Advice about maximizing Social Security from the guy who wants to end it

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I had a chance today to hear Larry Kotlikoff speak about his best-selling book Get What’s Yours: The Secrets to Maxing Out Your Social Security. Kotlikoff is a professor of economics at Boston University and founder of Economic Security Planning, Inc, a financial software company that created MaximizeMySocialSecurity.com, one of a handful of premium software tools for optimizing […]

How healthcare changes seniors’ inflation math

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There’s been no sign that inflation is heating up along with the economy, and that may tempt people planning for retirement to be complacent about inflation risk. But it’s important to remember that the inflation rate experienced by seniors is higher than that of the overall economy. From 1985 to 2014, the Consumer Price Index […]

Survey finds an unfounded rise in retirement confidence

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Denial is the first emotional stage of grief – and that may be where Americans are at right now in their attitudes about retirement security. The 2015 edition of the longest-running national survey of retirement confidence, released today by the non-profit Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI), reveals a second consecutive annual jump in the percentage […]

New strategies for covering long-term care costs

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You’ve heard the scary statistics: About two thirds of Americans will need long-term care. The average annual cost of a private room in a nursing home is $87,600; the length of stay can run three years or more. Do a few quick calculations, and it’s easy to get very worried about the potential financial impact […]

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Unraveling the mysteries of Social Security WEP and GPO

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Some U.S. workers who have paid into the Social Security system are in for a rude awakening when the checks start coming: Their benefits could be chopped up to $413 per month. That is the maximum potential cut for 2015 stemming from the Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP), a little-understood rule that was signed into law […]

A tax day question: Why do states leave billions in retiree income on the table?

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Illinois is the national poster child for state budget messes. My home state faces a $7.4 billion general fund deficit and a $12 billion revenue shortfall. One proposed idea for plugging at least part of the horrific shortfall: tax retirement income. But our new governor, Republican Bruce Rauner, has rejected the idea. Illinois exempts all […]

Watch: Making money last in retirement

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How can you make your money last throughout retirement? I discussed the question as part of a terrific panel at the recent Morningstar Individual Investor Conference. My co-panelists were Christine Benz, Morningstar’s director of personal finance, and financial planner Mark Balasa, co-founder of wealth management firm Balasa Dinverno Foltz. The session was moderated by Adam Zoll of […]

What does the robo-advisor food fight mean for investors?

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Here’s something you don’t see every day: two investment companies in a very public fight about values, greed and putting the interests of customers first. This is what has happened since Charles Schwab launched Schwab Intelligent Portfolios last month, making it the first major investment company to leap into the so-called “robo-advisory” market. These automated […]

Medicare doc fix: something for everyone to dislike, but a needed reform

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Congress is headed toward a bipartisan solution to the long-standing threat of sharp reductions in Medicare’s payments to doctors. But the so-called “doc fix” will be expensive, and Medicare beneficiaries will pay part of the bill. The big questions: How much? And, could a doc fix be achieved without hitting up seniors to pay part […]

Lump sum pension offers: Don’t count on your employer for advice

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If you are due a pension from a former employer, there is a good chance you were or soon will be offered a lump-sum payment in exchange for giving up that guaranteed monthly check for life. Should you take it? Probably not, but making a smart decision depends on a complex set of assumptions about […]