seniorresource.com
*** May 2010 ***
* E-zine *

This Month's Highlights:
· Automatic Retirement Withdrawals
· Multi-Generational Family Household
· Magazines Read to You


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CONTENTS

A1. SETTING UP AUTOMATIC RETIREMENT WITHDRAWALS
A2. MULTI-GENERATIONAL FAMILY HOUSEHOLD
B. DID YOU KNOW...?
C. THOUGHTS FOR THE MONTH
D. SPECIAL SURFING SITE
E. OH MY AGING FUNNY BONE

 

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A1. SETTING UP AUTOMATIC RETIREMENT WITHDRAWALS by Barbara Krueger

In 2010, it's again mandatory to withdraw a proscribed portion from your tax-deferred retirement accounts (IRAs, Defined Benefit Plans, 401Ks) and pay the income taxes due on the amount you take out. For those aged 73 and over this is not a new requirement. They had to take out the mandated portion of their tax-deferred retirement investments the year they turned 70 1/2, in 2008 or earlier. But in 2009, the requirement was suspended. Those who turned 70 1/2 last year were given a reprieve and will be required to make their first withdrawal this year, in 2010, when they turn 71 1/2. (If you do not take the required minimum distribution (RMD) by the date required, the amount not withdrawn is taxed at 50%.)

Some people have made voluntary withdrawals from retirement plans – IRAs, Defined Benefit Plans, 401K and other pension plans – before the mandatory age, to supplement income or social security payments. After the ages of 59 1/2, such withdrawals can be made at any time, without penalty. Income taxes have to be paid in the year money is withdrawn, as with any tax-deferred withdrawal.

The IRS publishes a chart to calculate the required minimum distribution (RMD) each year, based on your age and the amount you have in each tax-deferred retirement account. (Roth IRAs have different rules, since they are not tax-deferred accounts.) Each year you age, and your retirement portfolio totals change (they go down because you withdraw money, or your market investments decline, or they go up in spite of withdrawals because of the strength of your investments), so the percentage for calculating your RMD changes, as well.

Is it starting to sound complicated? Well, it can be, and the greater number of separate tax-deferred accounts you have, the greater the complications. Are your accounts invested in different banks, pension companies, or brokerage houses? Complicate it further with a husband and wife each having their own retirement accounts!

So, if the IRS chart says divide 27.5 into your total retirement money to calculate the amount that must be withdrawn the year you turn 70 1/2, based on the actuarial calculations of your life expectancy, you must take out that amount from each of the separate accounts, or from one of the accounts. (If they are all IRAs you can take the total from one account based on the total of all of your accounts, but don't mix IRA balances with defined benefit balances (which are accounts with their own rules for withdrawals); each of those account types must have the correct withdrawal made separately, each year. Once you've calculated the total of required minimum distribution for 2010, withdraw the correct amount sometime during the year in a lump sum or take it out in increments during the year, as long as you withdraw at least the required amount before Dec. 31, 2010.

Find the chart to calculate withdrawal in 2010 at the bottom of http://www.irs.gov/publications/p590/ar02.html in Appendix C, Uniform Lifetime Table, and divide the amount in the chart corresponding with your age into the amount in retirement plans as of the end of 2009. (At 70 years of age, dividing 27.5 into your retirement balance at the end of 2009 will result in a required withdrawal in 2010 of a bit less than 4 percent.)

Another option is to set up your accounts to withdraw 1/12 of the amount from each of the accounts transferred to your checking, savings, or non-IRA brokerage account. If you use the money to live on each month, this seems like the better budgeting option. Each month the money can be transferred automatically. However, this can present its own nightmares. You want all the transfers to be done at no cost and as painlessly as possible.

For a number of years, "Derek" had a non-required amount transferred, at no cost, from a brokerage IRA to his personal checking account. When he turned 70 1/2 he had to start taking the required minimum amount of the total of all his retirement accounts. He thought that meant dealing with multiple investment houses to take the required amount from each prorated. The first time he went to set up the new automatic transfer they had trouble because the checking account that was to receive his transfer was a trust account. He should have been asked to give them a voided check to set up the transfers. When the transfer failed because of name and number errors, he went back to get it corrected, and they sent a check for the withdrawal amount to his home. When he took the check back, not wanting to be responsible for personally depositing a monthly check, they corrected it by making a wire transfer to his checking account at a steep cost to him; the bank charged $13 to accept the wire transfer and $2 to notify him by mail the wire had been received. No way was he going to put up with that charge each month to receive his own money! A fourth trip to the brokerage house set up the transfer the way he wanted it--a free bank-transfer of a set amount on a set date each month. No effort on his part, no cost to him.

This example points up the different ways to access the required percentage of money from retirement accounts. It also shows why you might prefer one distribution method to another. Distribution directly into a checking account also produces a running record, in addition to one from the brokerage house of the amount of withdrawal you must declare as income to the IRS when you file your income taxes that year.

If multiple accounts make keeping track of distributions harder, go the IRS FAQs and learn about transfers between IRA accounts in order to simplify accounting.

Investigate options for withdrawing mandated taxable funds and select the means that make the most sense for your financial needs. Never pay to get your own money!

Visit http://www.irs.gov/retirement/article/0,,id=96989,00.html for retirement plans' Required Minimum Distribution FAQs.

See books on retirement planning books here: http://www.seniorresource.com/SRBaz.htm#books


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A2. THE RETURN OF THE MULTI-GENERATIONAL FAMILY HOUSEHOLD

Home foreclosures and job losses, along with longstanding demographic shifts, mean that the number of multi-generational family households is growing. A recent report by Pew Research Center shows that as of 2008, a record 49 million Americans, or 16.1% of the total U.S. population, lived in such a household, up from 28 million, or 12.l% in 1980. Such households had been more common a century ago, but began to fall out of favor after World War II. Why are they coming back?

A brief summary of the findings is below. The full report may be found at
http://pewresearch.org/pubs/1528/multi-generational-family-household

The report documents major changes in family household living arrangements that have unfolded over the past three decades and accelerated during the Great Recession. Its principal focus is on the revival since 1980 of the multi-generational family household.

It also chronicles a range of recent trends in the living arrangements of older adults, and it explores the correlation between living alone at an older age and various life experiences, including health, happiness, and depression.

The report is based on the Pew Research Center's analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data as well as their public opinion surveys.

Population Graph1. In 2008, an estimated 49 million Americans, or 16% of the total U.S. population, lived in a family household that contained at least two adult generations or a grandparent, and at least one other generation. In 1980, this figure was just 28 million, or 12% of the population.

2. This 33% increase since 1980 in the share of all Americans living in such households represents a sharp trend reversal. From 1940 to 1980, the share of Americans living in such households had declined by more than half (from 25% in 1940 to 12% in 1980).

3. The growth since 1980 in these multi-generational households is partly the result of demographic and cultural shifts, including the rising share of immigrants in the population, and the rising median age of first marriage of all adults.

 

4. But at a time of high unemployment and of rising foreclosures, the number of households in which multiple generations of the same family double-up under the same roof has spiked significantly. Our report finds that from 2007 to 2008, the number of Americans living in a multi-generational family household grew by 2.6 million.

5. This trend has affected adults of all ages, especially the elderly and the young. For example, about one in five adults aged 25 to 34 now live in a multi-generational household. So do one in five adults ages 65 and older.

6. After rising steeply for nearly a century, the share of adults aged 65 and older who live alone flattened out around 1990, and has since declined a bit. It currently stands at 27% -- up from 6% in 1900.

7. Older adults who live alone are less healthy, and they more often feel sad or depressed than their counterparts who live with a spouse or with others. These correlations stand up even after controlling for demographic factors such as gender, race, age, income, and education.

*Pew Research Center, Social & Demographic Trends Project, Paul Taylor, Project Director, 3/18/2010

Learn more about Aging at http://www.seniorresource.com/ageproc.htm


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B. DID YOU KNOW...?

1. FTC Warns Consumers to Give Wisely
In the wake of the devastation caused by the earthquake in Haiti, the Federal Trade Commission warns consumers to choose carefully when considering urgent appeals for aid in the news, online, and at social -networking sites. The best way to provide immediate help is to donate money directly to established national relief organizations that have the experience and means to deliver aid.

The FTC, the nation’s consumer protection agency, has these tips to help consumers give wisely:

Donate to recognized charities that you have given to before. Watch out for those that have sprung up overnight. They may be well meaning, but lack the infrastructure to provide assistance. And be wary of charities with names that sound like familiar or nationally known organizations. Some phony charities use names that sound or look like those of respected, legitimate organizations.

You don’t have to donate to someone who contacts you out of the blue with an unsolicited e-mail, phone call, or text message. It’s better to give through a Web site or phone number that you know is legitimate.

Do not give out personal or financial information – including your Social Security number or credit card and bank account numbers – to anyone who solicits a contribution from you. Scam artists use this information to commit fraud against you.

Check out any charities before you donate. Contact the Better Business Bureau’s Wise Giving Alliance at http://www.give.org

Don’t give or send cash. For security and tax record purposes, contribute by check or credit card. Write the official name of the charity on your check. You can contribute safely online through national charities like http://www.redcross.org/donate

Ask for identification if you’re approached in person. Many states require paid fund-raisers to identify themselves as such and to name the charity for which they are soliciting.

For more information, visit http://www.ftc.gov/charityfraud In addition, the director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, David C. Vladeck, has a blog post on this subject at: http://consumer.gov/ncpw/blog/

2. Guide to Modifying Your Home
Seniorresource.com is pleased to let you know that our founder, Barbara Krueger, has released a new book geared toward the needs of those who are "Aging in Place." The book, Universal Design: A Step-by-Step Guide to Modifying Your Home for Comfortable Accessible Living is a pictorial how-to that addresses ways to modify your home to make everyday living easier as advancing age, or physically or mentally limiting diseases affect your agility, balance, vision, and/or recall. The book is written to be read as an overview to make living in your home easier, or for specific reference to chapters of interest when you replace the front door hardware, redo a bathroom, replace a kitchen appliance, or find out your arthritis is getting worse and you may need other modifications to make life easier.

You may purchase the book at http://www.seniorresource.com/SRBaz.htm
Learn more about Aging in Place Place at http://www.seniorresource.com/ageinpl.htm


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C. THOUGHTS FOR THE MONTH

We present here some words from those with a birthday this month.

Don Rickles: "The old days were the old days. And they were great days. But now is now."

Tim Russert: "The primary responsibility of the media is accountability of government."

Danielle Fishel: "I don't smoke, I don't drink, I don't do drugs. I shop, okay?"

Martha Graham: "Dance is the hidden language of the soul of the body."

Mike Wallace: "I guess you can always be a critic when you're standing on the outside."

More "Thoughts" at: http://www.seniorresource.com/thought.htm get some books at http://www.seniorresource.com/SRBaz.htm


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D. SPECIAL SURFING SITES

1. Audio Reading for Magazines.
In an effort to reach those with visual impairments, publishers are turning to Internet-based audio recordings. For example, the audio edition contains word-for-word recordings of all articles published in The Economist, read aloud by professional broadcasters and actors. In addition to helping those with visual problems, it is ideal for anyone who wants to listen to articles while travelling, exercising, or just relaxing. See the Economist Audio Edition at http://www.economist.com/audioedition

2. Have you Checked Up on Your Physician or Hospital?
Perhaps you have failed to take this important step because you believed it is too hard. Getting understandable and useful information about your hospital or doctor can be frustrating. But with the exponential growth of the Internet, you just need to look in the right place. The information you seek to make informed judgments on the qualifications and skills of candidate medical providers Is available with just a few clicks. Here are a few sites:

Quality Check® -- http://www.qualitycheck.org -- is a comprehensive guide to health-care organizations in the United States. Visitors can:

1. Search for organizations by city and state, by name or by zip code (up to 250 miles).

2. Find organizations by types of service provided within a geographic area. The results can be filtered by type of provider, setting of care, or patient population.

3. View a special quality awards display, link to other services provided, and link to directions and web sites for the health care organization (when available).

4. Identify Joint Commission (formerly the JCAHO--Joint Commission for Accreditation of Hospital Organizations)-accredited or -certified organizations by the Joint Commission’s Gold Seal of Approval™. The Joint Commission evaluates and accredits more than 15,000 health care organizations and programs in the United States. An independent, not-for-profit organization, the Joint Commission is the nation’s predominant standards-setting and accrediting body in health care.

Learn more about Health issues at http://www.seniorresource.com/health.htm


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E. OH MY AGING FUNNY BONE

1. More Zen Humor
- Experience is something you don't get until just after you need it.
- Never miss a good chance to shut up.
- Always remember that you're unique and special. Just like everyone else.

2. Social Security Sign-Up
After retiring, Kent went to the local office to apply for Social Security. The clerk asked him for his driver's license to verify his age. He looked in his pockets and realized he had left his wallet at home. He told the woman that he was very sorry.

In lieu of his going home and coming back later, the clerk said, "Unbutton your shirt." So he opened his shirt, revealing his curly silver hair. The clerk said, "That silver hair on your chest is proof enough for me," and she processed his Social Security application.

When Kent got home, he excitedly told his wife about the experience at the Social Security office. His wife replied. "You should have taken off the rest of your clothes. From what I see, you might have gotten disability, too."

"Oh My Aging Funny Bone" is at: http://www.seniorresource.com/jokes.htm


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This issue has been edited by Betsy Day (Betsyjday@aol.com).

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