At age 50, let’s weigh the future of Medicare

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Medicare is having a midlife identity crisis. Our most important health insurance program celebrated its 50th birthday on July 30, and two political and policy visions for Medicare’s future are competing for supremacy in Washington. And the winning direction will have important consequences for retirees in the decades ahead. The question on the table is […]

Need to Work in Retirement? Think Small

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More retirees than ever intend to keep working past traditional retirement age. But age discrimination and job burnout pose major challenges to staying in the corporate workforce. Entrepreneurship can be a viable alternative work route for retirees–and it’s getting more commonplace. Entrepreneurs age 55-65 accounted for 26% of all startups last year, up from 15% […]

What the Medicare doc fix means for your pocketbook

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The Medicare “doc fix” is in. The question now: What will it mean for seniors’ pocketbooks? President Obama recently signed the most significant Medicare legislation in years–a plan to fix a Medicare formula that threatened to slash payments to doctors every year. The law achieves several positive Medicare reforms, but it will increase some costs […]

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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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 […]

How Your Social Security Benefit Is Calculated

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If you’ve checked your annual Social Security statement lately, you probably know the size of the benefit you’re projected to receive in retirement. But do you know how that number is calculated? Social Security determines your initial benefit at full retirement age (FRA) using a complex formula that takes into account your earning history, wage […]

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Company stock in your 401(k)? Proceed with caution

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401(k) plans have made great strides in recent years–reducing costs, simplifying investment menus, and automating portfolio allocation. But a surprisingly large number of plans still include one feature that really should go: offering the plan sponsor’s own shares to workers. Research consistently shows that owning your employer’s stock in a workplace retirement plan is risky. […]

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Debunking the top 10 myths about Social Security

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Social Security is going bankrupt. It’s a Ponzi scheme. The program’s trust fund contains nothing but a bunch of worthless IOUs. Those are just a few of the comments we hear frequently from journalists, politicians, and policymakers about Social Security. But they’re all false–and that’s a big problem. Social Security is one of our most important […]

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Social Security to the max: Strategies for affluent households

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A friend who plans to retire soon asked me recently whether he should delay filing for Social Security. He’s reached full retirement age (66) but doubted it would make sense to wait longer–he’s been a high earner most of his career and assumed he had already “maxed out” his “full” benefit. Not so. Social Security’s […]

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Longer life expectancies raise the bar on pensions

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Americans are living longer. That’s good news for people–but it’s creating challenges in the world of traditional defined-benefit pensions. American men are living an average of two years longer than they were in 2000 (the last time the tables were revised), and women are getting an additional 2.4 years of life, according to new mortality […]

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