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Apr 9, 2015

Why are states leaving billions in retiree income on the table?

CHICAGO (Reuters) – Illinois is the national poster child for state budget messes. My home state faces a $7.4 billion general fund deficit and a $12 billion revenue shortfall. One proposed idea for plugging at least part of the horrific shortfall: tax retirement income. But our new governor, Republican Bruce Rauner, has rejected the idea.

Illinois exempts all retirement income from state taxes – Social Security, private and public pensions, and annuities. We’re leaving $2 billion on the table annually, according to the state’s estimates. And we’re hardly alone: 36 states that have an income tax allow some exemption for private or public pension benefits, and 32 exempt all Social Security benefits from tax, according to the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy (ITEP). States currently considering wider income tax exemptions for seniors include Rhode Island and Maryland.

Apr 2, 2015

The battle of the robo-advisers heats up

CHICAGO, April 2 (Reuters) – Here’s something you don’t see
every day: two investment companies in a very public fight about
values, greed and putting the interests of customers first.

This is what has happened since Charles Schwab
launched Schwab Intelligent Portfolios last month, becoming the
first major investment company to leap into the so-called
“robo-advisory” market.

Mar 26, 2015

Stop-gap Medicare ‘doc-fix’ will cost seniors

CHICAGO, March 26 (Reuters) – Congress is headed toward a
bipartisan solution to fix a Medicare formula that threatens to
slash payments to doctors every year. The so-called “doc fix”
would replace the cuts with a multipronged approach that will be
expensive and will have Medicare beneficiaries pay part of the

Congress has repeatedly overridden the payment cuts, which
are mandated under a formula called the Sustainable Growth Rate
(SGR), which became law in 1997, that is a way of keeping growth
in physician payments in line with the economy’s overall growth.
This year, unless Congress acts, rates will automatically be
slashed 21 percent.

Mar 19, 2015

Brochures for lump-sum pension offers don’t tell all you need to know

CHICAGO (Reuters) – If you are due a pension from a former employer, there is a good chance you were or soon will be offered a lump-sum payment in exchange for giving up that guaranteed monthly check for life.

   Should you take it? Probably not, but making a smart decision depends on a complex set of assumptions about future interest rates, possible rates of market returns and your longevity. It is a tough analysis unless you have an actuarial background.

Mar 12, 2015

Avoid career burnout by learning to love your job again

CHICAGO, March 12 (Reuters) – If you are counting the days
to retirement because you hate your job, career expert Kerry
Hannon has a message for you: “Stick with it.”

Burnout is one of the biggest problems in the workplace,
especially for older workers. An annual survey on retirement by
the Employee Benefit Research Institute consistently finds that
about half of workers retire earlier than they expected – and
that job burnout is a key factor.

Mar 5, 2015

Watch that free money for IRA rollovers

CHICAGO (Reuters) – Back in the day, you could walk into a bank to open a new account and walk out with a free toaster.

Today, you can get anywhere from $50 to $2,500 for rolling over a 401(k) into an Individual Retirement Account, or just by moving an IRA from another financial institution.

Feb 24, 2015

Fiduciary standard for advice is long overdue in U.S.

CHICAGO (Reuters) – When you are planning for retirement and ask for advice, whose interest should come first – yours or the financial expert you ask for help?

That is the question at the heart of a Washington debate over the unsexy-sounding term “fiduciary standard.” Simply put, it is a legal responsibility requiring an adviser to put the best interest of a client ahead of all else.

Feb 19, 2015

Boomer entrepreneur trend could be slowing with age

CHICAGO, Feb 19 (Reuters) – Nancy Kessler spent much of her
career as a museum curator, but she also has had a lifelong love
of working with older people. During one stint working with
Alzheimer’s patients, she noticed a gap in one type of
caregiving: “There is a lot of wellness and physical therapy but
not much intellectual stimulation.”

Last year, she decided to do something about that. Following
a layoff at age 58, she launched Memoirs Plus, which specializes
in writing memoirs for seniors. The idea of her business is to
provide her clients with intellectual stimulation and a creative
activity that helps them tell their life stories.

Feb 12, 2015

How Social Security can help you play catch-up on retirement

CHICAGO, Feb 12 (Reuters) – More Americans over 55 are
finally getting back to work after the long recession. The
strong national employment report for January released last week
confirmed that. The unemployment rate for those over 55 was just
4.1 percent in January, down from 4.5 percent a year ago and
well below the national jobless rate. The 55-plus labor force
participation rate inched up to 40 percent from 39.9 percent.

That is good news for patching up household balance sheets
damaged by years of lost employment and savings, and also for
boosting future Social Security benefits.

Jan 29, 2015

College is not just for the young

CHICAGO, Jan 29 (Reuters) – Stanford University welcomed 25
unusual students onto its campus this month – all in their 50s
and 60s.

They are the inaugural fellows of a new program, the
Distinguished Careers Institute (DCI), designed for people who
want to follow more than one career path in their lifetimes and
who want to go back to a college setting for more training. It
is the forefront of a new movement for universities to look
beyond typical 19-year-old undergraduates.

    • 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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