ELDERUPDATES.COM, NO. 54

ELDERUPDATES.COM, No. 54 December 30, 2014   LAST MINUTE IRA planning.  If you are “income poor and IRA rich” you may be able to roll your taxable IRA, or part of it, to a Roth account without paying any taxes.  Act quickly if you want to do this because you may be required to do so by the end of the year.  Speak to your financial adviser ASAP if you think this may benefit you. “VACCINES don’t cause autism”, according to a metastudy of 10 studies involving 1.2 million children.  “If anything, immunization was associated with decreased risk that children would develop autism…”  (Autism Speaks, May 19, 2014). OBAMACARE ENROLLMENTS on federally run health insurance exchanges surged to almost 6.4 million after the first month of sign-ups, the Department of Health and Human Services announced Tuesday.  1.9 million were new signups.  The program appears on target to surpass the goal of 9.1 million enrollees by the end of next year.  (Huffington Post, December 23, 2014.) INCOME TAXES on Social Security are calculated as follows:   Combined Income                                                                    % of Social Security Benefits Taxes   Below $25,000 Single and Head of Household            0% Below $32,000 Married and Filing Jointly                 0%   $25,000 to 34,000   Single and Head of Household                                              ...

ELDERUPDATES.COM, NO. 53

ELDERUPDATES.COM, NO. 53 December 23, 2014 FIRST ANNIVERSARY ISSUE   THE GENERATION that fought WWII now brings you the generation that is afraid to show a movie – “Interview” – which does not meet North Korea’s standards for approval.  Talk about “the mouse that roared”. Quite possibly, theatres were concerned they would be sued if something happened.  Whatever the studio’s reason(s), this sets a very bad (and cowardly), precedent.  The FBI has determined the source of the attack on Sony was North Korea.  President Obama promised a response, and apparently much of North Korea’s internet went down on Monday.  (Various, including NBC, NPR, L.A. Times, etc.) BOTH the Achieving Better Life Experience Act, (ABLE), enabling states to allow families (and others), the ability to put after pre-tax income in accounts for severely disabled children for use for “qualified expenses” such as housing and education and the Disabled Military Child Protection Act, were passed as part of the budget agreement. (Various.)  (Note: Creatively using the ABLE powers to pay for housing and the Special Needs Trust powers to pay for non-housing expenses may allow the parents of a disabled child to more fully provide for them, at least for awhile.) ALWAYS WONDERED how Social Security benefit calculation works? For typical 62 year old worker who only worked in the private sector (public sector workers have a “windfall” provision which adjusts their social security if they have less than 30 years private employment), the benefit is calculated as follows:   First $816 of average monthly earnings multiplied by 90%; Next $4,101 of average monthly earnings multiplied by 32%; and Remaining earnings multiplied...

ELDERUPDATES.COM, NO. 52

ELDERUPDATES.COM, NO. 52 December 16, 2014   A DEAR FRIEND of mine who suffered from chronic severe pain (sciatica and other conditions), and major depression, took her life this week, in the midst of the holiday season.  And we had thought she was getting better with her new medications.  She wrote, in a card which we received in the mail afterwards: “Dear Brian and Yvonne, I have been very mentally ill most of my life.  Your mom didn’t see it.  Most of the psychologists and psychiatrists, including the one I’m seeing  now, don’t see it.  The depression is so bad.  Mostly every time you’ve seen me, I’ve been acting.  It’s just getting too hard.  I can’t stop crying and I can’t act anymore.  You’ve both been wonderful to me and I love you but I hope you understand I need some relief.  Goodbye my friends.  K” (full name omitted to protect her privacy). She stayed at a nice hotel one night, then drove her car to a supermarket parking lot.  Then, we don’t know exactly when, she shot herself. If we had a Death with Dignity Law my friend could have chosen to end her life, if at all, with calm and dignity.  She could have spoken openly about her choice.  She could have been with those she loved.  Instead, she died violently and alone, with no one to comfort her. This holiday season please keep your eyes, ears and hearts open to anyone showing signs of major depression, which can often accompany a major illness. ——————————————————————————————————– $1.1 trillion spending bill is approved by Congress, including raising campaign donation limits ten times...

ELDERUPDATES.COM, NO. 51

ELDERUPDATES.COM, No. 51 December 9, 2014 ALTHOUGH it didn’t receive the attention it deserves, we should remember that 73 years ago on December 7th, Pearl Harbor was bombed and led to our entry into WWII. DECIDING when to take Social Security can be made easier by using the sophisticated calculators found at MaximizeMySocialSecurity.com, SocialSecuritySolutions.com, and SocialSecurityChoices.com.  Then take the print outs to your financial adviser.  (Los Angeles Times, December 7, 2014.) HEALTH CARE spending grew at a record low pace of 3.6% last year due to a weak economy and changes by the Affordable Care Act.  (Los Angeles Times, December 4, 2014.) Those who choose not to insure themselves rely instead on an insurer of last resort – you, who pay taxes. At lunch a year or so ago I heard a man tell my friend that the man’s daughter was not going to purchase health insurance through Obamacare.  He said she could get Medi-Cal if she is sick or hurt and would willingly pay the (then) $95 penalty for not having insurance instead of buying insurance.  While I am not sure you can get Medi-Cal after you are injured, my understanding is this year’s penalty is over $300 to reduce “free riders”. 3 CAR technologies that reduce danger: Smart headlights that sense other cars and dim or brighten in response; Adaptive seat belts which properly fit older and/or smaller people instead of riding too high up on the chest; and Collision mitigation systems which cause a car to brake automatically before running into the car in front of it. (ARRP Magazine, December, 2014.) OVER half of seniors with student...

ELDERUPDATES.COM, NO. 50

ELDERUPDATES.COM, No. 50 December 2, 2014   OPEC (the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries), has decided that for now, rather than try to keep the price of oil up, they will instead compete at a lower price, in an attempt to drive U.S. shale oil operators out of business. Older readers will remember that OPEC first came to fame in the oil boycott of 1973 when they refused to sell oil to the U.S. creating waiting lines and gas shortages.  Only now, with the increase in U.S. oil production, has this country been free of the need to import OPEC oil.  Most likely, if OPEC is successful in driving the shale oil operators out of business, OPEC will try to force the prices back up by limiting supply (as it has done in the past).  In the meantime, several drivers interviewed on television stated they would be driving more, so low prices are good for the consumer, but bad for the environment. Perhaps because this issue requires too much thought, most television media (other than Bloomberg), simply ignored it. REVERSE MORTGAGES may now require mortgage insurance, which can add hundreds of dollars a month to the cost.  (Los Angeles Times, November 28, 2014.) RESPONDING to concerns about elder scams one reader wrote:  “I wanted to know if there is a danger to the older community or am I just getting to be a lucky member.  I get about two telephone calls per week from a New York number that tells me to call them back because I am about to be charged with a crime and they can help me...