Friday, March 10, 2017

Puerto Rico teachers' pension crisis is a cautionary tale for a lot of public workers


Mary Williams Walsh has a disturbing front page story in the New York Times Friday, “Pension crisis in Puerto Rico fleeces young” . The article focuses particular on the teachers’ fund.

Teachers were excused from Social Security FICA contributions and the “cash value” (so to speak) of their contributions did not begin to accumulate until late in their careers.

The article describes it as a legal Ponzi scheme.



Puerto Rico has had a minor effect on the portfolios of retirees who have moved into bonds for more stability.  But it certainly sets a bad example.  The story is also cautionary to public employees who may have outdated arrangements that seem to end-around social security taxes.

The conservative National Review, in a stinging article by Ike Brannon and Logan Albright, writes, “Puerto Rico is using a phony pension crisis to sabotage reform”.
 
Wikipedia attribution link for p.d. map of the territory.  I have never visited it, but it was a popular “gay” destination from NYC in the 1970s.

Sunday, March 05, 2017

New York Times "Retirement" insert today makes some potentially controversial recommendations (term instead of whole life)


The Sunday New York Times (March 5, 2017) has a special business insert section, “Retirement, with many current articles by Kerry Hannon and others.

The focus of the whole section is the longer life expectancies, especially for women, compared to shrinking retirement social nets provided by employers.

Of particular interest is the column Life Stages, on p. 5.   It recommends that breadwinners, by the time they are in their 40s, buy term life insurance (not whole or universal life), with zero cash value at the end.  These have the lowest premiums.  Whole companies, like PrimeVest, have dedicated themselves to marketing to customers to sell conversion of whole life to term.  I had a rather curious job interview about this possibility on the spring of 2002 while still in Minnesota.


 
The insert also indicates that women typically have larger out-of-pocket medical expenses than men.
The section also maintains that 19% of Americans continue work after age 65.  I work, but most of it is “for free”, well, sort of, and this is a long term bad example for other people besides me.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Recalled pharma can matter to seniors

A visitor has suggested that I mention a site “Recall Report”, that keeps track of medications  for which there are adverse reports, as with unexpected side effects or even with packaging safety.
The site is here.
     
The spokesperson says: 

"Recall report is one of the web's most comprehensive consumer recall sites, with focus on prescription drugs and their side affects. Recall Report also has hundreds of pages on health conditions associated with prescription drugs, including those listed at the site. 
With dedicated areas of our website for health conditions at ‘recallreport.org/health-information/conditions/’, we have more medical information than any other consumer recall website. Likewise, you can find very comprehensive and targeted health information for different demographics in our Health Info section at "recallreport.org/health-information/ (i.e. students).”



I wanted to note that my 1099 from Social Security tells me I paid $760 in Part D premiums last year.


   I’ve gotten about $100 in benefits, as the Losartan is very cheap.  Most stuff I buy over the counter because I don’t like doctors.  The Zyclara, for an old squamous cell actinic keratosis in the temple are, though, costs almost $1000 (from England), most of it covered (but not refilled last year).

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Paul Ryan wants to privatize Medicare, slowly but eventually completely


Paul Ryan wants go gradually replace Medicare with an ACA-like system based on grants, which are larger for low-income people, people with less wealth, or more claims.

The NPR has a story here.  The changes would start in 2024, affecting people now 57.

Medicare has enough money until 2028. 

Saturday, January 28, 2017

GOP mulls social security cuts for those retiring 2023 or later


News Groop reports on supposed drastic cuts in social security being considered now by the GOP.

Retirement age would gradually rise to 69.  But other changes in benefits would not affect anyone whose benefits start before 2023 (I presume that means full retirement age).
 
The “earnings test”, which was so controversial when I took early retirement, would be eliminated.

Sunday, January 01, 2017

Popular book exposes "file and suspend" loopholes in Social Security, which Congress closed this fall


There’s an interesting account (by Ben Steverman) in the Chicago Tribune about how a book, “Get What’s Yours: The Secrets to Maxing Out Social Security”, by Laurence Lotlikoff, Phillip Moeler, and Paul Solman (Simon and Shuster), explained who certain couples could squeeze more out of social security by certain fake delaying tactics.  The most notorious of these was called “file and suspend”.



Congress nixed these techniques this November, although some retirees may be grandfathered a little.

The book, which has sold over 300,000 copies, will be revised soon.

Friday, December 16, 2016

Republicans introduce Social Security reform bill with modest means testing


Republicans are considering a Social Security reform bill that raises the retirement age to 69, and gradually means tests benefits, especially for some spouses and dependents, apparently even for some current retirees.  But the means testing is “mild”:  it would eliminate COLA increases for singles earning over $85000 and couples over $170000 a year.

Criticism says that it places the burden of funding on the poor and middle class (often unaware of the actuarial  math when voting for Trump).

The bill was introduced by Rep. Sam Johnson (R-TX).

It’s called the “Social Security Reform Act of 2016”, Johnson’s link . It is supposed to add 75 years of sovereignty to the Social Security Trust find.

The story by Sarah MacManus appeared in Bipartisan Report.