Wednesday, July 29, 2015

How Social Security puts single women at a disadvantage

Time Magazine, Aug. 3, 2015, p. 48, offers a perspective by Haley Sweetland Edwards, “The next Social Security crisis: Why American women are bearing the brunt of the retirement cruch”, link here  (paywall).

The focus is on single and sometimes divorced women, and on women who were not able to compete on their own in the workplace.  There is also discussion on how caregivers are paid (or aren’t) and how that affects their eventual social security.  And women outlive men.

There is also a discussion of the connection to marriage and family values.  The writer notes that poverty lowers marriage rates, not the other way around. 


Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Washington Post reminds us how SSDI can affect entire Social Security program; same FICA tax pool

The Washington Post has a very useful editorial Tuesday discussing how funding for Social Security SSDI insurance works, link here.
Many people don’t realize that their FICA taxes support both “old age” (for lack of a better word) retirement (starting possibly at 62, with political pressure to keep on increasing full and early retirement ages) and disability insurance payments, which hopefully most workers never use. 
SSDI payment loads may have increased partly because of expanded workforce (women), longer careers, but also lax regulations in some areas.  But increasing the portion paid for SSDI can mean that the trust fund for retirement gets in trouble even sooner.
I think that the solvency of the Social Security Trust Fund over time would be a good topic for a Vox Media “Card Stack”.  I tweeted them this idea recently.  None of this involves SSI, which is a completely separate program.  

Sunday, July 26, 2015

More on the growing Alzheimer's crisis: should early screening be done? Do women it develop more quickly?

Kathleen Parker offers an op-ed on the growing Alzheimer’s crisis in the Washington Post July 24, here,  notes that it affects women longer than men (partly because women live longer), and notes the new drug zinfandel, which may help brain proteins “fold” correctly.

But Dwaine Rieves, on p. A15 Saturday, argues for doing brain scans for early Alzheimers or the propensity, in an op-ed here.  But one question would be, could the history of such a scan (with “positive” results) interfere with purchasing long term care insurance?
On July 21, the New York Times reported, in a piece by Benedict Carey, studies showing women’s dementia may progress more rapidly than men’s, link here

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Merrill Lynch sets up seminars for employers on longevity

Merrill Lynch (under Bank of America) will offer client employers longevity training programs, according to this story on Employee Benefit News, apparently at USC in Los Angeles. 
The training is supposed to deal with development of products for associates that move beyond the usual 401(k) matches which have tended to replace defined benefit plans with many employers.
But a bigger issues is the sea change in career expectancy.  Before about the year 2000, employers had gotten used to the idea that professional employees tended to retire early, by 62, and had even designed products with provisions like “social security bridge” or “social security offset” predicated on starting Social Security at 62.  Often retirement had been encouraged even at age 55.  It’s clear that such an strategy is no longer sustainable.
Associates need to keep current on job skills as they move into their 60s and even 70s now.  
Employers need to become more pro-active with hands-on training of more senior employees than in the past.

Wednesday, July 08, 2015

ABC preaches on why women outlive men

ABC News has a story on five reasons women live longer than men, here. Some of the reasons are well known:  women have two X chromosomes, take fewer physical risks, and have heart disease later (and more gradually).  More important is that women have stronger social networks and accept interdependence better than men.  A new reason, on the “Index” last night is that men are more likely to carry body fat in the abdomen.

And the conventional wisdom used to be, men didn’t have that problem until they got married.


Tuesday, July 07, 2015

Pondering Greece and Puerto Rico: we all need to be able to keep working until at least age 70

The situations in Greece and Puerto Rico still continue to have implications for retirees, even in the U.S. How much can they affect the stability of portfolios?
The latest news is that “Europe” gave Greece until Sunday to come up with a “plan” or else Greece will have to start printing its own currency.  There simply won’t be any more euros in circulation in the country. This sounds like the New York City financial crisis in 1975: "Ford to City: Drop dead!"

And Vox has a good brief analysis of the Puerto Rican crisis here.  One interesting point is that as people leave the island, those that remain carry a larger portion of the debt.
The Washington Times has chastised Greece for its leftist programs, and a retirement age of 60. 
However, the Left criticizes the whole idea of capital and depending on debts related to social services being paid.  Almost any portfolio today has some investments in companies or governments that may not be sustainable.
In the meantime, it seems to me, in retrospect, that the whole idea of “early retirement”, so often pimped by major employers for cost cutting since the 80s, has become unsustainable.  I stopped my IT career at 58 at the end of 2001, as a result of 9/11, mother’s situation, and even my “online reputation” as a pundit.  Really, we need to keep working until at least 70. I guess I don't practice what I preach because of the "It's free" problem. 
“Techies” like me are supposed (after age 60) to go out and become pimps for lifestyle services on social media.  That isn’t sustainable either.  Employers need to think about how to keep associate real-job skills up for decades at a time.  Newer tech companies like Facebook and Google, while run by “youth”, probably do understand this.
So then, think again about what is going on overseas (Greece isn’t the only one) and in our own backyard.