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)
October 16, 2019 — The U.S. Census Bureau is looking for 500,000 temporary workers next year to help it complete the 2020 census. It is the perfect job in many ways for retirees – it is temporary, has flexible hours, gets you out meeting people, and pays reasonably well ($13.50 to $30 an hour). Many workers in past censuses say they really enjoyed the work, and liked meeting people later on in the course of their neighborhood travels.
The flexible hours can include days, evenings, and weekends. Generally, unless there is good public transportation, you to have access to a vehicle and a valid driver’s license and an internet connection.
About 50,000 of the Census temporaries will be census takers. These employees (enumerators) will follow up with households who don’t respond to online, phone, or mail requests in person. Their job will be to ask residents questions from the census form, such as demographics, number of people who live in the home, etc. The controversial citizenship question will not be asked. There are also jobs relating to recruiting and supervision.
To get one of these jobs you can apply online at 2020Census.gov/jobs. You can also can call the Census’ toll-free number, 855-JOB-2020, for more information.
Let us know. If you end up applying for one of these jobs, and especially if you get one, we would love to hear about your experiences in the Comments section belwo.
October 16, 2019 – According to our surveys, the most popular places to retire in America are in the Southeast. In that research 48% of respondents said they would like to retire in the Southeast, twice as many as for the Southwest, the next highest choice. This is our 2019 list of the 20 most popular places to retire in the Southeast, the second in this year’s “Best Places” series. Here are links to other reports: “The Top 20 Places to Retire in the Southwest” and the 20 Most Popular Places to Retire in the West (California to Colorado and points north, which will come out in Nov.).
What States are in our Southeast compilation? The states we have included in this big region are: Virginia, Tennessee, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, and Florida (MS did not have any towns in the top 20). In general the region has a humid subtropical climate with hot summers. Areas in its west and north tend to be cooler as they generally have more elevation or are further north. Hurricanes can reach landfall in the summer and fall months along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts. The region’s major geographical features include the Appalachian Mountains, Atlantic Ocean, and the Gulf of Mexico.
Changes this year – Ups and downs The 20 most popular towns in the Southeast are mostly familiar names. Asheville (NC), which has been top dog on our Top 100 list for the entire U.S. many times, was no surprise to take the #1 spot here. Its review was read by over 7,400 visitors in the first 9 months of 2019, more than three times as many as viewed the #20 selection, Jupiter, FL. One of the hottest towns on this list was St. Petersburg (FL), which rocketed from #18 on last year’s list to the #7 spot. Four very familiar retirement towns dropped off the list in 2019: New Bern (NC), Brevard (SC), Jacksonville (FL), and most surprising of all, Naples (FL). Of the four newcomers to this year’s list, three have been on the list in previous years (Ft. Myers (FL), Charlottesville (VA), and Fairhope (AL). Jupiter (FL), in the #20 spot, was the fourth new town on this year’s list.
October 8, 2019 — The results are in from the 555 people (so far!) who took the Medicare IQ test. We are thankful to all those intrepid souls: we are impressed with your solid grasp of most Medicare essentials. The test represents good timing, because this year’s Medicare Open Enrollment period begins next week (Oct 15) and runs through Dec. 7. During this time you can freely change plans without losing coverage. Didn’t take the quiz yet – here is the link to the Medicare IQ Quiz.
For learning purposes here is a question by question review of the quiz, along the scores by question. We arbitrarily set a passing grade of 60%, but the average score was just over 71%. Almost everyone understood the basic questions, such as the difference between Part A and Part B of Medicare. But three questions in particular tripped up about half of the people taking the quiz. Those questions involved the fine points of when you can sign up for Medicare (Question 10), which Medigap or Medicare Advantage Plan has the smallest deductible and copays (Q 11), and what events are covered under a Special Enrollment Period (Q 12).
Question 1: At what age are you eligible to Medicare on your own earnings record?
Some 82% answered correctly that the age to do this is 65. Wrong answers were 62 and 66.
October 8, 2019 — Stopped at the intersection, the light turned green. Your editor pushed on the bike pedals, ready to pass the tourist couple in front, who were wobbling to a start on their tandem bicycle. Except there they went, quickly gaining distance and fading away. Puzzled, I finally figured out they were on an eBike – a new category of bikes assisted by a battery powered motor. These new products are rapidly attracting a whole new group of people to biking.
Electric bikes have several big advantages:
Great for people who live in hilly country or on a big hill. They have just enough assist to make you not dread starting out your ride or finishing with a monster climb.
More fun for everyone. Our friend Brian and his wife just got back from a trip to Boulder, Colorado. With power assisted electric bikes their rental bike outings were fun for both of them – she could keep up without becoming exhausted, and he could pedal as hard as he wanted. Routes with big hills, which before they would have tried to avoid, were no problem for either of them.
Commute without getting sweaty. If you are working or going to a social event in hot weather an eBike can get you there without you needing a shower once you arrive.
October 2, 2019 – Many baby boomers might not know exactly where they want to retire, but they probably have an idea of what region or state they prefer. So if the Southwest is on your retirement radar, here is our 2019 list of the 20 most popular retirement towns in that region. In the coming months we will be providing similar lists for the West and Southeast.
The 20 most popular towns in the Southwest are almost all recognizable. This year Prescott, a former cowboy town that celebrates that image, is a close favorite for baby boomers looking for a relaxed southwestern lifestyle. It narrowly beat out last year’s winner, Green Valley (AZ).