Federal Agencies Team Up to Help Workers Make Smarter Retirement Decisions

Workers are often confused about Social Security, which can lead them to shortchange themselves later when claiming benefits. A new report by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) cites studies that find only 1 in 5 preretirees know their full retirement age for Social Security. (For anyone born after 1942, the age is 66 to 67 years old.) And only 1 in 8 understand how benefits would change if they claimed them before, at or after their full retirement age. Simple …

How the Budget Deal Blunts Medicare Cost Increases, Tweaks Social Security

The bipartisan budget agreement reached by the White House and congressional leaders wards off a spike next year in Medicare premiums and deductibles for millions of older Americans as well as ensures full Social Security disability benefits to millions who had faced steep cuts. President Barack Obama signed the accord Nov. 2 after the House of Representatives adopted it Oct. 28 and the Senate Oct. 30. In a letter to Congress, AARP CEO Jo Ann Jenkins applauded the agreement: “Your …

Social Security Halts Tax-Refund Grab to Recover Old Debts

Update: The Social Security Administration says it will immediately stop collecting old debts by grabbing taxpayers’ refunds. In a statement, Carolyn W. Colvin, the acting commissioner of the agency, says: “I have directed an immediate halt to further referrals under the Treasury Offset Program to recover debts owed to the agency that are 10 years old and older pending a thorough review of our responsibility and discretion under the current law to refer debt to the Treasury Department. “If any Social Security …

Same-Sex Couples Still Waiting for Equal Financial Treatment

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled the law that prevented same-sex spouses from enjoying federal benefits was unconstitutional nearly a year ago, yet the financial repercussions for these couples are still being worked through. Federal agencies have been updating their regulations to comply, and some have moved faster than others. And even among agencies that have acted, how they handle same-sex marriage differs. The IRS, for instance, says same-sex spouses now must file federal returns as joint filers or as married …

Pension Plan Tweak May Elude Most

The federal agency that insures private pensions is proposing a rule change that would add greater protection for workers who roll 401(k) money into a traditional pension. Workers for years have been able to transfer money from their employer’s 401(k) to its traditional pension plan to buy themselves a bigger lifetime benefit – if the employer allowed it. The Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation says its new proposal will remove fear among these workers that the amount they roll over from …