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  • Posts Tagged ‘retirement’

    Get to Know Your Social Security Benefit

    Sunday, April 1st, 2018

    Social Security Arch

    April is Social Security Month (follow #SocialSecurityMonth on social media for more). While WISER is dedicated to promoting women’s financial security every month of the year, setting a month aside to focus on Social Security is a reminder of the importance of the benefit. It is never too early to start understanding Social Security benefits for both you and your loved ones. The more you learn now, the better prepared you will be in the future.

    Social Security is especially important for women because they are often more dependent on it than men. More men than women receive income from retirement plans and pensions: 4 out of 10 men, compared to 2 out of 10 women. Women’s work patterns are more likely to involve part-time work and moving in and out of the paid labor force to provide family care. For as long as this is the case, the benefits they receive from retirement plans or employer pensions will be lower than men’s. As a result, Social Security, which is portable from job to job and is cost-of-living adjusted at retirement, will remain the mainstay of retirement income for most women.

    Different people become eligible to receive Social Security payments at different times. This is why it is important to understand what benefits you are eligible for and when. As a worker, you must work and pay Social Security taxes for at least 10 years (40 quarters), and be at least 62 years old. As a spouse or divorced spouse, you must be at least 62 years old. If you are divorced, you must have been married to your ex-spouse for at least 10 years and currently be unmarried. As a widow, you must be at least 60 years old (unless you are disabled in which case you can claim your benefit as early as age 50). If you are divorced, you can claim the survivors benefit if you were married at least 10 years and are currently unmarried (unless you remarried after age 60).

    However, when you actually receive benefits also depends on when you were born. You can receive full benefits at “full retirement age.” Full retirement age is increasing gradually until it reaches age 67 for those who were born 1960 or later. Find a chart that lists your birth year and when you can receive full benefits on WISER’s fact sheet, Social Security: What Every Woman Needs to Know. The fact sheet includes answers to many other Social Security questions you may have, including how to estimate what your benefits will be and how you will be taxed on your benefits. At what you claim your benefit is also important.  If you claim at age 62 when you are first eligible, you will receive a reduced benefit.  If you wait until after your full retirement age, you can receive an increased benefit up to age 70.

    Because Social Security is so important for retirement, there are many organizations and resources in addition to WISER that are dedicated to helping you understand and make the most out of it. Visit WISER’s Social Security resource page to learn more and find useful links, including to the Social Security Administration booklet, What Every Woman Should KnowThe page is also a great place to check for recent news on Social Security, such as the Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) for 2018. Each year, the Social Security Administration may increase benefits to help seniors with changes to the cost of living due to inflation and other factors. In 2018, monthly Social Security and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits will increase 2.0%.

    During National Social Security Month, take control of your future by seeing what you can do online at SocialSecurity.gov.  From estimating or managing your benefits, to retiring online, Social Security’s online services put control at your fingertips. Not sure where to begin? Sign up for your online Social Security account today at ssa.gov/myaccount.

    America Saves Week: Talking about Saving Helps You Save

    Thursday, March 1st, 2018

    America Saves Week (February 26 – March 3, 2017) is an annual opportunity for individuals to assess their savings and take financial action. Each year, WISER and other organizations across the country encourage savers – or potential savers –to set a goal, make a plan, and save automatically.

    At WISER, it’s almost like every week is America Saves Week– we’ve made it our mission to encourage women to be financially independent and prioritize saving for their long-term future. But on this week in particular, organizations across the country emphasize the importance of financial planning. We share ideas and support and encourage each other– an event that mirrors something that’s important for you to do, in your own financial life: talk about savings with your friends. Although it can be sometimes seen as impolite or taboo, talking about money, and more specifically long-term saving, can help you achieve your financial goals. Here’s why:

    1. It holds you accountable.

    There’s nothing like outside observation to help us accomplish our goals, no matter what they may be. When we’re only accountable to ourselves, it’s easy to let things slip or not try as hard, but when someone else is in on the plan, the pressure is on! Tell your friends about the specific goals you have this month when it comes to saving– say, cooking dinner at home more than going out in order to save cash. Post pictures on social media of your meals! The positive encouragement from friends will motivate you, and when making the decision in the future about whether to eat at home or at a restaurant, eating at home will seem even more appealing. Talking to your friends about your savings goals will hold you accountable, too, because it will mean that there will be someone to remind you of your plan when you’re thinking of abandoning it.

    2. You friends may give you great ideas.

    People often don’t talk about their savings goals, so you never know who similarly may be taking smart steps towards their retirement like you. If you share your goals with others, you may learn that they too are on the same path, and can offer you great advice on how to get there.

    3. It helps others.

    In the same way that you may not know that your friends and family are taking smart steps toward saving, you also may not know how others in your life are struggling with their finances. If you talk to them about the steps you are taking to save– and why it is important to do so– it may motivate them to move forward in a similar way in their own lives. Sometimes all it takes is a little extra encouragement to get the ball rolling!

    There are many other reasons why it’s a great idea to talk about your savings goals with your friends and family. America Saves Week, in particular, is an opportunity for individuals to assess their own saving status. WISER is proud to be a partner in this annual campaign. Take the America Saves Pledge and join the #ImSavingForSweepstakes that asks savers to inspire friends and family to save by sharing their goal or savings story on social media. You could win up to $750 toward that goal.

    Visit America Saves for more savings tips and information, and check out WISER’s resources to help you save and plan for a more financially secure future.

     

    How To Keep Retirement Savings On Track While Caregiving

    Thursday, November 30th, 2017

    women

    November is National Family Caregivers Month—an annual event celebrated by WISER and partner organizations of family caregivers across the country. It’s a time to raise awareness of family caregiver issues, celebrate their efforts and increase support. This month’s theme “Caregiving Around the Clock” emphasizes that caregiving is a 24 hours a day, 7 days a week job.

    Caregiving is a consuming role—physically, mentally and financially—yet many who take on the work don’t identify with the job or fully realize the toll it takes. Often, it comes on unexpectedly, and sometimes the responsibilities may be shared. For example, caring for an elderly parent might be divided between siblings or a paid worker. Still, even if you are doing the actual work of caregiving part-time or just a few hours a week, the effort affects every part of your life. It becomes something you have to think about and plan for around the clock.

    The financial challenges of caregiving often come as a surprise to caregivers, as the day-to-day costs can really add up. Many smart retirement planners who believe that they have everything properly planned for are still often unprepared for the financial shock that caregiving for a family member can bring.  Even if the role of caregiver comes unexpectedly, there are ways to keep your retirement savings on track while caring for others.

    Create, and stick to, a household budget.

    Caregiving can affect your daily and long term spending in unexpected ways. That’s why it’s important to create and follow a budget. If you already have one, adjust it to consider your new expenditures. You may also have a lower income if you decide to stop working or reduce your hours. While you’re at it, have financial conversations with the person you’re providing care for, too. It’s easy for costs to balloon, and when mental and physical capacities diminish, the elderly can also be at an increased risk for being victimized by financial scammers.

    Try to avoid leaving your job.

    It can be tempting (or in some cases a necessity) to run to a loved one’s side when they need care. Doing so, though, can be extremely harmful to your finances. Leaving your job will mean losing compensation and benefits, and maybe skills and contacts. If at all possible, try to exhaust all other options before leaving your job or see if you can at least work reduced hours instead of quitting entirely.  If you have a retirement plan or pension through your employer, try to work at least as long as needed to be fully vested in your company’s retirement plan. If you are cutting back on hours, see if there is a minimum number of hours you can work to get reduced benefits.

    Be smart about the financial support you provide your loved ones

    Don’t drain your savings to help the person you are caring for financially. Usually, the major expense for older adults is health care. Drug plans run through Medicare and private companies may help cover the rising costs of medicine. Low-income seniors may also be eligible to receive help paying their premiums or for additional uncovered medical costs. Information about getting help paying for Medicare costs is available at Medicare.gov. The Eldercare Locator, a public service of the U.S. Administration on Aging is also a great resource for connecting with trusted resources in your community that can help with caregiving and other services for older adults and their families.  Visit eldercare.gov or call 1-800-677-1116.

    For more information and resources for managing your finances while caregiving, download WISER’s publication: Financial Steps for Caregivers. Included in the booklet is a budget worksheet that includes categories for caregiving costs.

    WISER

    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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