ELDERUPDATES.COM, NO. 27

ELDERUPDATES.COM, NO. 27 June 26, 2014 DECIDING WHEN TO COLLECT SOCIAL SECURITY?  You can find help at the Social Security Website www.socialsecurity.gov or www.socialsecuritychoices.com  (New York Times, July 26, 2011).  But don’t hesitate to use other calculators, as well.  Many fund sites (Fidelity, TRowe Price, etc., and AARP, have calculators you can use. DEFERRING SOCIAL SECURITY BENEFITS until you reach 70 can earn you an “inflation adjusted implied-rate-of-return” of more than 3%.  However, to make that additional return you must live to 84.  For a 62 year old couple, the chances are that at least one will live to 90.  (Kiplinger’s Retirerment Report, May, 2014.) SOCIAL SECURITY FILE AND SUSPEND requires the beneficiary to be full retirement age.  (Kiplinger’s Retirerment Report, May, 2014.)  Filing and suspending can also affect your Medicare.  Again, do not take any action in this area without consulting a professional adviser. ALL 470 SENIOR EXECUTIVES AT THE V.A. were rated “fully successful” or better over 4 years, with 80% being rated as “outstanding”. At least 65 percent of the executives received performance awards, which averaged around $9,000. Only about 20 percent received the middle of the five ratings.  VA officials suggested these ratings were not out of line with their counterparts at other government agencies.  Representative Ann McLane Kuster, Democrat of New Hampshire, likened the numbers to grade inflation and said they reminded her of Garrison Keillor’s fictional Lake Wobegon, where “all of the children are above average.”  (New York Times, June 20, 2014.) Obviously, the government rating system requires a thorough review.  Most likely it is not just top executives who have inflated ratings; the culture...

ELDERUPDATES.COM, NO. 26

ELDERUPDATES.COM, NO. 26 June 19, 2014 CLAIMING A [SOCIAL SECURITY] BENEFIT FROM AN EX-SPOUSE, excerpted as follows: If you were married for at least ten years, you could be eligible for benefits based on your former spouse’s earnings, with you receiving up to 50% of their benefit if you are both 62, so long as the spouses are divorced for at least 2 years.  If you remarry, you could lose the benefits. “Say John and Janet divorced at age 60.  They each wait until age 66 to file a “restricted application”.  John can receive $750 a month as a spousal benefit, based on Janet’s full retirement age benefit of $1,500 [a month].  Janet can receive $1,000 a month as a spousal benefit, based on John’s benefit of $2,000 [a month].  At age 70, Janet can swith to her boosted benefit of $1,980 and John can switch to his boosted benefit of $2,640.”  (Kiplinger’s Retirement Report, May 2014.) The boosted benefit referred to above is the benefit each would have received if he or she had waited until 70 to claim benefits.  For each year after 66 that they did not claim benefits, the monthly benefit amount increased 8%.  Again, this type of planning could hold unseen dangers; make sure you consult an appropriate professional. FEDERAL LAWSUIT ALLEGES NORTH HOLLYWOOD HEALTCARE COMPANY IPC defrauded Medicare and Medicaid.  The company allegedly billed for more expensive care than was actually provided.  (Los Angeles Times, June 17, 2014.)  As noted in an earlier item, the government gets $8 back for every $1 it spends on Medicare fraud enforcement. VA WOES CONTINUE as VA...

ELDERUPDATES.COM, NO. 25

ELDERUPDATES.COM, NO. 25 June 12, 2014 MARRIED COUPLES MAY BE ABLE TO INCREASE THEIR FUTURE SOCIAL SECURITY BENEFITS, by using two separate strategies.  “File and suspend” and “Restrict an application” may allow spouses to collect against the other spouse’s benefits before they take their own.  (Kiplinger’s Retirement Report, April, 2014.)  As always, consult with an appropriate professional before you use these strategies. U.S. JUSTICE DEPARTMENT ALLEGES that L. A. County facilities for the mentally ill are “deplorable.. dimly lit, vermin-infested, noisy, unsanitary, cramped and crowded”, further exacerbating these already ill prisoners’ mental distress.  (Los Angeles Times, June 7, 2014.) CONSUMER REPORTS reports that sunscreen with an SPF (sun protection factor), of 50 blocks 98% of UVB rays, while SPF 15 still stops 93% of UVB rays.  (Consumer Reports, July 2014.) VERMONT has passed a law requiring labeling of foods that contain “GMO” genetically modified foods, as does most of the developed world.  Objectors, who are concerned the requirement to label GMOs will be enacted nationally, state that GMOs are no more dangerous than non-GMO foods.  California recently defeated a ballot proposition requiring labeling of GMOs, while a new measure fell just 2 votes short in the Assembly last week.  (Los Angeles Times, June 7, 2014.)  THE RED CROSS tells us which items we need in an emergency preparedness kit http://www.redcross.org/prepare/disaster/earthquake’. (American Red Cross.)  SIXTY MINUTES reports that 7 million males become schizophrenic in their teens or early twenties.  Half of these are untreated.  These people formerly would have been placed in state mental hospitals but there was a national movement to close the mental hospitals while Reagan was Governor.  (Sixty...

ELDERUPDATES.COM, NO. 24

ELDERUPDATES.COM NO. 24 June 5, 2014 MEDICARE WILL COVER SEX REASSIGNMENT SURGERY in cases where it is medically necessary because the person does not indentify with their biological sex.  The case triggering this decision was that of a 74 year-old Army veteran whose request for Medicare to pay for the individual’s surgery was denied 2 years ago.  (The Los Angeles Daily News, May 30, 2014.) Now that I have your attention…  CEO MEDIAN PAY AT S & P 500 COMPANIES IS UP 50% FROM 209 TO 2012, over $10 million, which is 257 times more than the average worker makes (itself up from 181 in 2009).  (Los Angeles Times, May 28, 2014.) THE NUMBER OF LICENSED REAL ESTATE AGENTS AND BROKERS decreased from 542,000 in 2008 (near the peak), to 403,000 today.  (Dr.HousingBubble.com, May 29, 2014.)  The number of sales is now ½ what it was near the peak of the bubble in 2005.  DR.HOUSINGBUBBLE argues that it is the combination of student debt and low income that keeps young buyers from purchasing today, and which is forcing them into Adjustable Mortgage Rate loans when they do.  (Dr.HousingBubble.com, May 27, 2014.) A NEW REPORTby the Federal Reserve Bank shows that, with escalating education costs contributing to student debt, young adults — particularly those with student loans — are significantly more likely to hold off on purchasing homes.  From 2003 – 2013 the average balance nearly doubled from $10,600 to about $20,900.  These young adults are now holding off on purchase of big-ticket items such as homes and cars.  (California Budget Bites, May 29, 2014 LOS ANGELES CITY SUES CHASE BANK for giving...