Chas' Compilation

A compilation of information and links regarding assorted subjects: politics, religion, science, computers, health, movies, music... essentially whatever I'm reading about, working on or experiencing in life.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Interesting Links about Aging, Working, Retirement or not Retiring

An 8.3 Percent Return for Life, Guaranteed: Real or Imagined?
[...] In finance, the word "annuity" refers to a series of payments made to a person (called the "annuitant") for life or for a set number of periods. In this post we refer to a fixed, life annuity, a plain vanilla annuity that will guarantee a set income each month for the rest of your life, no matter how long you live or what dumb mistakes you make along the way. If this guarantee looks familiar, it should, since it is pretty much what we get from Social Security as well as from a traditional "defined benefit" pension -- if we are lucky enough to have one. Both are forms of life annuities because both pay until you die. [...]
I've been curious about annuities. This article has a large question and answer section, which explains a lot.

New Adventures for Older Workers
Has lots of facts, figures and links about the subject matter; retirement, coming out of retirement, working indefinitely, making it in rural areas, all sorts of things. Videos, with interviews of various people in various situations.

How Social Security Pays You to Work Forever
[...] How long do I intend to "work"? Hopefully, right up to my last day on earth. And, as if I didn't have enough good reasons to work, Social Security, it turns out, adds a significant incentive for doing so. The longer you work, the larger your Social Security benefits. This is due to Social Security's "Recomputation of Benefits" provision. Here's how it works -- for all of us older cowpokes who remain in the saddle indefinitely.

Each year you work, you add to your earnings record, leading Social Security to automatically recalculate your benefits. If you are interested, here are the gory details.

In a nutshell, Social Security averages your highest 35 years of earnings to calculate your Average Indexed Monthly Earnings or AIME. Then it plugs your AIME into a formula that figures out your full retirement benefit, called your Primary Insurance Amount (PIA). What benefits you can get for yourself and your spouse (including your ex-spouse(s) and your children, if they are young enough or are disabled) is all pegged to your PIA.

From age 16 on, Social Security considers all your earnings, up to a ceiling that rises from year to year. It then indexes, based on historic wage growth, all earnings through the year you turn 60.

In other words, Social Security adjusts past earnings upward to account for the growth in the economy. But after age 60, you get credit for your earnings without any adjustment at all. So imagine that there's a sudden surge in inflation and wages after age 60 skyrocket. They're going to look spectacular compared to your wages of the past, even though they've been indexed. And here's the kicker. Social Security bases your benefits on your highest 35 years of earnings.

So now imagine that age 30 was the lowest of those 35 years and you made, say, $40,000, even after indexing. But now inflation takes off and you're suddenly making $200,000, even though $200,000 ain't what it used to be.

But for your Social Security benefits, this is a bonanza. You're suddenly being treated as if you were really earning a lot more, and thus deserving of much higher benefits. So, for every year that your post-60 earnings exceed the lowest of the previous 35 years, bingo! You'll raise your Social Security check (or checks, if your dependents are also collecting). [...]
He continues on, using himself and his earnings as an example. Wow.

Recommendation No. 1 for a Secure Retirement: "Age in Place"
[...] Owning an accessible home in which we can age in place is important to keeping our future core expenses down for many reasons. First, and most obvious, owning a home outright in retirement greatly reduces our need for income since we no longer have to pay the mortgage.

In the United States, paying as much as 40 percent of your income for housing has been considered normal. Many of us did this when we were young with growing families and growing incomes. Think of how much better we could have done if we had owned our homes, outright, through our adult lives. In many cases, by not making mortgage payments, our housing-related expenses could have been cut by 75 percent or more.

Contrary to what others may have told us, our standard of living in retirement is not based on what we make or what we spend. Rather, it is based on what we spend and the benefits we get from the things that we own outright such as housing, cars, appliances, furniture and clothing. Economists call the income that we get from owning our homes and other possessions outright, and not having to pay rent on them, "implicit income." Since we already own so much of what we use in retirement (home, car, furniture, appliances, clothes), the income that we will need to comfortably support ourselves in retirement may be far, far less than the income we earned while we were working and paying for all of these things. So much for fear-mongers who insist that we must have cash retirement income equal to 70 percent of our pre-retirement income! That is just not true.

A second major benefit of owning, outright, an age-in-place home is that it is a wonderful hedge against inflation. Some of our older readers will remember the double-digit inflation of the late 1970s and early 1980s, where costs (including the costs of renting a home) could double in six or seven years. If we own our retirement home outright, or have a fixed-rate mortgage, which I will deal with below, most of our housing costs are protected against inflation and the value of the home is also likely to increase. While there are other ways of protecting against inflation (see my last column on inflation-protected annuities), the cost of inflation-protection is high. Rather than pay for inflation protection, we can save money by reducing our core expenses that are subject to inflation. Much of this can be done by owning a paid-up, low-maintenance, energy-efficient age-in-place home.

Aside from the financial benefits of reducing cash flow needs and hedging against inflation, another huge saving from having an age-in-place home is likely to be the reduction or elimination of very expensive nursing home costs in the future. With an age-in-place home, an incapacitated spouse or single person may be able to live in a comfortable, familiar environment with some outside help for a long period of time at a fraction of the cost of a nursing home. Staying at home can also reduce the need for increasingly expensive long-term care insurance whose maximum daily benefits are often just $150 or so, a fraction of nursing home costs, leaving patients and their families to make up the huge difference. [...]
The article also goes into reverse mortgages and many other things. A good resource to read.

I'll probably be referring back to many of these links. Good stuff to know.

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