Five takeaways on retirement policy from the midterm elections

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Retirement policy wasn’t on the ballot in last week’s midterm elections. But the new political landscape could threaten the retirement security of middle-class households. With Republicans in full control of Congress, expect efforts to cut Social Security and Medicare benefits. And more Republican-controlled statehouses mean more efforts to curtail state and local workers’ pensions. One positive […]

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 […]

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 […]