ELDERUPDATES.COM, NO. 108

ELDERUPDATES.COM, No. 108 JANUARY 28, 2016   FRAUDSTER WARNING!  The IRS will never call you or send you an email.  Nor will the state government.  They will always contact you through the U.S. Mail.  Fraudsters create very misleading websites asking for your personal information, or call you and threaten legal action against you if you don’t pay your back taxes or any number of other things at this time of year.  If you see an email from the “IRS” just delete it.  If you get a phone call from the “IRS” just hang up.  Don’t stay around to be talked into something you should know is a scam. SOCIAL Security reports emails with subject line “Get Protected,” advertise new safety features, then downloads a virus into the recipient’s computer when he or she clicks on the scammer’s link.  (Social Security at ssa.gov, January 29, 2016.) IF a lower earning spouse collects their own benefit at any age he or she may be provided an extra bump if the higher earning spouse’s benefit is more than double that of the lower earning spouse when the second spouse files.  The extra bump will bring the lower earnings spouse’s benefit up to ½ the higher earning spouse.  So, if you are the higher earning spouse it is even more important to wait until 70 to collect your benefits.  (American Association of Individual Investors, January 2016.) Example: John retires at 63 with $1,100 mo/ benefits Jane retires at 70 with 2500 mo/benefits $2,500/ 2 = $1,250 $1,250 – $1,100 = $150 John will get an extra bump of $150 per month when Jane...

ELDERUPDATES.COM, NO. 107

ELDERUPDATES.COM, No. 107 JANUARY 21, 2016   THERE was no social security increase for inflation this year but Kiplinger Letter reports prices will nudge up 1.5 to 2% for food.  (The Kiplinger Letter, January 8, 2016.) WANT information about Medicare?  Go to “medicare.gov” and press “Forms, Help and Resources” and then press “Free Medicare Publications”.   LOS Angeles Unified School District hires new chief from the ranks.  (Los Angeles Times, January 15, 2016.)  Question now is whether she can rise up to look over the fences of the existing bureaucracy for new ideas on management, teaching, materials and technology.  80% of Los Angeles Unified’s students are poor vs. 25% for the average school district. GAS leak continues at Porter Ranch and risk of blowout increases as wellhead weakens after 7 attempts to plug leak.  There is now a crater at the underground well head 25’ deep, 80’ long and 30’ wide.  (Los Angeles Times, January 15, 2016.)  Some community members are demanding an immediate stop to the leak as if it could be done by the flick of a switch or putting a big cap on the well.  It’s technical and dangerous and will take some time to do it right.  Porter Ranch residents had 2 consecutive days of questions (yelling at) for government representatives, as the residents carried signs saying “Shut it. All. Down.” PET owners are starting to blame the leak for pet illnesses and cancers, (Los Angeles Times, January 18, 2016), even though cancers normally take a long time to develop.  It is common for people aware of an environmental problem to blame it for unrelated illnesses;...

ELDERUPDATES.COM, NO. 106

ELDERUPDATES.COM, No. 106 JANUARY 14, 2016   CALIFORNIA budget proposal includes minimal additions for on-going expenses but “liberal” one-time expenses and payments to reduce state government debt.  Big winners are Medi-Cal and education.  (Los Angeles Times, January 8, 2016.) PRESIDENT Obama gave an upbeat State of the Union speech, particularly urging American to regain the courage we had to initiate the space race and to reject any tendency towards isolationism. President Obama “sought to pose and answer the four central questions his aides said were driving the debate about America’s future, including how to ensure opportunity for everyone, how to harness technological change, how to keep the country safe and how to fix the nation’s broken politics.”  (New York Times, January 13, 2016.) STUDENTS needing financial aid should get their FAFSA forms (Free Application for Federal Student Aid), completed as soon as possible since some scholarships or grant funds may dry up if one waits to the deadline to apply.  (The WEEK, January 15, 2016.) MANY Porter Ranch residents have not been relocated despite court order that Gas company find alternate housing in 72 hours.  (Los Angeles Times, January 8, 2016.)  Apparently, this underground gas storage facility was known for the last 50 years and discussed while the licensing of Porter Ranch was being considered. So far, Gas Company has spent $50 M fixing the leak and now faces 25 separate lawsuits.  (Los Angeles Times, January 9, 2015.)  Costs to fix leak, defend lawsuits and pay settlements could rise to billions.  Costs will be paid by insurance and..?…ratepayers. MEANWHILE, South Coast Air Quality Management District is “scolded” by state...

ELDERUPDATES.COM, NO. 105

ELDERUPDATES.COM, No. 105 JANUARY 7, 2016   CALIFORNIA = high taxes = fewer jobs.  Everyone knows the equation.  New study prepared by Beacon Economics reports California has created faster than the nation as a whole and faster than all but 4 other states over the last decade.  From 2007 to 2013 more people making $100,000 a year came to California than left.  (Los Angeles Times, January 2, 2016.) OPPONENTS of “Aid-in-Dying” effort fail to gain enough signatures to place repeal measure on the ballot, collecting only 200,000 of the 365,000 required signatures.  (Los Angeles Times, January 5, 2016)  Further, since the state did not check the signatures it is unknown how many of these 200,000 are valid signatures from currently registered voters. MEGASHIPS bringing 15,000 TEU (a measurement of the size of the shipping containers), carry so much cargo the containers could be laid end to end and reach from Santa Monica to Santa Barbara.  (Los Angeles Times, January 1, 2016.)  Now if just 1 of those containers exploded and sunk the ship what a mess that would be!  Even worse if it contained hazardous chemicals, poisons or nuclear materials.  Hopefully, these containers are well inspected at their point of origin. AFFLUENZA teen’s mom is held in Los Angeles jail on charges of helping her son flee to Mexico to avoid probation.  (Los Angeles Times, January 1, 2016.)  Her lawyer claims she broke no law but helping a fugitive escape is against the law as I know it. GOVERNOR Brown declares Porter Ranch gas leak is an emergency, ordering California agencies to resolve the issue.  Southern California Gas expects to leak to be...

ELDERUPDATES.COM. NO. 104

ELDERUPDATES.COM, No. 104 DECEMBER 31, 2015   TEXAS teenager with “affluenza” apparently apprehended in Mexico.  (NBC News, December 29, 2015.)  “Affluenza” apparently can only get you so far, but who thought it would only be to Mexico? MORNINGSTAR makes 5 recommendations regarding year-end portfolio mistakes to avoid: Don’t rush into a full-blown portfolio overhaul if you don’t have time to do it right; Don’t automatically sell laggards without finding out why they are lagging other stocks; Don’t rebalance taxable investments without considering tax consequences; Don’t buy ahead of a distribution (but it’s okay if you are in a tax-deferred account); and Don’t reflexively dodge capital gains distributions without considering the sale on your overall portfolio and plan. (Morningstar Fund Investor, December 2015.) AARP’s list of 7 deadly financial sins includes: Don’t optimistically assume you will die before your money runs out; Pleasure from purchases of “shiny things” is often short-lived; Failure to invest your money is ticket to inflation-adjusted losses; Impulsive financial decisions are rarely right; Trust your financial adviser – but only to a point. When an adviser discloses a conflict of interest that can sometimes foster more trust; Don’t be greedy. (Remember the saying, “bears make money, bulls make money, pigs sleep in the mud); and Organization, rather than disorder, is your friend when it comes to understanding your finances. (AARP, December 2015.) SCAMS multiply during tax season.  The IRS will never call you on the phone or send you an email, ask for credit card numbers over the phone or threaten you with arrest for non-payment.  (Consumer Reports, February, 2016.) DIFFICULTY sleeping?  Consumer Reports (February, 2016),...