Posts Tagged "retirement"

Boomerang Kids Don’t Derail Their Parents

A popularized image of parents who struggle when adult children move back home is not shaping up as an accurate picture of the arrangements.

Unemployment, divorce, college graduation – adult children in their 20s and 30s move back into a parent’s home for many reasons. And the parents can have all sorts of reactions, good and bad, to their boomeranging kids.

Some parents get stressed out by young adults who return home because they need financial support. Others welcome having the kids back to pad the empty nest, help with household chores, or help pay the bills.

The return home isn’t necessarily a one-time thing either. “As they attempt to gain financial independence, adult children may alternate between living on their own and living with parents,” according to a new study of parents in their 50s and 60s. …Learn More

Middle Class Gets the Most from Medicare

width=This is a fact of retirement life: older Americans haven’t paid as much into Medicare and Medicaid as government spends on their healthcare and nursing home stays.

But it is middle-class retirees who get the most out of the system, according to a new study.

Middle-income households receive about $230,000 to $260,000 more in Medicare and Medicaid benefits, on average, during their retirement years than the total amount they’ve paid in. Their contributions consist of the Medicare payroll and income taxes deducted from workers’ paychecks, the portion of their federal and state income taxes devoted to Medicare and Medicaid, and the Medicare Part B and D premiums they are paying in retirement.

The net benefit of the programs to the middle class dwarfs the $153,000 in average net benefits for retired households in the top fifth of the lifetime earnings distribution, and it also exceeds the $196,000 gain for the bottom fifth.

The middle class is defined as the second, third, and fourth of the five earnings groups the researchers analyzed in this study. The annual data used to calculate the health spending and payment estimates for this analysis are adjusted for inflation.

width=Americans over 65 receive a third of all the medical care provided in this country. This new research, funded by the U.S. Social Security Administration, uses government administrative data to compare the benefits of Medicare and its smaller companion program, Medicaid, for each earnings group.

There are two reasons the middle class gets the most from the system. First, although the top earners live the longest and receive the most medical care, the middle class lives almost as long and ends up receiving a significant amount of care. …Learn More

50 Years of Financial Progress for Women

As the lower-paid sex, women have no shortage of insecurities about their retirement finances.

Only one in five working women feels “very confident” of being able to retire comfortably, the Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies reports in its annual retirement survey. More than half say they don’t earn enough or have too much debt to leave a lot of room for saving. Four in 10 expect to retire after 70 or not at all.

These insecurities probably reflect, to some extent, the poor retirement preparedness of Americans as a whole, not just women. In fact, women have made significant strides over the past half century. A new study documenting their personal and economic progress since the 1970s finds that their financial standing, compared with men, has improved.

Granted, women are still a long way from pay parity. But the improvements in retirement preparedness are impressive because they occurred despite the fact that women have become more independent – they are more likely to be living on their own and supporting themselves. Roughly two-thirds of boomer women born after 1953 either have never married or have been divorced for some part of their adult lives, according to the Center for Retirement Research.

What undergirds their personal and financial independence are college degrees and women’s growing participation in the labor force over five decades.

One in three baby boomer women born in the mid-1950s through the mid-1960s has a college degree – twice that of their mothers who were born during the Great Depression. Armed with the degrees, young boomer women flooded into the labor force. Three-fourths were working between their mid-30s and mid-40s, compared with 57 percent employment in the Depression-era cohort at that age. Men’s labor force participation has been much higher historically but barely changes over time.

Black women have always worked more than White women. But they too increased their labor force participation as they gained more education.

So how has women’s robust participation in the work world bolstered their financial security? …Learn More

Retirees Do a Stint in London – and Why Not?

Joanna McIsaac-Kierklo in Dublin

Joanna McIsaac-Kierklo in Dublin

Many retirees, freed from their work obligations and looking for adventure, dream of living overseas. Edward Kierklo and Joanna McIsaac-Kierklo don’t dream. They just do.

In May 2021, the couple, feeling trapped by the pandemic in their sleepy town in the Sierra Foothills east of San Francisco, decided to break out and trade rural life for 11 months in London. Joanna’s always been a risk-taker, starting at 22, when she moved to Idaho to be a Vista volunteer. London was her idea.

“Joanna says, ‘I’m tired of looking at these floors and cleaning an 1,800-square-foot home,’ ” Ed, 73, recalled. “She said, ‘Let’s sell the place and go to London.’ I said okay.”

The pandemic played a starring role in their big move. “We felt isolated and a little itchier than we might’ve been so we traded an almost-rural area for a distinctly urban setting,” he said. They relocated to London, vaccinated and boosted, in November 2021.

Edward Kierklo in Warsaw

Edward Kierklo in Warsaw

The couple, who married in their 50s, have the two things that are critical to an ex-pat adventure: fun money and their health. From their new home base, they were able to take weekend getaways all over Great Britain and on the Continent. But it took a lot of planning to move overseas.

Joanna, a former project manager in the healthcare field, is the planner in the family too. She found a London real estate specialist and figured out how to ship their Birmin cat, Suzette, across the pond – for $4,200. They flew to London and found a fifth-floor apartment in a concierge building in the borough of Ealing. The trains, shops, and restaurants were within walking distance so they didn’t need a car, and Joanna went online and bought the furniture, pots, pans, and all things necessary for the new place.

“I take the reins,” she said about their adventure. “I lift all the boxes,” Ed said.

They sold the house in California’s hot real estate market to a cash buyer 18 hours after putting it on the market and booked a nice profit. “Anyone who owns property in California is a millionaire,” said Joanna, 72.

Ed, a retired information technology professional, quickly learned that renting in London is complicated. Retirees must go through an “intrusive” and “bureaucratic” process requiring six months’ rent upfront and disclosure of numerous financial documents, he said. But he was born in England – his parents emigrated from Poland – so his British passport smoothed the path to getting a bank account. Having a passport also meant he didn’t need a visa to live in London.

Joanna, on the other hand, did. She obtained a six-month tourist visa, which required her to leave the country and return to California before her six months ran out. She then flew back to London to restart the visa clock.

During their stay, the couple enjoyed sinking into the local culture. …Learn More

COVID’s Impact on Claiming Social Security

The economy expanded smartly in the years before the Great Recession, just as it did before the COVID downturn. But the two recessions were markedly different, with opposite effects on when older workers signed up for Social Security, a new study finds.

In 2008, the stock market slid nearly 40 percent. Older Americans with retirement accounts, wanting to recoup their losses, were more likely to keep working or looking for a new job during the protracted downturn. But skyrocketing unemployment pushed many older workers in the other direction.

Social Security became an obvious fallback in the Great Recession for jobless workers who were at least 62 years old as the unemployment rate stagnated at around 10 percent for 1½ years. Not surprisingly, then, more people overall started claiming the retirement benefit early.

The COVID recession had the opposite effect on Social Security claiming. There was a slight decline in the likelihood that older workers started their benefits early – defined as prior to Social Security’s full retirement age – according to the Center for Retirement Research.

COVID played out differently mainly because the generosity of the federal pandemic assistance was unprecedented. First, in March 2020, Congress approved $600 weekly payments to supplement the standard unemployment benefit and extended them for 13 weeks. In December 2020, Congress renewed the weekly supplement at $300 and extended the benefits for 11 weeks. In March 2021, they were extended again through the end of September.

During COVID, the slight drop in claiming Social Security early was driven by older workers whose earnings are in the bottom two-thirds of all workers’ earnings. The unemployment support from the federal government made it easier for them to stay afloat without having to sign up for the retirement benefit.

The stock market also behaved much differently in the pandemic than in the 2008 financial crisis. During COVID, the market snapped back within months of its steep drop. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index rose 18 percent in 2020 and soared another 28 percent in 2021. House prices also surged.

People with assets responded to their newfound wealth, becoming more likely to sign up for their Social Security benefits early relative to those without assets, the researchers found.

Still, this impact was more than offset by the decline in early claiming overall because more older Americans were using their generous unemployment benefits to keep paying the bills. …Learn More

Traditional Medicare or an Advantage Plan?

Medicare Advantage or traditional Medicare with supplemental insurance: which should you choose?

A compelling reason so many 65-year-olds are flocking to Medicare Advantage insurance policies is that they tend to have significantly lower premiums than enrolling directly in traditional Medicare. Retirees are also inundated with advertisements on television, online and in the mail urging them to sign up for the Advantage plans, which sometimes cover vision and dental care.

But the premium alone is a superficial test for such a consequential decision. Traditional Medicare plans combined with a Medigap or Part D drug plan might, in the end, be less costly. Differences in the quality of care and the out-of-pocket costs can weigh more heavily over the long haul as retirees get older and their health declines.

The federal government spent $321 more per person in 2019 on Medicare benefits in Advantage plans than on each person enrolled directly in traditional Medicare, according to Kaiser. “The growing role of Medicare Advantage and the relatively high spending on this program raise the question of how well private plans serve their enrollees,” Kaiser said.

To shed light on the advantages and disadvantages of each route, Kaiser’s researchers combed through more than five dozen academic studies and packaged them into a report comparing the care provided under Medicare Advantage policies and traditional Medicare.

Kaiser, a healthcare non-profit, found that both choices had some important things in common, including similar levels of patient satisfaction with care, wait times, care coordination, and the ability to find a doctor or specialist.

Medicare Advantage plans are separate insurance policies, and the federal government pays the insurance company for some of the care. Traditional Medicare in this report covers people who pay the federal Medicare premium for Part A and B coverage, and people who enroll in Medicare and also buy a Medigap supplement or Part D drug policy from an insurer.

A decision made at 65 isn’t irreversible. But most retirees tend to stay put once they choose between an Advantage insurance policy and traditional Medicare. It’s also important to remember that migrating from a Medicare Advantage policy to a Medigap supplement is more difficult than going from Medigap to Medicare Advantage.

Here’s a rundown of the most salient differences in cost and care in Kaiser’s summary. But this is a complicated decision, and many of the findings are subtle. So read the full report to understand the nuances. …Learn More

How Eager are Employers to Hire Boomers?

Older Americans’ share of the labor force has doubled since the early 1990s, and they constitute roughly one in four workers today.

But their dominance is mainly an artifact of the baby boomers’ demographic bulge moving through the labor force and says little about how employers view the growing ranks of aging workers.

Employers’ willingness to hire or retain older workers, especially when someone younger is available, is an important issue for a couple related reasons. Boomers are under increasing pressure to work as long as possible to improve their finances before retiring. It’s also easier for many to work well into their 60s since people are living longer and technological advances have reduced the physical requirements for some types of work.

But do employers want boomers on the payroll?

A study by Damir Cosic at the Congressional Budget Office and C. Eugene Steuerle at the Urban Institute finds some evidence that employers increasingly view them as pretty good substitutes for workers in their prime whose age – the mid-30s to mid-50s – and experience puts them at peak productivity. What distinguishes this research is its focus on understanding the demand for older workers, a departure from the many studies describing the changes in their labor supply.

The analysis turned on whether the growth in the older labor force has affected prime-aged workers’ wages. If, for example, their wages are increasing relative to the wages of workers over 55, this may indicate that employers are more willing to hire workers in their prime, because they have qualities the older workers lack.

If, however, the younger workers’ wages are declining relative to boomers’ wages as the growing supply of older workers puts some downward pressure on pay, employers may view the boomers as acceptable substitutes for their younger counterparts and are equally willing to employ them.

The researchers found that employers viewed older workers as increasingly attractive substitutes over the period 2000 through 2018. This trend was clearly evident in several specific industries, including utilities, real estate, information, government, finance, transportation, and wholesale. …Learn More