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How Big Will Your 2018 Social Security Check Be?

The weather is getting cooler as 2017 is drawing near. We can all feel it. If you’re like many older Americans on a fixed income, you like to do a little planning ahead. If you’re wondering how large your Social Security check will be during 2018, your wait will be over soon.

This month you can go on the web and access your Social Security account to view how this year’s cost-of-living (COLA) adjustment will affect your monthly check in 2018. You can also pull up a future benefits estimate and double check if the amounts recorded are accurate.

A few weeks ago, the Administration announced excellent news for recipients. The 2018 COLA will be an increase of 2 percent. This represents the highest hike since 2012. In practical terms, this means an average of $25 more of monthly retirement benefits for each recipient.

Advocacy groups for those who are retirement age have noted that for approximately 70 percent of recipients, the 2018 COLA increase could be offset by the cost of their Medicare premiums. However, they also say that not all but some retirees have a “hold harmless” provision that will prevent this.

Many people think that checking Social Security benefits on the web just applies to those 65 and older. This is not the case. The Administration suggests that it’s a good idea for anyone to check their account on a regular basis. Even men and women who have not yet started to receive benefits can view their account and do some planning ahead of time. Each American’s online statement provides payment estimates based on the age he or she can begin drawing benefits.

It’s really important that you check your earning history each year to verify its accuracy so that when you are eligible to receive benefits, your monthly benefit amount will be as high as possible. This way, if there is an inaccuracy in your earning history, you can adjust it now by submitting supporting documents to verify your employer(s) and your wages, like your tax return and W-2 form.

It should also be noted that anyone who has established an online account will receive an email around the time of his/her birthday as a reminder to check their account. To assist the elderly, the Administration also mails a printed version of annual earnings estimate to anyone who is 60 years or older if they have not established an online account. This is to especially helpful for those who don’t have a computer or Internet access, or simply prefer to handle their financial transactions by mail.

To look at your statement, go to: SocialSecurity.gov/reviewyourstatement. You’ll be asked to verify your identity by entering your username and password. For the first time this year, as an added security precaution, you’ll also be required to enter a security code sent to you by email or text. You can also set up a new account if needed.

Social Security is just a piece of the retirement puzzle.  Let us sit down with you and take a look at your current retirement plan to be sure you are properly prepared for the road ahead.

Journey Through the 6 Stages of Retirement

Most major life-changing events, such as marriage or divorce, involve an ongoing process of emotional adjustment. Retirement is no exception. Marriage, divorce and other family-related issues have been the focus of decades of research and analysis by both clinical therapists and religious institutions.

Unfortunately, the emotional and psychological frontier of retirement has remained virtually unexplored until recently. However, while research on this subject has barely begun, it is clear that the psychological process of retirement process follows a pattern similar in nature to the emotional phases accompanying other areas of transition. Read on to discover the six stages of retirement and what you can do to prepare for this important life transition.

12 Reasons You Will Go Broke In Retirement

12 Reasons You Will Go Broke In Retirement

Stacy Rapacon, Online Editor for Kiplinger

Note: I have edited this article for length. I believe that a well-designed retirement plan can help offset most of these obstacles to retirement success. It is certainly preferable to have a plan that has been constructed with some of these challenges in mind.

Sometimes It’s Just Plain Hard

Today is election day, and while we are waiting for the results to see who will lead this country for at least 4 years, I wanted to copy you on a blog I read often from Dave Moenning, a money manager who writes prolifically almost every day about what’s going on in the market. I have highlighted some paragraphs that I think make a lot of sense. Hopefully you will as well. I don’t necessarily agree with his conclusion about no recession in sight or inflation, but we’ll leave that for another day.

Here you go:

While we wait, I want to expend my pixels on a discussion of the recent performance in the markets. Let’s start with stocks. In looking at a chart of the S&P 500 prior to Monday’s blast, it is interesting to note that the venerable index was sitting below where it was at the end of May. Same thing for bonds (as measured by the AGG – iShares US Aggregate Bond ETF). And the commodities index. And gold.

Real estate (as measured by the IYR – iShares U.S. Real Estate ETF) actually closed Friday about where it stood back at the end of February. Same thing for the EAFE index (a proxy for foreign stocks).

Investing Without Fear Or Regret

Stocks have reacted favorably to the recent election results, deemed by some to be the “Trump Effect”. Optimism is up, people are feeling better about the economy. But what does this really mean? Emotional investing tends to get us in trouble, so the question I wanted to answer for myself is what time horizon should the average investor have prior to investing a dollar into stocks, whether funds or individual securities.

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