Social Security Benefits to Rise 1.7% Next Year

Social Security benefits will rise by 1.7 percent starting in January, the Social Security Administration announced Wednesday. That’s a tad higher than this year’s 1.5 percent increase. It’s also the fourth straight year that the cost-of-living adjustment was below 2 percent for nearly 59 million retirees, disabled workers and their families. The adjustment amounts to about $22 a month for those who receive the average monthly benefit of $1,302. >> See AARP CEO Jo Ann Jenkins’ statement on the COLA “The …

Why More Americans Are Voting Early

President Barack Obama voted in his former Chicago neighborhood on October 20 — more than two weeks before Election Day. “I’m so glad I can early-vote,” he said as he cast his ballot. “It’s so exciting. I love voting.” More than 2.6 million American already have joined him, according to official data. Election Day, in fact, has become Election Month. Political campaigns remain in full swing across the nation. Candidates continue to debate each other and run costly advertising campaigns. …

Taking Tea With Oscar de la Renta

Oscar de la Renta (right), the Dominican Republic-born fashion designer who clad the stars for 60 years and died Oct. 20 at 82, was one of my first teachers at Parsons School of Design back in the late 1960s. A devoted fashion-magazine junkie, I had wangled an interview with Vogue editor-in-chief Diana Vreeland, who suggested I become a clothing designer. My portfolio landed me in a class on fashion design taught by Mr. de la Renta, who had launched his …

8 Year-End Tax Moves to Make Now

As we enter the home stretch of 2014, it’s time to consider some tax moves. Here are a few you might want to consider: Give to charity. For those who itemize, making a charitable contribution could lower your taxes. Rather than just giving cash, consider giving your most highly appreciated securities. You usually will get a deduction equal to the full value of the securities and will not have to pay a capital gains tax. Max out your 401(k). Those over …

In Thailand, Retirement Is Not Always a Choice

Pa’ Noi manages the neighborhood restaurant that my boyfriend, Joe, and I love here in Thailand, where I’m doing part of my master’s program in gerontology. When we arrive, she greets and seats us, and patiently waits as we, the farangs (Thai for “foreigners”), fumble through our orders. When we finish, she brings us our check and our change, and she inevitably beats the busboys to a first swipe at our table. Pa’ Noi is 71, and she’s great at …

Supreme Court Upholds Texas Voter ID Law

In a 6-3 decision, the Supreme Court has permitted Texas to enforce its controversial voter ID law in the Nov. 4 election. The court, in an unsigned order issued Oct. 18, left in place the Oct. 14 decision of a federal appeals court to delay the implementation of U.S. District Court judge’s reversal of the state’s 2011 law. The judge had cited possible discrimination against older voters. Early voting in Texas began Oct. 20. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, joined by …