Senior Editor, Money Team

Eileen Ambrose is a senior editor and writer for the Money Team. She previously was a personal finance columnist with the Baltimore Sun.

2016 Social Security COLA? Don’t Bet on It

Nearly 60 million Social Security recipients will probably not get a cost-of-living increase next year, according to projections in the 2015 Social Security and Medicare trustees reports. This would be the third time Social Security beneficiaries have gone without a cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) since 1975, when automatic raises were put into place. The COLA this year was 1.7 percent, making the average monthly check for retired workers $1,334 as of May. Increases in benefits are tied to the third-quarter average …

Social Security Outlook Improves, but Disability Needs Urgent Action

The financial health of Social Security has improved slightly in the past year, with the system expected to exhaust its reserves to pay benefits in 2034, a year later than previously projected, according to the 2015 Social Security Trustees Report, released July 22. At that time, if Congress has taken no action, Social Security will have enough payroll taxes coming in to cover 79 percent of promised benefits for another 56 years, the report said. The annual report forecasts the …

Students Turning to Grandparents to Help Pay for College

How are families paying for college? Grandparents. Or, at least, grandparents and other relatives are kicking in more for a student’s education. The amount of money from relatives — often grandparents — and friends rose to an average of $1,247 this year, a 40 percent increase over last year. That’s according to Sallie Mae’s annual report, “How America Pays for College,” which is based on a survey of 1,600 parents and students. Enter the $50K Picture Your Retirement Sweepstakes. See …

Get the Latest Dirt on Your Bank

How well does your financial institution treat its customers? You can now find out by going to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s Consumer Complaint Database. There you can read in the customers’ own words about their problems with financial products and services, and how the institutions offering them responded — or not. It’s sort of like Yelp for banks. The agency has been collecting complaints about financial service companies since 2011, and it has received more than 627,000 so far. …

Consumers Finally Get Help Limiting Irritating Robocalls

For everyone who hates getting automated robocalls on their phone or spam text messages, the Federal Communications Commission has gotten the message. This week the FCC issued rulings designed to clarify and strengthen consumer protections so people can block these unwanted phone intrusions. The agency received more than 215,000 complaints last year about unwanted calls, its largest category of gripes. “It’s a significant deal,” says Linda Sherry, spokeswoman for Consumer Action. “The FCC took a stand for consumers.” Unwanted robocalls, …

Most Adults Flunk Social Security Quiz

Most adults likely have heard of Social Security — or seen the taxes for it taken out of their paychecks. But when quizzed on some of the basics of the program, only 28 percent got a passing grade. That’s the finding of a survey by MassMutual, which polled more than 1,500 adults on Social Security rules, including the full retirement age, benefits for ex-spouses and whether benefits can be reduced for government workers. Granted, Social Security can be complicated, particularly …