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Jun 19, 2014

Senate turns up heat on cuts in Social Security offices, services

CHICAGO (Reuters) – Until earlier this year, there was a Social Security field office in Gadsden County, Florida, in the state’s panhandle. It’s the kind of place where seniors need to get in-person help with their benefits rather than pick up a phone or go online.

“Our poverty rate is nearly double the state average, and we trail the state averages in education,” said Brenda Holt, a county commissioner. “Most of the people here don’t have computers, let alone reliable Internet access.”

Jun 18, 2014

When to take Social Security? Your 401(k) plan may know best

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

Deciding when to file for Social Security is no simple task, and most Americans don’t handle it well. But increasingly, help is available from an unexpected source: your employer.

Jun 12, 2014

Retirement healthcare costs: Not as scary, but still daunting

CHICAGO (Reuters) – The remarkable recent lull in retirement healthcare inflation isn’t fading – not yet, at least.

A 65-year-old couple retiring this year will need to have saved $220,000 to meet healthcare expenses during their retirement, according to a report issued today by Fidelity Investments. It’s a daunting sum, but it’s unchanged from last year and comes on the heels of an 8 percent drop in Fidelity’s 2012 forecast.

Jun 10, 2014

Surprise: Even wealthy retirees live on Social Security and pensions

CHICAGO, June 10 (Reuters) – Where do affluent retirees get
their income? Portfolios invested in stocks and bonds, you might
think – but you’d be wrong. Turns out many are living mainly on
Social Security and good old pensions.

That’s the surprising finding of new research from a
surprising source: Vanguard, a leading provider of retirement
saving products like individual retirement accounts and 401(k)s.
Vanguard studied the income sources and wealth holdings of more
than 2,600 older households (age 60-79) with at least $100,000
in retirement savings. The respondents’ median income was
$69,500, with median financial assets of $395,000. (The value of
housing was excluded.)

Jun 5, 2014

Silicon Valley’s ageist culture is bad for workers – and business

CHICAGO (Reuters) – Google confessed last week that it has a miserable record hiring and retaining women and minorities.

The tech giant responded to public pressure – including protests led by the Rev. Jesse Jackson at the company’s annual meeting – by releasing data about the gender and ethnic makeup of its workforce, and the numbers aren’t pretty. Women make up just 30 percent of Google’s workforce, and the company is 61 percent white. Asians represent 30 percent of Google’s workers, but Hispanics represent 3 percent and African Americans just 2 percent.

Jun 3, 2014

How to know when a ‘gray gambler’ is a problem gambler

CHICAGO (Reuters) – Once upon a time, bingo was the biggest game in town at the local senior center. But you’re far more likely to find today’s seniors manning a slot machine at the local casino – and some have become gambling addicts.

Problem gambling among older people is on the rise. Seniors have time and money on their hands, and the proliferation of casinos in most regions of the country has made gambling more convenient.

May 29, 2014

How an aging population could be tonic for the economy

CHICAGO, May 29 (Reuters) – Economists worry about something
called the economic dependency ratio – the number of people over
age 65 to 100 working-age people. The U.S. Census Bureau
projects that the ratio will jump sharply in the years ahead as
the population gets grayer – from 22 in 2010 to 35 in 2030.

The total dependency ratio, which also includes children,
won’t rise nearly that quickly, but politicians and policymakers
often marshal the elderly dependence figures to conjure all
manner of economic doomsday forecasts – soaring budget deficits,
the collapse of Social Security and Medicare. You’d think we’re
headed for block-to-block intergenerational warfare raging in
our streets.

May 27, 2014

Warning: Not all ‘target date’ funds have the same target

CHICAGO, May 27 (Reuters) – If you contribute to a target
date fund in your 401(k) plan, you probably have a sense of how
it works. The fund’s balance between stocks and bonds
automatically shifts as you age, with less weight on equities as
you get close to retirement.

But it’s important to read the fine print on these funds,
because their allocations aren’t all alike on the “target date”
- the day you retire. Some firms that manage target date funds
(TDFs) adhere to a “to” glidepath – meaning the funds reach
their most conservative allocation on the target date. But the
industry’s biggest players use a “through” glidepath, meaning
that the most conservative position is reached well after

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.

    • 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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