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May 22, 2014

An army of robots may soon be deployed – to care for the aged

CHICAGO (Reuters) – Imagine you’re 85, and living alone. Your children are halfway across the country, and you’re widowed. You have a live-in aide – but it’s not human. Your personal robot reminds you to take your medicine, monitors your diet and exercise, plays games with you, and even helps you connect with family members on the Internet.

Some technology experts see this as the answer to a predicted shortage of caregivers to serve our rapidly aging population. Labs around the world are working on this, and already some robots are being marketed successfully. Robots have been designed to help people with physical rehabilitation, assist in a nursing home, and even provide “telepresence” – in which a robot acts as an avatar, a physical presence for someone you communicate with at long distance.

May 20, 2014

How much are public-sector pensions shrinking? Often, a lot

CHICAGO (Reuters) – You’d have to be living in a cave not to have heard that many states are bailing out struggling pension plans by cutting benefits. But how will that affect workers in those states? Researchers who have been sorting through the cuts say the picture isn’t pretty.

Some 15 million state and local workers – about 12 percent of the nation’s workforce – are active participants in defined-benefit (DB) pension plans, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Since the financial crash of 2008-2009, 45 states have changed their pension plans, a new study by the National Association of State Retirement Administrators (NASRA) and the Center for State & Local Government Excellence (SLGE) reports.

May 15, 2014

Senator Rubio’s surprisingly bipartisan retirement saving idea

CHICAGO, May 15 (Reuters) – When Republican politicians talk
about how important Social Security and Medicare have been for
their parents, it’s time to grab your wallet. These stories
usually precede a proposal to cut benefits under the guise of
“saving” the programs – and Senator Marco Rubio of Florida tore
a page from that playbook this week.

Rubio, a likely 2016 presidential candidate, began a speech
on retirement policy by recalling the importance of Social
Security and Medicare to his immigrant parents. “They never
earned enough to have significant savings or a pension,” he
said. “It was Social Security and Medicare that allowed them to
retire with comfort and security.”

May 13, 2014

Cruise control can drive your 401(k) – just don’t hit the gas

CHICAGO, May 13 (Reuters) – 401(k) plans are all about
automation these days, especially target date funds, which keep
workers’ accounts in balance for an age-appropriate level of
risk. It’s the investing world’s version of cruise control, but
a study released today finds that many investors are turning on
cruise control while putting their feet on the gas pedal – a
move that’s hurting their returns.

The study looks at several forms of investing help that
401(k) plan sponsors provide to employees, and the news is
encouraging. Workers who use target date funds (TDFs),
professional account management or online advice get 3.32
percent better returns – even after the cost of those services -
than those who go it alone. That may not sound like a lot, but
it adds up: The researchers calculate that it could translate to
a 79 percent account balance gain for someone age 45 today at
age 65.

May 8, 2014

Why moms – and all women – need a winning retirement plan

CHICAGO (Reuters) – On the hunt for a Mother’s Day gift this weekend? Here’s one that won’t cost a dime but could provide a big boost to Mom’s pocketbook down the road: Sit down and have a talk about retirement planning.

Women who aren’t mothers need to have the talk, too. That’s because women face a much tougher retirement outlook than men, and the reasons are clear.

May 7, 2014

New Medicare coverage of long-term care off to a rocky start

CHICAGO (Reuters) – A physical therapist visits Robert Klaiber, 78, weekly to provide a special type of treatment that helps alleviate his symptoms from Parkinson’s disease. Klaiber’s wife, Diane, was under the impression Medicare wouldn’t cover the physical therapy, which costs $500 or more a month. But earlier this month a neighbor noticed an announcement in a retirement newsletter.

“He showed me this item talking about an important change in the Medicare rules,” she says. “I didn’t know anything about it.”

Apr 29, 2014

New Medicare coverage of long-term care off to a rocky start

CHICAGO (Reuters) – A physical therapist visits Robert Klaiber, 78, weekly to provide a special type of massage that helps alleviate his symptoms from Parkinson’s disease. Klaiber’s wife, Diane, was under the impression Medicare wouldn’t cover the therapy, which costs $500 or more a month. But earlier this month a neighbor noticed an announcement in a retirement newsletter.

“He showed me this item talking about an important change in the Medicare rules,” she says. “I didn’t know anything about it.”

Apr 24, 2014

Why the IRS wants you to watch your IRA rollovers

CHICAGO (Reuters) – Memo from the Internal Revenue Service to retirement investors: Be careful with those individual retirement account rollovers.

That’s the gist of a recent IRS ruling that puts new restrictions on the number of “indirect rollovers” from one IRA to another you can do annually. The ruling comes on the heels of a federal court decision in January in which a complex strategy involving multiple rollovers executed by a New York City tax attorney, Alvan Bobrow, and his wife, Elisa, was disallowed. They were hit with a $51,298 income tax bill and a penalty of

Apr 19, 2014

Social Security to resume benefits statement mailings

CHICAGO (Reuters) – Paper Social Security benefits statements, which used to be mailed out every year and then fell victim to budget cuts, are going to make a partial comeback.

Starting this September, the Social Security Administration (SSA) will resume mailings at five-year intervals to workers who have not signed up to view their statements online, an agency spokesman told Reuters. The statements will be sent to workers at ages 25, 30, 35, 40, 45, 50, 55 and 60, he said, adding the agency would continue to promote use of the online statements.

Apr 17, 2014

Long-term care: Why your location really matters

CHICAGO (Reuters) – Location, location location: Not only is it key to the value of real estate, it’s also a big driver of the cost of long-term care.

A study of long-term care costs in the United States released this week shows that the cost of long-term services and support varies dramatically by location. For example, the national median cost of a private nursing home this year is $87,600 – but it’s $155,125 in Connecticut, $87,180 in Ohio and $57,487 in Oklahoma.

    • 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 RetirementRevised.com. 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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