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  • Archive for 2019

    Your Social Security Benefit Statement May Be Wrong

    Wednesday, August 14th, 2019

    SSCard_dark textThis summer, reporters with Forbes and USA Today discovered that Social Security had mailed out thousands of incorrect benefit statements to prospective recipients. A number of those who asked for information on their account via a paper form, known as SSA-7004, between 2017 and now, received benefit statements that were off by as much as hundreds of dollars.

    According to the Social Security Administration, the mistakes were isolated to some, but not all On Request Statements sent to the following people.

    -Those who were born in 1955, 1956, or 1957.

    -Those who were age 62 or older at the time of their request.

    -Those who indicated on the SSA-7004 that they planned to stop working at age 66.

    The Social Security Administration states that they stopped issuing SSA-7004 statements in late June, but will soon resume now that the system has been fixed and consumers have been sent corrected statements.

    What Can You Do:

    If you are concerned about this happening again, or think you received a faulty statement that was not corrected, there are a number of simple actions you can take to double-check the accuracy of your statement. If you have ordered an On Request SSA-7004 statement within the last 2 years, be sure to either cross-reference your most recent statement with past statements you may have received or check your earnings statement with your W-2 forms from past IRS filings. You should also create an online Social Security account and view those estimates, make your own calculations, or have it looked at by a financial expert.

    How to get your Social Security statement online

    How to request a statement if you can’t or don’t want to get an online statement

    A Mistake With Lingering Regret: Cashing Out Your 401(k)

    Friday, May 31st, 2019

    Guest Blog Author: Tom Hawkins, Retirement Clearinghouse

    As May ends and we observe the close of Older Americans Month, a time to recognize the role that older adults play in society and their many contributions. This year for the first time, the U.N. released figures showing the world has more older people than younger children -confirming the arrival of a long widening global trend.

    For younger working women, Older Americans month offers a rare reminder and planning opportunity to consider how certain life defining decisions will determine how they will pay for their increasing longevity. Today by age 85+, two-thirds of the elderly are women, and many are living alone.

    It’s an ideal time for younger women to consider if their future as “older Americans” is financially secure or may be filled with regret. Unfortunately, regret will likely haunt millions of younger women who prematurely cash out their 401(k) savings.  Not only are these women potentially sacrificing their retirement security, but research also reveals they’ll regret these decisions more than men, and that regret will continue to grow over their longer lifespans.

    Each year, 5.9 million American women enrolled in 401(k) plans will change jobs.  2.4 million, or 41%, will cash out completely.  For younger women, the outcomes are worse.  According to the Employee Benefit Retirement Institute (EBRI), women ages 25-34 will change jobs every 2.7 years, and for women with 401(k) balances less than $5,000, cash out rates soar to 71%.

    For example, a typical 25-year old woman could change jobs three times prior to age 34 and cash out two of her first three 401(k) balances.  At 34, she would preserve only $5,100 in retirement savings, which will yield just $13,900 in savings by age 67.  In contrast, had she avoided cashing out, she would have $83,700 at retirement.

    Early 401k Cash Out_RCH_v2


    Figure 1: Illustration of the Effects of Cashing Out, Women Ages 25-34

    Source: Retirement Clearinghouse / EBRI Webinar (EBriefing: Trends in Employee Tenure, 4/10/19)

    In 2015, a survey by Boston Research Technologies revealed that cash out regret is real and increases over time.   36% of Millennials who’d cashed out already regretted their decisions, rising to 46% for Gen-Xers, and to 53% for Baby Boomers.  The survey also found that women experience much higher levels of cash out regret than men, particularly among Millennials, where 46% of women regretted cashing out, vs. 30% of men.

    Cashing out a 401(k) balance is one that women should avoid unless you’re facing a true financial emergency.  Consolidating your retirement savings as you move from job-to-job, will not only preserve your savings, but will simplify your retirement planning, reduce fees and motivate you to save even more.  Finally, auto portability, is a new plan feature designed to automatically move small-balance retirement savings forward, and should help 401(k) participants changing jobs.

    Preserving retirement savings in your 20’s and 30’s will put you on the way to a secure, and comfortable retirement, and ensure that you don’t have to live with those regrets.


    About Us

    WISER is a nonprofit organization that works to help women, educators and policymakers understand the important issues surrounding women's retirement income. WISER creates a variety of consumer publications including fact sheets, booklets and a quarterly newsletter that explain in easy-to-understand language the complex issues surrounding Social Security, divorce, pay equity, pensions, savings and investments, banking, home-ownership, long-term care and disability insurance.

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