An estimated 1.5 million retirees have reentered the U.S. labor market over the past year, according to an analysis of Labor Department data by ... an economist.... That means the economy has made up most of the extra losses of retirees since February 2020, a Washington Post analysis shows.
Thursday, September 15, 2022
Economic insecurity is upending the lives of millions of older adults as soaring housing costs and inflation diminish the value of fixed incomes.
Across the country, seniors who until recently successfully managed limited budgets are growing more anxious and distressed. Some lost work during the covid-19 pandemic. Others are encountering unaffordable rent increases and the prospect of losing their homes. Still others are suffering significant sticker shock at grocery stores.
The article goes on to focus on the circumstances of 3 individuals and the inpact of unexpected circumstances can have on the financial security of someone who worked hard all their lives.
Along the same lines, don't miss this article from the New York Times, Downsizing in Retirement: Expenses They Didn’t Expect.
Focusing on unexpected expenses that arise from downsizing, such as making improvements in order to sell the house and closing costs related to the sale, the article also discusses the impact of the housing market and interest rates on the ability to sell the house, the costs incurred in finding a new home, and of course, who can forget, taxes associated with the sale of the home.
Wednesday, September 14, 2022
According to an article in the Washington Post, Target is the latest corporation to ditch its mandatory age retirement policy in order to keep an older exec. Target axes mandatory retirement age as CEOs stay on the job longer
explains Target joins other large corporations that have done away with the age limit for their execs as "a way to keep high-performing executives in their jobs... Older executives are sticking around longer, with the average age of an outgoing chief executive reaching 64 in 2021, up from 61 in 2020, according to research from SpencerStuart, which tracks data on CEO transitions." The article looks at research and notes the trend to do away with these types of policys, as well as noting some the ages of some famous execs who worked for many years.
Friday, September 2, 2022
That's the question that was asked in a recent article in the Tampa Bay Times. Is Florida still an affordable place to retire? Amid rising costs, some seniors are reconsidering. Let me set the stage with this excerpt:
Cheaper than Miami or Naples, with destination beaches and a city once nicknamed “God’s Waiting Room,” Tampa Bay has long been hailed as an affordable place to retire in The Sunshine State.
But it’s becoming untenable for many seniors to survive in the area.
While costs are climbing everywhere, Tampa Bay’s prices have outpaced the national average. Area prices rose by roughly 11% in the last year, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, compared to just 9% nationally.
Retirees, who depend largely on fixed incomes, are feeling it.
Read the article and draw your own conclusions. I have.
Thursday, September 1, 2022
The New York Times ran this article last week. Planning for Your Retirement, and for a Child’s Special Needs, All at Onceexplains "[f]or parents of children who have serious disabilities or special needs, the challenges of growing and preserving their wealth are magnified exponentially, and the stakes are much higher. While they are trying to plan for their own retirements, these parents need to simultaneously secure the stability of a son or daughter who will be dependent on them until — and even after — their deaths." The article does a good job of framing and discussing the issues and options and provides good examples.
Wednesday, August 3, 2022
On August 3, 2022, the Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court issued its latest ruling in the long-running case of Friends Boarding Home of Western Quarterly v. Commonwealth, with an en banc opinion rejecting Friends Home's exceptions to the appellate court's earlier three-judge panel ruling. The full court focuses closely on the use of residents' fees to operate the Continuing Care Retirement Community (CCRC) and the argument that because "some" residents receive subsidized care the facility is donating the necessary "substantial" portion of its services. For example:
Between 2014 and 2017, Friends incurred annual operating losses between $386,620-$542,652. In 2018, Friends had an operating deficit of $265,569 and for 2019, $790,069. Friends maintains that these deficits lend additional support that Friends’ rates contain substantial subsidies that benefit all residents, such that it satisfied the requirement that it donates or renders gratuitously a substantial portion of its services.
We recognize that Friends incurs operating deficits that it covers with funds generated from investments and contributions. However, Friends’ argument that its operating deficits prove that it donates a substantial portion of its services by subsidizing all rates is once again refuted by the fact that there are for-profit facilities in the vicinity of Friends Home providing similar services at comparable rates. Even though Friends may incur operating deficits, it has not demonstrated that it donates “a substantial portion of its services” “to those who cannot afford the ‘usual fee.’” HUP, 487 A.2d at 1315 n.9. Thus, we discern no error in the conclusion reached [by the Panel] in Friends Boarding Home in this regard.
My Pennsylvania colleague Douglas Roeder and I recently co-authored an article about the ongoing challenges for nonprofit organizations, especially those who offer fee-based services. The latest ruling from the Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court would seem to deepen the need for certain nonprofits who seek "purely charitable" tax exemptions to carefully consider their charitable mission. I'm also thinking that nonprofit CCRCs would also be well advised to have candid discussions of their charitable missions with both potential residents and current residents. Ultimately, it will be the more solvent residents who make up the difference in support of the charitable mission.
Last week, Kaiser Health News ran a concerning article, ‘True Cost of Aging’ Index Shows Many Seniors Can’t Afford Basic Necessities. "
More than half of older women living alone — 54% — are in a similarly precarious financial situation: either poor according to federal poverty standards or with incomes too low to pay for essential expenses. For single men, the share is lower but still surprising — 45%.
That’s according to a valuable but little-known measure of the cost of living for older adults: the Elder Index, developed by researchers at the Gerontology Institute at the University of Massachusetts-Boston.
A new coalition, the Equity in Aging Collaborative, is planning to use the index to influence policies that affect older adults, such as property tax relief and expanded eligibility for programs that assist with medical expenses. Twenty-five prominent aging organizations are members of the collaborative.
The goal is to fuel a robust dialogue about “the true cost of aging in America,” which remains unappreciated, said Ramsey Alwin, president and chief executive of the National Council on Aging, an organizer of the coalition.
The Index provides data for states, cities and counties, truly a valuable amount of information. Consider in addition the inflation we are currently experiencing. Read the entire article. It's sobering.
Monday, July 25, 2022
Do Federally Exempt Nursing Homes, Assisted Living, and Continuing Care Communities Also Qualify as "Institutions of Purely Public Charity?"
The latest in a series of senior-care related cases is making its way through the Pennsylvania appellate courts, asking whether a federally tax exempt senior living facility -- one that offers a range of options including independent living, "supported" independent living, personal care, and skilled care, although it isn't licensed as a CCRC -- can also qualify for state property and sales tax exemptions.
Pennsylvania, in ways similar to many states, allows a federal charitable tax exemption under Rev. Code Section 501(c)(3) to serve as the basis for state exemptions from income taxes, but a separate state statute sets tougher requirements to qualify as a "purely public charity" in order to avoid responsibilities to pay real property, sales and use taxes. Nursing homes, intermediate care settings (such as personal care or assisted living), and continuing care retirement communities (CCRCs) often rely on federal revenue rulings that recognize historical grounds to exempt "homes for the aged" from taxation. See e.g., Rev. Rul. 72-124 (also available at 1972 WL 30720). But on a fairly regular basis, Pennsylvania taxing authorities have challenged such enterprises as not being "sufficiently" charitable. Compare, for example In re St. Margaret Seneca Place, 640 A.2d 380 (Pa. 1994) (upholding state tax exemptions for a nursing home) with Appeal of Dunwoody Village, 52 A.3d 408 (Pa. Commw. 2012) (denying state tax exemption for a CCRC). In September 2021, a panel of the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania, using a "totality of the circumstances" approach concluded that the facility failed to donate a substantial portion of its services, and failed to show it benefits a substantial and indefinite class of persons who are subjects of charity. See Friends Boarding Home of Western Quarterly Meeting v. Commonwealth, 260 A.3d. 1064 (Pa. Commw. 2021).
The case is now under review for en banc consideration by the full Commonwealth Court, and there are indications the case might go all the way to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. Working with my former Elder Protection Clinic colleague, Douglas Roeder, Esq., we examine a series of cases and trends under Pennsylvania law, including those involving senior living enterprises, as reasons to consider larger implications for federal and state exemptions based on charitable grounds. See Putting the Charity Back in Purely Public Charities (July 2022).
July 25, 2022 in Consumer Information, Current Affairs, Federal Statutes/Regulations, Health Care/Long Term Care, Housing, Retirement, State Cases, State Statutes/Regulations | Permalink | Comments (0)
Monday, May 9, 2022
The Washington Post recently published Millions retired early during the pandemic. Many are now returning to work, new data shows. Although a significant number of folks retired early,
Many retirees are being pulled back to jobs by a combination of diminishing covid concerns and more flexible work arrangements at a time when employers are desperate for workers. In some cases, workers say rising costs — and the inability to keep up while on a fixed income — are factoring heavily into their decisions as well.
But those reentering the work force are not just those who retired during the pandemic.
The percentage of retirees returning to work has picked up momentum in recent months, hitting a pandemic high of 3.2 percent in March, according to Indeed. In interviews with nearly a dozen workers who recently “un-retired," many said they felt comfortable returning to work now that they’ve gotten the coronavirus vaccine and booster shots. Almost all said they’d taken on jobs that were more accommodating of their needs, whether that meant being able to work remotely, travel less or set their own hours.
The article provides a number of interesting examples of individuals who are "unretiring" and why they chose to do so.
Sunday, May 8, 2022
It is Sunday, and I'm looking at a long list of things to do next week, with grading exams at the top of my list. Significantly, however, in the last six to eight months, at increasing rates, I'm hearing from current and prospective residents of Continuing Care Retirement Communities (CCRCs, also sometimes called Life Plan Communities). Here are examples of some of the most often asked questions:
- "The company that runs my CCRC is about to engage in development of a new CCRC. Is the money I've already paid in the form of an admission fee, or the money I continue to pay as monthly service fees, going to support this new development?"
- "During the lock-down associated with protecting residents and the public from COVID-19, we were asked to give up services that were the very reason we choose this community. But now that we are no longer locked down, the services either are not returning or the fees we are charged are actually increasing. Is there some effective way to object to this disconnect between the promises and the delivery of services?"
- "My parents are thinking about moving into a CCRC. On the one hand, I like the idea of the active community they are choosing. But on the other hand, the amount they are expected to pay in the form of an admission fee is astounding. Why are some communities calling this a refundable fee and others are saying it isn't a refundable fee? What are the protections for the 'refundable' fee?"
- "We have just learned that our nonprofit CCRC is being transferred to a for-profit company as the owner-operator. How is this likely to impact my wife and I as residents?"
Answers to many of these questions depend on the state's laws governing this form of senior living operation and, even more, on the particular contracts between the resident and the provider. State regulators have concerns here too. For those looking for legal assistance in their particular community, I sometimes recommend looking for attorneys in the caller's home state, someone who understands CCRCs from a resident perspective. I first wrote about the need for attorneys who understand resident perspectives in 2006.
Sometimes "elder law" attorneys have this expertise, but not always. Plus, it can be important to consult with an attorney who understands consumer protection laws, and not "just" CCRC law. Finally, if litigation is actually on the horizon, the choice for legal advice can depend on whether the attorneys have expertise in litigation or dispute resolution and not "just" contract law.
So, all of this is a short way of saying that even though, as an legal academic, I often write about the importance of resident rights in CCRCs, and even though I believe the future of CCRCs is very much tied to the answers, I'm not in a position to respond to individual questions. The very fact that I'm writing this Blog Post is a potential indication that something important could be going on in the industry. Perhaps that "something" should be addressed by the industry itself, especially if it wants the CCRC concept not just to survive, but thrive. In my opinion, it is not enough for the industry to say that "every CCRC is different."
Tuesday, May 3, 2022
RFP: Washington State Seeks Expert Consultation to Develop CCRC Regulations with Heightened Consumer Protections
I'm always interested when I start getting lots of calls or emails about a certain topic in aging. Today I was hearing from a lot of people wanting to talk about Continuing Care Retirement Communities (CCRCs, sometimes also called Life Plan Communities or LPCs). It is safe to say that all forms of senior living operations are facing new challenges after being hit hard by the lockdowns and staffing problems of the last two years with COVID-19.
But one of the most interesting set of calls was from the State of Washington, where residents have been using their time together during COVID to think carefully about the need for certain key protections for consumers who put their money and trust into CCRCs. The Washington Continuing Care Residents Association (WACCRA) has worked carefully, calmly and diligently to reach the ears of legislators and regulators in the state. I had the pleasure of hearing from members and residents of CCRCs in Washington last October and speaking at their annual meeting.
Today, I heard that the Office of Insurance Commissioner in Washington has initiated a Request for Proposals for a time-sensitive research project:
This project is designed to assess federal and state authorities regulating continuing care retirement communities (CCRCs) and provide a report with recommendations on creating a legal framework for shared regulatory oversight of CCRC products under Chapter 18.390 RCW, which may achieve heightened consumer protections.
Interested researchers -- with background in regulatory systems for CCRCS -- should act quickly as the deadline for submissions is May 23, 2022.
Friday, April 29, 2022
Earlier this month, Forbes ran this article, American Elders Are Short-Changed 5 Years Of Healthy Retirement, which explains that
America’s elders die sooner and are sicker than their counterparts in other rich nations. American elders also must work longer than their cohort abroad. These trends mean that Americans get fewer years of healthy retirement life than elders in comparable wealthy nations—five years less, in fact.
One reason for this big gap in healthy retirement is the pressure for American elders to work longer. Among major rich nations, Americans work longer than anyone except the Japanese, who retire at age 67.9 while Americans work until age 65 on average; but the Japanese live longer, so experience more healthy retirement time.
Consider this from the author: "It's sad to know that America’s de facto plan for retirement is working longer and dying sooner. This inequality of retirement time is caused by the crossing of two swords: the growing inequality of retirement wealth and the growing inequality of longevity. These inequities are deeply connected. If people who die younger could retire earlier than those with longer and healthier lives, retirement time could at least be distributed more equally."
The full article discussing life expectancy in the U.S. and abroad, as well as work histories, is available here.
Friday, April 22, 2022
The Washington Post recently published this article, Aging in place can be so much easier with smart home technology. "Supporting health, safety and security are important components of successfully aging in place. So are home management systems that maintain a comfortable environment, and communication and recreation systems that enable social engagement, stimulation and entertainment." As the article notes, the type and amount of tech is vast, ranging from pretty simple types that do just a little, to more comprehensive setups that integrate into much of every day life. The article focuses on two couples who added tech to their homes. It also looks at the pros and cons, as well as advances and includes a list of recommendations. The article also mentions concerns about privacy and how to mitigate that. I would also add the topic of consent, when family want to install the tech in the home of the elder. Lots of good info in the article.
Sunday, April 17, 2022
Professor Naomi Cahn sent me the link to this recent article in the New York Times, Reverse Mortgages Are No Longer Just for Homeowners Short on Cash. "Until recently, it was conventional wisdom that a reverse mortgage was a last-resort option for the oldest homeowners who desperately needed cash. But a growing number of researchers say these loans could be a good option for people earlier in their retirement like [those] who are not needy at all."
The article offers the basics about reverse mortgages and offers some insights into the thinking about greater utility of reverse mortgages:
Homeowners in their 60s and early 70s could use cash from a reverse mortgage to protect investment portfolios during market downturns, to delay claiming Social Security benefits or to pay large medical bills.
“The best use of this tool is to provide and supplement income during retirement,” said ... the director of the financial planning program at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. “A younger retiree can stay in the house while turning equity into an income stream.”
The article discusses downsides for folks to consider as well. Read it!
Wednesday, March 2, 2022
I have a fondness for California Rock & Roll from a certain era -- also known as my youth. One of my favorites, Warren Zevon, is probably mostly remembered as a singer/songwriter, and he penned some great songs such as Hasten Down the Wind (performed by another favorite, Linda Ronstadt, who, like me was born next door to California in Arizona). Some of his lyrics work equally well as poetry. Right now I'm thinking to the opening lines to Reconsider Me, recorded and released by Zevon in 1987:
If you're all alone
And you need someone
Call me up
And I'll come running
Those lines seem to echo in an article from the New York Times today, describing a trend among older singles -- they are willing to love again, but at least one half of the couple isn't willing to live together. The article begins by describing a 78 year-old widow's friendship with a a widowed man that was turning romantic. He wanted them to move into together. She wasn't eager and she admits that his health woes were part of the concern. She is quoted as saying "He was not in great shape." Eventually, when he had surgery and needed recuperative care, she followed his directions and "using his funds, hired a live-in caregiver for him." Once he recovered, they spent more time together.
The NYT writer, Francine Russo, observes:
With greater longevity, the doubling of the divorce rate since the 1990s for people over 50 and evolving social norms, older people like Ms. Randall are increasingly re-partnering in various forms. Cohabitation, for example, is more often replacing remarriage following divorce or widowhood, said Susan L. Brown, a sociologist at Bowling Green State University in Ohio.
These older adults are seeking (and finding) love, emotional support and an antidote to loneliness. But many older women, in particular, fear that a romantic attachment in later life will shortly lead to full-time caregiving.
The New York Times article also echoes topics addressed in the article I linked to last week by Cahn, Huntingdon and Scott, Family Law for the One-Hundred Year Life. For more from the Times, if you have a subscription, see Older Singles Have Found a New Wat to Partner Up: Living Apart.
Thursday, February 24, 2022
I found helpful this recent New York Times article, When You’re Tiptoeing Into Retirement, Take These Key Steps. I thought the setup to the article was spot-on "For many, getting to retirement age is not a simple matter of giving two weeks’ notice. You may want to extend a career or wind down work life or a business. If you’re able, you may want to keep working until you are 70 (and beyond), when you will receive the largest possible Social Security payment. These in-betweeners are slow-walk planning to arrive at the moment when they are not working anymore. What’s involved is a delicate jigsaw puzzle of decisions, nest egg bolstering and financial calculations. This transitory time also presents a meaningful time for reflection and short-term planning." The article discusses "issues to consider' including the timing of taking Social Security Retirement (and some links to companies you can hire to help you with the decision), phased retirement, financing retirement, including tax planning, and whether to create a plan yourself, or with a professional. "More important, one of your key questions should be, “What do I truly want to do and how do I get there?” Whether you are envisioning partial or full retirement, it helps to have some specific goals."
Tuesday, February 1, 2022
If you ever perused the Social Security website, you know there are a number of choices to make. Although SSA has a lot of info on its website, ever wish you could get some help? That's the subject of a recent article in the New York Times, To Get the Most From Social Security, Log On. "[T]he market for Social Security advice includes a variety of software tools that can analyze your circumstances and retirement income needs, and generate recommendations for getting the most out of benefits. A growing number of financial planners use software to advise clients on claiming, and some workplace retirement plans also offer such options." The article mentions some of the more complex decisions that need to be made by individual beneficiaries, review some fee for use tools as well as free tools. Check it out!
Thanks to Professor Naomi Cahn for sending me the link.
Tuesday, December 7, 2021
The New York Times is a host for The Ezra Klein Show, a podcast (and short written commentary) with episodes that generally appear on Tuesdays and Fridays each week. Ezra Klein is on paternity leave right now, and in his absence, Heather McGhee, author of The Sum of Us, interviewed Ai-jen Poo, MacArthur grant winner and author of The Age of Dignity: Preparing for the Elder Boom in a Changing America. The discussion is timely.
Interestingly, the title assigned by the NYT to this podcast is "Every 8 Seconds, an American Turns 65. How Do We Care for Everyone?"
Use of that statistic seems to be intended to shock, or at least, to cause a nervous, worried reaction. Yet the "8 Second" rate is also used for new births in the U.S. At the outset of the interesting interview, Heather asks Ai-jen for a definition of "care." Ai-jen responds in her usual fashion -- thoughtfully and carefully -- and says, in essence, "Care is the most fundamental form of support we offer others. We both offer and rely on care; care is essential." She adds, however, that for most families, private care is unaffordable, whether the need is for child care, disabled family member care, or elder care.
I wonder why it is that we so often ask whether "we can afford" the care of older adults? That implies the public form of "we." Yes, too often the response (if not the answer) is "no," but I tend to think that one of the reasons for that fact is that we continue to think that we, as individuals, have some "right" to stay in our homes no matter how long we live, and no matter how much this becomes impossible to manage. Is it just "too" hard as individuals to plan for alternatives? I think the answer is "yes," but if we aren't going to plan as individuals, it seems likely that the costs will always be treated as unaffordable by "the public."
December 7, 2021 in Consumer Information, Current Affairs, Discrimination, Elder Abuse/Guardianship/Conservatorship, Ethical Issues, Federal Cases, Health Care/Long Term Care, Housing, Retirement | Permalink | Comments (0)
Friday, December 3, 2021
several luxury assisted-living homes that have sprung up in the last few years, especially in places like New York City with its many affluent retirees with upmarket tastes and cosmopolitan demands. .... These upscale retirement homes cater to the affluent end of the “the silver tsunami” — the coming wave of aging baby boomers who are still socially and culturally active, and who have become accustomed to a certain quality of life.
The vibe at these places is less dreary nursing home and more five-star wellness resort.
Thursday, December 2, 2021
The Stanford Center on Longevity has released a new report, The New Map of Life. Looking at the 100 year life, "make a clear distinction between aging, the biological process, and longevity, the measure
of long life. The Center’s goal is not to advocate for longer life—a phenomenon that is well underway—rather, it is to identify ways to enhance the quality of those century-long lives, so that people experience a sense of belonging, purpose, and worth at all ages and stages." One focus is looking forward, "on the economic potential of a more age-diverse population in which older adults contribute in increasingly significant and measurable ways to the social good and to GDP, so that opportunities for healthy longevity are shared across races, geographical regions, and socioeconomic status." (citations omitted).
The report addresses the following: Age diversity is a net positive, investment in centenarians to gain big returns, realignment of health spans to life spans, be amazed by the future of aging, work to an older age courtesy of flexibility in working, lifelong learning, invest in longevity communities, and look at life transitions as a positive. In preparing to take this new road on the new map of life, the authors note that "[m]eeting the challenges of longevity is not the sole responsibility of government, employers, healthcare providers, or insurance companies; it is an all-hands, all-sector undertaking, requiring the best ideas from the private sector, government, medicine, academia, and philanthropy."
Be sure to read this report!
Thursday, November 18, 2021
A few weeks ago, the Washington Post ran this article, The latest twist in the ‘Great Resignation’: Retiring but delaying Social Security
For better-off Americans, the pandemic economy created some of the strongest incentives to retire in modern history, with generous federal stimulus, incredible market gains, skyrocketing home values and health concerns drawing many Americans into early retirement.
The surprising twist? Many of these retirees also opted to put off claiming Social Security benefits, an exclusive Washington Post analysis shows. By delaying their benefits, these retirees can expect to collect higher monthly checks in the future.
America’s retiree population grew by about 3 million during the pandemic, about double what would have been expected given pre-pandemic trends, which has been previously reported. But the surprising surge in older Americans delaying Social Security upon retirement is another example of a number of unusual trends roiling the American labor market. Most notably, workers of all ages are quitting jobs in record numbers, in what has been dubbed the “Great Resignation.”