What You Must Know About Pension Plans

If you are in the workforce today, the chances you have a defined benefit pension plans are pretty slim. Outside of a few industries with active union membership, most corporations have done way with them as part of cost-cutting measures. Of those who lucky enough to have one, a recent study by Fidelity Investments found 71% of the individuals polled were unaware of the major details – they were unable to answer questions about simple things like when payments begin. If a pension is part of your retirement planning, here are a few keys to understand:
Vesting Schedule
Pensions were originally intended, at least in part, to reward employee loyalty. In order to incentivize the benefit, employers created a timeline by which these accounts would “mature” to the full amount. If, for example, you become eligible for vesting after five years with the company, over the next five years you might have accrued 10% of the maximum allowed by the IRS. Five years after that, you might be up to 20%, and so on until the contribution limits are reached. This value cannot be taken from you, even if you were to leave the company – the account will be frozen until you reach retirement age.
Payment Calendar
Most defined benefit plans pay out in equal amounts on a periodic basis until the annuity is exhausted, but you have options as to how often the disbursements arrive. You can decide on monthly, quarterly or annual checks based on your preference and the balances you will receive from other parts of your investment portfolio. (Some even permit a one-time payment at retirement. Though you might choose to hold off on receiving them for a while if the stock market is flying high, you will have to make a decision by age 70 or April 1 of the year following your retirement, whichever is later.
Estate Planning
In the event you pass on before the end of your pension annuity, the plan will set aside options to ensure your spouse is able to claim at least a portion of the amount you’ve accrued. Depending on the way your benefits are structured, particularly if you chose the joint/survivor option, it’s possible to continue the payment calendar with a minimum of 50% of the periodic disbursement and ensure your loved one is provided for when you’re gone.

AARP Position on Social Security Reform Uncertain

Confusion reigns after The Wall Street Journal reported a major policy shift from the American Association for Retired Persons (AARP) on Friday, June 17th.  The country’s most powerful lobbying group for older citizens, long opposed to cuts in Social Security benefits, is now willing to admit the time has come.  According to John Rother, AARP head of policy, “The ship was sailing.  I wanted to be at the wheel when that happens.”
Opposition amongst membership began almost immediately, prompting AARP CEO A. Barry Rand to issue a statement later in the day against “inaccurate media stories” and “misleading characterization.”  He went on to say AARP is “currently fighting some proposals in Washington to cut Social Security.”  Though the program has long been known to be running out of time – funding reserves are estimated to disappear in 2036 – Rand reiterated, “Social Security should not be used as piggy bank to solve the nation’s deficit.”
Despite the statement, the change is said to have been approved by the organization’s board of directors.  Evidence mounted as the group declined to join Strengthen Social Security, a group of 300-plus lobbying groups created to fight benefit cuts.  Rand made it clear “any changes would be phased in slowly, over time” before going on to mention opposition to certain key issues is just as strong now as it was when the group took a stand against them in 2005.
“They are completely at odds with their membership,” said Nancy Altman, Strengthen Social Security co-chair.  She noted AARP’s change would definitely carry weight in the Capitol, though perhaps at the expense of those it represents.
“I think they’re going to get burned,” said her fellow co-chair, Eric Kingson.
The AARP position shift is said to have limits, particularly with respect to ending the program for affluent beneficiaries.  In addition, it has proposed tax increases to make the program financially stable again, meaning it will have no part in being used for national debt reduction.  (Funding comes from outside the federal budget, so it doesn’t contribute to the deficit, either.)
The Obama administration is said to be looking to raise the retirement age and lower the index for annual cost of living benefit increases as part of a deal.  These cuts would be offset by higher taxes on the wealthy, a move to improve revenue and create better long-term stability for the program.
“Social Security should be strengthened to provide adequate benefits and…sufficiently financed to ensure solvency with a stable trust fund for the next 75 years,” Rand asserted in the statement.  Both Republican and Democratic representatives believe that minimum standard for solvency can be achieved by collecting more taxes and paying fewer benefits.
AARP has planned dozens of town-hall meetings across the country to explain the problem and possible answers, but selling the policy move to members will be difficult.  According to a February poll from The Wall Street Journal and NBC News, resistance to cuts of any kind is high: 84% of Americans 65 and older oppose them.  The group will be mindful of the larger ramifications, too.  It lost 300,000 members after endorsing President Obama’s health-care law, which reduced Medicare by $500 million.

Confusion reigns after The Wall Street Journal reported a major policy shift from the American Association for Retired Persons (AARP) on Friday, June 17th.  The country’s most powerful lobbying group for older citizens, long opposed to cuts in Social Security benefits, is now willing to admit the time has come.  According to John Rother, AARP head of policy, “The ship was sailing.  I wanted to be at the wheel when that happens.”
Opposition amongst membership began almost immediately, prompting AARP CEO A. Barry Rand to issue a statement later in the day against “inaccurate media stories” and “misleading characterization.”  He went on to say AARP is “currently fighting some proposals in Washington to cut Social Security.”  Though the program has long been known to be running out of time – funding reserves are estimated to disappear in 2036 – Rand reiterated, “Social Security should not be used as piggy bank to solve the nation’s deficit.”
Despite the statement, the change is said to have been approved by the organization’s board of directors.  Evidence mounted as the group declined to join Strengthen Social Security, a group of 300-plus lobbying groups created to fight benefit cuts.  Rand made it clear “any changes would be phased in slowly, over time” before going on to mention opposition to certain key issues is just as strong now as it was when the group took a stand against them in 2005.
“They are completely at odds with their membership,” said Nancy Altman, Strengthen Social Security co-chair.  She noted AARP’s change would definitely carry weight in the Capitol, though perhaps at the expense of those it represents.
“I think they’re going to get burned,” said her fellow co-chair, Eric Kingson.
The AARP position shift is said to have limits, particularly with respect to ending the program for affluent beneficiaries.  In addition, it has proposed tax increases to make the program financially stable again, meaning it will have no part in being used for national debt reduction.  (Funding comes from outside the federal budget, so it doesn’t contribute to the deficit, either.)
The Obama administration is said to be looking to raise the retirement age and lower the index for annual cost of living benefit increases as part of a deal.  These cuts would be offset by higher taxes on the wealthy, a move to improve revenue and create better long-term stability for the program.
“Social Security should be strengthened to provide adequate benefits and…sufficiently financed to ensure solvency with a stable trust fund for the next 75 years,” Rand asserted in the statement.  Both Republican and Democratic representatives believe that minimum standard for solvency can be achieved by collecting more taxes and paying fewer benefits.
AARP has planned dozens of town-hall meetings across the country to explain the problem and possible answers, but selling the policy move to members will be difficult.  According to a February poll from The Wall Street Journal and NBC News, resistance to cuts of any kind is high: 84% of Americans 65 and older oppose them.  The group will be mindful of the larger ramifications, too.  It lost 300,000 members after endorsing President Obama’s health-care law, which reduced Medicare by $500 million.
Having a proper Retirement Planning is a must.

Social security benefits for Widows

Running a family single handedly is indeed a complicated job; hence the support of two incomes is of utmost importance. Now, the situation worsens in case of the sudden demise of the husband, a significant portion of the income finally disappears, thereby leaving the widow as the sole bread earner of the family. The situation turns out to be all the more crucial if the spouse had some illness before and a lot of expenses had incurred for the same. However, at this hour Social Security Benefits for Widows emerges as a ray of hope. This form of security helps widows to meet their needs. As per Joan Entmacher, “social security offers fifty eight percent of the income of widows aged over sixty five years when compared to thirty nine percent for all couples and individuals over sixty five years”.
Those who meet the eligibility criteria can apply for this security by either contacting at their nearest security office or by calling up at the same. For this, the widow needs to present the death certificate of her husband, the social security numbers (hers as well as her husband), divorce papers, birth certificate of the dependant child, worker’s recent tax return or W-2 form, bank account number and name of the account holder. At the end it all concludes that in order to avail all these Social Security benefits in future you must have your Retirement Planning done in present.

Lower Social Security Checks, If You Are 1947 Born

The last year has seen the largest increase in Social Security checks in the past 25 years with a rate of 5.8 percent. At the same time, as per the present law, the enrollees are also not going to get any cost-of-living adjustment in the next three years. In fact, the increment in Social Security is linked to the Consumer Price Index for the urban workers. It can be recalled here that the Consumer Price Index has decreased last year due to the plunging prices.
It’s the new retirees born in 1947and signed for the Social Security this year, rather than the current beneficiaries, who are going to get affected by the impact of the lack of Social Security boost. These people didn’t reap any benefit from the increase of Social Security last year. Moreover, there is every possibility that their purchasing power may erode by inflation before the cost-of-living increases once again in 2012. Andrew Biggs, a former deputy commissioner of the Social Security Administration and a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute has done an analysis to find out the possible impact of it on the retirees. According to the analysis, the new retirees may face a permanent benefit reduction of about 5 percent, while the benefits of the current retirees will remain the same.
Owing to the inflation hitch in 2008, newly retired couples are going to get a monthly Social Security check of $2,235. According to the calculations of Biggs, they will lose almost $1,340 per year. The calculation also says that, if the couple survives until the age of 83, they would lose around $25,000 in their lifetime.
It is not possible to evade this financial loss by delaying your retirement either, unless the cost-of-living gets adjusted, which is again projected to resume in 2012.

What are Social Security Pensions ?

Social Security is the national retirement care plan that is available in the US. Pension is one of the important benefits that are provided through the program. The pension is also known as Old-age Insurance benefit or Retirement Insurance Benefits. The pension benefits are applicable after one attains the age of 62 or more.

In most cases, the payments and the benefits that you get from Social Security are made in the third of each month or on the fourth Wednesday. Usually, the benefits that you get that based according to the date of the birth and some other factors.

In order to be covered under the Social Security pensions , there are certain things that one needs to comply with. The requirements of the benefits are made as per the mode of payments and also the age of the applicant. Some of the requirements that you need to follow are:

  • You need to be of the age of 62 and above to enjoy the benefits

  • You need to be fully insured in the Social Security System

  • You either need to apply for the benefits or convert the Disability Insurance Benefits after reaching the age of full retirement

One can apply for pension benefits through a number of ways. You can make applications for Social Security benefits :

  • By making applications through the net

  • By making applications through the mail

  • By applying directly at the office of Social Security

  • By making applications with the Immediate Claims Taking Unit

There are also some factors which determine the amount of the Social Security pension. Some of them are the amount of the payroll taxes that you pay into the Social Security Trust Fund, the age when you can claim the benefits, the current income that you are earning and also whether you are a part of any type of military service.

Retirement Planning Guide for Recession

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The present recession has really hit the retirees and older adults hard. As most retirees and the aged have to depend on their savings, the economic down slum has left them helpless. Relax, proper planning can help you cope up with the recent down slum and enjoy benefits even in this falling stock market. You need to act with prudence and take wise decisions.

According to experts, one should keep his or her eyes open while dealing with the funds in the recession market. Prevention is always better than cure and as you need to have an idea where to use your funds. Do not invest all your money into the stock market. Although the stock market can give you more returns, they are always prone to market changes. To cope with the recession, you need to have a diversified portfolio. Diversification helps you to maintain a balance between your profits and losses. Usually, a diversified portfolio consists of stocks, short and long term bonds, debentures, equities and other relevant investment channels.

By having proper savings you can also prevent recession from hitting you hard. Recent surveys have proved that those who had retirement accounts have not been hit so hard by the current down market. To enjoy good and secure benefits on your benefits, you can opt for IRA or 401 (K) accounts. They are lucrative and are also liable to various tax benefits.

At times all these can be really confusing. You may not be able to make the proper retirement planning to sail through the tough market conditions. Some useful tips from the financial advisor can be handy at this time. The adviser can guide you to make the right planning and prevent recession from hitting you directly.

So take the best step forward now and enjoy the benefits!

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Finding an Idle Retirement Location


Are you retired and looking for a proper place to live in these post retirement period? Retirement is perhaps one of the happiest periods in our lives. It is a break from the daily mundane job related stress. Retirement provides you the scope to experience leisure to the fullest. And to enhance this leisure period, you need to find your ideal retirement friendly state.
First things first, you need to find the right state where the tax rates are low. High rate of taxes will take a toll on your funds. States such as Texas, Washington, Wyoming, Nevada, South Dakota, Tennessee and New Hampshire do not charge any kind of income taxes. The cost of real estate is also pretty low in these areas. This really helps the retirees as they need to depend on fixed sources of income. The states of Illinois, Pennsylvania and Mississippi do not charge any type of income on your pensions. This is a great deal for the aged as their pension amount is not deducted.
Social Security benefits are also important considerations that retirees should look into. There are a number of states in the US where you can enjoy various types of Social Security benefits.
If you have good amount of real estate holdings or property, you may be liable to property taxes. You need to have an idea of the various property taxes while finding you retirement state or location. Try to stay in places which have low property taxes as you need not shed more money.
If you keep these factors in mind, you can easily find your suitable retirement location and enjoy living your post retirement period.

Getting free loans from Social Security

It may sound surprising but Social Security can provide you free loans. Under the present scenario, retirees can choose between various options like claiming the benefits at 62 and getting reduced returns or delaying claiming the benefits till 70 and enjoying full returns every month.

Now, in order to get higher lifetime benefits, you can use some unconventional strategies. One of them is known as the “Free Loan from Social Security” strategy. By applying this strategy, you can get some free loans from the social security accounts. For instance, if you claim Social Security at 62 years of age and reclaim the same at 70 years, you can receive a higher benefit. As you only need to pay back the principle loan amount, you can keep the interest and invest it in some other channel.

If you are of age 70 and adopt a Free Loan” strategy, you can first claim some benefits at 62 years of age and again reclaim it at 70 years. The interests that you receive provides you with the head-start’ on reaching the break-even age. In order to be break even, you need to live until you are entitled to the total benefits of social security.