Meet Your New Medicare Card

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The Centers for Medicare Services (CMS) has revealed the design for the new Medicare cards that all Medicare beneficiaries should receive by the end of 2018 with their new Medicare number. The standard system of using a beneficiaries social security number, followed by a letter (generally A) was becoming a liability for seniors to become susceptible to identity theft. The CMS has previously stated that they would be mailing these cards out in April of 2018, but please let us know if you start to see them earlier!

When Is The Solar Eclipse Where I Am?

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Solar Eclipse 2017 is almost upon us! For the first time since 1970s, a total solar eclipse will be visible across the contiguous United States on Monday, August 21st.

While all of Florida will not be in the range of the total eclipse, the majority of the sun will be blocked by the moon as they cross paths. In New Port Richey, over 81% of the sun will be covered at the eclipse's peak around 2:40pm EST. 

Follow this handy link to find out when the solar eclipse will be showing in full force where you are. Take advantage of nature's display on Monday, as the next time a total eclipse will reach the United States isn't until April 8, 2024!

Make sure to keep those eclipse glasses on! While it may seem that the sun's rays are dampened as the moon crosses over the sun, you can damage your retinas staring directly at it, even with sunglasses. While it is relatively safe to look up at the exact moment when the moon covers the sun in its totality, this will not happen in Florida, so make sure to cover your eyes.

Eclipse glasses have been selling out all over the country, but you may be able to pick them up still at local retailers like Walmart and 7/11. In our area, the eclipse will start around 1:20pm EST and finish by 4pm.

Deal Alert! - Lifetime Senior National Parks Pass for $10

Deal Alert!

The U.S. Geological Survey is offering a $10 Lifetime National Parks Pass for Senior Citizens. Anyone over the age of 62 can take advantage of this deal, which expires August 27th.

This pass gives anyone with the pass lifetime access to all 417 national parks and over 2,000 other recreational areas. This includes sites under the jurisdiction of the National Park Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife, U.S. Forest Service, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Bureau of Land Management, and Bureau of Reclamation. After August 27th, the lifetime pass can be purchased for $80 or for $20 annually. The passes can be purchased without a processing fee at any of these Federal Recreation Areas, or alternatively online for $20 with a $5 shipping fee.

This lifetime pass makes a great gift for a new retiree or as a way to treat yourself in retirement. Even if you don’t plan to use the pass immediately, it can be used for any future travel as you explore the country or your own backyard in retirement!

Should you take a lump sum or annuitize for your retirement?

This recent article by Richard Eisenberg over at Market Watch perfectly illustrates the advice we give to soon-to-be retirees on a daily basis. The benefits of Guaranteed Lifetime Income cannot be overstated. Creating a personal pension for yourself and your spouse is one of the wisest actions one can make to ensure financial stability and security in retirement. The link to the article can be found here and is re-posted below. If you are having second thoughts about your retirement strategy or simply don't know where to begin, give our office a call, we can help!

By Michael Eisenberg

It turns out, many retirees choosing to take their employer’s 401(k) or pension as a lump sum for retirement are taking their lumps.

About a fifth of retirement plan participants (21%) MetLife surveyed who received their pensions or 401(k)s as lump sums depleted that money — in just 5½ years, on average. And among those who took a lump sum from a 401(k) and didn’t get a pension, the money ran out in four years, on average, according to the MetLife Paycheck or Pot of Gold Study (though the sample size for this particular statistic was small).

The retirees selected the lump sum over an annuity, which pays out in guaranteed monthly installments — and has a few drawbacks of its own, as I’ll explain shortly. But why are so many taking the lump sum finding the money gone so soon?

The ‘lottery effect’ and retirement

“When people retire and are handed a lump sum, there’s sometimes what’s known as ‘the lottery effect,’” says Roberta Rafaloff, vice president for Institutional Income Annuities at MetLife. (The company is one of the biggest sellers of annuities.) “They get more money than they’ve ever seen in their life and say ‘Wow! I can do something I never could when I was working!”

She describes the chief finding of the survey of 1,069 adults as “troublesome,” adding that “people have to start thinking about their retirement plan not as a pot of gold, but as money that has to last as long as you do in retirement.”

In fairness, many who use up their lump sums aren’t being wholly frivolous with the cash.

How the lump sums are being used

While 12% of the lump sum recipients surveyed said they took a vacation or bought a new car within the first year of receiving the money, 27% paid down debt, 20% fixed up their homes and 4% used some of the money for either medical or long-term care expenses or for education. Nearly a quarter (22%) gave some of the money to friends, family or charity.

Regrets? They had a few: 31% who took a lump sum told MetLife they had regrets about their major purchases and spending in the first year; 23% regretted having given money away.

Why people prefer lump sums over annuities

I can totally see why some people might choose to take their employer-based retirement funds as a lump sum rather than an annuity.

They might prefer having control over the money so they can invest, save or spend it as they choose. In fact, in MetLife’s study, “wanting to maintain control over my money” was the No. 1 reason people took a lump sum.

The annuity option might have another drawback: no inflation protection. While some annuity payouts rise with inflation, many don’t. Fidelity recently noted that a 3% annual inflation rate will cut the value of a fixed benefit in half in 24 years.

Then there’s the “hit by a bus” thesis. By this reasoning, you take the money as a lump sum because you could be hit by a bus tomorrow and if that happens, your heirs will get what’s left after you die. An annuity, by contrast, often stops when you do. One exception: a return-of-premium or cash-refund feature that guarantees a minimum amount of money will go to your estate or beneficiary if you die before receiving this total.

Lump sum or annuity? Maybe both

That said, with only 21% of Americans feeling very confident about having enough money for a comfortable retirement, according to the most recent Employee Benefit Research Institute survey, you have to worry about the news that lump sums are turning into dim sums or no sums at all.

So, if your employer offers you the choice between taking your retirement money in lump sum or an annuity, what should you do?

You could use a free online calculator, like this one from CalcXML, to determine whether you’re better off taking a lump sum and investing the cash or going with an annuity. And the federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s online brochure, Pension Lump-Sum Payouts and Your Retirement Security, is worth reading.

But I think for many people who want peace of mind, it’s best to see if you can take the cash both ways — through a partial annuity, which is something that growing numbers of employers with 401(k)s offer. As I wrote on Next Avenue, when 5,000 Americans age 50 to 75 were given a hypothetical partial annuitization option in Harvard Business School assistant professor John Beshears’ 2013 survey, 60% chose it.

Fortunately, a new U.S. Treasury Department and Internal Revenue Service rule kicking in this year encourages employers to let pension participants split their retirement payouts between annuities and lump sums. “It removes the all-or-nothing choice” workers must make, Cathy Weatherford, CEO of the Insured Retirement Institute, told Benefits Pro reporter Nick Thornton.

How to do a partial annuity

A partial annuity will help ensure you don’t outlive your money without fully tying your hands or surrendering to inflation. “People should have the flexibility to decide how much guaranteed income they want,” notes Rafaloff.

Annuitizing at least a portion of your retirement funds is also worth considering if you’re not confident about your investment capabilities or worry about being able to make smart investment decisions as you age.

One way to structure a partial annuitization, says Rafaloff: “Think of the expenses you know you will have to pay every month, like your car payments and a mortgage, and allocate money to pay those with a guaranteed income stream from an annuity.”

What employers aren’t doing

One reason so many lump sums are disappearing: employers aren’t doing a great job explaining to their employees the pros and cons of lump sums vs. annuities.

For example, among the pension plan participants surveyed who were given a choice between a lump sum or an annuity, only 45% recall being given information comparing the total amount of the lump sum and the annuity payments when they had to make their decision. And just 23% of the 401(k) participants were given information about the risk of outliving their plan savings.

Washington might help employees make better decisions. Last week, bipartisan legislation was introduced (The Lifetime Income Disclosure Act) that would require employers to provide 401(k) participants with a projection of how much monthly income they’d receive in retirement based on their current account balance.

I’d like to see that bill become law, but I wouldn’t bet my retirement on it.

Richard Eisenberg is the Senior Web Editor of the Money & Security and Work & Purpose channels of Next Avenue and Managing Editor for the site. He is the author of “How to Avoid a Mid-Life Financial Crisis” and has been a personal finance editor at Money, Yahoo, Good Housekeeping, and CBS Moneywatch. Follow him on Twitter @richeis315.

This article is reprinted by permission from NextAvenue.org, © 2017 Twin Cities Public Television, Inc. All rights reserved.

Free $3000 Accidental Death Policy

Free $3000 Accidental Life Insurance Coverage from Retirement Advisory Consultants, LLC through United American Insurance Company.

 

Did you know that unintentional injury is the 4th leading cause of death in the United States, and the leading cause of death overall for those under the age of 45?

 

You can protect yourself and your loved ones with a $3000 benefit for you and a spouse and a $2000 benefit for each child for a full year at no cost to you.

 

Less expensive than a whole Final Expense policy most appropriate for the older generation, this coverage can help ease the financial burden associated with a sudden and unexpected passing.

 

100% of first year premium paid through agency rebate. No commitment to keep the policy after the first year. If you do choose to keep the policy, it is only $10 a year (less than $0.03 a day) to keep. If you choose not to keep the coverage, the policy simply terminates. No payment or payment information is collected for the application.

 

Guaranteed renewable. The policy is noncancelable by the insurer until the policy year after your 70th birthday. Rates cannot increase and benefits cannot decrease. Coverage begins the date of application.


For more information or to take advantage of this free year of coverage, please fill out the short form below or contact Retirement Advisory Consultants at (727)807-2343.

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Saving $1 Million for Retirement

How many of us will retire with $1 million or more in savings? More of us ought to – in fact, more of us may need to, given inflation and the rising cost of health care.

 

Sadly, few pre-retirees have accumulated that much. A 2015 Government Accountability Office analysis found that the average American aged 55-64 had just $104,000 in retirement money. A 2016 GoBankingRates survey determined that only 13% of Americans had retirement savings of $300,000 or more.

 

A $100,000 or $300,000 retirement fund might be acceptable if our retirements lasted less than a decade, as was the case for some of our parents. As many of us may live into our eighties and nineties, we may need $1 million or more in savings to avoid financial despair in our old age. 

 

The earlier you begin saving, the more you can take advantage of compound interest. A 25-year-old who directs $405 a month into a tax-advantaged retirement account yielding an average of 7% annually will wind up with $1 million at age 65. Perhaps $405 a month sounds like a lot to devote to this objective, but it only gets harder if you wait. At the same rate of return, a 30-year-old would need to contribute $585 per month to the same retirement account to generate $1 million by age 65.

 

The Census Bureau says that the median household income in this country is $53,657. A 45-year-old couple earning that much annually would need to hoard every cent they made for 19 years (and pay no income tax) to end up with $1 million at age 64, absent of investments. So, investing may come to be an important part of your retirement plan.

 

What if you are over 40, what then? You still have a chance to retire with $1 million or more, but you must make a bigger present-day financial commitment to that goal than someone younger.

 

At age 45, you will need to save around $1,317 per month in a tax-advantaged retirement account yielding 10% annually to have $1 million in 20 years. If the account returns just 6% annually, then you would need to direct approximately $2,164 a month into it.

    

What if you start trying to build that $1 million retirement fund at age 50? If your retirement account earns a solid 10% per year, you would still need to put around $2,413 a month into it; at a 6% yearly return, the target contribution becomes about $3,439 a month.

  

This math may be startling, but it is also hard to argue with. If you are between age 55-65 and have about $100,000 in retirement savings, you may be hard-pressed to adequately finance your future. There are three basic ways to respond to this dilemma. You can choose to live on Social Security, plus the principal and yield from your retirement fund, and risk running out of money within several years (or sooner). Alternately, you can cut your expenses way down – share housing, share or forgo a car, etc., which could preserve more of your money. Or, you could try to work longer, giving your invested retirement savings a chance for additional growth, and explore ways to create new income streams. 

 

How long will a million-dollar retirement fund last? If it is completely uninvested, you could draw down about $35,000 a year from it for 28 years. The upside here is that your invested retirement assets could grow and compound notably during your “second act” to help offset the ongoing withdrawals. The downside is that you will have to contend with inflation and, potentially, major healthcare expenses, which could reduce your savings faster than you anticipate.

 

So, while $1 million may sound like a huge amount of money to amass for retirement, it really is not – certainly not for a retirement beginning twenty or thirty years from now. Having $2 million or $3 million on hand would be preferable.

          

Retirement Advisory Consultants may be reached at (727)807-2343 or tina@retirementadvisoryconsultants.com.

 

Life Insurance Before Age 40

Do you plan to buy life insurance before you turn 40? Maybe you should. You may save money in the long run by doing so.

 

At first thought, the idea of purchasing a life insurance policy in your thirties may seem silly. After all, young adults are now marrying and starting families later in life than past generations did, and you and your peers are likely in excellent health with a good chance of living past 80.

 

In fact, LIMRA – a life insurance research and advocacy group – recently surveyed millennials and found that 30% thought saving for a vacation mattered more than buying life insurance coverage. The perception seems to be that insurance is something to purchase when you start a family or when you hit your forties or fifties.

  

Getting a policy before you marry or start a family may be a great idea. The reasons for doing so might be compelling.

  

Your premiums will be lower. The older you become, the more expensive life insurance becomes. Data compiled last summer by Life Happens, a non-profit life insurance education effort, confirms this.

 

Life Happens asked several prominent U.S. insurers to supply their preferred premium rates for healthy non-smokers aged 25, 35, 45, and 55 buying a $250,000 whole life policy (the kind designed to build cash value with time). The average preferred premium rates for 25-, 35-, and 45-year-olds fitting this description were:

 

25-year-old male: annual premium of $1,987

35-year-old male: annual premium of $2,964

45-year-old male: annual premium of $4,747

 

25-year-old female: annual premium of $1,745

35-year-old female: annual premium of $2,531

45-year-old female: annual premium of $3,947

  

The numbers starkly express the truth – whole life insurance premiums more than double between age 25 and age 45.

  

Premiums on term life policies are even lower. Term life insurance is essentially coverage that you “rent” for 10, 20, or 30 years – it cannot build any cash value, but in some cases, a term policy can be adapted or exchanged for a whole life policy when the term of coverage ends.

   

If you are young, term coverage is remarkably cheap. NerdWallet recently researched term life premiums for healthy 30-year-olds. It found the following sample rates for 20- and 30-year term policies valued at $250,000:

 

30-year-old male: annual premium of $156 for a 20-year term policy, $240 for a 30-year term policy

30-year-old female: annual premium of $141 for a 20-year term policy, $206 for a 30-year term policy

 

The downside of term coverage is that you are “renting” the insurance. Just as you cannot build home equity by renting a house, you cannot build cash value by “renting” a policy.

 

A whole life policy may become quite valuable. As Life Happens notes, the average such policy bought at 25, 35, or 45 may have a guaranteed cash value of anywhere from $100,000-200,000 when the policyholder turns 65, assuming the policy is kept in force and no loans are taken from it. Universal life policies permit tax-deferred growth of the cash value.

 

Make no mistake, a whole life policy is a lifelong commitment. It must be funded every year or it will lapse. That should not scare you away from the value and utility of these policies – the cash inside the policy can often be borrowed or withdrawn. Sometimes families use cash value to fund college educations or help with medical expenses or retirement. Such withdrawals can lessen the death benefit of the policy, but what is left is often adequate. Cash withdrawals from a whole life policy are usually exempt from taxes, just like the death benefit.  

    

Maybe this is the time to put time on your side. Age-wise, life insurance will never be cheaper than it is for you today. Getting coverage now – even if you are single – may be a money-smart move as well as a great life decision.  

 

Retirement Advisory Consultnats can be reached at (727)807-2343 or at retirementadvisoryconsultants.com