Submitted by Jim Blankenship on Tue, 01/14/2014 - 12:00pm
If you find Social Security spousal and survivor benefits confusing, here are the differences and similarities you need to understand as you make decisions about applying for one or the other.
For one thing, you may be entitled to these benefits based on someone else’s Social Security record, such as your spouse or ex-spouse. No matter the size of your own Social Security benefit, you qualify for spousal benefits and survivor benefits if your spouse has a Social Security retirement benefit on record.
Submitted by Jonathan DeYoe on Mon, 01/13/2014 - 12:00pm
Fewer employers offer traditional pensions anymore. Many that do are ditching their plans and giving employees lump sums. Here’s what to know about your options.
With traditional plans, called defined benefit, employees don’t contribute and companies put away the money for retirees to draw on. The retired employees’ salaries, length of employment and other factors determine retirement benefits. Companies continue to slash these in many ways.
Submitted by Rick Kahler on Fri, 01/10/2014 - 9:00am
Many investors, panicked by the market crash of 2008-2009, started a search for some type of investment vehicle to protect them from the next market downturn. Some decided the answer was a variable annuity with a "guaranteed living benefit" rider. That’s a mistake.
Submitted by Sterling Raskie on Thu, 01/09/2014 - 12:00pm
Annuities offer the comfort of a steady retirement income, but this security that comes with plenty of fees and expenses. Some proceeds are taxable. All these can erode what you think you are getting.
Annuities, an insurance product, basically insure against living too long. Most carriers offering annuities charge policyholders for this insurance via mortality and expense charges (M&Es) ranging from 0.25% to more than 2%.
Submitted by Ara Oghoorian on Tue, 01/07/2014 - 12:00pm
Most investors focus only on their retirement accounts such as 401(k)s, individual retirement accounts and pensions – and overlook another powerful savings vehicle: the taxable brokerage account. Here’s how to take advantage.
Think of a taxable brokerage account as a supercharged savings account. Just as in a savings account, your money stands accessible at any time. Unlike a savings account, a taxable brokerage account allows you to invest in stocks, bonds, real estate, commodities and other vehicles.
Submitted by Joseph A. Clark on Mon, 01/06/2014 - 3:00pm
Saving for retirement is good, but too few families save dollars for the future wisely. They think they are escaping taxes, by salting away retirement money, but they are not. The taxman always gets them.
For most families, retirement is now saved via a tax-deferred program called a defined contribution plan. Typically they are either 401(k) plans for organizations that intend to be profitable or 403(b) plans for not-for-profit entities like schools and hospitals. The question isn't whether or not we should save for our future, but how.
Submitted by Eve Kaplan on Mon, 01/06/2014 - 12:00pm
If you are married, you can use your spouse’s Social Security to collect extra benefits, even before you touch your own. This often-overlooked feature may add thousands of extra dollars to your retirement income.
Social Security has a Rodney Dangerfield problem because it just doesn’t get the respect it deserves. It is a great risk-free, cost-free inflating annuity for life. But what’s even better is that married couples have additional ways to increase benefits.
Submitted by Michael Kitces on Fri, 12/27/2013 - 9:00am
Annuities appear to guarantee retirement income, an appealing prospect when you live through a few market downturns. This type of insurance comes with caveats, though, and here are a couple to think about.
Variable annuities with guaranteed living benefit riders help protect retirement income against the risk of a market catastrophe. For a moderate cost, you transfer the risk of a market decline to the insurance company while still staying invested in the market.
Submitted by Jim Blankenship on Thu, 12/26/2013 - 3:00pm
It pays to know all formulas you use to calculate your ever-changed Social Security benefits. Here’s a look at one of them, which affects how much you get, a seemingly abstruse yet crucial concept called bend points.
Submitted by Jared Kizer on Thu, 12/26/2013 - 9:00am
Public pension underfunding at the state and local level is a big concern for municipal bondholders.
Most public pension funds are significantly underfunded when their liabilities are valued using economically reasonable assumptions. In fact, the Pew Trust estimated that total underfunding was roughly $1.4 trillion as of 2010. That means the total value of pension fund assets is roughly $1.4 trillion less than the amount these funds owe to current and future retirees.