After the election, retirement security heads for a crash

Retirement security already looked like a looming train wreck for most U.S. households before Election Day. Now, the consolidation of Republican control of government threatens to accelerate the crash. It is too early to predict the agenda Donald Trump will bring to the White House on retirement policy, or where it might fit on his […]

Special needs families face complex retirement planning challenges

Mary Anne Ehlert came by her expertise in financial planning for special-needs families the hard way: she has lived through the challenge herself. Ehlert, a certified financial planner based in Lincolnshire, Illinois, has a sister who was born with cerebral palsy, and a son who suffers from blindness and mental illness. Both of her parents […]

Beneath the rancor, Social Security is on the November ballot

The future of Social Security is on the ballot this year – not that you could tell by the U.S. presidential debates, or by any other aspect of this rancorous, sensational election. But 67 percent of registered voters rank Social Security as a “very important” part of their voting decision this year – just behind […]

Social Security beneficiaries must swallow flat COLA in 2017

Zilch. Nada. Diddly squat. Take your pick of words that best describe the Social Security inflation adjustment announced this week, but it all adds up to this: another year of flat benefits. The U.S. Social Security Administration declared a 0.3 percent cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) for 2017 – a bit more than the zero increase in […]

Five ways to improve retirement math when you haven’t saved

A large segment of American workers are approaching retirement with very little or nothing saved: Among workers age 55 or higher and nearing retirement, 48 percent have saved less than $100,000, according to the Employee Benefit Research Institute. A third have less than $25,000. The savings shortfall means many Americans face the prospect of retiring […]

Mandatory worker retirement plans gain momentum with California legislation

The movement to require employers to offer retirement plans to their workers just took a big leap forward. California Governor Jerry Brown signed legislation last week launching the state’s Secure Choice plan – a government-sponsored retirement savings vehicle that would be offered to employees of most companies that do not have their own workplace retirement […]

Are reverse mortgages on the comeback trail?

Will financial planners resuscitate the reverse mortgage? New loan originations have fallen sharply since their peak year in 2008. Reforms put in place by the federal government several years ago have led the reverse lending industry to target more affluent potential borrowers—the households that tend to work with planners. And some retirement researchers have been […]

Social Security urged to focus on delayed filing, longevity risk

The Social Security Administration needs to up its game when it comes to helping retirees decide when to claim their benefits. The timing of a Social Security claim is the most important financial decision most workers will make about their retirement. Benefits can be claimed as early as age 62, but waiting just a few […]

Heed the warning label on mutual funds – passive is better

The warning is posted in fine print at the bottom of all mutual fund advertisements: “Past performance does not guarantee future results.” The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission requires it. But when it comes to actively managed mutual funds, that warning should perhaps be updated to: “Strong performance almost certainly guarantees worse performance in the […]

Social Security texting snafu underscores customer service woes

Now is the summer of our discontent with Social Security’s customer service – and fall and winter could be worse. The Social Security Administration (SSA) stumbled this month when it added a mandatory extra layer of website log-on security requiring customers to receive a code via text message. But the agency’s customer service problems go […]