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When Your Insurance Will (and Won’t) Cover Mold Damage

When Your Insurance Will (and Won’t) Cover Mold Damage

By: valuepenguin

Mold is all too common and is often found after water damages your home, but it’s not always covered by homeowner’s insurance. Not only can mold be destructive and an eyesore, but it can also be hazardous to your family’s health and expensive to remedy, with an infestation potentially costing upwards of $30,000 to remove.

The good news is that your home insurance might help cover removal of the mold, depending on what caused the mold in the first place.

When Mold Is And Isn’t Covered

Mold is covered by your homeowners’ insurance if it is the result of water damage related to what the insurance industry terms “a common peril.” Such perils include burst pipes and an overflow from a malfunctioning AC system. If the water from such a mishap seeps into spots in your home in which mold subsequently grows, your homeowner’s insurance should cover some, if not all, of the cost of removing the growth, since the mold will be considered an extension of “water damage.”

However, you may not have the same luck should the homeowners insurance company be able to link the mold to a lack of maintenance or neglect on your part. So if, say, you’ve allowed a pipe under a sink to leak for months or years, the resulting mold will be your responsibility to remedy, since it will be deemed as resulting from your own negligence. Ditto for mold that’s grown in an environment, like a bathroom or basement, that’s so humid that a dehumidifier or some other way to remove the moisture would have been necessary.

The obviousness of a moisture problem is, of course, open to debate, and debate you may with the insurance company’s adjuster, whose job it is to evaluate the claim and determine if to cover it, and to what extent.

A final note about mold that flourishes after a flood. It may be covered, but likely only if you have purchased flood insurance. Regular homeowners’ insurance typically does not cover any damage from water that, as with a flood, contacted the ground before it entered your home.

Preventive Measures Against Mold

You can proactively prevent the growth of mold by keeping areas dry and cleaning spills and leaks as soon as you find them. While this may be more difficult for homeowners in Florida or Louisiana, more naturally humid states, we recommend using vents and fans to reduce moisture and humidity in areas and appliances prone to such. Stay on top of repairs and maintenance around your home, specifically in basements, crawl spaces, and bathrooms where moisture and humidity can wreak havoc and create ideal conditions for mold to grow. Bleaching an area after a spill or leak can help fight against a potential mold infestation.

If you do suffer leakage, the damage from which (including any subsequent mold) is covered under your insurance, take pictures. Images could be very useful should mold develop in the area in future, since they can support your claim that the mold grew as a result of water damage and not from neglect.

Be sure to keep the pictures of the water damage and all documents associated with the damage and your claim in the event mold grows in the future. Your insurance company will be hesitant to agree that any potential mold is the result of prior water damage, but having pictures and records will serve as valuable proof of your claim.

However, there’s one caveat here. If the mold is deemed to have come from water damage, some insurers may make you file a second claim of water damage instead, requiring you to pay another deductible before remediation takes place

Like Hunger Or Thirst, Loneliness In Seniors Can Be Eased

It’s widely believed that older age is darkened by persistent loneliness. But a considerable body of research confirms this isn’t the case. In fact, loneliness is the exception rather than the rule in later life. And when it occurs, it can be alleviated: It’s a mutable psychological state. Only 30 percent of older adults feel lonely fairly frequently, according to data from the National Social Life, Health and Aging Project, the most definitive study of seniors’ social circumstances and their health in the U.S. The remaining 70 percent have enough fulfilling interactions with other people to meet their fundamental social and emotional needs.  “If anything, the intensity of loneliness decreases from young adulthood through middle age and doesn’t become intense again until the oldest old age,” said Louise Hawkley, an internationally recognized authority on the topic and senior research scientist at the National Opinion Research Center (NORC) at the University of Chicago. Understanding the extent of loneliness is important, insofar as this condition has been linked to elevated stress, impaired immune system function, inflammation, high blood pressure, depression, cognitive dysfunction and an earlier-than-expected death in older adults.

A new study, co-authored by Hawkley, highlights another underappreciated feature of this affliction: Loneliness is often transient, not permanent. That study examined more than 2,200 Americans ages 57 to 85 in 2005 and again in 2010. Of the group who reported being lonely in 2005 (just under one-third of the sample), 40 percent had recovered from that state five years later while 60 percent were still lonely. What helped older adults who had been lonely recover? Two factors: spending time with other people and eliminating discord and disturbances in family relationships. Hawkley explains the result by noting that loneliness is a signal that an essential need — a desire for belonging — isn’t being met. Like hunger or thirst, it motivates people to act, and it’s likely that seniors reached out to the people they were closest to more often. Her study also looked at protective factors that kept seniors from becoming lonely. What made a difference? Lots of support from family members and fewer physical problems that interfere with an individual’s independence and ability to get out and about. To alleviate loneliness, one must first recognize the perceptions underlying the emotion, Hawkley and other experts said. The fundamental perception is one of inadequacy. People who are lonely tend to feel that others aren’t meeting their expectations and that something essential is missing. And there’s usually a significant gap between the relationships these people want and those they actually have. This isn’t the same as social isolation — a lack of contact with other people — although the two can be linked. People can be “lonely in a marriage” that’s characterized by conflict or “lonely in a crowd” when they’re surrounded by other people with whom they can’t connect.

Interventions to address loneliness have received heightened attention since 2011, when the Campaign to End Loneliness launched in Britain.

Here are two essential ways to mitigate this distressing sentiment:

Alter perceptions. Loneliness perpetuates itself through a gloomy feedback cycle. We think people don’t like us, so we convey negativity in their presence, which causes them to withdraw from us, which reinforces our perception that we’re not valued.

Changing the perceptions that underlie this cycle is the most effective way to relieve loneliness, according to a comprehensive evaluation of loneliness interventions published in 2011. Heidi Grant, associate director of the Motivation Science Center at Columbia University, described this dynamic in an article published in 2010. “If co-worker Bob seems more quiet and distant than usual lately, a lonely person is likely to assume that he’s done something to offend Bob, or that Bob is intentionally giving him the cold shoulder,” she wrote. With help, people can learn to examine the assumptions underlying their thoughts and ask questions such as “Am I sure Bob doesn’t like me? Could there be other, more likely reasons for his quiet, reserved behavior at work?” This kind of “cognitive restructuring” is an essential component of LISTEN, a promising intervention to treat loneliness developed by Laurie Theeke, an associate professor in the school of nursing at West Virginia University. In five two-hour sessions, small groups of lonely people probe their expectations of relationships, their needs, their thought patterns and their behaviors while telling their stories and listening to others. Joining a group can be effective if there’s an educational component and people are actively engaged, experts said.

Invest in relationships. With loneliness, it’s not the quantity of relationships that counts most. It’s the quality. If you’re married, your relationship with your spouse is critically important in sustaining a feeling of belonging and preventing loneliness, Hawkley said. If you haven’t been getting along, it’s time to try to turn things around. Remember when you felt most connected to your spouse? How did that feel? Can you emphasize the positive and minimize the negative? If you’re badly stuck, seek professional help. Investing in relationships with family members and friends is similarly important. This is the time to move beyond old grievances. “If you want to recover from loneliness, try to deal with difficulties that are disrupting relationships,” Hawkley said.  So, it’s a good idea to diversify your relationships so you’re not depending exclusively on a few people, according to Jenny de Jong Gierveld and Tineke Fokkema, loneliness researchers from the Netherlands. Training in social skills can help lonely people deal with problems such as not knowing how to renew contact with an old friend or initiate conversation with a distant relative. And learning coping strategies can enlarge their arsenal of adaptive responses.

Both of these strategies are part of a six-week “friendship enrichment program” developed in the Netherlands. The goal is to help people become aware of their social needs, reflect on their expectations, analyze and improve the quality of existing relationships and develop new friendships.

One simple strategy can make a difference. “If you have good news, share it,” Hawkley said, “because that tends to bring people closer together.”

KHN’s coverage related to aging & improving care of older adults is supported by The John A. Hartford Foundation.

Financial Tips as New Grandparents

If you’ve recently received the news that your child is expecting, and you’re going to be a grandparent, you’re probably feeling some sense of relief along with joy. You can have the fun of having a baby in the family, without losing a lot of sleep or spending a small fortune on diapers and baby formula.

Of course, your wallet may get a vigorous workout, anyway. Raising children is expensive, as we all know. If you want to help your grandkids, and by extension your children, you may want to consider making some of these financial moves for the present and the future.

[See: 7 Habits You Can Learn From Highly Successful Savers.]

Open up a 529 college savings plan. As you likely know from helping your own kids with their higher education, a 529 plan is a savings account designed to help people save for college (with tax breaks for both the contributor and recipient), and it’s often used by parents and grandparents.

If that’s the route you take, “the grandparent invests funds in the account for future growth, and all earnings and capital gains within the account are tax-free,” says Rebecca Pavese, a certified public accountant and financial planner with Palisades Hudson Financial Group’s Atlanta office. “Withdrawals from the account are not taxable as long as they are used to pay for qualified education expenses such as tuition, room and board, student activities fees and the like.”

And many states provide an income tax deduction for contributions made to 529 plans, Pavese says.As for starting a 529 plan, some accounts let consumers open one up for as little as a $25 initial offering. Others, however, might make you put in $250 to get it started, or even $1,000. You can find a lot of information at the U.S. News 529 Plan Finder site.

Update your will. Not everyone has a will, and not everyone needs one. But if you’ve amassed a healthy nest egg, and you’re leaving money to your kids, you may want to spread the wealth and add your grandchild, too. And if you have any special guidelines attached to the money (like not giving their inheritance to them until they hit a certain age), you’ll want to add that, says Roger Bell, president of a planning and investment advisory services company in Pulaski, Virginia.

“Appropriately defined provisions in their last wills and testaments are of utmost importance in reflecting their personal desires or dictates for their grandchildren,” Bell says. “These provisions provide a face, so to speak, of the grandparents when they are no longer physically present to provide insight and thoughtful guidance.”

You may also want to consider future grandchildren, Pavese says. But that’s a conversation you’ll want to have with a financial planner because estates can get tricky when you start trying to include imparting wealth to future grandchildren or great-grandchildren.

Generally speaking, she says, “Provisions in your will that apply to all your grandchildren are unlikely to extend to any grandchildren who may be born after your passing.”

Open up a new savings account. Mike Falco, a financial advisor, CPA and grandfather who owns Falco Wealth Management in Berwyn, Pennsylvania, says that you may want to open up a savings account, and then you can reserve the money you put into that account for your grandkid or future grandchildren.

If you make sure that you save at least half of the money in such an account for later in their lives, “this will allow you to help as the child gets older and gifts become more expensive,” Falco says.

For instance, even if you’re currently helping your children buy a crib or stroller, later on maybe you’ll want to chip in with paying for your grandchild’s braces or helping a grandkid buy a car.

Give time, not money. Sure, it would be great to buy baby furniture and fund your grandchildren’s college and make sure that they have everything they deserve. But if money is tight, Falco points out that time is money, and there are ample ways to help your grandkids and kids financially without putting your retirement money at risk.

“Offer to help in other ways,” he says. “Give the new parents a night out. Offer to baby-sit while mom and dad enjoy time together. Spend a Saturday or Sunday at their house. You can help with cleaning, laundry or watching the new baby while mom and dad get things done. There are ways to help and enjoy your new grandchild that don’t involve money.”

Still, if you’re going to start baby-sitting regularly and saving your children at least some of the costs of day care, it’s important to talk to your children about how much time you’re willing to give to babysitting your grandkids, says Michelle Hutchison, money expert and head of public relations for finder.com, a personal finance comparison website.

This is assuming you don’t want to feel as if in your retirement, or semi-retirement, you’re running a full-time, free day care service.

“In America, millions of grandparents put in hours of unpaid work, with some even cutting back on their day-job commitments to help care for their grandchildren,” Hutchison says. “While it’s normal to want to do as much as you can to help your children at the beginning of their parenthood journey, it’s also important to set boundaries.”

But, hey, if you ignore that advice and don’t set boundaries, there is a bright side. If you were going to open up a full-time, free day care service, who better to watch than your own grandchild?

 

Managing Money Well as a Couple

What are the keys in planning to grow wealthy together?

When you marry or simply share a household with someone, your financial life changes – and your approach to managing your money may change as well. To succeed as a couple, you may also have to succeed financially. The good news is that is usually not so difficult.

At some point, you will have to ask yourselves some money questions – questions that pertain not only to your shared finances, but also to your individual finances. Waiting too long to ask (or answer) those questions might carry an emotional price. In the 2016 TD Bank Love & Money survey of 1,902 consumers who said they were in relationships, 42% of the respondents who described themselves as “unhappy” cited their number one financial error as “waiting too long” to discuss money matters with their significant other.1

First off, how will you make your money grow? Investing is essential. Simply saving money will help you build an emergency fund, but unless you save an extraordinary amount of cash, your uninvested savings will not fund your retirement.

So, what should you invest in? Should you hold any joint investment accounts or some jointly titled assets? One of you may like to assume more risk than the other; spouses often have different individual investment preferences.

How you invest, together or separately, is less important than your commitment to investing. Some couples focus only on avoiding financial risk – to them, maintaining the status quo and not losing any money equals financial success. They could be setting themselves up for financial failure decades from now by rejecting investing and retirement planning.

An ongoing relationship with a financial professional may enhance your knowledge of the ways in which you could build your wealth and arrange to retire confidently.

How much will you spend & save? Budgeting can help you arrive at your answer. A simple budget, an elaborate budget, any attempt at a budget can prove more informative than none at all. A thorough, line-item budget may seem a little over the top, but what you learn from it may be truly eye-opening.

 

How often will you check up on your financial progress? When finances affect two people rather than one, credit card statements and bank balances become more important. So do IRA balances, insurance premiums, and investment account yields. Looking in on these details once a month (or at least once a quarter) can keep you both informed, so that neither one of you have misconceptions about household finances or assets. Arguments can start when money misconceptions are upended by reality.

What degree of independence do you want to maintain? Do you want to have separate bank accounts? Separate “fun money” accounts? To what extent do you want to comingle your money? Some spouses need individual financial “space” of their own. There is nothing wrong with this, unless a spouse uses such “space” to hide secrets that will eventually shock the other.

Can you be businesslike about your finances? Spouses who are inattentive or nonchalant about financial matters may encounter more financial trouble than they anticipate. So, watch where your money goes, and think about ways to repeatedly pay yourselves first, rather than your creditors. Set shared short-term, medium-term, and long-term objectives, and strive to attain them.

Communication is key to all this. In the TD Bank survey, nearly 80% of the respondents who indicated they talked about money once per week said that they were happy with their relationship. Follow their lead and plan for your progress together.1

This material was prepared by MarketingPro, Inc., and does not necessarily represent the views of the presenting party, nor their affiliates. This information has been derived from sources believed to be accurate. Please note – investing involves risk, and past performance is no guarantee of future results. The publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting or other professional services. If assistance is needed, the reader is advised to engage the services of a competent professional. This information should not be construed as investment, tax or legal advice and may not be relied on for the purpose of avoiding any Federal tax penalty. This is neither a solicitation nor recommendation to purchase or sell any investment or insurance product or service, and should not be relied upon as such. All indices are unmanaged and are not illustrative of any particular investment.

Citations.

1 – gobankingrates.com/personal-finance/surprising-ways-money-affects-love-life/ [9/26/16]

Man thinking

What You Can & Cannot Control as You Plan for Retirement

Some things you have no influence over. You may have some power to affect other factors.

Are you worried about retiring? Many baby boomers are, and they have reason to be, given low interest rates, subpar returns on equities, increasing health care costs, and the issues facing Social Security.

Now, do yourself a favor. Read that last sentence again, and ask yourself, “which of those four things can I control?”

The correct answer: none of them. That may be frightening, but it is also truthful. As you plan for retirement, you must acknowledge that certain factors are beyond your control. As much as you would like to influence or change them, you have no say over them.

So, what can you control? Primarily, three things: the way you save; the way you manage risk; and the way you will spend your savings.

The way you save may be more important than the way you invest. Every saver hears about the benefits of an early start, and those benefits can be considerable. As an example, consider these hypothetical savers:

Erica saves $5,000 per year for 20 years at an 8% return, and thanks to time, inflows, and compounding, she turns that initial $5,000 into $247,115 two decades later. Midway through this 20-year stretch, Giovanni, Erica’s co-worker, decides he will start saving too. Time is not such a good friend to him, however. If he wants to amass $247,115 (give or take a few bucks), he will have to pour in around $15,795 into his retirement account annually at that 8% yearly yield. And as for Erica … all other variables frozen, if she saves $14,000 per year, instead of $5,000 a year, at a consistent 8% yield for 20 years, her savings at the end of that two-decade period will be $691,921 rather than $247,115.1

Your risk exposure matters. In a perfect world, taking on X degree of risk would lead to Y degree of reward. If only it worked that way. Still, a portfolio that assumes reasonable levels of risk may generate better long-term returns than a highly conservative, risk-averse one.

The inescapable truth of investing is that when you forfeit risk, you also often forfeit your potential for significant gains. To be more specific, getting out of equities when the market sours puts you on the sidelines when the market rallies. Should you abandon equities in a correction or bear market, you face another kind of risk – the risk of selling low and buying high.

If you absolutely detest risk and want to minimize your risk exposure as you save and invest for retirement, then you must compensate for that lessened risk exposure by saving more, whether in cash or conservative investment vehicles. Remember that to save more, you must also spend less.

Will you plan how to spend your retirement savings? That will put you a step ahead of many retirees, who have no strategy whatsoever. You need to plan both the succession and amount of your retirement withdrawals – what annual percentage should be distributed from what accounts in what order. Four primary variables may affect your plan, and you arguably have some control over them all: your yearly withdrawal amount, your level of debt, your health, and your retirement date. You cannot control the tax code or the equities markets, but you can try to pay off debt, improve your health, spend reasonably, and work longer, if needed.

Focus on what you can control. It may keep you from losing some sleep over what you cannot.

This material was prepared by MarketingPro, Inc., and does not necessarily represent the views of the presenting party, nor their affiliates. This information has been derived from sources believed to be accurate. Please note – investing involves risk, and past performance is no guarantee of future results. The publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting or other professional services. If assistance is needed, the reader is advised to engage the services of a competent professional. This information should not be construed as investment, tax or legal advice and may not be relied on for the purpose of avoiding any Federal tax penalty. This is neither a solicitation nor recommendation to purchase or sell any investment or insurance product or service, and should not be relied upon as such. All indices are unmanaged and are not illustrative of any particular investment.

Citations
1 – bankrate.com/finance/investing/saving-money-or-investing-more-important-over-time.aspx [12/30/15]

The Importance of Life Insurance Audit

Is it time to review your policy?

Life insurance is hard. It’s hard to know if you have the right kind. It’s hard to know if you have enough. And it’s hard to know if you need any at all.

The insurance companies have made it even harder by coming up with bewildering names: whole life, term life, universal life. Some life insurance policies have a cash value while others do not. Some invest that cash value in the stock market while others pay a fixed rate of interest. Some insurance policies combine all of these ideas.

A recent study by life insurance advocacy group LIMRA discovered that most Americans thought a 20-year $250,000 level term life policy for a healthy 30-year-old costs about $400 a year. In reality, annual premiums for such a policy typically run about $150. No wonder, as LIMRA noted, that 83% of consumers forego buying life insurance. I see this misperception all the time. In addition, some people are paying for insurance that is not right for them.1

This is why it is important for you to sit down annually with an insurance professional to review how your policy works and how it will help you to protect your family.

When you’re young, a certain type of policy is needed. As you raise a family and take on more responsibilities, your needs change again. At some point – when the nest is empty or other life changes occur – there may come a time where you don’t need life insurance at all or you may desperately need it to protect your estate. Reviewing your life insurance policies is one way to make sure you have the coverage that is right for you and your family now, today – not when you bought it.

When is the last time you thought about your life insurance? Is it time to take another look?

This material was prepared by MarketingPro, Inc., and does not necessarily represent the views of the presenting party, nor their affiliates. This information has been derived from sources believed to be accurate. Please note – investing involves risk, and past performance is no guarantee of future results. The publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting or other professional services. If assistance is needed, the reader is advised to engage the services of a competent professional. This information should not be construed as investment, tax or legal advice and may not be relied on for the purpose of avoiding any Federal tax penalty. This is neither a solicitation nor recommendation to purchase or sell any investment or insurance product or service, and should not be relied upon as such. All indices are unmanaged and are not illustrative of any particular investment.

Citations

1 – lifehealthpro.com/2013/08/30/the-shocking-statistics-behind-the-life-insurance [8/30/13]

Think About Your Lifestyle Before You Retire

Sometimes planning for retirement isn’t entirely about money.

How many words have been written about retirement? It’s a preoccupation for many, and we devote so much time, thought, and energy toward saving for the last day we go to work. Saving and investing in such a way that we no longer have to work may seem ideal at first, but it raises a question: what do you have planned for all of that free time?

What do you do with your first day? Maybe you finally take that big vacation you’ve been talking about. Or, perhaps, it’s time to catch up with your kids, grandkids, and other extended family. But, eventually, you come home from a vacation or a visit.

While many of us have that first day mapped out, it’s the days that follow that we haven’t really considered. In a survey conducted by Merrill Lynch and AgeWave, people who were about to retire were asked “what they would miss the most” once they left the working world. A “reliable income” was the top answer, coming in at 38%.1

When the same survey was given to people who have been retired for a while, “reliable income” was still a popular answer, but it drops down to 29%. So, what are actual retirees missing? The top answer, at 34%, was “social connections.” Other prominent answers included “having purpose and work goals” (19%) and “mental stimulation” (12%).1

Free time can be a luxury or a curse. The results of the survey indicate that many retirees don’t give much thought to what they will be doing with all of their free time. We are meant to enjoy our retirement, of course, so banishing the restlessness and loneliness that can come from leaving your job should be taken into consideration when you are planning.

In his book You Can Retire Earlier Than You Think, investment strategist and radio host Wes Moss advises seeking out what he calls “core pursuits.” These are rewarding and engaging interests that can bring satisfaction and happiness to your life; charity work, hobbies, community activities, or public service are but a few examples.1

Moss estimates that the most satisfied retirees enjoy three or four such pursuits as they go into retirement – though, there’s no reason that someone can’t find more ways to pass the time.1

“Retirement” doesn’t mean “not working.” Not everyone is geared toward making their life about core pursuits. You may find that you miss working, or that you simply need or desire a little more income. Maybe you find that a part-time job is ideal for supplementing your retirement income? Or, perhaps, you have an idea for a small business that you’ve always wanted to pursue?

Whatever path you take, it’s important to consider the options open to you once your time is finally your own. You’ve worked most of your life for it, so enjoying yourself during retirement should be a priority.

This material was prepared by MarketingPro, Inc., and does not necessarily represent the views of the presenting party, nor their affiliates. This information has been derived from sources believed to be accurate. Please note – investing involves risk, and past performance is no guarantee of future results. The publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting or other professional services. If assistance is needed, the reader is advised to engage the services of a competent professional. This information should not be construed as investment, tax or legal advice and may not be relied on for the purpose of avoiding any Federal tax penalty. This is neither a solicitation nor recommendation to purchase or sell any investment or insurance product or service, and should not be relied upon as such. All indices are unmanaged and are not illustrative of any particular investment.

Citations
1 – fool.com/retirement/general/2016/04/01/think-youre-ready-to-retire-not-until-you-read-thi.aspx [4/1/16]

Goodman Pension Lump Sum Options

Goodman/Daikin employees, you may have recently received a letter regarding the Lump Sum Benefit Estimate for the Goodman Company, L.P. We are confident you value your pension and the money you’ll be getting from that. Because of this, we would like to have the opportunity to show you some options for your money.

We are Southern Heritage Financial Group, Inc., a financial services company here in Fayetteville, TN. Jeff Mathis, our investment professional, has a history with Goodman and its employees. Jeff is a Lincoln County native and continues to call this his home. He worked for Amana in the factory and as a sales manager before starting in the financial business. His father, Larry Mathis, worked for Amana a number of years as well.

Your consultations are completely free. Jeff never charges to talk things over. It gives you and us a chance to get to know each other and the opportunity to look over the pension as well as help you determine the best options for your money. Give us a call and we will schedule your free consultation. (931) 433-4343.

Could Social Security Really Go Away?

Just how gloomy does its future look?

Will Social Security run out of money in the 2030s? For years, Americans have been warned about that possibility. Those warnings, however, assume that no action will be taken to address Social Security’s financial challenges.

Social Security is being strained by a giant demographic shift. In 2030, more than 20% of the U.S. population will be 65 or older. In 2010, only 13% of the nation was that old. In 1970, less than 10% of Americans were in that age group.1

Demand for Social Security benefits has increased, and the ratio of retirees to working-age adults has changed. In 2010, the Census Bureau determined that there were about 21 seniors (people aged 65 or older) for every 100 workers. By 2030, the Bureau projects that there will be 35 seniors for every 100 workers.1

As payroll taxes fund Social Security, the program faces a major dilemma. Actually, it faces two.

Social Security maintains two trust funds. When you read a sentence stating that “Social Security could run out of money by 2035,” that statement refers to the projected shortfall of the Old Age, Survivors, and Disability Insurance (OASDI) Trust. The OASDI is the main reservoir of Social Security benefits, from which monthly payments are made to seniors. The latest Social Security Trustees report indeed concludes that the OASDI Trust could be exhausted by 2035 from years of cash outflows exceeding cash inflows.2,3

Congress just put a patch on Social Security’s other, arguably more pressing problem. Social Security’s Disability Insurance (SSDI) Trust Fund risked being unable to pay out 100% of scheduled benefits to SSDI recipients this year, but the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015 directed a slightly greater proportion of payroll taxes funding Social Security into the DI trust for the short term. This should give the DI Trust enough revenue to pay out 100% of benefits through 2022. Funding it adequately after 2022 remains an issue.4

If the OASDI Trust is exhausted in 2035, what would happen to retirement benefits? They would decrease. Imagine Social Security payments shrinking 21%. If Congress does not act to remedy Social Security’s cash flow situation before then, Social Security Trustees forecast that a 21% cut may be necessary in 2035 to ensure payment of benefits through 2087.3

No one wants to see that happen, so what might Congress do to address the crisis? Three ideas in particular have gathered support.

*Raise the cap on Social Security taxes. Currently, employers and employees each pay a 6.2% payroll tax to fund Social Security (the self-employed pay 12.4% of their earnings into the program). The earnings cap on the tax in 2016 is $118,500, so any earned income above that level is not subject to payroll tax. Lifting (or even abolishing) that cap would bring Social Security more payroll tax revenue, specifically from higher-income Americans.3

*Adjust the full retirement age. Should it be raised to 68? How about 70? Some people see merit in this, as many baby boomers may work and live longer than their parents did. In theory, it could promote longer careers and shorter retirements, and thereby lessen demand for Social Security benefits. Healthier and wealthier baby boomers might find the idea acceptable, but poorer and less healthy boomers might not.3

*Calculate COLAs differently. Social Security uses the Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Workers and Clerical Workers (CPI-W) in figuring cost-of-living adjustments. Many senior advocates argue that the Consumer Price Index for the Elderly (CPI-E) should be used instead. The CPI-E often gives more weight to health care expenses and housing costs than the CPI-W. Not only that, the CPI-E only considers the cost of living for people 62 and older. That last feature may also be its biggest drawback. Since it only includes some of the American population in its calculations, its detractors argue that it may not measure inflation as well as the broader CPI-W.3

Social Security could still face a shortfall even if all of these ideas were adopted. The Center for Retirement Research at Boston College estimates that if all of these “fixes” were put into play today, the OASDI Trust would still face a revenue shortage in 2035.3

In future decades, Social Security may not be able to offer retirees what it does now, unless dramatic moves are made on Capitol Hill. In the worst-case scenario, monthly benefits would be cut to keep the program solvent. A depressing thought, but one worth remembering as you plan for the future.

This material was prepared by MarketingPro, Inc., and does not necessarily represent the views of the presenting party, nor their affiliates. This information has been derived from sources believed to be accurate. Please note – investing involves risk, and past performance is no guarantee of future results. The publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting or other professional services. If assistance is needed, the reader is advised to engage the services of a competent professional. This information should not be construed as investment, tax or legal advice and may not be relied on for the purpose of avoiding any Federal tax penalty. This is neither a solicitation nor recommendation to purchase or sell any investment or insurance product or service, and should not be relied upon as such. All indices are unmanaged and are not illustrative of any particular investment.

Citations
1 – money.usnews.com/money/retirement/articles/2014/06/16/the-youngest-baby-boomers-turn-50 [6/16/14]
2 – fool.com/retirement/general/2016/03/20/the-most-important-social-security-chart-youll-eve.aspx [3/20/16]
3 – fool.com/retirement/general/2016/03/19/1-big-problem-with-the-3-most-popular-social-secur.aspx [3/19/16]
4 – marketwatch.com/story/crisis-in-social-security-disability-insurance-averted-but-not-gone-2015-11-30 [11/30/15]

We are doing it again! Saturday, April 16, our Fayetteville location will be having another Shred-It Day! We will have the Shred-It paper shredding service company come and park in our parking lot. You can bring any and all of your shred worthy documents and the Shred-It truck can shred them right here in the parking lot.

Fayetteville, TN Location

With cases of identity theft on the rise it is ever more important to be careful where our personal information is. Experts suggest to shred any document that has personal identifiable information on it. This helps to thwart identity thieves from gathering your information and stealing your identity. Here are some examples of documents that need to be shredded:

  • Old tax documents
  • Old pay-stubs and bank statements
  • Home purchase or sale documents
  • Medical records and bills
  • Warranty documents
  • Social security statements
  • Insurance statements
  • Retirement plan statements
  • Credit card offers

Please remember to look up the guidelines on each type of document for how long to keep copies. You can find some more information here: http://lifehacker.com/5977082/what-documents-should-i-shred-and-what-should-i-keep


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