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Jan 21, 2015

Only small victories for retirement in Obama’s speech

Chicago, Jan 21 (Reuters) – Remember Mitt Romney’s huge IRA?
During the 2012 campaign, we learned that the governor managed
to amass $20 million to $100 million in an Individual Retirement
Account, much more than anyone could accumulate under the
contribution limit rules without some unusual investments and

Romney’s IRA found its way, indirectly, into a broader set
of retirement policy reforms unveiled in President Obama’s State
of the Union proposals on Monday.

Jan 15, 2015

Will Illinois’ plan to get workers to save for retirement work?

CHICAGO, Jan 15 (Reuters) – My home state of Illinois is not
the first place that comes to mind for innovative approaches to
retirement savings. We are much more infamous for our pension
plan for state workers, which is the worst-funded in the

But Illinois just became the first U.S. state to adopt a
promising new approach to a big problem in the nation’s
retirement saving system: the lack of workplace saving options
for low-income workers.

Jan 8, 2015

Defending Social Security: Next on Obama’s to-do list?

CHICAGO (Reuters) – Since the midterm elections, President Obama has taken decisive action on immigration reform, climate change and relations with Cuba. Now, the new Republican-controlled Congress has handed him another opportunity to act boldly – by leaving a legacy as a strong defender of Social Security.

House Republicans signaled this week that they are gearing up for a major clash over the country’s most important retirement program. In a surprise move, they adopted a rule on the first day of the new session that effectively forbids the House from approving any financial fix to the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) program unless it is coupled with broader reforms. That would almost surely mean damaging benefit cuts for retirees struggling in the post-recession economy.

Dec 23, 2014

Thinking of a retirement account rollover? Think twice

CHICAGO (Reuters) – John Turner wondered if he should roll over his federal government retirement account into an individual retirement account. So he called 15 IRA providers to get some guidance.

That may sound like overkill, but Turner wasn’t really contemplating a rollover. He was calling IRA providers to test the truthfulness and value of their advice on rollovers from workplace retirement accounts to IRAs.

Dec 18, 2014

After the new federal pension rules: What retirees need to know

CHICAGO (Reuters) – The last-minute deal to allow retiree pension benefit cuts as part of the federal spending bill for 2015 passed by Congress last week has set off shock waves in the U.S. retirement system.

Buried in the $1.1 trillion “Cromnibus” legislation signed this week by President Barack Obama was a provision that aims to head off a looming implosion of multiemployer pension plans – traditional defined benefit plans jointly funded by groups of employers. The pension reforms affect only retirees in struggling multiemployer pension plans, but any retiree living on a defined benefit pension could rightly wonder: Am I next?

Dec 11, 2014

Congress’ no-bailout pension plan is no solution for retirees

11 (Reuters) – Wall Street banks, automakers
and insurance giants got bailouts during the economic meltdown
that started in 2008. But when it comes to the pensions of
retired truck drivers, construction workers and mine workers, it
seems that enough is enough.

The $1.1 trillion omnibus spending bill moving through
Congress this week adopts “Solutions Not Bailouts,” a plan to
shore up struggling multiemployer pension funds – traditional
defined benefit plans jointly funded by groups of employers in
industries like construction, trucking, mining and food

Dec 4, 2014

Flunking retirement readiness, and what to do about it

CHICAGO (Reuters) – Imagine boarding a jet and heading for your seat, only to be told you’re needed in the cockpit to fly the plane.

Investing expert William Bernstein argued in a recent interview that what has happened in our workplace retirement system over the past 30 years is analogous. We’ve shifted from defined benefit pension plans managed by professional financial pilots to 401(k) plans controlled by passengers.

Nov 25, 2014

Year-end tips for retirement savers young and not-so-young

CHICAGO (Reuters) – It’s year-end, and retirement savers of all ages need to check their to-do lists. Here are some suggestions for current retirees, near-retirees and younger savers just getting started.


Unfortunately, the “deferred” part of tax-deferred retirement accounts doesn’t last forever. Required minimum distributions (RMDs) must be taken from individual retirement accounts (IRAs) starting in the year you turn 70 1/2 and from 401(k)s at the same age, unless you’re still working for the employer that sponsors the plan.

Nov 20, 2014

Medicare, ACA care and how to navigate during enrollment

CHICAGO (Reuters) – This is enrollment season for two huge public health insurance programs: Medicare and the Affordable Care Act health insurance exchanges. For older Americans, the overlapping sign-up periods can lead to confusion and enrollment errors.

Insurers offering Medicare and ACA policies have big money at stake, and consumers are subject to a blizzard of marketing messages. Annual enrollment for Medicare prescription drug (Part D) and Advantage (Part C) plans began Oct. 15 and runs until Dec. 7; shopping for healthcare policies in the marketplace exchanges created under the ACA began Nov. 15 and ends Feb. 15.

Nov 13, 2014

Five takeaways on retirement from the midterm elections

CHICAGO (Reuters) – Retirement policy wasn’t on the ballot in last week’s midterm elections. But the new political landscape could threaten the retirement security of middle-class households.

With Republicans in full control of Congress, expect efforts to cut Social Security and Medicare benefits. And more Republican-controlled statehouses mean more efforts to curtail state and local workers’ pension plans. One positive note: Congress and the White House could find common ground on some promising ideas to encourage retirement saving.

    • 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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