Tuesday, September 24, 2013
For a number of years, I have taken on the interesting task of researching resident rights and financing or governance issues for "Continuing Care Retirement Communities" or CCRCs, an important part of the network of senior living options in the U.S. One of the many strengths of CCRCs is the way residents and administrators pull together to respond to a crisis or handle a challenge.
Frasier Meadow Retirement Community, a CCRC in Boulder, was hit hard by the recent devastating flooding in Colorado. The Assisted Living area was severely damaged, requiring relocation of AL residents. The good news is that the relocations were accomplished safely, and the hard work of clean-up and reorganization has begun. Regular updates on the Frasier website and social media connections have helped to keep families and friends up-to-date.
Hat Tip to Walt Boyer, board member at the National Continuing Care Resident's Association or NaCCRA, for information on Frasier's early recovery efforts.
Saturday, September 14, 2013
Via the Wall St. Journal:
A white paper put out by the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College noted that 83% of married couples can benefit from “unusual claiming strategies” commonly known as “file and suspend” and “restricted application.” Both claiming strategies take advantage of the simple fact that for every year that social security benefits are delayed beyond full retirement age, payments increase 8% until age 70. In this time of low interest rates, delaying social security is one of the best financial bargains available to workers. Both strategies ease the pain of waiting by claiming spousal benefits. Once having reached full retirement age (currently 66), a spouse is eligible to to receive benefits based on the earning of a partner. One member of a married couple claims a spousal benefit first and then claims a higher full retirement benefit based on his or her own earnings at a later time up to age 70. Spousal benefits are 50% of the partner's benefit, so some cash is flowing while waiting out as much of the time as possible to age 70. There is no penalty for receiving the spousal benefit during this interim period. For a married person to get spousal benefits, the primary beneficiary must first claim their benefits.
Under file and suspend , the primary beneficiary claims his or her benefit and then suspends receipt. The spouse then claims a spousal benefit. In this case both members of the couple wait to receive the higher deferred benefits, but the couple is receiving the spousal benefit during the interim period. If both defer their benefits, the total benefits the couple can receive can be quite high. If they both wait until 70 to claim their own benefits, their benefits will be 32% higher than the benefits they would have received if they had both claimed at full retirement age.
The second related strategy is filing a restricted application . While this strategy seems to be less well-known than file and suspend, we have found that this is more often the best strategy for a married couple. With a restricted application, the primary beneficiary still needs to claim before the spouse can receive a spousal benefit, but the primary beneficiary doesn't suspend. He or she simply takes a benefit when the claim is made....
Read more in the WSJ.
Friday, August 23, 2013
New from U.S. Census Bureau: Annual Survey of Public Pensions: State- and Locally-Administered Defined Benefit Data Summary Report: 2011
This publication presents data on public pension systems based on information collected from the 2011 Annual Survey of Public Pensions: State- and Locally-Administered Defined Benefit Data. The data collected from these systems are for defined benefit plans only and do not include data for defined contribution plans or other postemployment benefit plans. Data in this report refer to fiscal years that ended between July 1, 2010, and June 30, 2011 (FY2011).
This survey covers the following retirement system activities: revenues by state (earnings on investments, employee contributions, government contributions); expenditures by state (benefits, withdrawals, other payments); cash and investment holdings by state (governmental securities, corporate stocks and bonds, foreign and international securities, etc.); and membership information by state (number of retirement systems, total members, beneficiaries receiving periodic payments).
Friday, August 16, 2013
Recently I was having lunch with a group of friends. One friend, younger than me, commented that she didn't like to tell people she was "retired," because it made her feel too old. We laughed and asked, "Would it be better to tell people you are 'unemployed'?" We all agreed that probably sounded worse.
But, is "retired" really such a dirty word? For some, perhaps yes. For example, AARP used to be an acronym for the "American Association of Retired Persons" but in 1999 the organization changed its official name to AARP, and membership is open to anyone 50 or over, regardless of working status.
Fortunately for researchers, "retired" and "retirement" are still viable terms that generate a lot of important issues. One of my favorite researchers is Gordon L. Clark at Oxford, who writes and speaks clearly and thoughtfully on a number of financial issues, including retirement. His co-authored Oxford Handbook of Pensions and Retirement Income sits on my quick access shelf.
Another resource for statistics and commentary on retirement-related issues is the University of Michigan's Retirement Research Center. Check their website for the latest publications, including data on the impact of proposed changes in Social Security rules on individuals' work and retirement decisions.
Wednesday, June 8, 2011
Dick "the Rock Star" Kaplan has recently published an article on the Supreme Court's recent (really recent-5/16/22) decision in Cigna v. Amara. Check it out on SSRN:
BNA DAILY REPORT FOR EXECUTIVES, pp. B1-B2, June 1, 2011
Illinois Program in Law, Behavior and Social Science Paper No. LBSS11-24
This brief article discusses the recent Supreme Court decision in CIGNA v. Amara. That case held that ERISA authorizes a court to reform a pension plan that an employer had changed so that employees receive the benefits they had been promised. The article considers the key implications of this decision for employees and employers, focusing on relevant communications of the employer and the applicable standard of proof.
Wednesday, October 20, 2010
Richard L. Kaplan
University of Illinois College of Law
Journal of Retirement Planning, p. 9, July-August, 2010
Among the many features of the 2010 health care legislation is a new entitlement program to fund long-term care called Community Living Assistance Services and Supports, or CLASS. Beginning possibly as early as January 2011, employees of participating employers will be automatically enrolled in CLASS’s payroll-reduction plan and will become eligible for benefits after five years of continuous enrollment. These benefits will be calibrated by an enrollee’s degree of impairment and may be applied to the full range of long-term care services, from paying relatives for family-provided care and modifying a personal residence to funding adult day care, assisted living facilities, and nursing homes. These benefits are provided as long as the recipient qualifies for them, without any limit as to duration or total dollars expended. This article examines the CLASS program and compares its various features to currently available long-term care insurance policies, focusing on benefit eligibility, enrollment procedures, scope of benefits, ease of acquisition, program solvency, premium stability, and other programmatic features as well.
Accepted Paper Series
Friday, October 8, 2010
Older adult volunteers can provide an 800% return on investment to nonprofits, says a new report released today by NCOA. The report, The Boomer Solution: Skilled Talent to Meet Nonprofit Needs, is the result of a three-year collaborative study of more than 60 nonprofits nationwide.
The Boomer Solution outlines how nonprofits can best capitalize on the growing influx of boomer talent into the volunteer workforce to advance their missions in the community.
“With the number of older volunteers on the rise, there has never been a better time for nonprofits to leverage the power of older adults to help meet important social needs in our communities,” says Thomas Endres, vice president of Civic Engagement at NCOA. “This timely report provides new ideas and insights, brings best practices to the table, and demonstrates the value of this nonprofit capacity-building model.”
As part of the study, funded by The Atlantic Philanthropies, nonprofits developed and tested various models of integrating skilled older adult volunteers with nonprofit staff. Volunteers were placed in leadership roles and positions within nonprofit organizations that matched their area of expertise.
Using U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and marketplace wage data, NCOA developed a return on investment measurement tool to compare the expense of recruiting, training, and maintaining skilled volunteers to the value of volunteers’ service.
Wednesday, June 16, 2010
France's retirement age will be raised from 60 to 62 over the next eight years as part of sweeping pension reforms, the government has announced. French labour minister Eric Woerth told reporters that working longer was "inevitable", and necessary to balance the public finances. The move is designed to reduce France's pension costs and bring public borrowing down. The move is likely to be met with stiff resistance from labour unions, however. Demonstrations against raising the retirement age were seen even before the measure was formally announced, with more strikes and protests expected in the coming months. But Mr Woerth said it was time for France to follow the lead of other European countries in addressing it deficit. "All our European partners have done this by working longer. We cannot avoid joining this movement," he said.
Source and more: BBC
Wednesday, March 17, 2010
Call for Papers – Future of Elder Law Practice
William Mitchell Law Review, Vol. 37, Issue I (Fall 2010)
The William Mitchell Law Review is proud to dedicate its first issue of the 2010-11 academic year to Elder Law in its upcoming Volume 37 (Fall 2010). We are currently seeking papers that examine the future of elder law practice. Submissions may either take the form of shorter commentaries or longer law review articles. The deadline for submissions has been set for July 1, 2010.
The William Mitchell Law Review is highly regarded both regionally and nationally. Our Law Review recently ranked twenty-second in citations by judges and ranked fifty-seventh in citations by other law journals, culminating in an overall ranking of seventieth. Over the years, the William Mitchell Law Review has featured the works of various scholars and practitioners such as Congressman Tim Penny, and former Vice President Walter Mondale. The William Mitchell Law Review has also published nationally known legal experts ranging from Philip Bruner, to Supreme Court Justices Sandra Day O’Connor, Byron White, and Harry Blackmun. Now, we would like to invite you to join us to publish in our upcoming volume.
Please direct inquiries to Executive Editor Sanjee Weliwitigoda at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please send submissions to email@example.com or mail them to our Editorial Office. Please note that the Law Review prefers electronic submissions.
March 17, 2010 in Current Affairs, Discrimination, Elder Abuse/Guardianship/Conservatorship, Estates and Trusts, Ethical Issues, Health Care/Long Term Care, Housing, Medicaid, Medicare, Property Management, Retirement, Social Security | Permalink | TrackBack (0)
Friday, February 19, 2010
The Administration on Aging (AoA) will award grants for up to six Regional Pension Counseling & Information Projects and one Pension Counseling Technical Resource & Assistance Center.
The Federal government’s share for each of the six Pension Counseling & Information Projects will be approximately $200,000 per year for a project period of up to three years. The counseling projects provide individuals who reside, have worked in, or have some other pension or employer connection to the regional service area with a range of services, including drafting administrative pension claims and appeals, and providing representation and support through administrative proceedings; identifying and pursuing pension benefits from clients’ prior employers; responding to basic questions about rights and remedies under all public and private pension systems throughout the service region; operating a region-wide outreach program to ensure public and provider awareness of the Program’s broad focus of assisting individuals with pension and retirement savings problems, regardless of age or income; and targeting certain outreach efforts to those in greatest need.
Eligible applicants include domestic public or private and non-profit entities including state, local and Indian tribal governments, faith-based organizations, community-based organizations, and institutions of higher education, with a proven record of advising and representing individuals who have been denied employer or union-sponsored retirement income benefits, and which have the capacity to deliver services on a regional basis.
The Administration on Aging (AoA) will also fund through a cooperative agreement one Technical Resource and Assistance Center (Center). The Federal government’s share will be approximately $425,253 per year for a project period of up to three years. The Center will be structured to support the Pension Counseling and Information Program’s grantees and others and to encourage coordination among the projects, State and Areas Agencies on Aging, legal services providers, and other potential providers of pension assistance by providing substantive legal training, technical assistance, programmatic coordination, and nationwide outreach, information and referral. The award is a cooperative agreement because AoA will be involved substantially in the project. Eligible applicants include domestic public or private and non-profit entities including state, local and Indian tribal governments, faith-based organizations, community-based organizations, and institutions of higher education, with a proven record of advising and representing individuals who have been denied employer or union-sponsored pension and retirement savings plan benefits, the capacity to provide services under the Program on a national basis, and a well-established, positive reputation in their respective professional communities.
Tuesday, February 9, 2010
Wider Opportunities for Women Elder Economic Security Initiative
Wider Opportunities for Women (WOW) is pleased to announce the release of our Request for Proposals for the Elder Economic Security Initiative tm (Initiative). The Initiative's core components include: coalition building, research, advocacy, education, and outreach. Underpinning these national, state and community efforts is the Elder Economic Security Standard tm Index (Elder Index), a comprehensive geographically-based measure of income adequacy, developed by the Gerontology Institute at the University of Massachusetts-Boston (GI UMASS) and WOW. WOW seeks lead state organizations (LSOs) with whom to launch and implement the Initiative. In collaboration with WOW, these LSOs will:
*Build a diverse statewide coalition;
*Provide input into the tabulation of the state Elder Index;
*Develop a statewide policy agenda to promote elder economic security; and
*Coordinate the launch and implementation of their state's Initiative.
To date, WOW has partnerships with non-profit organizations and state
agencies in twelve states, including California, Connecticut, Illinois,
Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York,
Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and West Virginia. Applications will not be
accepted from these states. If you are interested in becoming involved
with the Initiative in these states, please contact WOW.
Applications will be due Friday, March 5, 2010. For additional information, contact Stacy Sanders, Associate Director, at firstname.lastname@example.org.Deadline: March 5, 2010 http://www.epa.gov/aging/grants/grantofo.htm#2010_0305_grantofo_1
Wednesday, May 20, 2009
Summary: Corporation (PBGC) insures the retirement future of nearly 44 million people in over 29,000 private-sector defined benefit pension plans. In July 2003, GAO designated PBGC’s single-employer pension insurance program—its largest insurance program—as “high risk,” including it on GAO’s list of major programs that need urgent Congressional attention and agency action. The program remains on the list today with a financial deficit of just over $11 billion, as of September 2008. The committee asked GAO to discuss our recent work on PBGC. Specifically, this testimony addresses two issues: (1) PBGC’s financial vulnerabilities, and (2) the governance, oversight, and management challenges PBGC faces.
To address these objectives, we are relying on our prior work assessing PBGC’s long-term financial challenges, and several reports that we have published over the last two years on PBGC governance and management. GAO has made a number of recommendations and identified matters for Congressional consideration in these reports, and PBGC is implementing some of these ecommendations. No new recommendations are being made as part of this testimony.
Full report: http://www.gao.gov/new.items/d09702t.pdf
Tuesday, January 13, 2009
ANDELL GRANT PROGRAM DEADLINE REMINDER
The Center for Retirement Research at Boston College is currently accepting submissions for the 2009 Steven H. Sandell Grant Program.
* The Sandell Program provides the opportunity for junior scholars from a wide variety of academic disciplines and senior scholars working in a new area to pursue quality scholarship on retirement income and disability insurance policy issues.
* Up to eight grants of $45,000 will be awarded for one-year projects.
* The submission deadline for grant proposals is 5:00 pm (EST) January 30, 2009. Visit the Sandell Program website to view the proposal guidelines and apply online. Grant award recipients will be announced in March 2009.
For questions, please contact: Kara Sullivan, Assistant Director of Communications, email@example.com
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
"In an era of rapid population aging, we can no longer afford policies, employment practices and attitudes that discourage work at an older age. They not only deny older workers the choice of when and how they should retire, but are costly for business, the economy and society.
The key message that emerges from the OECD's work on population aging is that it is both a challenge and an opportunity. If nothing is done, population aging poses serious economic and social challenges. But it is also raises the prospect of longer, more prosperous lives, if increases in longevity are matched by longer working lives.
We are living longer and healthier lives on average than previous generations. If we have the courage to change our outdated policies, attitudes and employment practices with respect to work at an older age, we should be able to enter a virtuous circle where longevity promotes activity, and activity, in turn, promotes wealth and well-being.
But if nothing is done to promote better employment prospects for older workers, the number of retirees per worker will double over the next 50 years in OECD countries. This will place severe strains on the financing of social protection systems. Labor force growth has been an important contributor to economic growth in the past; but this will slow considerably over the next 50 years and in some OECD countries the labor force could even shrink. We have projected that Japan's total labor force could shrink by over one-third between now and 2050. Recruitment difficulties will also increase. In Europe, the number of workers retiring each year is likely to exceed the number of younger people entering the workforce by more than one million from around 2020 onwards. Employers may face even greater recruitment difficulties in the future in specific sectors such as health care.
To help meet these daunting challenges, work needs to be made a more attractive and rewarding proposition compared with the siren songs of early retirement. But how can this be achieved? The OECD's 2006 report, Live Longer, Work Longer, offers some answers based on its 4-year study of aging and employment policies in 21 OECD countries. It shows that there are three key factors discouraging older people from work, which need to be tackled urgently."
Source and more: AARP International, http://www.aarpinternational.org/resourcelibrary/resourcelibrary_show.htm?doc_id=727357
Monday, November 17, 2008
Via Bloomberg (and Neal Axton)
More senior citizens are picking pockets and shoplifting in Japan to cope with cuts in government welfare spending and rising health-care costs in a fast-ageing society. Criminal offences by people 65 or older doubled to 48,605 in the five years to 2008, the most since police began compiling national statistics in 1978, a Ministry of Justice report said. Theft is the most common crime of senior citizens, many of whom face declining health, low incomes and a sense of isolation, the report said. Elderly crime may increase in parallel with poverty rates as Japan enters another recession and the budget deficit makes it harder for the government to provide a safety net for people on the fringes of society.
``The elderly are turning to shoplifting as an increasing number of them lack assets and children to depend on,'' Masahiro Yamada, a sociology professor at Chuo University in Tokyo and an author of books on income disparity in Japan, said in an interview yesterday. ``We won't see the decline of elderly crimes as long as the income gap continues to rise.'' Crime rates among the elderly are rising as the overall rate for Japan has fallen for five consecutive years after peaking in 2002. Over 60s accounted for 18.9 percent of all crimes last year compared with 3.1 percent in 1978, with shoplifting accounting for 80 percent of the total, the report said. The trend has captivated Japan's media, which include regular accounts of the latest thief or pickpocket as well as undercover footage of people shoplifting food in convenience stores and supermarkets.
Saturday, November 15, 2008
A growing number of defined-benefit pension plans, especially small- to-mid-sized plans, could be in trouble this year because of the struggling stock market combined with a little-known provision in the Pension Protection Act of 2006. Under PPA, firms with defined-benefit plans have to use something called the Adjusted Funding Target Attainment Percentage, or AFTAP, when calculating pension distributions for newly retiring workers.
The AFTAP, in essence, measures a plan's funded status. A plan that can pay out all that it owes its retiring workers is 100% funded. In days of yore, employers would typically offer retiring workers the option of taking their pension either in a lump sum or an annuity. But starting in 2008, the law requires employers tell workers if their plan does not have sufficient funds to pay out all of the employees, according to Brett Goldstein, pension administrator and president of the Pension Department, a consulting firm in Plainview, N.Y. If the pension plan does not have enough money to pay at least 80% of the employees, then the notice states that employees can only get 50% of their pension as a lump sum and the remainder as an annuity. If the pension plan does not have enough money to pay at least 60% of the employees, then the notice states that employees can't get their benefit as a lump sum, only as an annuity.
Given the big decline in the stock market this year, the AFTAP will likely come into play, especially for would-be retirees at many small- to mid-sized firms, Goldstein said. Goldstein estimates that workers at some 25% of small- to mid-sized firms will be offered the "under-funded" payout options when they retire in 2008 instead of the traditional full lump sum or annuity options. And that could lead to financial distress for some households, he said.
Source/more: Market Watch
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
The Economic Crisis Webcast
Thursday, October 30, 2008 at 2:30 PM - 4:00 PM EDT / 11:30 AM - 1:00 PM PDT
- How we got into this mess.
- What we as a nation and as advocates can do about it.
Financial meltdown, credit crunch, the burst housing bubble, rising unemployment: the economic situation is tumultuous and scary. Between the finance jargon and the finger-pointing about blame, it is pretty hard to understand what's going on and, most important, how to evaluate the solutions being proposed. This webcast is for people who care about rebuilding our economy in a way that includes low- and moderate-income people, both protecting them and recognizing that the only sustainable prosperity is shared prosperity.
You'll learn from experts what you need to know about the current crisis in the economy and in housing, and what Congress and a new Administration may do about it.
Jared Bernstein, Economic Policy Institute, author of Crunch: Why Do I Feel So Squeezed? (And Other Unsolved Economic Mysteries)
Jared is famous for plain-English explanations and wit. His quotes and advice are widely sought out by press, candidates, and public officials.
Barry Zigas, Consumer Federation of America
Barry is Housing Policy Director at the Consumer Federation of America, and is a leading expert on low-income housing policy, with previous experience at Fannie Mae and the National Low Income Housing Coalition.
Deborah Weinstein, Coalition on Human Needs
Debbie is Executive Director of CHN. What Congress is considering; practical suggestions about how you can help shape the agenda.
We're Trying Something New!
This event will be webcast live from the Economic Policy Institute in Washington, DC. DC-based advocates will attend. Advocates not based in DC can tune in and watch on their computers. We will leave plenty of time for questions, taking them both from those in the room and from participants watching from undisclosed locations all around the country.
If you can join us in person: please RSVP to Maricela Donahue at
Economic Policy Institute
1333 H Street, NW
For online participation, click here to register.
Tuesday, August 19, 2008
Summary of the report:
The Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC) insures the retirement future of over 44 million people. As a federal guarantor of private defined benefit plans, PBGC finances its operations through insurance premiums, investment income, and funds from terminated pension plans. PBGC is governed by a board of directors comprised of the Secretaries of Commerce, Labor, and Treasury, who are responsible for providing policy direction and oversight but often rely on board representatives. In 2004, PBGC began reviewing its investment policy biennially and recently decided to broaden the range of asset classes in which it invests.
GAO reviewed PBGC’s procedures for developing and implementing its investment policies, and examined PBGC’s most recent investment policy. To address these issues, GAO reviewed and analyzed PBGC policies and data, assessed the analysis informing the recent policy change, and interviewed agency officials and other experts.
What GAO Recommends
GAO recommends (1) improvements to the way that PBGC’s board monitors progress in achieving investment policy goals, and (2) additional analyses on the new investment policy. In response, PBGC’s board stated its informal guidance is appropriate oversight. GAO states this type of guidance is not strong enough for investing $68 billion. Further, PBGC is conducting additional analysis on the new policy.
Tuesday, August 5, 2008
Dick Kaplan's article entitled “A Guide to Starting Social Security Benefits,” has just
appeared in the Journal of Retirement Planning (July-Aug. 2008) and is
available at: http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1192902
Abstract: When a person should begin taking Social Security retirement benefits is a critical question for planning one’s retirement. This article explains the various factors at play in determining the optimum starting point, including: longevity considerations; spousal implications, whether for a previously employed or a previously unemployed spouse; the impact of post-retirement employment; the availability of health insurance prior to Medicare eligibility for the worker and the worker’s spouse; alternative sources of retirement income, including distributions from retirement savings plan assets and lifetime liquidation of nonretirement assets (and the pertinent income tax ramifications); and anticipated investment strategies.
Wednesday, July 16, 2008
With medical care and other costs soaring, the portion of their pre-retirement pay that Americans will need in retirement to keep the same standard of living is rising, financial planners say. For years, a common projection was that workers needed to replace 70 percent to 90 percent of their pre-retirement pay to maintain the same living standard in retirement. But now, as medical costs grow, life spans lengthen and fewer retirees receive pensions, financial planners say you'll need more. Hewitt Associates is more pessimistic than most. New research released by the consulting company projects that workers will need to replace, on average, 126 percent of their final pay in retirement. The study, based on 1.8 million employees with 401(k) plans that Hewitt administers, says only 19 percent of participants are on track to meet their retirement needs. About 67 percent of workers are expected to have less than 80 percent of their projected needs. Sheryl Garrett, founder of the Garrett Planning Network, agrees that typical retirement replacement guidelines "just don't go far enough when you factor in the huge health-care responsibility that is shifting from the employer's shoulders to ours at retirement.
Source/more: Indianapolis Star, http://www.indystar.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20080713/BUSINESS/807130330