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” […]

Tapping retirement accounts early: the ins and outs

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401(k) accounts aren’t designed as piggy banks to be tapped for non-retirement expenses. But stuff happens. Since the Great Recession, loans from 401(k) accounts have been rising. Some 17.6 percent of plan participants had loans outstanding last year, compared with 15.3 percent in 2008, according to the Investment Company Institute (ICI). A much smaller number […]

Medicare end-of-life counseling off to slow start

Dr. Tony Back

Older patients want to talk with their doctors about how they will die, but are doctors ready to have the conversation? Medicare began reimbursing physicians in January for time spent discussing their patients’ end-of-life wishes. While 95 percent of U.S. physicians support the new benefit, only 14 percent say they have yet billed Medicare for advance planning patient visits, according to […]

Retirement planning 101 for young people

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I am asked often what young people can do now to start building for a secure retirement. The question itself is a great start – frankly, I never gave this much of a thought until I was well past 40. I have five short answers. First: start saving as soon as you can – even […]

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Going back for a doctorate at mid-life and beyond

Lisa Goff

While the overall age of Ph.D. candidates has dropped in the last decade, about 14 percent of all doctoral recipients are over age 40, according to the National Science Foundation. Educators are seeing increasing enrollment in doctoral programs by students in their 40s and 50s. Many candidates hope doctorates will help them advance careers in […]

Employer health benefits for retirees continue their decline

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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 […]