Social Security reform should boost benefits and taxes, poll finds

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It’s no surprise that a new public opinion survey would find broad public opposition to cutting Social Security benefits. But a survey released this week [PDF] by the National Academy of Social Insurance finds a strong majority of Americans actually support boosting benefits – and taxing themselves to pay for it. The survey uses a polling […]

Why Social Security COLAs aren’t keeping up with seniors’ costs

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Social Security’s annual inflation adjustment is one of the program’s most valuable features. But it’s time to adjust the adjustment. Retirees will get a 1.7 percent bump in their Social Security benefit next year, according to the Social Security Administration, which announced the annual cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) on Wednesday. Recipients of disability benefits and Supplemental […]

Quality issues keep dogging Medicare Advantage plans

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Seniors have flocked to Medicare Advantage in recent years, attracted by savings on premiums and the convenience of one-stop shopping. But as the annual Medicare enrollment season began this week, a memorandum from federal officials to plan providers surfaced that serves as a big red warning flag. The upshot: Assess the quality of any Advantage […]

Shining a light on a murky election-year Social Security debate

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In North Carolina, a television ad attacks incumbent Democratic Senator Kay Hagan for supporting a “controversial plan” that “raises the retirement age” for Social Security. The ad comes from Crossroads GPS, the super PAC run by Republican Karl Rove. A Republican attack on a Democrat for cutting Social Security benefits? It’s just one instance where […]

Timing your Social Security filing: Where to get assistance with the big decision

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Deciding when to file for Social Security is one of the most consequential financial decisions most Americans will make about their retirement. Opting to claim benefits early, at the Full Retirement Age (FRA), or later can mean hundreds of thousands of dollars in higher–or lower–lifetime benefits for a married couple. But Social Security’s rules are […]

Why it pays to shop your Medicare coverage this fall

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Your Medicare prescription drug plan sent you a letter recently. Chances are, you didn’t read it – and that could be costing you money. Health insurance companies must send an annual notice of changes for the coming year to Part D prescription drug and Part C Medicare Advantage plans. The notice, which must be delivered […]

How to shop for a Medicare Part D plan

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The annual Medicare enrollment period starts on October 15th and ends of December 7th. This is the opportunity for seniors to review their prescription drug or Medicare Advantage coverage, and to select new plans. With dozens of plans available in most parts of the country, Medicare shopping can be a complex chore. Re-shopping your plan annually […]

How to shop for Medicare Advantage plans

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Medicare Advantage is a fast-growing form of private Medicare plan that offers all-in-one medical and drug coverage. About 33 percent of Medicare enrollees are expected to opt for an Advantage plan in 2015. Most Medicare Advantage plans are managed care programs, such as HMOs or PPOs. Some private fee-for-service and specialty plans are offered, although […]

When can the government garnish your Social Security?

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It’s a rude awakening for a growing number of seniors: They file for Social Security, then discover that the federal government plans to take part of their benefit to pay off delinquent student loans, tax bills, child support or alimony. The practice came under a spotlight this month when the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) […]

Extreme retirement abroad: How one footloose couple sees the world

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For Americans looking to retire abroad, deciding where to live can be a challenge. But Lynne and Tim Martin took that question off the table by deciding to retire everywhere and anywhere. In 2011 the couple opted for what might be called extreme retirement abroad: They sold their Paso Robles, California, home, jettisoned all but […]