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 […]

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) […]

Time to declare “game over” for active fund management?

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Is it time to declare “game over” in the contest between active and passive fund management? Funds are pouring into Vanguard Group’s passively-managed index funds, with total assets at the firm nearing $3 trillion. No less a stock picking legend than Warren Buffett is endorsing passive – he has advised his own trustees to put […]

Retirement insecurity: Two studies underline housing and income challenges

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Next Monday marks the sixth anniversary of the bankruptcy filing of Lehman Brothers, a key event in the Wall Street meltdown that led to the Great Recession. The recession wreaked havoc on the retirement plans of millions of Americans, and two studies released last week suggest that most of us haven’t recovered well. The Joint […]

A landmark law at 40: How well is ERISA protecting workers’ retirements?

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Every American who has retired with economic security – or hopes to – should know these two dates in our history: August 14, 1935, and September 2, 1974. The Social Security Act was signed into law by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1935, and 40 years ago today President Gerald Ford signed landmark pension reform […]

A chat with Mint.com about retirement planning

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Mint.com has just posted a Q&A with me about about my work, and how I approach covering retirement planning. We talked about how I first became interested in covering retirement, common misunderstandings Americans bring to retirement planning, the Great Recession’s impact on retirement security, strategies for saving and investing and how health care costs figure into […]

How to interpret your Social Security benefit statement

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The Social Security Administration will be mailing annual benefit statements for the first time in three years to some American workers. That’s good news, because the statements provide a useful projection of what you can expect to receive in benefits at various retirement ages, if you become widowed or suffer a disability that prevents you […]

Take the pension buyout, or wait for a better deal down the road?

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If you work for a company with a pension plan, don’t be surprised if you get an offer soon for a lump sum buyout – a deal where you accept a pile of cash in exchange for the promise of lifetime income when you retire. The price tag for these offers is especially attractive right […]

How much do you need to retire happy? Wes Moss has your number

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It may be true that money can’t buy you love, but can it buy happiness in retirement? Most people would say it can, but financial planner Wes Moss wanted the details: Just how much money does it take to retire happily – and is there a point of diminishing happiness return on the size of […]

Why Congress needs to reform multi-employer pensions – now

Josh Gobtaum, director, Pension Benefit Guarantee Corp.

The window is closing on our last best chance to protect the pensions of 10 million American workers and retirees. These workers are in multi-employer plans – traditional defined benefit pension plans jointly funded by groups of employers in industries like construction, trucking, mining and food retailing. Although many of the country’s 1,400 multi-employer plans […]