THE FEDERAL government’s Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services just announced the new income-based Part B and Part D premiums for 2022. Many people aren’t happy.
Next year’s basic Part B premium jumps to $170.10 a month, in part because Congress artificially limited this year’s premium increase to only 25% of the true amount. It’s time to play catchup—and deal with rising health care costs.
But a small group of seniors will pay more than $170.10 a month—sometimes much more.
IN A RECENT TWITTER post, a man claimed that if all the Social Security taxes he and his employers pay were invested instead, he’d accumulate $1.9 million by age 67. That sum could then generate $95,000 in annual income, he added, which is more than his anticipated Social Security benefit. He concluded that Social Security was “theft.”
Claims like these bother me greatly because they’re often widely read and believed—and they’re nonsense.
Social Security is an insurance program,
I’VE AWARDED MYSELF a professional designation: CER, or Certified Experienced Retiree. In the dozen years since I left the workforce, I’ve learned a great deal about retirement. I’ve grappled with the financial aspects, how your relationships with family and friends evolve, and how your outlook changes over time.
One key lesson learned: A steady income stream provides peace of mind. In my case, it’s from a pension and Social Security. For younger retirees, it could mean drawing savings from a 401(k) or IRA,
I REMEMBER GOING to my grandparents on holidays. At each place at the dinner table was a cloth napkin in a sterling silver napkin ring. It was the thing to do at the time. Each napkin ring was unique and quite old. I still have mine.
When my wife and I were married in 1968, two things she wanted were sterling silver flatware and Lenox china. We got the silver as a wedding present and eventually built up enough Lenox china to serve 12.
“I SORELY MISS the peace of mind that comes with universal health coverage.”
Those are the words of a 32-year-old woman from Canada, who is currently a PhD student residing in the U.S. When I read them recently in the comment section of a blog, they changed my thinking about health care.
I’ve been involved in health benefits, health insurance and health plans of various types since 1962. I’ve designed employer plans. I was on the boards of four health maintenance organizations.
NOBODY, INCLUDING ME, wants to spend their hard-earned money on health care. That, of course, is illogical if you’re being treated for an illness or relieved of discomfort. Nevertheless, we don’t want to use our own money. That’s why we have health insurance—to cover everything. Or at least that’s our expectation.
When I ran employee benefits, I had many debates with workers about their health care bills. When a doctor charged significantly above the reasonable and customary fee,
ONE OF THE TOUGHEST financial challenges most people face—second only to accumulating enough for retirement—is deciding how to convert those funds into retirement income. Especially when the goal is to never run out of money.
I pride myself on being informed. This morning, I received my comeuppance. I was reviewing my 401(k) account, which is administered by Fidelity Investments. I had taken my required minimum distribution for 2021, but was exploring other ways I could withdraw money.
I BEGAN WRITING this article after reading a Facebook group’s page filled with derogatory comments about seniors and technology. The comments related to seniors’ inability to use a smartphone. Talk about stereotyping. The fact is, some of us seniors are addicted to technology—at least the nontechnical part.
For example, I recently went shopping and forgot something vital. No, I had my face mask. What I was missing was my smartphone. Smart is an appropriate word because,
LIVING PAYCHECK to paycheck is defined as spending “all of the money from one paycheck before receiving the next paycheck.” But living that way doesn’t have much to do with income level, even though the idea is often presented that way.
One study says 53% of those earning between $50,000 and $100,000 live paycheck to paycheck, including 70% of millennials. The popular claim is that 50% of Americans are just scraping by. To that,
IN DECEMBER 2020, my wife got an infection at the site of an old root canal. The dentist initially thought it could be treated with medication. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case, so an extraction and implant were planned.
The process took several visits and several bills, with the charges accumulating along the way. Some of this pain could have been relieved by a modest dental plan that I had from my former employer. That was not to be,
I’M ON MY THIRD cup of coffee this morning and it dawned on me how much I’m spending on the stuff. I have one of those machines that use the little K-Cup pods, which may be the most expensive way to make coffee. I find it curious that someone who likes to think of himself as frugal makes coffee at home that can cost 70 cents or more per cup.
If I bought a pound bag of house brand—not designer—coffee,
“THE REALITY IS THAT most working Americans will continue to struggle to achieve retirement security because the ownership of financial assets is highly concentrated among the wealthiest,” wrote Dan Doonan, executive director of the National Institute on Retirement Security, for Forbes.com.
I read and re-read that statement, especially the word “because.” It seems Doonan has concluded that the great wealth held by the top 1% somehow inhibits the rest of us from saving and investing.
I PARTICIPATE IN Facebook groups for retirees from my old employer. Having worked in employee benefits for decades, I know or at least recognize the names of many of the people.
Frequently, someone posts an obituary. It used to be that they were much older than me. No longer. Now they’re near my age—or younger. It’s all a bit unsettling. Often, a picture is posted of the deceased. I think to myself, “What happened to Joe?” Then I avoid looking in a mirror for a few days.
IT’S A QUESTION that gets asked all the time: What’s the best age to start Social Security benefits?
The discussion quickly deteriorates into calculating the breakeven point. Are you better off with a lower benefit for a longer period or a larger benefit for a shorter time—that is, assuming you live to your actuarial life expectancy? What if you die before you reach breakeven? Yeah, what if? You won’t be around to complete the final calculation.
IS THERE AN EASY way to solve our financial problems? I doubt it, but that doesn’t stop people from trying. Initial public offerings, cryptocurrencies and hot stock tips come to mind. But they seem insignificant in popularity compared to lotteries.
My state currently offers 11 different draw lotteries and 63 scratch-off games. Several cost between $10 and $30 each to play. I consider lotteries an insidious tax, mostly on Americans who can’t afford it.