Mark's Feed
Jul 31, 2014

Why Congress needs to reform multi-employer pension plans now

CHICAGO (Reuters) – The window is closing on our last best chance to protect the pensions of 10 million American workers and retirees.

These workers are in multi-employer plans – traditional defined benefit pension plans jointly funded by groups of employers in industries like construction, trucking, mining and food retailing. Although many of the country’s 1,400 multi-employer plans are healthy, 1.5 million workers are in plans that are failing. And that threatens the broader system.

Jul 29, 2014

The truth about Social Security and Medicare, straight from the trustees

CHICAGO (Reuters) – If you worry about the future of Social Security and Medicare, this is the week to get answers to your questions. The most authoritative annual reports on the long-term health of both programs were issued on Monday, and while the news was mixed, there are reasons to be encouraged about our two most important retirement programs.

Under the Social Security Act, a board of trustees reports annually to Congress on the status and long-term financial prospects of Social Security and Medicare. The reports are prepared by the professional actuaries who have made careers out of managing the numbers and are signed by three cabinet secretaries, the commissioner of Social Security and two publicly appointed trustees – one Republican, one Democrat.

Jul 24, 2014

IRA contributions: the perils of procrastination

CHICAGO, July 24 (Reuters) – Individual Retirement Account
contributions are getting larger – an encouraging sign of a
recovering economy and improved habits among retirement savers.

But there is an “I” in IRA for a reason: investors are in
charge of managing their accounts. And recent research by
Vanguard finds that many of us are leaving returns on the table
due to an all-too-human fault: procrastination in the timing of
our contributions.

Jul 22, 2014

Why your 401(k) isn’t likely to offer a ‘longevity annuity’

CHICAGO, July 22 (Reuters) – Longevity risk – that is, the
risk of outliving your retirement savings – is among retirees’
biggest worries these days. The Obama administration is trying
to nudge employers to add a special type of annuity to their
investment menus that addresses that risk. But here’s the
response they’re likely to get: “Meh.”

The U.S. Treasury released rules earlier this month aimed at
encouraging 401(k) plans to offer “longevity annuities” – a form
of income annuity in which payouts start only after you reach an
advanced age, typically 85.

Jul 17, 2014

Tweeters have retirement questions. We’ve got answers

CHICAGO, July 17 (Reuters) – The Twitterverse has questions
about retirement. What’s the best way for young people to get
started saving? Are target date funds good or bad? Should we
expand Social Security to help low-wage workers?

Those are just a few of the great questions I fielded during
a retirement Tweet-up convened this week by my colleagues at
Reuters. Since my column allows for responses beyond Twitter’s
140-character limit, today I’m expanding on answers to five
questions I found especially interesting. You can view the
entire chat – which included advice from personal finance gurus
from Reuters and Charles Schwab – on Twitter at #ReutersRetire.

Jul 15, 2014

Retirees: Have you checked bank CD rates lately?

CHICAGO (Reuters) – Getting low-risk yield has been one of the toughest challenges for retirees ever since the financial meltdown of 2008-2009. Interest rates are near zero, and many retirees are nervous about bonds out of fear that rates might jump.

All of which leaves a simple question: How about a good old-fashioned certificate of deposit?

Jul 8, 2014

Why most seniors can’t afford to pay more for Medicare

CHICAGO (Reuters) – Should seniors pay more for Medicare? Republicans think so; they have repeatedly called for replacing the current program with vouchers that would shift cost and risk to seniors.

There’s no doubt this is where Republicans will take us if they capture control of Congress this year, and the White House in 2016. Representative Paul Ryan, the Wisconsin Republican who chairs the House Budget Committee, advocates “premium support” reforms that would give seniors vouchers to buy private Medicare insurance policies in lieu of traditional fee-for-service Medicare.

Jul 1, 2014

Hello, Congress: Americans want a strong Social Security system

CHICAGO (Reuters) – Political polarization is at a historic peak. Americans are divided on gun control, abortion, healthcare and privacy, according to a study released last month by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press documenting our increasing ideological rigidity and partisan antipathy (

Then there’s Social Security. The public is worried deeply about the finances of our bedrock retirement and disability program. Pew found just 14 percent of Americans expect to receive their full benefits. And an earlier Pew study found concern is much higher among young people: Roughly half of Gen Xers and Millennials think Social Security won’t have enough money to pay any benefits at all when they retire.

Jun 26, 2014

Retirement and same-sex couples, a year after DOMA ruling

CHICAGO (Reuters) – (The opinions expressed here are those of the author, a columnist for Reuters.)

Something big happened in the world of retirement benefits a year ago today: The U.S. Supreme Court struck down the Defense of Marriage Act.

Jun 24, 2014

The state of senior health: It depends on your state

CHICAGO (Reuters) – What are the best and worst places to stay healthy as you age? For answers, take out a map and follow the Mississippi River from north to south. The healthiest people over 65 are in Minnesota, the sickest in Mississippi.

That’s among the findings of the America’s Health Rankings Senior Report released in May by the United Health Foundation. The report ranks the 50 states by assessing data covering individual behavior, the environment and communities where seniors live, local health policy and clinical care.

    • 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."
    • More from Mark

    • Follow Mark