New tools for tax-efficient retirement draw-downs coming into view

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Control the things you can control. We’ve all heard the mantra when it comes to personal financial planning, and it usually refers to the accumulation side of a retirement plan—factors such as investment cost, contribution amounts and timing. But a growing body of research points to an under-utilized point of control on the decumulation side […]

2017 Social Security COLA likely to lack fizz

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Retirees will receive a paltry increase in their Social Security checks in 2017 – the second consecutive year of flat or near-flat benefits, and the fifth year of inflation adjustments below 2 percent. Next year’s cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) will be just two-tenths of 1 percent, according to predictions in the annual report of the trustees […]

Fresh approaches to paying for long-term care

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Long-term care is a wild card in the deck for any retirement plan. Half of all Americans develop a disability at age 65 or older that is serious enough to need long-term care, and one in six will spend at least $100,000 out of pocket for care, federal data shows. The financial risk is real, […]

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Is the fiduciary rule fight really about the little guy?

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The U.S. Chamber of Commerce wants you to believe it is looking out for the little guy in its fight against new government regulation of the retirement investment advice industry. But that is a facade – as one consumer advocacy group found out when it checked the Chamber’s claims of grassroots support for its battle […]

Push to expand Social Security gains momentum

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A coalition of progressive politicians, policy experts and grassroots advocates started a campaign three years ago facing very long odds. They proposed expanding Social Security retirement benefits for millions of Americans. Mainstream thinking in Washington at the time ran in the opposite direction: Social Security benefits should be cut as part of a “grand bargain” to get the federal deficit under control. […]

Not junk mail: This letter from Social Security can cut Medicare drug costs

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A letter arrives in the mail with this opening line: “We are writing to let you know how you can get help paying your Medicare costs.” Your fraud detector probably goes on high alert – the mailboxes of retirees routinely are stuffed with bogus come-ons. But this letter is no scam. More than 2 million seniors are receiving letters this […]

How couples can get the most from Social Security’s survivor benefit

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How about this idea for a new reality TV show: “Survivor: Maximize your Social Security.” Rather than getting voted off the island, contestants lose when they fail to get the most out of Social Security’s survivor benefit – one of the government program’s most important features for married couples. Here is how our reality show works. When one spouse dies, the […]

Threatened Teamster pensions safe for now – but what comes next?

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Should the pension of a retired truck driver – or his widow – be cut by one-third or more because the plan is in trouble? Doing no harm to current retirees is a basic tenet of sound retirement policy, as well as basic fairness. But legislation passed in 2014 opened the door to the possibility […]

Employer health benefits for U.S. retirees keep declining

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Planning for retirement is tough enough – and it gets even tougher when retirement benefits you expect to receive from an employer are changed on short notice. But a growing number of U.S. employers are capping their risk of rising health insurance costs by sending retirees into private exchanges to buy coverage – often with […]

Social Security after file-and-suspend: Brave new world began this week

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The Social Security file-ocalypse came and went, and the system is still standing. Benefits are being paid and workers still are  claiming their benefits. The big event? The closing of a legal loophole last month that permitted married couples to game the system of spousal retirement benefits through joint claiming strategies. So-called “file and suspend” […]