Hiding in plain sight: Republicans sharpen knives for retirement program cuts

Traditionally, U.S. politicians avoid talking about cutting Social Security and Medicare close to election time. Midterm elections are around the corner, but Republicans are making no secret of their plans to go after these critical retirement programs. It is the flip side of their plan to expand the federal deficit by $1.5 trillion through tax […]

Don’t forget to add RMDs to your yearend checklist

Nothing good lasts forever, and so it is with tax-deferred retirement saving – that is, the deferred part. Contributions to traditional IRAs and 401(k) accounts aren’t taxed upfront, but the government gets its due down the road. When you reach age 70-1/2, a certain amount of your tax-deferred savings in IRAs and most 401(k) accounts […]

Final word on Social Security COLA and Medicare premiums for 2018

Millicent Graves will get a raise from Social Security next year, but her household budget will get worse, not better. The 2 percent cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) announced by Social Security for 2018 last month will boost Graves’ monthly benefit by $20.70. But in reality, that increase will be wiped out by a higher Medicare Part […]

Killing medical tax break will hammer middle-class seniors

Republican lawmakers want to cut taxes for corporations and wealthy people by $1.3 trillion – and they seem to want seniors to foot a good chunk of the bill. Their 2018 budget plan would chop $473 billion out of Medicare and $1.3 trillion from Medicaid. But the House tax plan also calls for elimination of […]

For Republicans, tax reform math hinges on cutting Medicare

Retirement savers dodged a speeding train last week when Republican lawmakers racing toward tax reform dropped their plan to sharply reduce allowable tax-deferred contributions to 401(k) plans. That idea is off the table – at least for now. But listen carefully and you can hear the whistle blowing on another train barreling down the tracks. […]

A guide to buying Medigap policies

Rail systems around the world warn you to “mind the gap” when boarding a train. It’s good advice for your Medicare coverage, too. Medicare is comprehensive, but it doesn’t cover everything. There are copays, deductibles, and limits on hospitalization benefits. If you enroll in Medicare Advantage–the all-in-one managed care alternative to traditional Medicare–your out-of-pocket costs […]

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Near miss on 401(k) tax grab marks a new low for retirement policy

Republican lawmakers came close to staging a damaging raid on retirement savers this week to pay for a massive tax cut for corporations and the wealthy. Their recklessness brings to mind that old saying – “This is no way to run a railroad.” But in this case, using that expression would be grossly unfair to […]

Why Medicare should warn enrollees about steep late sign-up penalties

For many Americans entering retirement, it comes as an unwelcome surprise: Medicare premiums become much more expensive if you do not sign up on time. The program tacks on a 10 percent penalty on monthly Part B premiums for each full 12-month period of late enrollment – and you keep on paying the penalties for […]

Getting a handle on what retirement plan failure really means

I’ve certainly used the term “plan failure” more than a few times, which is why a recent blog post by retirement researcher Dirk Cotton caught my eye. In Three Degrees of Bad, Cotton separates out what he calls “three progressive levels of failure.” Those are: (1) loss of “market-funded” standard of living; (2) loss of […]

Age discrimination: You want to work longer, but will employers cooperate?

Working longer offers one of the best paths to improved retirement security. But 50 years after passage of landmark legislation aimed at preventing age bias, our public policy remains out of sync with that goal. The Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 was part of a broad wave of civil rights legislation that included […]

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