives. The assumptions had both genders starting out in the job market earning a salary of at least $100,000 and in possession of an inheritance of $1 million.1 The following are some of the study’s findings:2

  • A 25-year-old woman living in a wealthy country earns 10 percent less, on average, than a man the same age.
  • By age 85, the income gap will result in the woman having 38 percent less wealth than the man.
  • The gap will widen if the woman takes a year off from work or decides to work part time for a while.
  • The problem is exacerbated by the fact that women are expected to live longer and must stretch their wealth over a longer

Retirement planning is challenging enough without the issue of lower wages throughout one’s career. Lower earnings mean fewer opportunities to save and invest, in addition to a reduced standard of living. Whether married, divorced or single, we help clients create retirement strategies through the use of insurance products that help them work toward their long-term retirement income goals. Give us a call to learn more.

Interestingly, the U.S. women’s labor force participation peaked in 2000. At the time, this had a big impact on household income and broader economic growth. Since then, as prime-age women have dropped out of the workforce, the national growth rate has suffered.3

Over the past two years, real median household income in the U.S. has increased by 3.2 percent, but this follows 17 years of stops and starts. Even today’s positive numbers can be deceptive, because they do not reflect areas of the country that are still struggling. For example, an analysis of data from the 2000 Census and the 2016 American Community Survey found that 86 urban areas — including Miami, Orlando, Phoenix, Tucson, Chicago, Indianapolis and Milwaukee — suffered declines in median income between 10 and 15 percent from 1999 to 2016. Many of these areas lost a large number of middle-income manufacturing jobs during the 2000s that have not been replaced.4

A new large-scale study found poverty-level household income can have a significant impact on children’s development, ranging from cognitive and educational outcomes to social development and physical health. The study included data from past research that found that when low-income families do receive an influx of cash, this money is usually spent on fruit, vegetables, books, clothes and toys.5

Aligned with this type of insight, some countries are looking at ways to solve some of their largest societal issues through a basic income. This year, as part of a two-year, limited trial involving 2,000 unemployed citizens, Finland became the first European country to provide a “no-strings-attached” monthly payment to cover essential costs of living. The basic income (about $587 a month) replaces any other current unemployment benefits and will continue even if recipients get a job. Cities in the Netherlands and Canada have scheduled similar pilot programs.6

In the U.S., test programs have found that giving homes to the homeless is the cheapest way to reduce homelessness, and paying high-risk people not to be involved in gun violence has been remarkably effective at reducing a city’s murder rate.7

Content prepared by Kara Stefan Communications.

1 Reuters. Oct. 23, 2017. “Pay gap to affect high-earning women’s retirement lifestyle: study.” https://www.reuters.com/article/us-global-women-pay-gap/pay-gap-to-affect-high-earning-womens-retirement-lifestyle-study-idUSKBN1CS0Z7. Accessed Nov. 28, 2017.

2 Ibid.

3 Jay Shambaugh, Ryan Nunn and Becca Portman. Brookings. Nov. 1, 2017. “Lessons from the rise of women’s labor force participation in Japan.” https://www.brookings.edu/research/lessons-from-the-rise-of-womens-labor-force-participation-in-japan/. Accessed Nov. 28, 2017.

4 Alan Berube. Brookings. Oct. 12, 2017. “Five maps show progress made, but mostly lost, on middle-class incomes in America.” https://www.brookings.edu/research/five-maps-show-progress-made-but-mostly-lost-on-middle-class-incomes-in-america/. Accessed Nov. 28, 2017.

5 The London School of Economics and Political Science. Centre for Analysis of Social Exclusion (CASE). “Does Money Affect Children’s Outcomes? An update. http://sticerd.lse.ac.uk/case/_new/research/money_matters/report.asp. Accessed Dec. 7, 2017.

6 Drake Baer. New York magazine. Jan. 4, 2017. “What Happens When You Give Free Money to Poor People.” https://www.thecut.com/2017/01/the-psychology-of-basic-income.html. Accessed Nov. 28, 2017.

7 Ibid.

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. 

How Losing Sleep Could Translate to a Loss of Money

Some teenagers seem to sleep a lot. As parents and grandparents, we can find this rather aggravating. But the fact is, as we get older, our sleep patterns may change, and our sleep can be less restful.1 Perhaps it’s a good idea to let young people sleep in peace while they still can.

Scientists say young adults require about nine hours of sleep a day, on average. If they get less than eight hours, they may have a harder time paying attention. Full-grown adults, on the other hand, need an average of seven and a half hours. Unfortunately, studies show about one-third of adults in Western societies get less than that on a regular basis.2

A recent study by the University of Zurich and the University Hospital Zurich found a correlation between chronic lack of sleep and increased risk-seeking behavior. Scientists trace the link to the brain’s right prefrontal cortex, which is directly connected with higher risk-seeking behavior. The researchers theorize that when a person persistently does not get enough sleep, this area of the brain does not recover properly, which prompts behavioral changes. Interestingly, the researchers found that study subjects did not notice they engaged in riskier behaviors and therefore were not cognizant of this relationship with sleep patterns.3

The study’s authors observed that sound sleep, of the appropriate duration, is critical for good decision making — especially for political and economic leaders whose daily decisions impact the larger society.4 This advice is also worth pursuing in our own lives. In other words, avoid making important decisions when you haven’t been sleeping well.

As financial professionals, we are here to help guide you. We’ll give your retirement income goals our full attention; just give us a call to set up an appointment to discuss how we can help you create a retirement income strategy through the use of insurance products.

Although we often hear that everyone needs a full eight hours of sleep each night, the actual amount varies by individual — usually between seven and nine hours.Just one night of insufficient sleep can make us cranky and too tired for healthy activities — like engaging in exercise or preparing a nutritious meal.6

Over time, sleep deprivation can increase the risk of developing a variety of chronic health problems, including obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease. It may make us more vulnerable to getting sick when exposed to a cold virus. Chronic lack of sleep also can make us more susceptible to experiencing depression and anxiety.7

Women are 40 percent more likely to suffer from insomnia or symptoms of insomnia compared to men, but the reasons for this are unclear. Some researchers hypothesize that women’s traditional role in society as caregivers could be a contributing factor. Furthermore, single parents who serve as both caregivers and financial providers are at higher risk of insomnia. Some scientists speculate the sleep circuitry for women could be different from men and, when combined with social roles as both worker and caregiver, this may result in a higher risk for sleep disorders.8

While the length and quality of sleep is a personal matter, it cumulatively has an impact on the economy. According to a study by RAND Europe, the United States loses approximately $411 billion a year due to workers who sleep less than six hours a night — which represents around 2.28 percent of U.S. gross domestic product. However, if those poor sleepers got one extra hour of sleep each night, the data suggests about $226.4 billion could be added back to the economy.9

Content prepared by Kara Stefan Communications.

National Sleep Foundation. “Aging and Sleep.” https://sleepfoundation.org/sleep-topics/aging-and-sleep. Accessed Dec. 29, 2017.

2 ScienceDaily. Aug. 28, 2017. “Chronic lack of sleep increases risk-seeking.” https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/08/170828102725.htm. Accessed Dec. 19, 2017.

3 Ibid.

4 Ibid.

5 William Kormos, M.D. Harvard Medical School. May 2016. “Ask the Doctor: The right amount of sleep.” https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/ask-the-doctor-right-amount-of-sleep. Accessed Dec. 19, 2017.

6 Julie Corliss. Harvard Medical School. July 2017. “The health hazards of insufficient sleep.” https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/the-health-hazards-of-insufficient-sleep. Accessed Dec. 19, 2017.

7 Ibid.

8 MedicalXpress. Dec. 18, 2017. “New guide aims to unmask unique challenges women face in getting healthy sleep.” https://medicalxpress.com/news/2017-12-aims-unmask-unique-women-healthy.html. Accessed Dec. 19, 2017.

9 Sandee LaMotte. CNN. Sept. 27, 2017. “Sacrificing sleep? Here’s what it will do to your health.” http://www.cnn.com/2017/07/19/health/dangers-of-sleep-deprivation/index.html. Accessed Dec. 19, 2017.

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.