Tag Archives: financial advisor

Social Security Taxes

My comments: Social Security is under threat. It’s running out of money. Sort of.

Back in 1983, under President Reagan, Congress made some changes as, like now, the future of the program looked cloudy. They increased the age at which you qualified for full benefits, they increased the percentage of earned income you paid into the system and they raised the threshhold for how much of your earned income was subject to the FICA tax.

This is a good explanation of what it going on now.

By William Perez October 31, 2016

The Social Security tax is a tax applied to income related to labor. All employees and self-employed entrepreneurs pay into Social Security through the Social Security tax, which is also known as Old-Age, Survivors, and Disability Insurance (OASDI).

The Social Security tax functions very much like a flat tax. A single rate of 12.4% is applied to wage and self-employment income earned by a worker up to a maximum dollar limit.

Half of this tax is paid for by the employee in the form of payroll withholding. The other half of this tax is paid for by the employer. Self-employed persons pay both halves of the Social Security tax since they are both the employee and the employer.

Social Security tax rates

Employees pay 6.2% of their wage earnings, up to the maximum wage base.

Employers pay 6.2% of their employee’s wage earnings, up to the maximum wage base.

Self-employed persons pay the combined rate of 12.4% of their net earnings from self-employment, up to the maximum wage base. This is calculated as part of the self-employment tax on Schedule SE.

The Math Behind the Social Security Tax

All wages and self-employment income up to the Social Security wage base in effect for a given year is subject to the Social Security tax.

Social Security Wage Base by Year
2017 $127,200
2016 $118,500
2015 $118,500
2014 $117,000
2013 $113,700
2012 $110,100
2011 $106,800
Source: Social Security Administration, Contribution and Benefit Base

Earnings up to the Social Security wage base amount have the Social Security tax applied. Earnings over the wage base amount do not have the Social Security tax applied.

The math works like this:

  • If wages are less than $127,200 in the year 2017, then wages times 6.2% is the amount the employee pays and wages times 6.2% is the amount the employer pays.
  • If wages are more than $127,200 in the year 2017, then 127,200 times 6.2% is the amount the employee pays and this is also the same amount the employer pays.

What is the Social Security Tax For?

Unlike income taxes, which are paid into the general fund of the United States and can be used for any purposes, Social Security taxes are paid into special trust funds that can be used only to pay for current and future Social Security retirement benefits, benefits for widows and widowers, and disability benefits.

Historical information about Social Security Taxes

Special Rate Reduction for 2011 and 2012

Back in the years 2011 and 2012, the Social Security tax rate paid by employees is 4.2% instead of the normal 6.2%. Employers still pay the full 6.2% rate. Thus for 2011 and 2012, the combined Social Security tax rate is 10.4%. Self-employed persons will pay this 10.4% combined rate on their earnings. This special payroll tax holiday was enacted as part of the Tax Relief Act of 2010, then extended through February 2012 by HR 3765, and then further extended through the end of 2012 by HR 3630.

The reduced Social Security tax rate was not renewed for 2013 as part of the American Taxpayer Relief Act. For 2013, the Social Security tax reverts to its normal tax rate of 6.2% for employees, 6.2% for employers, and 12.4% for self-employed persons.

Thus for 2011 and 2012, we substitute 4.2% for 6.2% in the above math formulas for the amount paid by the employee. At the maximum wage base of $106,800 for 2011, this translates into a tax savings of $2,136, as follows:

  • Social security tax at the normal rate: 106,800 times 6.2% = $6,621.60
  • Social security tax at the reduced rate for 2011: 106,800 times 4.2% = $4,485.60

At the 2012 maximum wage base of $110,100, this translates into a tax savings of $2,202, as follows:

  • Social security tax at the normal rate: 110,100 times 6.2% = $6,826.20
  • Social security tax at the reduced rate for 2012: 110,100 times 4.2% = $4,624.20

You can plug in your own salary level to determine your own personal savings from the payroll tax holiday. If your earnings from wages and self-employment are less than the wage base, simply multiply your earnings by 2% to find your savings. If your earnings are more than the wage base, you receive the maximum savings of $2,136 (for 2011) and $2,202 (for 2012).

What Happens to the “Missing” Social Security Funds from the 2-Year Tax Rate Reduction?

To prevent Social Security from losing tax revenue, Congress mandated that revenues be transferred from the general fund to the Social Security trust funds to make up for the tax reduction. This is provided for in section 601 of the Tax Relief Act, which reads in part, “There are hereby appropriated to the Federal Old-Age and Survivors Trust Fund and the Federal Disability Insurance Trust Fund established under section 201 of the Social Security Act (42 U.S.C. 401) amounts equal to the reduction in revenues to the Treasury by reason of the application of subsection (a). Amounts appropriated by the preceding sentence shall be transferred from the general fund at such times and in such manner as to replicate to the extent possible the transfers which would have occurred to such Trust Fund had such amendments not been enacted.”

Investment Test

moneyMy Comments: I have no idea where the following came from. I found them in my archives and decided the respective statements and explanation are still very relevant. And besides, today is Monday and that’s when I post stuff about investing money. My apologies for not being able to correctly attribute this post.

Which investment has the highest average annual returns, historically?

Since 1978, according to Morningstar, stocks have returned an average annual 11.6%, compared with 11.1% for real estate, 8.9% for bonds and just 5.2% for the shiny yellow metal.

When yields go down, bond prices go up.

If market interest rates fall, which means new bonds will be issued with lower yields, the prices of outstanding bonds will rise. It’s simple supply and demand. Say you purchase a $10,000, 10-year bond with a 2% yield. That gives you $200 a year in interest. Now imagine that rates fall and new 10-years are issued at 1%. A buyer can choose between your bond, yielding 2% and paying $200 annually, or a new bond paying just $100 a year. Naturally, your bond will command a premium price in the secondary market. Similarly, if new bonds are yielding 3%, your 2% bond will become less attractive and will have to sell at a discount to attract any interest. So while the yield of your bond remains fixed for the life of the security, the market will adjust the price you can get for it to reflect current market rates.

The higher the yield on a dividend-paying stock, the safer the investment.

In fact, the opposite might be the case. Find the yield by dividing the stock’s dividend per share by the share price. If the high yield reflects an overly generous dividend, you have to ask yourself whether the company has the cash to sustain it. Look for a positive free cash flow, which means a company has invested what it needs to maintain its business and has money left over to spend on dividends. Another measure is the stock’s payout ratio—the percentage of earnings paid out in dividends. The average payout ratio for the S&P 500 has been around 40% recently. A spiking yield likely indicates a sinking stock price. That’s a red flag that demands further investigation.

A company’s market capitalization is calculated by multiplying the stock price by the number of shares outstanding.

Although definitions vary, so-called large-capitalization stocks are generally considered to be those with a market value of $5 billion or more; mid-cap stocks fall within the $2 billion to $5 billion range; and small-cap stocks are classified as those with a market value of less than $2 billion. Slicing and dicing a little further gets you mega-caps, at $100 billion or more, and micro-caps, at $50 million to $300 million.

Stocks aren’t in a bear market until they lose 20% of their value.

The classic definition of a bear market is a 20% decline from the previous peak, although the average loss suffered in 13 bear markets since 1929 is nearly 40%, measured by losses in Standard & Poor’s 500-stock index (not including dividends). A stock market “correction” is generally considered to be a pullback of at least 10%. Since World War II, there have been 11 bear markets and 21 corrections.

The best time to buy stocks is at the start of an economic expansion. The best time to sell is when there’s a recession.

The stock market anticipates the economy, not the other way around, typically by six to nine months. By the time you know there’s a recession, your portfolio has most likely already taken a big hit, and by the time a recession is pronounced over, stocks have usually been off to the races for a while. The Great Recession began in December 2007, according to the National Bureau of Economic Research, the official arbiter of recessions and expansions. But stocks had already peaked in October. And if you missed the start of the bull market on March 9, 2009, because you were waiting for the recession’s end, which came in June of that year, you’d have missed a 64% rally.

A stock with a low price-earnings ratio is always a better bargain than a stock with a high P/E.

Context matters with P/Es, which are calculated by dividing a company’s stock price by its earnings per share, often estimated for the coming 12 months. What’s high for a mature utility company could be low for a fast-growing tech stock, for example. Stocks in the utilities and tech sectors recently sported average P/Es of 18 and 17, respectively. Based on historical norms, that implied that utilities were overvalued by 19%, while tech stocks were 17% undervalued. In the same way, analysts at S&P Global recently considered biotech drugmaker Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, with a P/E approaching 25, to be a better buy than blue-chip pharmaceutical firm Pfizer, with a P/E of 12. P/Es are most useful when comparing a company with its peer group, or comparing an industry with its long-term average.

A strategy that calls for investing a fixed amount at regular intervals is known as:

Dollar-cost averaging can lower the average cost of shares because you are spreading out your purchases, hopefully buying more when prices are lower and fewer when prices are high. If you invest all of your money at once, rather than at regular intervals, you might get unlucky and buy the stock at or near its peak price.

The strategy also helps curb harmful behavioral inclinations. If you’re apprehensive about investing, dollar-cost averaging makes it easier to take the plunge by spreading your risk over an extended period. Once you’re in the market, the strategy can help you stick to your plan. Putting everything into the market at once guarantees that you’ll know all too well how much you’ve lost if you happen to invest at the wrong time. Investing at intervals erases that fixed reference point, making it easier to keep your cool.

How many companies in Standard & Poor’s 500-stock index have a triple-A credit rating?

Microsoft and Johnson & Johnson are the only companies to sport Standard & Poor’s highest rating, after ExxonMobil lost its AAA rating in April 2016. In 1980, 32 S&P 500 companies carried the coveted triple-A rating. Apple, which has the largest weight in the S&P index, has an AA+ rating.

In investing, the pleasure of making money trumps the pain of losing.

Investors feel the pain of a loss about twice as much as they feel the pleasure of the same-size gain, say market behavior psychologists. This loss aversion can contribute to a number of investing mistakes. Investors who fear a loss, and especially those who have recently suffered one, can be reluctant to take risks that are entirely appropriate. For example, many investors shunned the stock market after the 2007-09 financial crisis, missing out on significant gains. Loss aversion can also cause an investor to sell what should be a long-term holding too soon, after a short-term hiccup. Conversely, an investor might hold on to a losing investment too long, reluctant to lock in the loss.

Why Trump Can’t Make It 1981 Again

flag USMy Comments: Most of you know I’m no fan of Donald Trump. But I am a realist and my primary focus going forward is to figure out how to best help myself and my clients manage the fallout that is coming. While Reagan was recognized as a ‘great communicator’, Trump will be seen as a ‘great disrupter’. Whether that results in a net positive for all of us remains to be seen.

Some of my effort will be to help others define and articulate a world in which the values I think are important are not simply thrown in a dumpster. Among the forces at work that will at times stymie us is a push to re-invent the present so it more closely resembles the past. That’s not going to happen. The sooner we stop living in the past and accept what is in front of us, the better our chances for success.

By RUCHIR SHARMA / JAN. 14, 2017

As if Donald J. Trump’s victory wasn’t surprising enough, the economic reaction has been even more stunning. Despite forecasts of a stock market meltdown if he won, the market registered one of its strongest postelection rallies in more than a century. Now the euphoria is spilling into the wider economy, with business confidence skyrocketing and consumer confidence hitting a 15-year high. Much of this excitement is inspired by a growing consensus that Mr. Trump could be the most-business friendly president since Ronald Reagan.

Indeed Mr. Trump’s advisers say that over the next decade, their plans for tax cuts and deregulation could push the average annual growth rate back up to 3.5 percent — the same as during the Reagan presidency. Mr. Trump says the country can grow even faster. His backers dismiss skeptics as defeatists and have insisted there is “no law of nature or economics” that would prevent the United States from reviving the boom of the 1980s.

Only there is such a law. The forces that underlie economic growth have weakened significantly since the Reagan years, worldwide. No nation, no matter how exceptional, can try to grow faster than economic forces allow without the risk of provoking a volatile boom-bust cycle.

The potential growth rate of an economy is roughly determined — and limited — by the sum of two factors: population and productivity. An economy can grow steadily only by adding more workers, or by increasing output per worker. During the Reagan years, both population and productivity were growing at around 1.7 percent a year, so the potential United States growth rate was close to 3.5 percent. In short, Reagan did not push the nation’s economic engine to run faster than it could handle.

When Mr. Trump and his advisers promise to make America great again, they are in effect envisioning Reagan 2.0, while overlooking how much has changed. In recent years, America’s population and productivity growth have fallen to around .75 percent each, generously measured, so potential economic growth is roughly 1.5 percent, less than half the rate of the Reagan era. Any policy package that aims to push an economy beyond its potential could easily backfire — in the form of higher deficits and inflation.
The population and productivity formula is well known and undisputed — yet widely ignored amid the current euphoria.

In the last 1,000 years, no economy has ever broken free of the limits imposed by population growth. Before the late 19th century, global population growth did not exceed half a percent, and global economic growth did not exceed 1 percent for any sustained period. Before World War II, population growth increased to 1 percent, and economic growth accelerated to about 2 percent. After the war, the baby boom pushed population growth toward 2 percent, and economic growth rose to nearly 4 percent for the first and only time in world history.

Now, as families around the world have fewer children, global population growth has fallen to about 1 percent. The baby boom has gone bust, and the best any nation can do is contain the economic damage. With the United States population growth rate falling — last year to the slowest rate recorded since the 1930s — it is extremely unlikely that any president could juice the economy to grow at a steady 3.5 percent or more over the next decade.

Slow population growth undermines the economy by delivering fewer young people into the work force. Nations can partly compensate by raising the retirement age or admitting more immigrant workers. Mr. Trump, however, has no such plans. His advisers focus instead on bringing back the many American workers who have given up on finding jobs and dropped out of the labor force. But this strategy can have only limited effect. The main reason fewer workers participate in the nation’s labor force is not that they are discouraged, but that they are over 55, the age when many people stop working or work less.

In general, commentators who believe the United States can go back to the 1980s focus not on population but on productivity. They argue that Reagan-style tax cuts and deregulation can increase investment in new plants and equipment, and substantially raise output per worker. But productivity is much harder to measure and forecast than population.

Rather than enter that foggy debate, then, let’s assume Mr. Trump’s team can more than double United States productivity growth to the rate achieved in the Reagan era, 1.7 percent. Given the irreversible fact of slowing population growth, that productivity miracle would still raise the potential growth rate of the domestic economy to only around 2.5 percent. If that doesn’t sound so different from 3.5 percent, consider that every percentage point of growth in the domestic economy is worth more than $100 billion — the difference between feeling pretty good and Great Again.

The nub of the problem here is nostalgia for a bygone era. The postwar world grew accustomed to the rapid growth made possible by the baby boom. Not every country with rapid population growth enjoyed a steady economic boom, but few economies boomed without it. And for most countries, the era of population growth is now over.

The pressure of falling population growth means that every class of countries needs to adopt a new math of economic success, and bring its definition of strong growth down by a full point or more. For developed nations like the United States, with average incomes over $25,000, any rate above 1.5 percent should be seen as relatively good.
Comparing United States growth unfavorably to China’s, as Mr. Trump has, makes little sense because poorer countries always tend to grow faster. If your starting income is lower, it’s much easier to double it. But slowing population growth is also weighing on countries in China’s income class, and for them the baseline for economic success should also be revised downward, to around 4 percent.

The risks of excessive ambition are real. In recent years the actual growth rate of the United States economy has been about 2 percent, which is disappointing in comparison with the 1980s, but far from horrible, given its diminished potential. Often, if a country pushes the economy to grow much faster than its potential, it will start to suffer from rising debts and deficits. Inflation will rise, forcing the central bank to raise interest rates aggressively, which can prompt a recession. This risk is particularly high at a time, like the present, when the United States is already running the largest deficit ever recorded at this stage of an economic expansion.

It will be difficult to persuade people to accept the reality of slower growth. Voters in many countries are already turning to populists who are promising miracles and attempting nationalist economic experiments. The coming era is likely to bring more such experimentation and diversion, but the new math of slower growth will remain.
Ruchir Sharma, author of “The Rise and Fall of Nations: Forces of Change in the Post-Crisis World,” is chief global strategist at Morgan Stanley Investment Management.

Investment Strategies for Your Retirement Accounts

InvestMy Comments: A phrase I’m known to use from time to time is that ‘life is generally better with more money than it is with less money.” While this might seem obvious, there are many people whose efforts to have more money have fallen flat. Here’s a few ideas that might help you.

Michelle Mabry, CFP®, AIF® January 26, 2017

With interest rates coming off a 36-year low and expected to rise, most investors expect to see bond prices fall and consequently deliver a negative return in what is considered a low-risk asset. We have seen a rebound in equities, and with the S&P 500 and Dow at all-time highs, some say the stock market is richly valued. As a retiree seeking income from your investments and looking to preserve your principal, where can you turn? What are ways retirees can invest for income and still minimize risk?

You have always heard you need a diversified portfolio and that has not changed, but what has changed is how you diversify it. Retirees need to determine the proper asset allocation of stocks, bonds, cash and alternatives based on income needs, time frame, and tolerance for risk.

How to Diversify Investments in Retirement

Let’s look at bonds first. If you invest in a traditional bond portfolio you are exposing yourself to interest-rate risk as rates rise and bond prices fall. You need to understand the average duration of the bond investments you hold. For example, a typical intermediate-term bond fund will have a duration of 5-10 years. If the average duration is eight years, then a 1% increase in rates will result in an 8% decrease in the net asset value (NAV). This would wipe out all the interest gains and then some. The shorter the duration, the less the potential loss.

So it is important to look for other assets that have low-risk characteristics or standard deviation similar to bonds but produce absolute returns, that is, a positive return regardless of which way rates are moving. Floating rate income, TIPs and some market neutral funds can be a good way to diversify your fixed-income portfolio. You may also want to look at structured notes as a way to produce yield and protect your downside.

Dividends as Equity

For the equity portion of your retirement portfolio, consider blue chip dividend-paying stocks or dividend growth strategies. Many large-cap funds pay dividends in excess of 2.5%, plus you have the upside appreciation potential over time to keep pace with inflation during your retirement years. Remember to keep focused on the longer term and not be too concerned with short-term volatility. Dividend-paying stocks have outperformed most other asset classes over time. Small-cap stocks have been one of the best-performing asset classes, so it would make sense to find dividend-paying small- and mid-cap equities as well.

When searching the universe of mutual funds and ETFs, there are not many of these, but a couple that have attracted our attention are WisdomTree Midcap Dividend Fund and WisdomTree Small Cap Dividend Fund with yields of 2.63% and 3.03% respectively as of December 30, 2016. Of close to 2,000 ETFs available in the U.S., a search revealed only four that are exclusively dividend-driven and which also hold just domestic small- or mid-cap stocks. Two of the portfolios feature issues that have exhibited dividend growth while the other two ETFs (the WisdomTree funds) include all dividend payers in their capitalization range.

Include Alternative Assets for Diversification

Also important in developing a portfolio for retirement is a focus on absolute return strategies, and many of these fall into the alternative asset class. Alternatives are anything that is not a stock, bond or cash. Alternatives have no correlation or negative correlation to other asset classes so they are great diversifiers. Our retired clients typically have one-third of their portfolio in alternatives. Examples include managed futures and long/short strategies as well as volatility strategies using options. An example is LJM Preservation and Growth which has shown a positive return every year since its inception 10 years ago with the exception of one year, 2013, when the stock market went straight up and there really was no volatility. The fund was up in 2008 when stocks and bonds were not, and therein lies the importance of a diversified portfolio to manage risk.

By rebalancing your investments quarterly or semi-annually back to the original investment allocations you can create the cash needed to sustain your monthly withdrawals in retirement until the next rebalance. We do not recommend a withdrawal rate in excess of 4% in light of current market and economic conditions.

Your Local Social Security Office: Who Can Help

SSA-image-3My Comments: There are a lot of good people working for the Social Security Administration. It’s just that some of them are not equipped to answer your questions. This leads to frustration and sometimes making the wrong choices. Here’s an article that might be helpful if you have questions of them and need the right answer.

Devin Carroll | February 17, 2017

I help a lot of clients with Social Security. One thing they all have in common is that they’ve called their local Social Security office at least once. Most of these calls have ended in frustration. It doesn’t have to be that way. If you know who to ask for, you’ll get the help you need.

I often consult with individuals throughout the nation regarding Social Security issues. For some, it’s simply determining how their filing strategy fits in with their overall retirement plan and making sure they haven’t missed anything. For others, I help solve complex Social Security problems. Many that I help would never call me if they would have received a satisfactory answer and solid advice when they called their local Social Security office. So I may be hurting myself slightly, but I can’t stand to see any more bad, and sometimes non-reversible, decisions made as a result of incorrect guidance from the Social Security Administration.

I’m going to tell you who to ask for the next time you call.

The Hierarchy at the Social Security Office

If you’ve ever been to your local Social Security office, you’ve probably seen a maze of cubicles and possibly more employees than you expected. All these people have a role and handle very specific areas of Social Security benefits. Within each Social Security office there is a hierarchy of representatives. Not all are created equal. For retirement and disability benefits, the Social Security employee will most likely have one of the following titles.

Service representatives have the responsibility of handling general inquiries, fixing simple post-claim issues and answering the phones. Simply put, they are generalists. Although this is the first position for a new hire, I wouldn’t automatically discount their experience. Some service representatives begin—and end—a long Social Security career with the same title. Just understand, the service representative that answers your call may be a six-month employee or a 25-year employee.

Claims Representative

The claims representative is there for one reason: to assist individuals in filing claims to benefits under Social Security programs. Unless you are ready to process your claim, you’ll have little interaction with this representative.

Technical Expert

The technical experts handle the complex cases and do the stuff that’s too complicated for the others. Those I’ve come in contact with have exhibited a deep understanding of the rules and provisions of the Social Security programs. But you won’t find them answering the phones or meeting with just anyone. Normally, you have to be referred by a service representative or a claims representative to get in front of the technical expert.

How to Get Help

The next time you call (or visit) your local Social Security office, you’ll speak to a service representative. Give them a chance and they may be able to help you. However, if you have ANY doubt about what you’re being told, it’s time to escalate. Ask them to let you speak to a technical expert. It may take a while, but eventually you’ll be able speak to the most knowledgeable person in the office.

Source: http://www.investopedia.com/advisor-network/articles/021717/your-local-social-security-office-who-can-help/#ixzz4ZLjiVeHc

Trump is in the wrong place at the wrong time when it comes to the stock market

changeaheadroadsignMy Comments: It’s Monday, my day to talk about investments. Today, there will be two posts instead of one.

I think we’re in a bubble, and those don’t end well. From the tulip mania bubble several hundred years ago in Holland to the DotCom bubble in 1999-2000, a lot of people lost a lot of money.

If you aren’t already concerned about your exposure to the markets, you need to be. The downside threat far exceeds the upside potential.

Frank Chaparro / Feb 19, 2017

It looks like this bull market just won’t quit. Friday marked the 2,003 trading day since the stock market rally began back in 2009, making it even longer than the bull market that preceded the 1929 crash.

And since President Donald Trump’s surprise victory in November, stocks have been on a seemingly unstoppable upswing with the S&P 500 rallying nearly 10%.

The S&P 500, Dow Jones industrial average, and the Nasdaq all recently hit all-time highs at the same time for five straight days, making for the longest such streak in 25 years.

On top of that, stocks have not witnessed a 1% decrease since October 11. That is the longest streak since 2006.

As Trump noted in a tweet Thursday morning, consumer confidence has also improved. In January, consumer confidence soared to the highest level in over a decade.

And it’s not surprising that confidence is soaring when you consider the fact that a number of economic indicators are improving. The latest jobs report, for instance, exceeded forecasters expectations with 227,000 jobs added versus the predicted 180,000.

And that’s not all. Confidence also seems to have translated into higher retail sales. Retail sales picked up a 0.4% gain in January, which exceeded the 0.1% gain analysts expected.

But despite all of this data that suggests a strong and resolute economy and market, Michael Paulenoff, the president of Pattern Analytics, is still convinced a correction is on the horizon. He points to the current position of the Volatility Index and declining volumes as proof that our 415-weeklong rally is coming to an end.

“For decades volumes have preceded a rise in prices in the stock market. Likewise, declining volume leads to a decline in prices,” he said.

Paulenoff told Business Insider that the end of our current rally will put President Trump in the exact opposite situation as his predecessor.

President Obama presidency began a year after the stock market lost nearly 40% in the midst of the 2007-2008 financial crisis.

“When President Obama’s term as president started the markets were grossly undervalued,” he said.

“Obama just happened to be at the right place, right time — after a 50%-60% correction in the equity market amid historical fears about another depression,” Paulenoff added.

Trump, on the other hand, is not in the right place. “He is touting the upside in equity markets, for which he is not responsible,” Paulenoff said.”And it’s ironic because the coming correction is also not his fault, but people will likely attribute it to him.”

6 Reasons to Work Past Retirement Age

retirement_roadMy Comments: You may not need a reason to keep working. But more and more of us are choosing to remain employed. Modern medicine has conspired to keep us healthy, and boredom is an ugly threat. If you have great ways to spend your time and enough money to avoid running out if you live too long, good for you, go ahead and retire.

By Jane Bennett Clark | Kiplinger | Updated January 2017

Employee Benefits

The perks you get on top of your paycheck can be worth hundreds or even thousands of dollars. Among them: employer-paid life insurance and the employer contributions to your 401(k). Another biggie is health insurance, which can be cheaper than Medicare and provide more comprehensive coverage. Employer coverage is especially valuable if your spouse is younger than 65 and covered by your plan.

Whether you should maintain your employer health coverage over parts of Medicare depends on the size of your company. Here’s how it works: At 65, you qualify for Medicare Part A, which covers inpatient hospital services. Because Part A is free, you have few reasons not to enroll. At that point, you can also enroll in Medicare Part B (for doctor visits), Medicare supplemental coverage and Part D (for prescription drugs). If your company has fewer than 20 employees, you must sign up for Medicare as your primary insurance, even if your employer offers its own coverage. (If you don’t sign up for Medicare, you may not be covered at all. Discuss your options with your employer.)

If your company has 20 or more employees, however, employer-based coverage pays first, and you can stay on it if you choose. When you do retire, you can sign up for Part B and the other coverage without penalty or having to wait for open enrollment.

A Bigger Pension

If you’re lucky enough to have a pension (and it hasn’t been frozen), you may get a bigger payout by working a few more years. Pensions are calculated based on pay and years of service. Some plans base the benefit on your average earnings over the last three or five years of employment, others on your average earnings over all the years in which you’ve participated in the plan. Assuming your income is still going up, your pension benefit could be richer for every year you work.

You Like Working

Working isn’t all about paychecks and benefits. “The relationships, the recognition and the sense of fulfillment that work provides give people purpose and structure,” says Dee Cascio, a psychotherapist and retirement coach in Sterling, Va. That can be especially true for men, she says, who often rely on work for their social network. If you haven’t a clue how you’ll spend your time — and with whom — after you leave the workforce, stay on the job until you do.

A Fatter Nest Egg

Retirement planners generally recommend having enough in retirement savings to last 25 years. For instance, if the difference between your projected spending and income (including Social Security and pensions) in retirement is $25,000 a year, you’ll need 25 times $25,000, or $625,000. Fall short of the mark and working longer is the best solution. Not only will you have fewer years in which you’ll be drawing down savings, but, while you’re working, you can keep feeding your retirement accounts. Even if you don’t add a penny, the money in the accounts will continue to benefit from tax-deferred growth.

A Higher Social Security Benefit

The full retirement age for Social Security, once 65, is now 66 for people born in 1943 to 1954, and it will gradually rise to 67 for people born in 1960 or later. But for every year you delay taking the benefit past full retirement age, you get a bump of 8% in your benefit, until age 70. If you’re healthy and anticipate having at least an average life expectancy (82.9 for men who reach 65, 85.5 for women), it makes sense to wait until 70 to collect the bigger benefit, particularly if you have a spouse who will prosper from a boosted survivor benefit. But that means coming up with another way to cover your expenses during the interim. A paycheck keeps the money flowing.

Coordinating With Your Spouse

Most husbands and wives hope to retire within a year or two of each other, says Richard Johnson, director of the program on retirement policy at the Urban Institute. How so? “When you retire, you have more leisure. Most people want to spend that leisure with their partner,” Johnson says.

If your spouse is much younger or simply not ready to retire, working several more years yourself is a simple solution to the home-alone syndrome.