Public sector pension funds racked up a strong rebound in assets last year, bolstering the argument of supporters that plans are healthier than critics argue.
At the end of 2010, aggregate state and local pension fund assets were up 35 percent from their quarterly trough after the market meltdown (March 31, 2009), and stood at a two-year high, according to a report issued today by the National Association of State Retirement Administrators (NASRA) and the National Council on Teacher Retirement (NCTR).
President Obama didn’t lay out a specific Social Security reform plan in his speech on the deficit on Wednesday. But he did say he wants to strengthen the program for future generations without “putting at risk current retirees” or “slashing benefits for future generations.”
“Strengthening” could well include a higher retirement age, as recommended last December by the President’s own National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform.
“An educated consumer is our best customer,” says Syms, one of the country’s best-known clothing retailers. It seems to work for men’s suits. How about healthcare?
“We don’t want government in healthcare,’’ said Paul Ryan (R-Wisconsin), chairman of the House Budget Committee, said last week when he unveiled the GOP’s plan to reform the massive Medicare health insurance program for seniors. “Either healthcare is going to be run by 30,000 bureaucrats in Washington, or 300 million Americans acting as consumers.”
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has reversed itself on a rule that was forcing some spouses of reverse mortgage borrowers into foreclosure.
For years, HUD has described reverse mortgages insured by the government as non-recourse loans.
Remember when Republicans were the protectors of Medicare?
Sure you do — it was just last year. The GOP fought the healthcare reform law by scaring seniors with warnings about death panels and slashed Medicare benefits. Both claims were fantasies, but they worked at the polls last fall, when Democrats suffered big defections among senior voters.
But that was 2010. Today, House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wisconsin) offered up a plan to do for Medicare what the 401(k) has done for pensions. Ryan proposes to privatize Medicare and turn it into a defined contribution plan — one with a lousy sponsor match.
Here’s a chicken-or-egg question for you: is Social Security’s future really imperiled, or do Americans just think it’s falling apart because Washington keeps shooting the program in the foot?
Consider the Social Security Administration’s (SSA) decision to stop sending out the annual benefit statement we all get in the mail. The agency plans to save $30 million by suspending mailings for the remainder of the current fiscal year, which ends in September, and an additional $60 million next year by restricting mailings to workers 60 and older.
Fidelity Investments says the cost of healthcare in retirement is falling for the first time since the company began tracking health spending ten years ago — and the new healthcare reform law is getting the credit.
Fidelity estimates that a 65-year-old couple retiring this year will need $230,000 to pay for medical expenses throughout retirement, not including nursing-home care. That represents an eight percent decline from last year, when the estimate was $250,000 and the spending forecast jumped 4.2 percent.
Target date funds (TDFs) have taken off in recent years as more workplace retirement plans install automation options.
TDFs invest in a mix of assets and aim to reduce equity exposure as participants approach retirement. The basic idea is good, considering that many investor portfolios suffer from benign neglect when it comes to rebalancing, fund selection and reducing exposure to riskier investments as retirement approaches.
Automation of workplace retirement plans has spread rapidly in recent years. But don’t make the mistake of taking your foot completely off the gas pedal if your employer has installed retirement cruise control.
The Pension Protection Act of 2006 (PPA) set the stage for plan sponsors to step up automatic opt-in enrollment for new workers, and it’s resulted in much higher plan participation rates. Growing adoption of other automation features have helped to address the hard reality that most workplace retirement savers pay little or no attention to their contribution levels, rebalancing or mutual fund selection.
The consumer inflation rate hit an 18-month high in February, driven mainly by higher food and energy prices. But few economists think the longer-range inflation rate is heating up — there’s still too much slack in the labor and housing markets.
Over the long haul, inflation is a potential threat to retirement security, since a well-constructed plan looks out over a 25- to 30-year horizon. Yet inflation protection isn’t baked into nearly enough retirement plans, according to a new survey by the Society of Actuaries.