CHICAGO (Reuters) – The Great Recession served up some nasty financial surprises to people approaching retirement – the housing crash, job loss and shrunken 401(k)s, for starters.
But retirement can bring lifestyle surprises, too. It’s one of life’s biggest transitions, and a major leap into the unknown. Hoping to lessen the guesswork for people who aren’t there yet, I asked experts who work with people transitioning to retirement about the surprises they hear about most often.
PHOENIX (Reuters) – “You must do the thing you cannot do,” Eleanor Roosevelt once wrote. It’s the only way to overcome the fears we all face in doing something new, she thought, and take a leap into the unknown.
Kate Williams quoted Roosevelt earlier this week here when she accepted a $25,000 Purpose Prize, one of the awards given annually by Encore.org, a San Francisco-based nonprofit that works to engage baby boomers in “encore careers” with a social impact. The awards, now in their ninth year, recognize trailblazers over age 60 who have tackled social problems creatively and effectively. Cash prizes range from $25,000 to $100,000.
CHICAGO, Oct 23 (Reuters) – Social Security’s annual
inflation adjustment is one of the program’s most valuable
features. But it’s time to adjust the adjustment.
Retirees will get a 1.7 percent bump in their Social
Security benefit next year, according to the Social Security
Administration, which announced the annual cost-of-living
adjustment (COLA) on Wednesday. Recipients of disability
benefits and Supplemental Security Income also will receive the
CHICAGO (Reuters) – Seniors have flocked to Medicare Advantage in recent years, attracted by savings on premiums and the convenience of one-stop shopping. But as the annual Medicare enrollment season began this week, a memorandum from federal officials to plan providers surfaced that serves as a big red warning flag.
The upshot: Assess the quality of any Advantage plan before you sign up.
The memorandum, first reported by the New York Times, described ongoing compliance problems uncovered in federal audits of Advantage and prescription drug plans. These include inadequate rationales for denial of coverage, failure to consider clinical information from doctors and failure to notify patients of their rights to appeal decisions. The audits also uncovered problems with inappropriate rejection of prescription drug claims.
CHICAGO (Reuters) – In North Carolina, a television ad attacks incumbent Democratic Senator Kay Hagan for supporting a “controversial plan” that “raises the retirement age” for Social Security. The ad comes from Crossroads GPS, the super PAC run by Republican Karl Rove.
A Republican attack on a Democrat for cutting Social Security benefits? It’s just one instance where voters are hearing confusing claims about Social Security reform. Social Security has surfaced as a major issue in Senate rates in Alaska, Colorado, Iowa and Arkansas.
CHICAGO (Reuters) – Your Medicare prescription drug plan sent you a letter recently. Chances are, you didn’t read it – and that could be costing you money.
Health insurance companies must send an annual notice of changes for the coming year to Part D prescription drug and Part C Medicare Advantage plans. The notice, which must be delivered to you by Sept. 30 each year, details changes in premiums and co-pays, and lets you know whether your medication will be covered in the year ahead.
CHICAGO (Reuters) – It’s a rude awakening for a growing number of seniors: They file for Social Security, then discover that the federal government plans to take part of their benefit to pay off delinquent student loans, tax bills, child support or alimony.
This month the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) released findings on the problem of rising student debt burdens among retirees – and how the government goes after delinquent borrowers by going after wages, tax refunds and Social Security checks.
CHICAGO (Reuters) – For Americans looking to retire abroad, deciding where to live can be a challenge. But Lynne and Tim Martin took that question off the table by deciding to retire everywhere and anywhere.
In 2011 the couple opted for what might be called extreme retirement abroad: They sold their Paso Robles, California, home, jettisoned all but a few treasured possessions and became nomads.
CHICAGO (Reuters) – Monday marks the sixth anniversary of the bankruptcy filing of Lehman Brothers, a key event in the Wall Street meltdown that led to the Great Recession. The recession wreaked havoc on the retirement plans of millions of Americans, and two studies released last week suggest that most of us haven’t recovered well.
To be more precise: Middle- and lower-income Americans haven’t recovered at all, while the wealthiest households have done fine.
CHICAGO (Reuters) – (The writer is a Reuters columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.)
Every American who has retired with economic security – or hopes to – should know these two dates in our history: August 14, 1935, and September 2, 1974.