Categories
Retirement Planning

Is a Resurgence Threatening Our Recovery?

Is a Resurgence Threatening
Our Recovery?

The United States set a somber record on Thursday, July 16, 2020, with more than 75,000 new COVID-19 cases. In fact, the U.S. set new single-day COVID-19 records 11 times between June 17 and July 16. Dr. Anthony Fauci predicts the country will soon top over 100,000 new cases each day.1

COVID-related deaths are also increasing in some states. Florida set its single day record for COVID deaths on July 16, with 156. Nine other states also set single-day death records the same week.1

The resurgence in coronavirus cases has led some states to enact new measures. More than half of all states now have some kind of mask mandate. California has even rolled back its reopening, closing bars, indoor dining, gyms, and more.2

What does this mean for the economic recovery? And what does it mean for your financial future? It’s impossible to predict what will happen in the short-term, but knowing where things stand today may help you make important decisions with your strategy.

Stock Market

The stock market continues to rally in spite of the increasing COVID numbers and the return of restrictions. As of July 16, the S&P 500 is nearly back to even for the year. In fact, it’s up 43.71% since hitting a low 2237 on March 23.NASDAQ set a record-high on July 9 when it reached 10,617.4

The continued gains are good news for investors, especially after the sharp decline in March. However, that decline also shows us just how quickly the market can turn, especially if state governments introduce new orders that close businesses.

If you’re concerned about another potential downturn or future risk, this could be the right time to explore risk-protection strategies. For example, products like fixed annuities allow you to participate in a portion of the market upside but also protect you against losses. A financial professional can help you determine which risk-management strategy is right for you.

Unemployment

While the number of new unemployment claims has declined for 15 consecutive weeks, unemployment numbers are still much higher than they were pre-COVID. In February, there were approximately 200,000 new unemployment claims each week. That number exploded to 6.867 million new claims in one week in late March.While new claims have declined since that point, they’re still more than double their level during the height of the Great Recession in 2009.5

Stimulus

In March, the government passed the CARES Act, which, among other things, provided direct stimulus payments to many Americans. A recent study found that 74% of recipients had used all of their stimulus payments within four weeks.6

As the coronavirus pandemic continues to impact Americans, Congress is considering a second round of stimulus payments. In May, the House of Representatives passed the $3 trillion HEROES Act to provide a second round of direct stimulus payments.6

In an interview in mid-July, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin indicated that a second round of stimulus payments was a possibility, even if it doesn’t align exactly with the HEROES Act. Senate Leader Mitch McConnell and President Trump have also recently expressed their willingness to negotiate a second stimulus package.

While stimulus payments may provide a nice boost, they’re not a replacement for long-term strategy. At Benefit Resource Partners we can help you analyze your needs and goals and implement strategies to limit your risk exposure. Let’s connect soon and start the conversation.

1https://www.nytimes.com/2020/07/17/world/coronavirus-updates.html

2https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2020/jul/15/california-coronavirus-shutdown-businesses-restaurants

3https://www.google.com/search?q=INDEXSP:.INX&tbm=fin&stick=H4sIAAAAAAAAAONgecRowi3w8sc9YSntSWtOXmNU5eIKzsgvd80rySypFBLnYoOyeKW4uTj1c_UNDM0qi4t5FrHyePq5uEYEB1jpefpFAAAU6wGESAAAAA#scso=_Ap0RX4PNDdvRtAbPobiYBQ1:0

4https://www.cnn.com/2020/07/09/investing/stock-market-supreme-court-trump/index.html

5https://finance.yahoo.com/news/coronavirus-jobless-claims-unemployment-week-ended-july-11-175149759.html

6https://amp.usatoday.com/amp/112232064

Annuities are long-term products of the insurance industry designed for retirement income. They contain some limitations, including possible withdrawal charges and a market value adjustment that could affect contract values.

Licensed Insurance Professional. This information is designed to provide a general overview with regard to the subject matter covered and is not state specific. The authors, publisher and host are not providing legal, accounting or specific advice for your situation. By providing your information, you give consent to be contacted about the possible sale of an insurance or annuity product. This information has been provided by a Licensed Insurance Professional and does not necessarily represent the views of the presenting insurance professional. The statements and opinions expressed are those of the author and are subject to change at any time. All information is believed to be from reliable sources; however, presenting insurance professional makes no representation as to its completeness or accuracy. This material has been prepared for informational and educational purposes only. It is not intended to provide, and should not be relied upon for, accounting, legal, tax or investment advice. This information has been provided by a Licensed Insurance Professional and is not sponsored or endorsed by the Social Security Administration or any government agency. 20279 – 2020/7/21

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Categories
Social Security

Can You Count on Social Security to Fund Your Retirement?

Can You Count on Social Security to Fund Your Retirement?

Social Security is a critical piece of the income puzzle for most retirees. In fact, half of married retirees and nearly 70% of unmarried retirees rely on Social Security for more than 50% of their retirement income.1

Your Social Security benefit amount is based on a few factors, including your career earnings and your age at the time you file for benefits. However, your benefit amount isn’t locked-in forever. It often increases each year because of something called COLA.2

COLA stands for “cost-of-living adjustment.” It’s an annual increase in the benefit amount to help recipients cover increases in their cost of living. In 2020, COLA was 1.6%, down from a 2.8% increase in 2019.2

Since 2000, Social Security benefits have increased by a cumulative 53% because of COLA. The problem? Retiree spending has increased by more than 99%.2 While COLA can be helpful, it often isn’t enough to match inflation. In fact, since 2009, COLA has averaged only 1.4% annually.2

Fortunately, you can implement other strategies to protect your spending power and combat inflation. Below are a few ideas to consider:

Rely on other sources to cover healthcare costs.

Healthcare is one of the biggest drivers of inflation for retirees. In the past 20 years, Medicare Part B premiums have jumped 218%. Out-of-pocket prescription drug costs for retirees have increased 252%. Social Security benefits increased only 53% over the same period.2

If the past 20 years are any indication, you can’t count on Social Security adjustments to offset increases in healthcare spending. You may want to consider using alternate strategies, like funding a health savings account (HSA) that you can use in retirement for out-of-pocket costs.

You also may want to explore various Medicare Advantage policies. These are Medicare policies offered through private insurers. They often cover the same services as traditional Medicare, plus enhanced services. They also may reduce your out-of-pocket costs. A financial professional can help you determine which policy is right for you.

Continue to grow your assets.

You may be tempted to become more conservative in retirement. After all, you don’t want to lose what you worked so hard to accumulate over several decades. Adjusting to a more conservative allocation may be the right move for your needs and risk tolerance. However, it’s also important to continue to grow your assets.

Growth can help you increase your income over time and keep up with inflation. You can give yourself a personal COLA with increased distributions from your retirement accounts. There are a wide range of strategies you can use to potentially grow your assets, but also minimize your exposure to risk. Again, a financial professional can help you implement the right strategy for you.

Ready to develop your retirement income plan? Let’s talk about it. Contact us today at Benefit Resource Partners. We can help you analyze your needs and develop a strategy. Let’s connect soon and start the conversation.

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Categories
Retirement Planning Tax Planning

5 Ways to Reduce Your Taxes in Retirement

5 Ways to Reduce Your Taxes
in Retirement

What are the biggest expenses you’ll face in retirement? Healthcare? Housing? Travel? All of those costs could be significant, but one of the biggest could be taxes. That’s right. Just because you’re done working, doesn’t mean you’re done paying taxes.

Many sources of retirement income, like Social Security, pensions, and retirement account distributions, are taxable. That doesn’t even include the wide range of other taxes you could face, like property taxes, sales tax, and more.

Taxes may be a part of life, but they can also be a drain on your retirement. Every dollar you pay in taxes is a dollar that can’t be used to support your lifestyle and fund your goals.

Fortunately, you can take action to reduce your tax burden and maximize your retirement income. Below are five steps to consider as you approach retirement:

1) Use a Roth IRA. A traditional IRA is an effective savings vehicle for retirement. You get tax-deferred growth, and potentially tax deductions for your contributions.

However, a traditional IRA can also create tax issues in retirement. Most distributions from a traditional IRA are taxed as income. If you use an IRA to accumulate a sizable nest egg, you could face taxes on much of your income in retirement.

The alternative is a Roth IRA. In a Roth IRA, you don’t get tax deductions when you make a contribution. However, your distributions in retirement are tax-free, assuming you are at least age 59 ½ and you have held the Roth for at least five years.

As a married couple, you cannot contribute to a Roth if your income is greater than $196,000 in 2020. For a single person, that limit is $124,000.1 Otherwise, you can contribute up to $6,000 this year, or up to $7,000 if you’re 50 or older.2

You can also convert your traditional IRA to a Roth. This means paying taxes on the traditional IRA amount. However, after the conversion, you can grow the remaining assets in the Roth on a tax-free basis and take tax-free distributions in retirement.

2) Be strategic about Social Security distributions. Social Security will likely play a role in your retirement income puzzle. However, taxes will impact the net amount you receive from Social Security.

The extent that your Social Security benefit is taxed depends on a number called your “combined income.” Combined income is your adjusted gross income plus nontaxable interest plus half of your Social Security benefit.3

If you are single and your combined income is between $25,000 and $34,000, up to 50% of your benefits could be taxable. If you earn more than $34,000, up to 85% of your benefits could be taxable.3.

For married couples, if your combined income is between $32,000 and $44,000, up to 50% of your benefits could be taxed. If you earn more than $44,000, up to 85% of your benefits could be taxed.

The key to reducing your combined income is to reduce your adjusted gross income. Non-taxable income is not included in that number. So, for example, you could maximize your Roth IRA to minimize your adjusted gross income. You could also delay Social Security until age 70 to increase your benefit, and draw down your taxable accounts, like a traditional IRA, before Social Security starts.

3) Consider downsizing. Simply moving to a new home could reduce your taxes. Property taxes may be a major tax burden depending on your home. If you no longer need a large home, consider moving to something smaller that has a lower value and thus lower property taxes. You also may look at a neighboring community that has a lower property tax rate.

4) Relocate to a more tax-friendly state. Another option is to move to another state completely. Some states are more tax-friendly for retirees than others. For example, Alabama doesn’t tax Social Security benefits and has a relatively low sales tax rate.4 Florida is another option as it doesn’t have a state income tax.5 Do your research and you may find a new home that is appealing and saves you money.

5) Use an HSA to pay for medical costs. Fidelity estimates that the average 65-year-old couple will pay $285,000 out-of-pocket for health care expenses in retirement.6 If you’re using taxable distributions from an IRA or 401(k) to pay those costs, the impact on your savings could be even greater.

One strategy to minimize the tax burden is to use a health savings account (HSA) to pay for healthcare costs. In 2020, individuals can contribute up to $3,550 to an HSA. Families can contribute up to $7,100.7

You can invest and allocate those funds to match your goals and risk tolerance. The assets grow on a tax-deferred basis as long as they stay in the account. When you’re ready to use the funds, you can take tax-free distributions to pay for qualified healthcare expenses like premiums, deductibles, copays, and more.

By using a tax-free source to pay for healthcare costs, you reduce the amount you need to take from taxable accounts, like an IRA or 401(k). That, in turn, reduces your overall tax burden. A financial professional can help you determine if an HSA is right for you.

Ready to develop your retirement tax strategy? Let’s talk about it. Contact us today at Benefit Resource Partners. We can help you analyze your needs and develop a plan.

1https://www.irs.gov/retirement-plans/plan-participant-employee/amount-of-roth-ira-contributions-that-you-can-make-for-2020

2https://www.irs.gov/retirement-plans/plan-participant-employee/retirement-topics-ira-contribution-limits

3https://www.ssa.gov/benefits/retirement/planner/taxes.html#:~:text=Learn%20Apply%20Manage-,Income%20Taxes%20And%20Your%20Social%20Security%20Benefit,on%20your%20Social%20Security%20benefits.&text=between%20%2425%2C000%20and%20%2434%2C000%2C%20you,your%20benefits%20may%20be%20taxable.

4https://money.usnews.com/money/retirement/baby-boomers/slideshows/the-most-tax-friendly-states-to-retire?slide=2

5https://money.usnews.com/money/retirement/baby-boomers/slideshows/the-most-tax-friendly-states-to-retire?slide=4

6https://www.cnbc.com/2019/04/02/health-care-costs-for-retirees-climb-to-285000.html

7https://www.shrm.org/resourcesandtools/hr-topics/benefits/pages/irs-2020-hsa-contribution-limits.aspx

The information contained herein is based on our understanding of current tax law. The tax and legislative information may be subject to change and different interpretations. We recommend that you seek professional legal advice for applicability to your personal situation.

Licensed Insurance Professional. This information is designed to provide a general overview with regard to the subject matter covered and is not state specific. The authors, publisher and host are not providing legal, accounting or specific advice for your situation. By providing your information, you give consent to be contacted about the possible sale of an insurance or annuity product. This information has been provided by a Licensed Insurance Professional and does not necessarily represent the views of the presenting insurance professional. The statements and opinions expressed are those of the author and are subject to change at any time. All information is believed to be from reliable sources; however, presenting insurance professional makes no representation as to its completeness or accuracy. This material has been prepared for informational and educational purposes only. It is not intended to provide, and should not be relied upon for, accounting, legal, tax or investment advice. This information has been provided by a Licensed Insurance Professional and is not sponsored or endorsed by the Social Security Administration or any government agency. 20277 – 2020/7/20

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