CHICAGO (Reuters) – This should be good news: At a time when worry about the retirement security of American workers is rising, traditional pension plans finished 2013 in their best shape last year since the financial crisis of 2008. Yet that may only be setting the table for more corporations to stop offering them.
The funding deficit of the 100 largest pension plans sponsored by publicly traded U.S. corporations plunged 57 percent in 2013, to $125.9 billion in the year-ago period, according to Towers Watson, the benefits consulting firm. (Funding is a measure of the assets that plans have on hand to pay projected obligations to beneficiaries.)
CHICAGO (Reuters) – Millennials don’t seem to buy the traditional wisdom when it comes to investing. They’re the most risk-averse investors since the Great Depression, with the average portfolio 52 percent in cash, according to a recent report by UBS Wealth Management Americas.
That runs counter to what most investment experts will tell you – that young people need the greatest exposure to riskier stocks to meet long-range goals, and that equity allocations should decline as retirement approaches. That philosophy underpins the fastest-growing retirement savings product in the market today, the target date fund (TDF).
CHICAGO (Reuters) – Are high-income Americans gaming Social Security? The Obama administration wants to go after the wealthy for “aggressive” moves to “manipulate” their Social Security claiming decisions, according to the fiscal 2015 budget released by the White House earlier this month.
The administration hasn’t offered much elaboration, but a White House official, speaking on background, confirmed to me that the target is a benefit claiming strategy known as file-and-suspend – a twist on the more straightforward strategy of delayed filing to earn a higher monthly benefit down the road. Although it’s technically available to anyone, the White House thinks the strategy is being used to unfair advantage by high-income seniors and wants to shut it down because of the added benefit cost it imposes on the Social Security program.
CHICAGO (Reuters) – If you want to understand the fight over Social Security’s future, look no further than your annual benefit statement – if you can find one.
The Social Security Administration stopped mailing annual statements in 2011 in a budget-cutting move that saves $70 million annually. The SSA rolled out an online statement the following year, but only 10 million American wage earners have signed up. That’s a paltry 6 percent of all workers.
CHICAGO (Reuters) – Americans who owned stocks in 2013 are feeling better about their retirement prospects than they did just a few years ago. For everyone else, not so much.
The longest-running survey of American retirement sentiment shows confidence rose in 2013, the first increase since sentiment plunged following the Great Recession of 2008-2009.
CHICAGO (Reuters) – A dwindling number of retirees get supplemental health insurance coverage from their former employers. But for those who do, big changes are afoot.
A growing number of companies are dropping single-employer group insurance plans in favor of privately run insurance exchanges, where a third party sets up a marketplace offering Medicare coverage offered by dozens of carriers, with costs subsidized by their former employers.
CHICAGO (Reuters) – When an infant is born, the hospital paperwork for parents includes birth certificate and Social Security number applications. Soon, though, there could be another document to fill out: a Roth IRA account setup form.
That’s the thrust of the Roth Account for Youths Savings Act, or RAYS Act, introduced last week in the U.S. House of Representatives by Ruben Hinojosa (D-Texas).
CHICAGO (Reuters) – What’s in seniors’ wallets? Most likely, a Medicare card that leaves them vulnerable to scams and fraud.
It’s a peculiar anachronism in this era of digital insecurity: Social Security numbers are printed on every Medicare card, and the back of the card instructs seniors to carry it with them at all times. (Medicare’s identification number is called the Health Insurance Claim Number, but your HICN is your Social Security number.)
CHICAGO (Reuters) – Seniors can breathe a little easier now that Social Security benefit cuts are no longer part of this year’s federal budget debate. But the other shoe hasn’t dropped in Washington. That would be Medicare cost shifting.
Last week, President Barack Obama’s administration ditched one of its worst retirement policy ideas, the “chained CPI” for Social Security cost-of-living adjustments (COLAs). But we still don’t know if the president or lawmakers will renew efforts to shift a higher share of Medicare costs to seniors as part of budget talks this year.
CHICAGO (Reuters) – If you’ve ever thought about getting some professional help with your retirement plan, this would be a great time to get going. Financial advisers may be in short supply in the years ahead.
A brain drain is about to hit the world of financial planning, according to Cerulli Associates, a financial services consulting firm. Cerulli reports that 32 percent of all advisers will retire in the next 10 years. At the same time, the industry isn’t hiring nearly enough new blood to replace them, let alone expand the ranks to handle the anticipated surge in demand.