Social Security after file-and-suspend: Brave new world began this week

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The Social Security file-ocalypse came and went, and the system is still standing. Benefits are being paid and workers still are  claiming their benefits. The big event? The closing of a legal loophole last month that permitted married couples to game the system of spousal retirement benefits through joint claiming strategies. So-called “file and suspend” […]

Retirement planning 101 for young people

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I am asked often what young people can do now to start building for a secure retirement. The question itself is a great start – frankly, I never gave this much of a thought until I was well past 40. I have five short answers. First: start saving as soon as you can – even […]

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Five questions for Emily Brandon

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In the days when defined benefit pensions roamed the land, retirement income was automatic: you worked for a company, the company contributed to the pension fund. Checks started arriving when you retired, and didn’t stop until you did. End of story, for the most part. Plenty retirees still have traditional pensions, but they are on […]

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How your tax burden lightens when you retire

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Tax day is April 18th this year, and it will be an unpleasant day for millions of American working households. But cheer up: your tax situation likely will lighten up a bit when you retire. The Internal Revenue Service takes it easy when it comes to taxation of Social Security, and many retirees drop into […]

The ins and outs of Social Security benefits and taxes

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It’s an unpleasant fact of life: The taxman can take a bite out of your Social Security benefits. The federal tax formula was crafted to initially target higher-income households, but the share of benefits taxed has risen over the years, because the income thresholds for taxation aren’t indexed for inflation or real income growth. Meanwhile, […]

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Is a mandatory U.S. retirement saving plan in your future?

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Make a list of the most toxic words in American politics, and “employer mandate” certainly would be in the top 10. Requiring employers to provide health insurance to workers is one of the most controversial features of the Affordable Care Act – along with the requirement that individuals buy insurance. But a mandatory retirement savings […]

Is Social Security too generous? Conservatives want us to think so

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Just how much pre-retirement income does Social Security replace? It’s an important question for workers planning for retirement, and the standard answer – for quite some time – has been “about 40 percent, depending on your income history.” But for the past two years, a battle has been waged inside the Beltway by conservatives to […]

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How gender pay gap haunts women even in retirement

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The gender pay gap is a hot topic in the presidential campaign, and President Barack Obama has been hammering on it, too. Women who work full-time, year-round, made just 79 cents for every dollar paid to their male counterparts in 2014, U.S. Census Bureau data shows. But the injustice of the gender pay gap also […]

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The 2016 Retirement Landscape: 5 Predictions

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“It’s tough to make predictions, especially about the future,” said Yogi Berra, the late baseball great.* But let’s give it a try: Here’s my forecast of the five most important stories that will unfold on the retirement beat in 2016. No market predictions here: In my view, the smart retirement investor owns a well-balanced portfolio […]

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File-and-suspend phaseout sparks scramble for optimization tools

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The phase-out of Social Security’s file-and-suspend loophole has sparked a scramble among companies that offer benefit-optimization software to rewrite their programs and advisors to rethink client retirement plans. The Bipartisan Budget Act signed into law by President Obama in November shuts down two Social Security claiming maneuvers that can boost benefits substantially for married couples […]