SCAM! You’re It!

There are all kinds of scams out there, aiming to steal our credit card numbers, tax refunds, Social Security benefits — and even our identities. Here’s a look at a common Social Security scam and how you can avoid it.

In the old days, you would conduct your Social Security business with its employees — over the phone or in person at one of the many local offices. Today, though, retirees and near-retirees are encouraged to go online for many of their Social Security needs. The Social Security Administration (SSA) now promotes its “my Social Security” site at ssa.gov. After you create an account there, you can review the SSA’s record of your past earnings to make sure they’re correct, request replacement Social Security or Medicare cards, change your address, get a replacement SSA-1099 or SSA-1042S form for tax purposes, see an estimate of your future benefits based on your earnings record and more. (The SSA used to regularly mail out estimates of future benefits to most workers, but now only sends them to a more restricted group.)

You can also apply at the SSA website to start receiving your Social Security benefits. The problem is, someone else might be able to start receiving your benefits — if they set up an account there in your name before you do. That can happen if you fall for a fraudulent email or phone call telling you that you need to provide some personal information, such as your Social Security number and birth date. Be skeptical of any emails or calls asking for personal information. If in doubt, contact the SSA on your own to verify.

By creating your own account, you can prevent anyone else from doing so. Note that you are supposed to create an account for yourself only and should not create one for anyone else. (This is a rule that the scammers break.) Get many more retirement tips online at SeniorQuote’s social media pages.

Article edited from the Original
Article Taken fromĀ 
Motley Fool column in the Union, business section, page 2, August 5th

Better Retirement Savings in 5 Steps

Retirement planning can be time-intensive, and confusing, but it doesn’t have to be. Below are 5 simple steps you can take to help you save for your retirement, or which you can share with your children and grandchildren to save them trouble:

1. Open a Roth IRA

With a Roth IRA, you contribute after-tax money, which then continues to grow tax-free. Withdrawals from a Roth IRA are tax-free as well. If your kids or grandkids have a summer time job or a part-time job, a Roth is great for them because the longer their investments grow in the account, the bigger their tax advantage is.

2. Open a Solo 401(k) If Self-Employed

If you choose to open a Solo 401(k), you can deposit up to $18,500 in 2018 (or more if you are 50+), in addition to anything up to 20% of your net self-employment income, or the amount of freelance income for the year, whichever is less. Your contributions are tax-deductible, and continue to grow tax-deferred until you take withdrawals in retirement.

3. See How Much Lifetime Income an Annuity Can Provide

Go to www.immediateannuities.com to run your numbers. There, you can calculate the income you’d receive from a lump sum, or the amount you’d have to invest to get the income you need.

4. Do a 401(k) Fee Checkup

If you know that in having a 401(k), you have to pay fees, you are one of the 6 out of 10 workers that actually know they paid any fees. Even if you were aware, the more you pay in fees, the less you have for retirement. You can get a breakdown of your fees using Ameritrade’s free 401(k) Fee Analyzer at www.tdameritrade.com/401kfees. If you’re more interested in how your 401(k) plan rates or ranks against its peers, check out brightscope.com.

5. Set Up an Online Account with the SSA

Even if you, your children, or your grandchildren are years from retirement, taking this step will help prevent identity theft. Make sure your earnings record (used to calculate your benefits) is accurate.

For more helpful tips, visit SeniorQuote’s social media profiles: Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest.

This article has been edited from its original.
Original article printed in the Union August 12, 2018.
Author: Kiplinger

Problems in Mayberry

There are several issues regarding moving in later life. Many retirees are looking for a version of Mayberry, the fictional North Carolina town where the 1960’s show “Andy Griffith” took place. Even if retirees were successful in finding their own personal Mayberrys, it would still have its drawbacks.

So before you uproot everything to travel to your new Promised Land, here are some cautionary tales about small towns that might make you want to tap the breaks and do a little more research first:

  • Be realistic about your chances of fitting in with your new surroundings. You might very well find that you can become part of ‘inner circles’ already established there, but many transplants find themselves joining the ranks of other retirees in the area. One particular bumper sticker in Florida reads: “We don’t care how you did it up North.”
  • Retirees who move later in life are usually more likely to be more assertive, more aggressive, and more likely to have been proactive than passive. Sometimes a strong personality which helped you in previous jobs or life circumstances is not conducive to melding in with an unhurried populace in your intended new quiet community. Ask yourself if your temperament would help you meld into the destination, and not ostracize you from the locals who might think you are too ‘gung-ho’ or ‘high-strung’.
  • Unfortunately, if you’ve found an idyllic small-town community, chances are, others have too, and that quaint little town might not be small and quaint for long. You might want to aim for a historic district, where future development will be kept to a minimum.
  • Health care cannot be stressed enough! Many move to a new town with the understanding that “medical care in the area is excellent” without being informed that there are yearlong waiting lists, or an unfavorable ratio of doctors to residents. One retiree reports that upon moving to knew town, she was informed that if she had to call the medics for a heart problem, she would have to be taken two counties over from where they were.
  • Availability of transportation is something to look into as well. Smaller towns have fewer public transportation options. If you are in your new home for a long time, and eventually have to relinquish your time behind the wheel, you should ask yourself if there are volunteer organizations or other agencies that offer transportation. Even if there are though, you may find there’s quite a waiting list for something like a door-to-door bus service for the disabled.

While on the topic of retirement, the question may be asked: “Can an individual retirement account be converted into a health savings account for health spending?”

For some retirees, the answer is that it is possible to do a partial conversion. You would need “qualified HSA funding distribution” or QHFD. With a QHFD, funds are transferred, tax-free directly from IRA to the HSA, but there are restrictions. You must be eligible to make an HSA contribution for the year, and only one QHFD can be done in your lifetime. You must participate in a high deductible health plan, which explains why only some people can make this partial conversion. An important thing to note is that if you are on Medicare, you won’t qualify because Medicare isn’t a high-deductible health plan under the HSA rules.

If you are planning to move sometime soon, and have questions specifically about changing Medicare plans, or finding coverage in your new home state, SeniorQuote can help! Call us for a free consultation, or fill out a free quote form on our website.

And if you happen to know someone who is moving, referring them to SeniorQuote is always appreciated!

Originally Published in the WSJ Monday, August 6, 2018
Written by: Mr. Ruffenach