November 18, 2019 — Late last month it was announced that Social Security and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits for nearly 69 million Americans will increase 1.6 percent in 2020. This follows increases of 2.8 percent in 2019, 2% in 2018 and .3% in 2016.
The 1.6 percent cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) will begin with benefits payable to more than 63 million Social Security beneficiaries in January 2020.
The maximum amount of earnings subject to the Social Security tax (taxable maximum) will increase to $137,700, up from $132,900. Separately, Medicare.gov announced that Part B premiums in 2019 will increase by $9.10 a month to $144.60 for most recipients.
Nov. 12, 2020 — The standard Part B monthly premium amount in 2020 will be $144.60, up $9.10 from 2019. Most people will pay the standard Part B premium amount. If you modified adjusted gross income as reported on your IRS tax return from 2 years ago is above a certain amount, you’ll pay the standard premium amount and an Income Related Monthly Adjustment Amount (IRMAA). IRMAA is an extra charge added to your premium.
If your yearly income in 2018 (for what you pay in 2020) was
November 11, 2019 – As a place to retire the American West offers perhaps the biggest range of geography and the lifestyles that go with that. This huge area comprises 9 states with every kind of geography. Most impressive is its huge coastline that runs from coastal California to the state of Washington. There is the Pacific Northwest with its rain forests and deserts. Then there are towns in the real wild west from Idaho to Montana, along with deserts, mountains, and national parks in Nevada and Utah. There are college towns, some big and small cities, and many towns in tourist areas, so it’s likely there is a great place to retire for just about everybody. Here in our the third installment of our “Best Places to Retire 2019” are the top 20 most popular retirement towns in the U.S. West. Here are links to the other two: “The Top 20 Places to Retire in the Southwest” and “Best Places to Retire in the Southeast“.
What States are in the West? The National Geographic Society includes nine states in the American West, a huge territory made up of Washington, Oregon, California, Utah, Nevada, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming. With the exception of the coastal Northwest, most of this region is dry with hot summers. Most of the region has low humidity. For more information about what it is like to retire in the West see our “Dueling Retirement States” series: Dueling Retirement States: The Pacific Northwest, and Dueling Retirement States: The Western Mountain States.
A Surprising # 1 The 20 most popular towns in the West contain some surprises, including a few not familiar to many. The surprising #1 most popular place to retire on our list, Sequim (WA), edged out many more well known towns and cities. Its review was read by over 3,300 visitors in the first ten months of 2019 by Topretirements.com visitors, beating out Grand Junction (CO). Last year’s winner, St. George, UT, slipped to third place this year. This year there were four newcomers to the top 20 list: Cheyenne (WY), Eureka (CA), Brookings (OR) and Port Townsend (WA). Dropping off from the 2018 were Coeur D’Alene (ID), Medford (OR), Spokane (WA), and Las Vegas (NV).
November 9, 2019 — With so many baby boomers facing retirement with smaller than expected savings, the question of where they can afford to live is a serious question. Recently one of our long-standing Members, Peder, raised the issue of manufactured homes, and in particular, their pitfalls. Somewhat to our amazement we cannot find that we have written about this important topic before, so now seems like a great time to do it.
There can be a lot of confusion around terms like manufactured homes. Code of Federal Regulations, 24 CFR 3280, states that: “Manufactured homes are built as dwelling units of at least 320 square feet in size with a permanent chassis to assure the initial and continued transportability of the home.” They are typically built in a factory and moved as one or more sections to where the homeowner wants it. Their wheel chassis is the key differentiation from other types of homes. They are often referred to less elegantly as “mobile homes” and “trailers“. In the 1950’s ten foot wide models were introduced. Because of this greater width (previous models were 8′ wide), it became harder to transport them and this helped distinguish them from travel trailers and RVs.
They are different than modular homes, also prefabricated and built in factories. Some experts have long predicted that modular construction will eventually replace so called “stick-built” homes because of the efficiencies involved in building homes in a factory setting. It is often difficult to distinguish between a modular home and one built in-situ. Some other variations of modular homes are “pre-cut” or “panelized” homes.
November 6, 2019 — Millennials and GenY and Xers can get a little tired of us baby boomers. Now some experts are seeing yet another problem we seemed to have created. By staying in our homes longer than expected, we are disrupting the housing market. According to research by the real-estate brokerage Redfin, homeowners are staying in their homes 5 years longer than they did in 2010. The typical stay has now lengthened to 13 years. That has led to a tight real estate market with record low inventories of homes for sale.
Many folks expected that by now baby boomers would have downsized, moved to warmer climes, or headed to a 55+ community. That should have led to a big supply of larger homes on the market, to be purchased by younger families wanting to move up. While many of us have moved, more are staying put than predicted. The result is a market disruption. Families that need bigger homes for their growing broods are finding a tight housing market, with fewer homes for sale than expected. The inventory of homes on the market is the lowest in 37 years, according to CoreLogic Inc. Smaller inventories keep prices high. Boomers are affecting the market for smaller homes and condos too. Because inventories are tight in all kinds of markets, there is pressure on both older and younger buyers. Although home equity-rich boomers are more likely to come out on top in any bidding war, they are reluctant to pay high prices for a smaller home.
November 4, 2019 — Last year about three million older people sought emergency room treatment for injuries sustained in falls. About 1 out of 3 people over 65 had a serious fall. We’ve all heard tales of older people (that is getting to be us!) whose lives were changed, irrevocably, for the worst after a big fall. A broken hip or pelvis can mean the end of an active life.
So what are you doing to stay agile, flexible, and strong so you don’t suffer a fall, or not seriously hurt if you do? If you say you are doing nothing, that is a problem, because you might be headed for a …. fall.
How well are you aging tests
Doctors and therapists have a number of tests that measure how people are aging. One of them claims to be an excellent predictor of your chances of dying within 6 years. See Today Show Video
October 30, 2019 — For years the curiously named Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP) has frustrated countless workers in the public sector. The WEP was created to try to help protect Social Security as well as prevent so called “double-dipping” by public workers who are eligible for pensions as well as Social Security retirement. Most public workers feel that the WEP unfairly takes away some of the benefits they earned from Social Security. Now a Republican Congressman from Texas, Kevin Brady, has proposed its elimination and replacement with a new system. This is his statement:
“For years, lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have called for a permanent solution to fix WEP. This arbitrary Washington compromise has resulted in unfair treatment for our teachers, fire fighters, and police officers; and Texans simply cannot afford Congress to remain inactive and let this unfair policy be the law of the land. Now is the time for Congress to put forth a solution that can actually be signed by the President. This legislation permanently repeals the current WEP, and instead uses a fairer formula that treats public servants like all other American workers. Democrats agree that this is a problem we must address now, and we hope they join us in fixing this long-standing problem this year. While I am introducing a bill today, I am committed to staying at the table to get a bill to the President’s desk.”
The WEP is complicated, and relies on a formula. Basically, if you have less than 30 years of substantial earnings subject to Social Security, you will give up a portion of benefit. For example, if you had less than 20 years of paying into the system and became 62 in 2019, you would forfeit $463 of your promised monthly benefit. If you had 25 years the forfeit $231, and $0 if you had 30 years. SSA has a WEP chart to help you figure this out (see below).
Comments: It is anyone’s guess if Brady’s bill will ever become law. Are you affected by it, and do you think the current system is unfair? Let us know in the Comments section below.
October 30, 2019 — Ahh, the mountains. Snowy peaks, amazing trails, clean air, and majestic scenery that one never tires of. Although many people dream of a retirement near the beach, in a small town, or even the downtown of a city, there are plenty of baby boomers whose ambition is to retire near the mountains.
To help them find their best mountain retirement town, we have assembled a list of sixteen. From most of them you can look up and see mountains rising above, while in others they are just a short drive away. All are proven great places to retire – some are college towns and others are also on a lake. At the end of this article we will discuss some of the pros and cons of retiring in the mountains, but first here is our list, in no particular order (they’re all nice!). Note this is Part 2 of Mountain Towns for Retirement, see Further Reading at end for 10 more.
Twin Falls, Idaho. Sitting above the Snake River Canyon, this town is known as the hub of the eight-county Magic Valley region. Its location atop the Snake River Canyon provides for outdoor activities including boating, fishing, hiking, golf, whitewater rafting and skiing. There are many parks, a national forest, and the popular Shoshone Falls. It is home to the Shoshone Falls, “The Niagara of the West”.
Williamstown, Massachusetts. This small town in western Mass. offers a double pleasure – it is in the Berkshire Mountains and is home to prestigious Williams College. The famed Clark Art Institute, the Williams College Museum of Art, and the Williamstown Theatre Festival are just some of the proud artistic accomplishments of the town. Williamstown is in Berkshire County. Mt. Greylock rises to 3,500′ above town.
Oct. 23, 2019 — Many of the 10,000 adults who retire each day are interested in relocating from where they live now. The 55places 2019 National Housing Survey asked nearly 3,000 recent and prospective homebuyers to reveal what’s important when looking for a home, community, and real estate agent, as well as other relevant aspects of the homebuying process. The respondents, 97% of whom were over the age of 55, provided some interesting insights into what drives their relocation preferences.
October 22, 2019 — Sometimes the best advice is right in front of your nose. That revelation hit us while researching a new article on retirement preparation and happiness. As we read past Member comments on various Blog articles, we found an unbelievable trove of collective wisdom! Small wonder, as you are the folks actually living and experiencing retirement – you know the territory.
So, rather than us trying to reinvent the wheel, here is a recent sample of wisdom-filled retirement preparation advice from the people who frequent Topretirements. We apologize if we didn’t select one of yours, because undoubtedly we missed many good ones and didn’t have the room for others. This is just a tiny sample, so we encourage you to go through the “Planning” category on our Blog where there are hundreds and hundreds of great comments on all kinds of retirement topics. Also, you might consider taking our “Retirement Preparation” Quiz to get an idea of the state of your planning (see “Further Reading” at bottom).
Your Wise Comments! (comment and who contributed it in ( ) )
I love retirement and wish I had retired earlier. (bill shan)