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Jan 15, 2013

How to get your retirement plan back on track

CHICAGO (Reuters) – Unemployment can throw a wrench into even the best retirement plan — especially for older workers in their peak earning and retirement saving years.

Now that the employment picture finally is starting to improve, older workers who have been through the wringer of joblessness face the task of getting those plans back on track.

Jan 10, 2013

End of the government check era approaches

CHICAGO, Jan 10 (Reuters) – A procrastinators’ alert: anyone
who gets a benefit check from the federal government has less
than two months to go paperless.

March 1 is the deadline for nearly everyone who receives
Social Security, Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or veterans’
benefits to switch to the government’s new electronic payment
system. The Go Direct program – launched in 2005 – has already
converted 93 percent of all benefit payments; new recipients
have been all paperless since 2011.

Jan 8, 2013

Not quite ready to retire? How to get an “encore career”

CHICAGO (Reuters) – Tough economic times and intractable unemployment have made career reinvention a necessity instead of a virtue for many older Americans. But sometimes finding a new career after middle age is about more than just bringing in a paycheck.

The so-called “encore career” is continuing to gain ground among millions of baby boomers. The idea is to create a new career out of a passion — and a desire to make a positive social contribution. Salaries are sometimes smaller, but there is a great sense of purpose.

Jan 2, 2013

Cliff deal offers hope of solution on long-term care

CHICAGO, Jan 2 (Reuters) – There’s a lot of complaining
about the fiscal cliff deal, but there is one notable bright
spot: Congress agreed to take a hard look at long-term care.

With the repeal of the Community Living Assistance Services
and Supports Act (CLASS Act), a feature of Obamacare that
attempted to create a mass “public option” for long-term care
insurance, comes a commission tasked with developing a new
workable solution to one of our most serious retirement security
problems facing the nation.

Dec 19, 2012

Why a new inflation gauge will hurt seniors

CHICAGO, Dec 19 (Reuters) – Let’s talk “chained CPI” – a
topic that sounds so wonky only a Washington policy nerd could
love it. And that’s probably what Washington politicians hope it
sounds like to you.

The chained CPI is the new way to measure inflation that
President Obama is proposing to set cost-of-living adjustments
(COLAs) for Social Security and other government benefits. So
far, it is his main concession to Republicans hungry for
entitlement cuts as part of a fiscal cliff deal. And chained CPI
proponents often describe it as a small, relatively painless
change — a technical fix aimed at making COLAs more accurate.

Dec 18, 2012

How retirees can cope with Fed’s “new normal”

CHICAGO (Reuters) – If you are still wondering whether we are in a “new normal” investment climate of ultra-low interest rates, wonder no more: Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke settled any lingering doubts last week when he guaranteed rates will stay near zero at least through the middle of 2015 — or until the jobless rate falls to at least 6.5 percent, or the inflation rate jumps above 2.5 percent.

Bernanke’s unprecedented announcement(see might be good for the economy, but it is bad news for retirees, who already have suffered through four years of historically-low interest rates.

Dec 14, 2012

Career shift to giving working poor financial know-how

CHICAGO (Reuters) – On September 11, 2001, Lorraine Decker had it made. She and her husband Ken had a lucrative Houston financial planning practice specializing in retirement seminars all over the world for corporate employees. That day, they were waiting for a flight to New Orleans at the Newark airport when the first plane hit the twin towers in New York City.

With all air traffic grounded, the Deckers managed to rent a car to drive home to Houston. “We had the time to slow down and reflect on our priorities and the future of the nation, and we were feeling a profound need to help recreate the future,” she recalls.

Dec 12, 2012

IBM’s latest retirement move is bad for workers

By Mark Miller

CHICAGO, Dec 12(Reuters) – IBM ads urge us all to follow its
lead and help “build a smarter planet.” Let’s hope other
companies don’t follow Big Blue’s latest move: an overhaul of
its 401(k) plan that shifts its matching contribution to a
once-a-year affair.

Starting next year, IBM will shift its matching contribution
from semi-monthly to a lump sum paid each December 31. Leave the
company before December 15, and you’ll get no match at all for
the year.

Dec 6, 2012

Saving a little on Medicare may cost everyone else a lot

CHICAGO (Reuters) – Congressional Republicans want to raise Medicare’s eligibility age as part of a deal with Democrats to avoid falling off the fiscal cliff. Raising the eligibility age from 65 to 67 would save some money for Medicare and low-income seniors. But at the same time, it would boost out-of-pocket insurance costs for two-thirds of seniors in that age bracket and those who are younger, plus raise overall healthcare spending for the federal government, states and employers.

Start shifting insurance risk in one age bracket, and the effects ripple.

First, the youngest, relatively healthy seniors would move out of the Medicare risk pool, raising the cost — and premiums — of covering older beneficiaries.

Dec 5, 2012

Federal clampdown looming on reverse mortgages

CHICAGO, Dec 5 (Reuters) – The federal government is
proposing to make big changes to its reverse mortgage program
early next year that should make the loans safer for seniors who
use them to tap home equity.

Shaun Donovan, secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing
and Urban Development (HUD), which regulates these loans, will
detail policy options t h at would create more conservative
lending standards in testimony later this week before the Senate
Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs.

    • About Mark

      "Mark Miller is a journalist and author who writes about trends in retirement and aging. He has a special focus on how the baby boomer generation is revising its approach to careers, money and lifestyle after age 50. Mark is the author of The Hard Times Guide to Retirement Security: Practical Strategies for Money, Work and Living (John Wiley & Sons/Bloomberg Press, 2010) and edits Mark is the former editor of Crain’s Chicago Business, and former Sunday editor of the Chicago Sun-Times. The opinions expressed here are his own."
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