Social Security, Medicare and Cobra by Warren Elkin, Lifetime Retirement Income Planning

Lifetime Retirement Income Planning with Warren Elkin

Lifetime Retirement Income Planning with Warren Elkin

Decide when to claim Social Security. Social Security statements became available online for the first time in 2012, and more than 1 million people have already downloaded them. Check your statement to make sure your earnings were accurately posted to your Social Security record, and make note of how much you will receive from Social Security at various dates. Most baby boomers can claim the full amount of Social Security they have earned beginning at age 66. Boomers who sign up before age 66 will get a reduced payout. Retirees can further boost their monthly payments by delaying claiming up until age 70. You don’t have to sign up for Social Security in the year you officially retire.

Sign up for Medicare on time. You can first sign up for Medicare beginning three months before the month you turn 65. This initial enrollment period lasts until three months after age 65. If you don’t sign up during this seven-month window around your 65th birthday, your monthly premiums will increase by 10 percent for each 12-month period you were eligible for, but did not enroll in, Medicare Part B. If you are covered by a group health plan based on your or your spouse’s current employment after age 65, you need to sign up within eight months of leaving the job or health plan to avoid the penalty. For people who retire before age 65, you need a plan to maintain health coverage until you become eligible for Medicare, such as through COBRA continuation coverage or a spouse’s health plan.

Make sure you are vested in your retirement benefits. While you always get to keep the money you contribute to your workplace retirement account, you don’t necessarily get to keep your employer’s contributions until you are vested in the retirement plan. Some retirement accounts don’t allow you to keep any employer contributions until you have been with the company for a specific number of years, while others allow you to keep a proportion of your benefit based on your years of service. Find out the date upon which you can keep all of your benefits, especially if you have only been with your current employer for a few years. In some cases, it can be worth it to stick around for a few extra weeks or months to get a bigger retirement payout.

Protect your savings. Shift your primary investment strategy from growth to protecting what you have.

Spend down your assets. Retirees need a plan for how they will convert their retirement savings into a stream of income that will pay their monthly bills. Factor in the income tax that will be due on traditional 401Ks and IRA withdrawals.

Don’t forget to take the required minimum distributions from your traditional 401K and IRA accounts. There is a stiff 50% penalty for failure to take distributions by 70 1/2.

Make sure you have all the facts necessary to make the right decision with your financial future by calling us today! We can help you with information regarding Annuity, Annuities, Fixed Annuity, Fixed Annuities, Variable Annuity,Variable Annuities, Immediate Annuity, Immediate Annuities, Income Annuity,Income Annuities, Deferred Annuity, Deferred Annuities, Index Annuity, Index Annuities, 401k Rollover, IRA Rollover, Retirement Income Planning, Immediate Fixed Annuity, Immediate Fixed Annuities, Annuities Calculator, Deferred Variable Annuity, Immediate variable Annuity, Immediate Income Annuity, Immediate Income Annuities, Deferred Variable Annuities, Best Fixed Annuities,
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Speak with us now at 877-476-5051, email Warren at, or go to to learn more about Warren Elkin of Norhill Financial and his unique process to make sure your financial decisions are made in your best interest.

5 Things To Know About Your Parents Financial Future

Parents spend their entire lives planning for their children’s future but, as goes the circle of life, there comes a point when that responsibility starts to shift.  Many children take on the role of caretaker for their parents.  They do all the things that their parents once did for them: drive them to the store, make them their meals, and so on.  Well remember when you were a kid and your parents gave you an allowance, or only let you spend a certain amount of money at the store.  They were, in a small way, helping protect your finances.  Well, one of the most important aspects of becoming involved in your parents’ lives is understanding and managing their finances.  Of course your parents might not take well to you handling their allowances or expenditures, but it’s important that you get involved early and often in your parents financial planning.

More and more children are finding themselves either completely or partially financially responsible for their parents in their retirement.  In some cases, that situation is unavoidable, but there is a way to make sure your parents have financial stability as they age and make that transition from supported to supporter easier on you and them.  The main thing is to discuss the issue early.  It’s easier to plan for your parent’s financial future if you’re not planning out your own retirement at the same time.  Talk about it early, and talk about it often.

Some parents try to avoid discussing their personal finances with their kids, so it could be helpful to start the discussion by asking your parents for advice on your finances.  That gives you a window into the decisions they have made, and allows you to give them bits of advice you think they would find useful, without hurting any egos.  Once that window is open, there are a five different pieces of information you need to discuss about your parent’s financial situation and plans.

1.       Important documents-  All parents have their super clever secret hiding spots where they keep all their important files and documents.  If you are lucky enough that your parents remember where these super clever secret hiding spots are, than you are a step ahead of most of us. It’s important that you ask them where many of their important documents are located.  These are things like their will and living-will, life insurance policies, information on their financial accounts, financial power of attorney and more.   Knowing where these are kept is critical because a) you know your parents actually have the documents and b) you know where they are in the case of an emergency.

2.       Long-term care insurance-  It can seem like an uncomfortable subject, but the earlier you talk to your parents about their long term care, the less expensive it will be for both them and you.  Like any insurance, long-term care insurance is cheaper if you buy it when you’re younger and healthier.  Even with parents as young as 50-years-old, planning for the financial strain that long-term care can present is a conversation worth having.

3.       Social Security Planning-  Social Security is blanket that covers a lot of people in their retirement plans, but it’s important for your parents to determine when they should be tucked in.  The point at which a person should begin to collect Social Security benefits depends on a few details, details which you should ask your parents about.  It’s important that you ask how much they have saved in various contribution plans such as a 401(k) or IRA.  Also, find out how much they can expect to receive from a possible pension.  The funds available to them in these accounts can drastically affect the point at which they should apply for Social Security benefits.

4.       Investment Legitimacy-  We have all have that sweet old aunt who proudly told everyone how she received that letter in the mail informing her that she won the jackpot in some sweepstakes and will receive the prize money just as soon as she sends in her bank account information.  This is obviously a drastic example, but it’s important that you ask your parents about their investments that they have made and ensure that they aren’t involved in anything risky.  Older individuals are often targeted by scammers, so it’s an important conversation to have.  Even investments that are legitimate may involve too much risk to be worthwhile for them.

5.       Plan for their plans-  Trends have shifted to the point where the majority of young people expect to care for their elderly parents in the future.  In order to plan for this care it’s important to know their plans.  Ask them when they expect to retire, where they plan to live, and how much money they have saved.  These answers will allow you to better prepare your finances in way to give them the support they may need.

When it comes to your parents future there is a lot to discuss, and in order to get to all if it, you need to start the conversation early and revisit it often.  It may not be easy or fun, but your parents probably had a struggle or two with you back in the day trying to get you to comply with their conversations.  It’s the circle of life, and embracing your new role to clear up the essentials now can save your parents, and you, a lot of money later.

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The Road to Retirement: “Are We There Yet?”

Many people preparing for retirement feel like a kid on a road trip. “Are we there yet?” It’s the common feeling of anyone aiming for a destination. Unfortunately, for many future retirees it can feel like they are that cartoon character chasing after the sandwich hanging from the stick at their back. They keep running after it but they never get any closer. Well a new study by The Center for Retirement Research at Boston College brings both good and bad news for those perpetual chasers. The good news: you don’t have to work forever. The bad news: the benchmark age at which the majority of Americans will be prepared to retire at has been bumped back to 70.

It’s no secret that the longer that you work, the more financially secure you will find yourself in retirement. The age of reaching that financial security varies with the individual based on their circumstances, but the new study shows that 85% of Americans will be financially prepared to retire by age 70. Overall, the study found that American households fall into a variety of groups in terms of their age when they will be ready to retire.
· 23% will be ready between the ages of 66 and 68
· 17% will be ready between 69-71
· 9% will have to work until at least age 72
These numbers are determined by what are known as the National Retirement Risk Index measures. These portray the percentage of households that find themselves at risk of being unable to keep up their current standard of living throughout their retirement.
Age 70 provides an attainable goal for many Americans who have envisioned working well into their golden years in order to reach their financial goals. But if you have set your sights on lounging on the beaches of Boca well before that landmark age, there is hope for you yet. The study revealed that about half of Americans will be financially secure enough to enter retirement by 65. Many of you are sitting thinking, “How do I get to be part of that group?” Well, there are a few things that you can do to finagle your way into the “Sixty-Five Club.”
Cost Efficiency- It’s important to remember that the National Retirement Risk Index measures are based on maintaining your current lifestyle. A good way to drop your target retirement age is to drop some of your expenses as you enter retirement. Downsize to a smaller house, save on gas by driving less, buy fewer clothes… you know the drill. This can be hard for many people who find that their retirement brings more free time, which brings more activities and adventures, which costs more money. If you commit to being more cost efficient in your retirement, you can be more age efficient in your retirement plans.
Increase Your Savings-This doesn’t have to be a huge, life altering increase, but small increments can make a huge difference over time. Try to increase your savings by just one or two percent each year. You won’t notice the change now, but you certainly will notice it later. Ramping up your retirement contributions a little each year could have you living the good life sooner than you think!
Become a Part-Timer-This can be a good plan both financially and socially. Many retirees find it a shock to their system to go from working full time for their entire adult life, to suddenly having nothing but time. Picking up a stress-free part time job can help you work your way into retirement while keeping you busy and engaged. Your new job can simply be reduced hours at your current employer, or a completely new and fresh engagement somewhere else. This part time work can also be a huge boost to your finances, as you continue to bring in a bit of income for the first few years of your retirement.
The bottom line is that changing times have brought about changing circumstances for retirees. With longer life expectancies and healthier adult years, it can be expected that longer careers will follow suit. Just remember that the end is in sight, and your hard work and diligence will pay off. Soon when you ask “Are we there yet?” the answer will be a resounding and confident, “Yes!”

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State Pension Debate: Black, White & A Whole Lot of Grey

It comes as almost no surprise that states governments are getting hit in their pocketbooks throughout the recession just as everyone else is.  The difference is, state governments often have a lot more people that they need to write checks to.  One of these checks that has been given a lot of attention lately is the retirement plans for government workers, and it’s no secret that state and local governments are looking for ways to reduce the number the write in the dollar amount section.

According to statistics from The National Conference of State Legislatures, 43 states have changed their retirement plans since 2009 in hopes of finding that ever elusive balance for their budget.  Many states have taken different approaches to that task, implementing plans that increase the amount of money that workers contribute to their retirement, increasing the age in which benefits can be reaped and more.  These changes have put a bad taste in the mouths of most public employees who have stood behind the shield of laws that protect their pensions as these battles continue to fill our courtrooms with various appeals and challenges.

It’s a messy issue that is causing upheaval in nearly every state, flooding local news outlets with protests, sit ins and even a Governor’s recall election or two.  Like any heavily involved controversy, it isn’t black and white.  The shades of grey hovering over this issue are more numerous than many people realize, or want to try wrap their heads around.

First of all, many of the changes (or proposed changes) do not have any effect on current workers who have spent their lives in a job planning for the benefits to come after retirement.  Most people accepted government jobs, many times with lower pay than the private sector, because of the shining light of their pensions at the end of the long tunnel of employment.  Of course, there are a few states, such as Louisiana and Florida, which are asking (or in other words, are attempting to make a state law requiring) current employees to contribute more to their retirement funds but these laws are facing the most stiff defense from labor groups and unions.  With the exception of a few cases, the changes in pension policies will affect only those who are hired after the legislation passes.

Something else that most private sector employees don’t take into account in these battles is the soft little pillow we like to call Social Security.  Many employees who are covered by a public retirement pension program, a program that they are now at risk of losing, are not covered by Social Security.  When the Social Security system was created it didn’t include any public sector employees.  This changed after many states made what are called “Section 218 agreements” with the Social Security Administration to give their employees some coverage under the federal program.  Later, a 1991 federal law gave Social Security coverage to any public employee that weren’t involved in the Section 218 agreements or didn’t have pension programs through their agency.  So although times have changed, many employees rely on their pension programs to fill in for their lack of Social Security benefits.  They don’t have the safety net waiting to catch them in the end, because they have spent their lives in a system that was supposed to replace that.

One aspect of this controversy that seems to be the most transparent, but most obvious shade of grey is the simple fact that state governments are, at their roots, a business.  When private sector businesses can’t cover the expense of their employees, they cut costs, lay people off, or in the worst cases, go out of business.  Well state governments can’t shut down, for obvious reasons.  They can’t fire all their workers, again, for obvious reasons.  Their only choice is to cut costs.  Like any business, state and local governments have a balance sheet, with liabilities and assets, and there are new accounting rules which will change how those will be calculated.  With many states lacking the assets needed to cover their employee retirement programs, some missing over 70% of the necessary funds, they are not looking very valuable to Mr. Moody and his ratings for investors.  If states can’t find a way to cut their deficit, many investors will begin to expect a higher yield to make up for the higher risk and lower ratings, which will add further costs to the government.  With all of the emotions involved in the fiery battles around the nation, the bottom line for many states is simply, “It’s not personal, it’s business.”

Overall, the battle over state pensions involves both the worker’s money and their future and there are few things life that people fight harder to protect than that.  The problem is that the states are fighting for the same two things.  This dispute over worker pensions is a sea of grey in a dizzying world of passionate black and white.  Round and round with the issues we go, where we will stop, nobody knows.

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Unsustainable Assumptions

Sustainability—it’s the new “it” word used to discuss everything from the environment to family budgets. But when we look at the federal government and money spent on retirees, sustainability has a whole new meaning—or perhaps it’s a warning. Because what’s going on at the federal level regarding money spent on retirees is, in fact, not sustainable.

Our society seems to assume that we will perpetually be able to provide for our elderly. But the fact is that when you look at the numbers, what we’ve done historically simply will not be feasible in the future.

Here are a few things to think about.

In 2009, a study on government expenditures found that our government spends 2.4 percent more per capita on the elderly than they do on children, although children are twice as likely to face hardship and poverty than baby boomers. The current analysis found that in 2033 Social Security will no longer have sufficient funds to pay full benefits. Milllennials will pay more for baby boomers’ health care, social security, and other benefits than boomers did for their parents’ generation. This is not a criticism. But it is a warning that future generations will need to be prepared for a retirement without the type of government assistance that’s been possible in years past.

It is critical for workers out there take a serious look at their finances. Keeping your head in the sand and having an “ignorance is bliss” attitude about your retirement is not only unwise, it can be devastating to your future. Sit down and look hard and critically at your spending. Money may seem tight, but what are the “wants” that can be cut out? How can you divert money into funds for your retirement?

Because after all, you’d probably like a retirement lifestyle that is comfortable, enjoyable and sustainable!

If you are nearing retirement, look for sustainable income sources that will keep your life savings secure.

For more information, visit my website,, or call me at 1.877.476.5051.

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