What You Should Know About Potential Social Security Fraud Scams in Massachusetts

In 2015, legislation was updated by Congress that mandated that the centers for Medicare and Medicaid services discontinue the use of Social Security numbers on Medicare cards for seniors.

Instead, a randomly generated number was used to identify each Medicare participant. This could lead to someone giving up private and identifying information that could be used to carry out fraud now or in the future. Anyone eligible for Medicare should be wary of communication over the phone, especially anything that demands personally identifying details upfront.

Attorney Noreen Murphy serves on the Abuse Task Force in Arlington and notes that the Greater Boston area task force makes a good point about this attempt to deter fraud.

A number of different fraud problems have emerged lately including scammers who attempt to make telephone calls to senior citizens trying to get this randomly generated number by trying to ensure correct billing, updating records, or informing them that they will be receiving a new card in the mail.

The open enrollment season initiates on October 17th and runs through December 7th and this is a very popular time for scammers to reach out and inform them that they need to purchase a particular plan or switch plans. This could involve the disclosure of personally identifying information accidentally.

Do you want to talk about putting together a comprehensive plan for your estate as well as how to avoid some of the most common scams affecting the elderly throughout Massachusetts? Your ability to plan into the future can benefit you as well as your loved ones for many years to come. The right Massachusetts estate planning attorney should be contacted to schedule a consultation.



Social Security Recipients Get 2% Increase in 2018

The 66 million+ individuals receiving Social Security benefits will receive a 2 percent increase in their payments in 2018. More than 61 million Social Security beneficiaries will receive higher payments in January of 2018, and 8 million SSI recipients will get their higher payments in December of 2017. The government is responsible for analyzing cost of living adjustments across the U.S. and determining how inflation and other factors influence residents. This information is then used to calculate cost of living adjustments. Formal changes for Medicare have not yet been announced.

Women in Retirement: Should Women Need to Think About Staying in The Workforce Longer?

It is already a well-established fact that women tend to live longer than men and this has important ramifications from the perspective of planning for a successful future and a long and healthy retirement. New studies show that women can benefit from staying in the workforce for longer to help make up for some of the challenges affecting their ability to save enough money.

A year of no earnings can cause your benefits to drop significantly from the perspective of social security. A recent study conducted by the Boston College Center for Retirement Research found that women are three times as likely as men to have at least one year in which they earn no money. Women typically tend to earn lower wages as well, meaning that women have a powerful reason to postpone their retirement and their Social Security claims and consider the benefits of working longer.

Stepping out of the workforce while waiting to get closer to retirement age can make this problem more serious since the peak earning years for people of all genders are usually clustered towards the end of careers.

It can also be challenging to find a comparable job as you get closer to retirement age because many employers will still to prefer to invest the time and training in employees that are likely to stay for a longer period of time.

This unique set of challenges presents women with an opportunity to take control of their retirement and estate planning by prolonging leaving the workforce for a few years at minimum. Scheduling a consultation with an experienced Massachusetts estate planning attorney is extremely important for protecting your interests.



New Study Shows That Having Children Financially Challenging for Retirees

Parents may have numerous challenges as they shift into senior citizen years. However, a new study by the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College, determined that children can be a detriment to saving enough for retirement. Children are expensive because they require clothing, food, child care, and education.

The overall family income can be negatively affected by one parent, in particular, taking a lesser job or staying at home. This means less of a chance that that parent will be able to set aside money for retirement. Within a family, every child is associated with up to 4% less wealth. If the parents are in their 50s, each child increases by 2 percentage points the parent’s risk for not having enough support financially to get through retirement.

It’s estimated that nationally approximately 50% of couples do not have enough assets like a pension payment, retirement plans, or a house that is completely paid to sustain them through a full retirement, which could last as many as 30 years given recent longevity numbers. With this information, you need to be prepared to protect yourself and consider all of your financial obligation as you near retirement.

Retirement and estate planning are well worth the time and effort put in to ensure you’ve got something that reflects your needs and goals. Engage the services of professionals to get peace of mind with your planning.



Financial & Estate Planning for Women More Important with Increasing Longevity

While general financial and estate planning advice is intended to apply to all investors, the truth is that women statistically live longer than men and may face unique issues such as ensuring that the assets they have set aside will continue to last them throughout their expected lifetime. This also confronts the challenges faced by many women given that they are likely to earn less over the course of their careers compared with male counterparts due to the gender pay gap and taking time off work to be caregivers.

Although the gender pay gap is decreasing, women still earn 83% of what men are in 2015, according to research collected by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. This often leads to women saving less for retirement, receiving smaller pensions, and getting less in social security benefits.

Women are more likely to live on their own in their golden years due to their own choices, or divorce or death of a spouse. It is crucial that they take individual responsibility and planning opportunities as seriously as possible because their financial decisions may have repercussions that influence them for many years to come.

Scheduling a consultation with a dedicated Massachusetts estate planning attorney can help give you a broader perspective over the issues involved in financial and estate planning and the necessary documents that may be required to assist women to provide for their own care and lifestyle over the course of retirement.



What Do Job Satisfaction, Work-Life Balance, and Retirement Have to Do with One Another?

Anyone who is thinking ahead to retirement has probably invested a significant amount of time into their career as well as planning ahead for what their retirement will look like. Having consultations with a broad range of different professionals can help you to articulate your goals and ensure that your current plan is in line with your needs. Two of the major issues that affect the employees in their 50s and 60s include job satisfaction and work life balance.

At the recent 2017 Retirement Research Consortium Meeting, new studies were shared regarding a perspective on both of these issues. Researchers in a California study found a strong connection between women stepping out of the workforce when their spouse had a health shock.

The same desire to leave the workforce occurred whether the woman was employed on a part time or full time basis. In fact, up to 14% of people who retired earlier than planned said that their reason for doing so was having to care for a family member such as a spouse.

When a spouse gets sick, this often causes a reprioritization and indicates that life may be interfering with work. According to the research study however, men were unlikely to follow the same pattern as their wives when the women had health shocks.

The study shows that women bear a lot of the responsibility when life intervenes around retirement. If you have questions about how to connect your retirement planning and your estate planning, scheduling a consultation with an experienced professional is strongly recommended.

An estate planning attorney in Massachusetts can help illuminate you about some of the most critical issues to pay attention to during this vital time.



Older Americans Significantly Affected by Debt

Debt is a problem for people of all ages, however, a new research from the University of Michigan Retirement Research Center indicates that debt is a particular problem for baby boomers. The study has been conducted every year since 1990 and looks at the experiences of more than 20,000 Americans over age 50. Magnified Money identified that 33% of Americans over the age of 50 currently carry non-mortgage debt from one month to another.

The average amount of non-mortgage debt was almost $12,500 and approximately $4,800 in credit card debt. Any type of high interest debt can make it problematic for an older American to have a quality lifestyle in retirement. This is particularly true if they are exposed to any costs associated with long term care.

The rising costs of health care needs as people age is extremely important to consider, particularly for a couple that may have counted on the joint retirement to fund their retirement needs. Their assets can become quickly decimated by the health care costs linked to just one long term care event, such as the diagnosis of Alzheimer’s or a broken hip.

These issues can jeopardize the retirement of the other spouse as well and require careful and complex planning. If you are concerned about how to protect what you’ve accumulated over the course of your life, estate planning is a must. Consulting with an experienced lawyer sooner rather than later is strongly recommended if you have estate planning questions.


Dealing with An Aging Parent Who Shows Signs of Cognitive Issues

It is very difficult to realize that your loved one may be losing his or her faculties. In fact, many children who find themselves in this situation as adults will try to do everything in their power to step in and assist with this situation as long as they can. However, after a certain point you may be unable to handle this situation on your own.

This is even more difficult when your loved one is uncomfortable with getting help and may even fight you about it. Relying on your support network of other relatives is extremely important but particularly if there are cognitive issues with your loved one, it is imperative that you discuss these with the family member’s physician and develop a plan for how you and others will assist with this.

Alzheimer’s, plus unclear estate planning, can also generate a great deal of problems down the road when your loved one may no longer be able to make decisions for themselves. Finding advisors that you can trust to help with this situation – including an attorney, accountant, and financial professionals – can give you peace of mind. If something were to happen to your loved one where they were no longer able to make decisions on their own, someone is available to help guide you through the decisions that need to be made.

Unfortunately, elder individuals who are starting to suffer from cognitive issues like Alzheimer’s may be easy picking for scammers who will do everything possible to carry out fraud for people who are unable to make decisions for themselves.

Having the right family and professional people in positions of assistance and who care about your loved ones early on in the process is important. Furthermore, you need a clear plan of what will happen if the condition continues to worsen is crucial for protecting you and your family member.

An estate planning lawyer in Massachusetts is a great resource to turn to during this difficult time.


Planning to Phase into Retirement? New Study Says It’s Rare

Many people looking to retirement don’t want to suddenly stop working altogether either for financial or personal reasons. They instead want to phase into it by switching to part-time hours first. However, there’s a gap between what employees want and what employers expect.

The Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies recently identified that 77% of employers believe that the majority of their employees will want to continue working after they retire. However, up to 47% of employees envision a phased transition to retirement. Very few of them actually end up phasing into retirement. Many employers do not want to allow their employees to shift from full-time to part-time.

Just 27% of employers allow workers to take on positions that are less demanding or stressful so that they can prepare for retirement. These phased retirement programs are rare even though there is clearly interest in the market coming from employees directly. More than 1,800 for profit company employers were interviewed for this study. Although 71% of those employers believe that they were aging friendly with regard to work arrangements, opportunities, and training for all ages to be successful, many of them do not provide a comprehensive or clear program for phasing into retirement.

The US Government Accountability Office recently completed their own study for the US Senate Special Committee on Aging. They’ve identified that phased retirement programs offer a great deal of flexibility for employers and workers, but that they are extremely rare. If you have questions about the retirement planning process and how it works alongside estate planning, schedule a consultation with an experienced estate planning lawyer today.


Don’t Make These Retirement Planning Mistakes

Millions of baby boomers are headed into retirement and unfortunately, some may discover that they are not as prepared as they thought they were. Thinking about retirement is a great opportunity to evaluate mistakes you have made up to this point or to avoid them in practice altogether.

The first and most common mistake with regard to retirement planning is failing to get an early jump on planning. The earlier you start saving for retirement, the easier it is to accumulate the necessary resources. Young individuals who are settling into a career, purchasing their first home, and getting married will frequently defer retirement planning, which could cost them in the long run. The next major mistake in retirement planning is underestimating your retirement needs.

Most people don’t realize how much money they will actually need to acquire in order to retire comfortably. A person will usually need to replace close to 90% of his or her income before retirement to maintain a standard of living and as longevity numbers are increasing, this becomes even higher. Furthermore, many people overestimate their ability to continue working past a certain age. People with desk jobs are most likely to assume they can continue working, but this is often not the case. Reasons outside of their control such as poor mental or physical health, losing their job or having to care for an ailing spouse or a loved one are just a couple of the reasons why you may need to stop working sooner than you anticipated.

Want more information about retirement and estate planning? Make a call to a Massachusetts estate planning lawyer today.