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ERISA Pension Lawyer

The Secure Act- What Would It Mean To Retirement?

The House of Representatives passed the Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Enhancement Act of 2019 (the "SECURE Act"). The SECURE Act is now in the hands of the Senate. If the Senate and President approve, the following are some of the key provisions that could impact individuals and businesses when it comes to retirement planning:

· After the death of a participant in a retirement plan or owner of an IRA (or Roth IRA), distributions of the entire account balance will generally be required to be made within 10 years unless the beneficiary is a spouse or minor child.

· The age to begin taking required minimum distributions from IRAs and retirement plans will increase from age 70 ½ to age 72.

· A repeal of the restriction prohibiting contributions to an IRA once you turn age 70 ½.

· 401(k) Plans will be required to allow part-time employees that work at least 500 hours per year for three consecutive years to participate in the plan by making elective deferrals.

It's Not Always True That You Must Start Taking Pension Distributions By April 1 of the Year Following the Year You Turn Age 70½

Under the Internal Revenue Code (IRC), participants in tax-qualified pension plans [most pension plans ARE tax qualified] MUST start taking "required minimum distributions" (RMDs) of their pension by April 1 of the year following the year they turn age 70½. This is referred to as the "required beginning date" (RBD), and it is very important because the penalty for failing to take an RMD by the deadline is an onerous 50% tax penalty. Ditto if you fail to take your RMD in future years. Thus, if you were supposed to take an RMD of $5,000, but failed to do so, you will have the privilege of writing the IRS a check for $2,500!

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What Is the Better Strategy For Achieving Retirement Security? Working Longer? Or Saving More?

The National Bureau of Economic Research recently published a working paper that purports to answer this question. [See "The Power of Working Longer," by Gila Bronshtein, Jason Scott, John B. Shoven, and Sita N. Slavov]. With exhausting technical analysis, the authors demonstrate that working longer is a much more powerful strategy for achieving retirement security than saving more.

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Does It Make Sense to Delay Collecting Social Security Retirement Benefits in Order to Receive a Higher Monthly Benefit?

Callers sometimes ask me this question, and I tell them the answer depends on a number of factors unique to them. But, here are a few things to consider.

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Latest Social Security Trust Fund Report Is Not Good News for Retirees

Each year, Social Security's trustees report on the current and projected financial status of the Social Security trust fund. Their 2018 annual report is worrisome. In a nutshell, the trustees conclude that the Social Security trust fund faces insolvency and resultant benefit cuts by 2034 if changes are not soon made to the program.

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One More Thing to Worry About in Retirement: the Solvency of Medicare's Hospital Insurance Trust Fund [Medicare Part A]

On June 5, 2018, Medicare's Board of Trustees issued its annual report on the state of its two trust funds: the Hospital Insurance Trust Fund (Hospital Fund) and the Supplementary Medical Insurance Trust Fund (Supplementary Fund). The Hospital Fund, known as Medicare Part A, helps pay for hospital stays, home health services following a hospital stay, care in a skilled nursing facility, and hospice care the aged and disabled. The Hospital Fund is financed by taxes on workers' earnings. Thus, the solvency of the Hospital Fund is largely dependent on workers' earnings.

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Can Immigration Help Shore-Up Our Social Security Retirement System?

A paper by the Bipartisan Policy Center (BPC) provides intriguing insights into the role of immigration on our Social Security retirement system. [See "America's Demographic Challenge: Understanding the Role of Immigration," Aug. 2017, by Kenneth Megan and Theresa Cardinal Brown].

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Retirement Likely to Be More Financially Challenging for Women Than Men

It's all about the money, honey. In April [2018], the Census Bureau released data comparing men's and women's 2016 median earnings in over 300 occupations. In nearly all occupations, women earned less than men. Overall, women's median 2016 earnings equaled $40,675, while men's median earnings equaled $50,741-nearly 25% more!

Social Security Cost of Living Adjustments May Not Reflect Actual Cost Increases to Seniors

When our nation's Social Security program was enacted in 1935, there was no automatic adjustment in Social Security retirement benefits to account for inflation. Rather, Congress would periodically adjust benefits to reflect inflationary increases in the costs of goods and services. In 1972, however, Congress enacted an amendment to the Social Security Act that requires benefits to be increased based on the increase in the Consumer Price Index (CPI) the previous year.

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Funding Gap Continues to Grow in Most State Pension Plans; What Are the Causes and Solutions?

A recent issue brief prepared by the Pew Charitable Trusts (Pew) reports that most state pension plans are significantly underfunded and that, for many, the funding gap is growing. [See "The State Pension Funding Gap: 2016. Investment shortfalls, insufficient contributions reduced funded levels for public worker retirement plans (Pew, April 12, 2018)]. Pew, founded in 1948, is an independent non-profit organization that strives to inform the public and improve public policy by providing useful data and analysis to illuminate issues and trends that shape our world.

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