Social Security online accounts: safe from identity theft?

More than 34 million Americans now conduct business with the Social Security Administration (SSA) online – and with that shift comes an increased risk of identity theft. For many, a MySSA account now is the only way to obtain an estimate of future benefits, since the agency no longer regularly mails annual benefit statements. MySSA […]

The year ahead: What retirees should watch out for in 2018

The economy is strong and the stock market is surging. Interest rates are rising a bit, but inflation looks steady. That should mean smooth sailing in 2018 for retirees and people planning for retirement, right? Even the new tax law didn’t do much to impact retirement: The final legislation dropped earlier proposals to sharply curtail […]

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2018 Won’t Be a Fizzy Year for COLAs

Riddle me this: The federal government announced that the standard Medicare Part B premium will stay flat in 2018, at $134 per month. Still, most retirees will pay more for Part B than they paid in 2017. And riddle me this, too: The annual Social Security cost-of-living adjustment for 2018 was set at 2%–yet benefits […]

With life expectancy gains down, tax bill will make things worse

The Republican tax bill approved by Congress this week will create financial headaches for millions of taxpayers trying to navigate all the new rates and rules. But the legislation now headed for President Donald Trump’s signature also will have this grim impact: thousands of additional, preventable deaths every year.Where do I get this outlandish-sounding prediction? […]

How Social Security Disability Insurance Works

Most people think of Social Security as a retirement benefit, and that’s understandable. Among the 61 million Americans receiving Social Security at the end of 2016, 68%–44.3 million people–were retired. But Social Security’s broad aim is to protect against the risk of lost income from work. The income loss might be due to retirement, disability, […]

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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 […]

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 […]

New Medicare cards a lone bright spot in identity-theft battle

Older Americans are especially vulnerable to scams and identity theft, and Medicare is doing something about it. Seniors will start receiving new identification cards next year as part of an effort to protect them from the rising risk of fraud. But that is the only good news surrounding a sweeping federal initiative to bolster fraud […]

When Social Security gets its wrong on claiming advice

It’s one of the most important decisions you’ll make about retirement: when to claim Social Security benefits. Delaying past your full retirement age (currently 66) adds valuable delayed retirement credits of around 8 percent to your benefit – and couples can gain even more through coordinated strategies. But the claiming rules are complex, and the […]

Should Social Security invest in stocks?

Pension funds do it. Insurance companies do it. Canada does it, and so does Japan. So, why doesn’t our Social Security system invest in the stock market–and should it? I’m not talking about transforming Social Security into a system of private, individual IRA-style investment accounts, as proposed by former President George W. Bush and some […]