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 without advance warning. That is the maximum potential cut for 2015 stemming from the Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP), a little-understood rule that was […]

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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The case for expanding Social Security: A conversation with Nancy Altman and Eric Kingson

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Nancy Altman and Eric Kingson are two of the nation’s leading progressive advocates for strengthening and expanding Social Security. Their new book, Social Security Works: Why Social Security Isn’t Going Broke and How Expanding It Will Help us All, lays out the case for expanding benefits in order to address growing income inequality and the looming […]

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How Social Security can help you play catch-up on retirement

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More Americans over 55 are finally getting back to work after the long recession – the strong national employment report for January released last week confirms that. That’s good news not just for patching up household balance sheets damaged by years of lost employment and savings. But getting back to work also is likely to […]

Why White House disability insurance fix makes sense

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Advocates for disabled Americans got some welcome news today in the White House budget for 2016: The plan asks Congress to keep the 11 million disabled Americans now receiving Social Security disability insurance out of a looming brawl over broader Social Security reform (for more, see my column today at Reuters Money). The budget plan […]

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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Who would pay more if we lift the cap on payroll taxes?

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Progressives have been arguing for some time now that one of the best ways to close Social Security’s long-range funding gap would be to lift the cap on maximum wages subject to payroll taxes. This year, the cap is $118,500; there’s a basic fairness argument here, in that a wage-earner below that figure is taxed […]

Romney’s huge IRA makes a comeback in Obama retirement proposal

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It was a memorable moment in the 2012 presidential race. In their October 16 debate, Defending his blind trust investments, Gov. Romney said: ROMNEY: Just going to make a point. Any investments I have over the last eight years have been managed by a blind trust. And I understand they do include investments outside the United […]

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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