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Posted on Friday, 11th June 2021 by

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Retirement is a life changing event that requires considerable research and due diligence. The elections made are often irreversible and can compromise a retiree’s finances and the benefits carried into retirement.  I retired from federal service in 2005 and my articles focus on current events that can and often do affect those planning their retirement and annuitants alike. My column often chronicles my personal retirement experiences and hopefully sheds light on subjects of interest to all.

The target retirement date you select may at first glance seem innocuous, not capable of doing harm. Yet, it is one of the many significant decisions you must make to ensure a financially secure future.  Some simply set a date without considering the consequences of their decision.

Generally, the end of the month works best for FERS employees. Under the FERS system your retirement begins on the first day of the following month. This is also allowed for non-voluntary CSRS retirements. Federal employees under the voluntary CSRS retirement system often select one of the first three days of the month; your annuity will start on the next day. If you retire on the 3rd of the month, you will get paid through the 3rd and your annuity will start on the following day. Your first annuity check will be for a partial month, less the three days you worked. However, if you choose to leave on the 4th or later your annuity won’t start until the first of the following month. There are other factors such as furloughs or LWOP status that can impact your annuity start date. Review OPM’s Retirement Handbook, chapter 41 for detailed guidance on this subject.

There are many factors to consider when selecting your retirement date. Mike Causey’s recent article provides an example of how working another two years — from 60 to 62 — an employee earning $80,000 per year can boost their retirement income by almost $30,000 under certain circumstances. This depends on your years of service, salary at the time of retirement, and other factors. In his article titled “Best date to retire? How about never!” he asks Tammy Flanagan to address how timing your retirement can reap significant benefits for you and your loved ones. This article and Tammy’s examples are quite revealing and an essential read for anyone planning their exit. Mike and Tammy are experts in all things federal and Mike’s weekly radio show, Your Turn, that airs Wednesdays at 10 a.m. (EST) offers abundant and sage advice about federal employee benefits.

Tammy Flanagan also publishes a comprehensive article on the best date to retire every year and she includes a detailed calendar that will help you select your target retirement date. Tammy Flanagan is a former federal employee, a federal benefits specialist, and consultant. She also offers reasonable fee-for-service personal consulting for civilian federal employees and annuitants.

Another helpful and very reasonable service is offered by FederalRetirementReport.com. They provide a comprehensive 27-page benefits summary to help you plan your retirement. It is prepared by retirement planning specialists and includes annuity projections, a cash-flow analysis of your net income (actual take-home pay) now vs. your net income (actual take-home pay) during your first year in retirement, a TSP option review, and a complete insurance and benefits analysis. They will help you determine what benefits to carry into retirement and their advantages.  Anyone who signs up to receive this report has the opportunity to schedule a free one-hour session with a certified financial planner.

Most federal employees have a date in mind or at least a sense of when they wish to retire. The date is significant as outlined above. However, there is so much more to retirement than meets the eye and the earlier you start investigating your options the better. Use our “Ultimate Retirement Planning Guide” to take you step-buy-step through the federal employee’s retirement process. This free pdf file is yours to use and share with others in your organization. It includes links to comprehensive guidance for all aspects of your retirement planning and benefit elections.

Helpful Retirement Planning Tools

Disclaimer: The information provided may not cover all aspect of unique or special circumstances, federal regulations, medical procedures, and benefit information are subject to change. To ensure the accuracy of this information, contact relevant parties for assistance including OPM’s retirement center. Over time, various dynamic economic factors relied upon as a basis for this article may change. The advice and strategies contained herein may not be suitable for your situation and this service is not affiliated with OPM or any federal entity. You should consult with a financial, medical or human resource professional where appropriate. Neither the publisher or author shall be liable for any loss or any other commercial damages, including but not limited to special, incidental, consequential, or other damages.

 

Posted in ANNUITIES / ELIGIBILITY, BENEFITS / INSURANCE, FINANCE / TIP, LIFESTYLE / TRAVEL, RETIREMENT CONCERNS, SURVIVOR INFORMATION

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Posted on Saturday, 29th May 2021 by

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We all must become a patient advocate when a family member is undergoing treatment for serious illness. There are times when you have to be your own advocate, and perform the due diligence needed to receive the best treatment possible. Physicians have a lot on their plate and out of necessity often rely on a standardized treatment regimen for their patients. However, these treatments may not be suitable for everyone; there are many factors that may influence the desired outcome.

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A one hour session with a Certified Financial Planner is included.

Doctor’s patient load, paperwork, and many other tasks pull them in opposite directions and puts undue pressure on them throughout their long days. It is our responsibility to get their attention so they can address our underlying concerns. It’s important that you feel comfortable with your course of treatment and the only one that can help you with that is your physician.

The internet allows patients to explore their disease up front and personal. You can read the latest research articles, search for unique factors that may affect your treatment, explore medications and their side effects, and so much more. Prior to the early 1990s you had to visit a library, search their card catalog, and hopefully find something current and relevant to your condition. We as layman may not understand all of the medical terms and intricacies our research uncovers but it does provide a basis for discussion with our medical providers that can influence treatment. Plus, the more research you do, the more you learn about the condition.

I’ve done this throughout life much to the chagrin of some physicians and others that welcomed and at least considered my perspective. Some are hesitant to possibly aggravate their doctor, and simply continue with treatment they feel uncomfortable with.

My wife was diagnosed with glaucoma 25 years ago and has had many procedures and surgeries since. Her first doctor couldn’t control her intraocular pressure (IOP) and transferred her to an associate!

The second doctor performed several laser treatments but had inadequate diagnostic equipment to evaluate her condition. He suggested she may have macular degeneration onset, and often recommended aggressive surgeries. I researched alternative glaucoma treatments online and discovered that a less invasive Selective Laser Trabeculoplasty (SLT) laser procedure was available. Her current doctor couldn’t perform the procedure and Mary found Doctor Joel Schuman, the director of the UPMC Eye Center in Pittsburgh at the time, to take over her care.

Doctor Schuman performed several laser procedures including the SLT and successfully treated her condition for many years. He was instrumental in the development of the Optical Coherence Tomography (OCT) which provides a three-dimensional retinal image and used this diagnostic tool to determine that the macular degeneration noted previously was actually a birth defect.

There are issues that mask medical conditions and make them appear worse. For example, many have white coat hypertension. Whenever they go near a doctor, their blood pressure goes through the roof. This can also increase IOP and dramatically increases blood pressure readings at the doctor’s office. If you have this condition, take your blood pressure at home and keep a record for your physician. Otherwise, if the doctor diagnoses you with high blood pressure, they may prescribe drugs that could do more harm than good. Some with this condition will experience blood pressure readings up to the 180s and higher over 100 in the doctor’s office! It’s transitory but does mask symptoms. Doctors should be advised of this anomaly when they are treating someone with this condition.

Second opinions matter. In my mid 40s I was diagnosed with Atrial Fibrillation (AFib). I can physically feel the erratic heart rhythm when it occurs and the episodes can last several hours. A cardiologist prescribed a Holter Monitor to observe my heart rate at home and sent reports via telephone after attacks. They requested I come in after an extended attack and prescribed Coumadin, a blood thinner, and other caustic heart medications.

After researching the subject, and before taking the medications, I scheduled an appointment with an electrophysiologist. He determined that I had paroxysmal atrial fibrillation (AFib) with symptoms that come and go, usually lasting for a few minutes to hours. He suggested that I didn’t need these medications unless the attacks lasted for extended periods, 8 hours or longer. Had I listened to the first doctor I would have been on these caustic drugs for the past 28 years! I control the attacks with Magnesium Glycinate and take 50 mg twice a day and an additional 100 mg during severe attacks. They typically resolve the issue in 15 minutes to an hour. I use the Kardia home EKG monitor and my Apple series 5 watch to take EKGs when my AFib flares up and provide readouts to my doctors.

If you have concerns about your treatment, reservations about your medications or prognosis, discuss them with your physician or seek a second opinion if necessary. Research your condition on line and most importantly, write down any questions you may have so you won’t miss anything during your next visit. When you are the patient, it helps to have an advocate with you that can listen to the doctor, ask questions, take notes, and help to clarify and explain what transpired when you return home.

 

Helpful Retirement Planning Tools

Disclaimer: The information provided may not cover all aspect of unique or special circumstances, federal regulations, medical procedures, and benefit information are subject to change. To ensure the accuracy of this information, contact relevant parties for assistance including OPM’s retirement center. Over time, various dynamic economic factors relied upon as a basis for this article may change. The advice and strategies contained herein may not be suitable for your situation and this service is not affiliated with OPM or any federal entity. You should consult with a financial, medical or human resource professional where appropriate. Neither the publisher or author shall be liable for any loss or any other commercial damages, including but not limited to special, incidental, consequential, or other damages.

Posted in LIFESTYLE / TRAVEL, RETIREMENT CONCERNS, SURVIVOR INFORMATION, WELLNESS / HEALTH

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Posted on Sunday, 16th May 2021 by

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Would you like a secure government backed investment that currently yields 3.54%?  If so, consider buying U.S. Series I Bonds. They are paying this rate from May of this year through November. The previous six-month rate was 1.6%, well above what banks were offering for CDs at the time. With inflation on the horizon, due to excessive deficit government spending and other factors, savings bond rates and our 2022 COLA could increase significantly.

Request a 27 page Federal Retirement Report™ today.
A one hour session with a Certified Financial Planner is included.

I Bond interest is compounded semiannually. Every six months from the bond’s issue date, all interest the bond has earned in previous months is added to the bond’s new principal value. Interest is earned on the new principal for the next six months.

There are few places to invest today that offer a decent return on capital. Our local bank is only paying .1% on our savings accounts. Before the pandemic you could find CD rates hovering above 2%, still meager by any standards, but much better than low rates offered today.

The first I bond I purchased was in 1999 for $200; it’s worth $448.56 today. Those early bonds had a large fixed rate and combined with the current inflation rate they pay over 5% interest today. The best way to save is to do it automatically through payroll deductions which I started in 1975. Back then I purchased E bonds, which are currently earning only .10%.  Regardless of the current E Bond rate, at 20 years the E Bond will be worth twice what you paid for it. If you keep the bond that long, the Treasury makes a one-time adjustment to the E Bond’s face value. This provides approximately a 3% yield if held for 20 years.

I Bonds are purchased at face value, a $500 bond costs you that amount, E Bonds are purchased at half face value and if held for 20 years double to the face value amount. Savings bonds can’t be cashed in during the first year of ownership, they can be redeemed after 12 months. if you redeem an I bond within the first 5 years, you’ll lose your last 3 months interest. For example, if you redeem an I bond after 18 months, you’ll receive the first 15 months of interest.

Savings bonds mature after 30 years and stop earning interest. The advantages of I Bonds include interest earned is tax deferred until you cash them in, they are guaranteed by the government, and provide an inflation hedge.

I Bonds can only be purchased online with purchases limited to $10,000 yearly per account holder through Treasury Direct. Both you and your spouse can purchase up to this limit if you have individual accounts. The Treasury stopped issuing paper bonds over a decade ago with the one exception. They allow you to purchase up to $5,000 in paper I bonds with your income tax return.

If you still have paper bonds most banks will cash them in and provide a 1099-INT form for the interest earned. The interest has to be reported on your tax return at the end of the year. When cashing out your bookentry online bonds, the Treasury will send out a 1099-INT statement and route the proceeds direct to your savings or checking account. When electronic I Bonds in a TreasuryDirect account reach maturity and stop earning interest, they are automatically cashed and the interest earned is reported to the IRS.

I Bonds are a safe haven to stash some of your cash as long as you don’t need if for the first year you own the bonds.

Request a Federal Retirement Report

Retirement planning specialists provide a comprehensive Federal Retirement Report™ including annuity projections, expenditures verses income, with a complete benefits analysis. This comprehensive 27-page benefits summary will help you plan your retirement.

Request Your Personalized Federal Retirement Report™ Today

Find answers to your questions: The best time to retire, retirement income vs expenditures, FEGLI options and costs, TSP risks and withdrawal strategies, and other relevant topics. Determine what benefits to carry into retirement and their advantages. You will also have the opportunity to set up a personal one-on-one meeting with a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER.

Helpful Retirement Planning Tools

Disclaimer: The information provided may not cover all aspect of unique or special circumstances, federal regulations, medical procedures, and benefit information are subject to change. To ensure the accuracy of this information, contact relevant parties for assistance including OPM’s retirement center. Over time, various dynamic economic factors relied upon as a basis for this article may change. The advice and strategies contained herein may not be suitable for your situation and this service is not affiliated with OPM or any federal entity. You should consult with a financial, medical or human resource professional where appropriate. Neither the publisher or author shall be liable for any loss or any other commercial damages, including but not limited to special, incidental, consequential, or other damages.

Posted in UNCATEGORIZED

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Posted on Friday, 7th May 2021 by

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IRMAA stands for Income Related Monthly Adjustment Amounts. A federal retiree’s total income includes their pension, social security benefits, income from investments (dividends and capital gains), and required minimum distributions from their TSP and other retirement accounts. Many also work part time or own small businesses. All income combined can often increase a retiree’s Medicare Part B and D premiums.

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A one hour session with a Certified Financial Planner is included.

High-income households pay an extra charge—IRMAA—on top of the standard Medicare premium. IRMAA can apply to either Medicare Part B or Medicare Part D premiums. If you fall into one of the high-income categories—more than $88,000 for individuals and $176,000 for couples—the Social Security Administration (SSA) will notify you. The IRMAA notification from SSA might happen when you first apply for Medicare, but it can be triggered at any other time post initial Medicare enrollment if your income exceeds the threshold.

IRMAAs have a two-year lookback. For example, if your income as reported on your tax return from 2019 fell into the high-income category, you would pay IRMAA for 2021 Medicare monthly premiums.

2021 Medicare Part B Premiums & IRMAA

2021 Medicare Part D Premiums & IRMAA

How to Reduce or Eliminate IRMAA if Your Income Is Lower Today Compared to Two Years Ago

Since IRMAA is calculated on your income from two years ago, many federal retirees might have less income today than when IRMAA was initially calculated. If you experience a life-changing event that reduces your income, you can request an IRMAA reduction from the SSA by using the form found here or by calling 800-772-1213.

The following life-changing events are allowed for IRMAA reductions:

  • Marriage
  • Divorce/Annulment
  • Death of Your Spouse
  • Work Reduction
  • Loss of Income-Producing Property
  • Loss of Pension Income
  • Employer Settlement Payment
  • Work Stoppage

Most federal employees will have lower income once they retire compared to when they were active employees. Work stoppage is an allowed life-changing event, and every new federal retiree that qualifies for IRMAA should request a reduction from the SSA if they will have lower income in retirement.

One word of caution, Medicare part B premiums are determined by your Modified Adjusted Gross Income (MAGI). Modified Adjusted Gross Income includes capital gains, taxable interest, tax-exempt interest, dividends, annuity income, wages, business income, and IRA distributions.

Example: A two-person household filing a joint tax return had adjusted gross income (AGI) of $250,000 in 2019 and 2020. They both plan on retiring on July 1, 2021, and will therefore spend half of 2021 as active employees and half as retired employees. They expect to have $200,000 in income in 2021 and only $150,000 in income in 2022 when they spend the entire year retired.

SSA would assign IRMAA based on their 2019 AGI of $250,000, and they would have to pay $297 each for Medicare Part B when they retire if they do not ask for an IRMAA reduction. Instead, they should request an IRMAA reduction for 2021 as their expected AGI would place them in a lower IRMAA category, which reduces the Part B premium to $207.90 for 2021. They should also inform SSA that their anticipated 2022 AGI of $150,000 would put them below the high-income threshold and therefore only have it pay the regular Part B premium of $148.50 in 2022.

The SSA requires tax returns and qualified life-changing event documentation for IRMAA reductions. In the case where income is a projection, SSA will confirm the projected income total when that tax return year is officially filed with the IRS. If during the IRMAA reduction process someone overpays on Part B or Part D premiums, the SSA will issue a refund.

This article is a collaboration between Kevin Moss of Checkbook.org and Dennis Damp, host of www.federalretirement.net. Checkbook’s Guide to Health Plans for Federal Employees provides total cost comparisons (premium + expected out-of-pocket expenses) for all FEHB plans. The Guide shows which FEHB plans coordinate best with Medicare Part B and evaluates Medicare Advantage plans offered by FEHB carriers. Federal Retirement readers can purchase the Guide at GuidetoHealthPlans.org  and can save 20% by entering promo code FEDRETIRE at checkout.

Helpful Retirement Planning Tools

Request a 27 page Federal Retirement Report™ today.
A one hour session with a Certified Financial Planner is included.

Disclaimer: The information provided may not cover all aspect of unique or special circumstances, federal regulations, medical procedures, and benefit information are subject to change. To ensure the accuracy of this information, contact relevant parties for assistance including OPM’s retirement center. Over time, various dynamic economic factors relied upon as a basis for this article may change. The advice and strategies contained herein may not be suitable for your situation and this service is not affiliated with OPM or any federal entity. You should consult with a financial, medical or human resource professional where appropriate. Neither the publisher or author shall be liable for any loss or any other commercial damages, including but not limited to special, incidental, consequential, or other damages.

Posted in BENEFITS / INSURANCE, RETIREMENT CONCERNS, SOCIAL SECURITY / MEDICARE

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Posted on Wednesday, 21st April 2021 by

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We can expect a higher COLA increase for 2022. According to Kiplinger’s Magazine the 2022 COLA will Likely increase to 3%, the largest increase since 2012. The final number will be released this October.  There are many variables in the annual COLA calculation and these can change dramatically before the final numbers are tabulated.

Request a 27 page Federal Retirement Report™ today.
A one hour session with a Certified Financial Planner is included.

For Federal Employees under the FERS system, if the increase in the CPI is 2 percent or less, the Cost-of-Living Adjustment is equal to the CPI increase. If the CPI increase is more than 2 percent but no more than 3 percent, the Cost-of-Living Adjustment is 2 percent. If the CPI increase is more than 3 percent, the adjustment is 1 percent less than the CPI increase. The new amount is rounded down to the next whole dollar.

Bill, one of our newsletter subscribers, performs quarterly updates on the CPI and COLA calculations. He suggests that if inflation remains constant at 2.6% until 30 September 2021, the Social Security and FERS COLA based on the CPI/W will be 2.2% and the FERS DIET COLA will be 2.0% according to his detailed analysis.

Personally, I believe inflation will far exceed our expectations this year. Prices are increasing across the board from groceries, lumber and steel, to gas at the pumps and everything in between.  Companies large and small aren’t able to staff their operations due to severe labor shortages. Many are making more on enhanced unemployment benefits than they would if they returned to their old jobs; who could blame them for staying at home. Businesses, out of necessity, must offer higher wages to stay in business. These increased operating costs are passed on to clients and customers alike. Unfortunately, a large number of small establishments won’t survive.

That being said, these are uncertain times and we don’t know what lies around the corner. Many things can change these projections in either direction. Hold on for quite a ride this year. I’m hoping for the best.

Prescription Tip

I went through our medicine cabinet and pantry to organize our medications and weed out old and outdated ones. I collected at least 50 medications and prescriptions, some dating back to the late 1990s!  These included over the counter and prescribed drugs.

The first place I called was my local CVS pharmacy and they provide a secure drop box at our location where I was able to dispose of my horde. Before disposing of prescription medicines, be sure to remove all personal information on pill bottle labels and medicine packaging.  All of your medicines dropped off at the take back locations will be destroyed.

According to the FDA the best way to dispose of most types of unused or expired medicines (both prescription and over the counter) is to drop off the medicine at a drug take back site. You can use the FDA’s drug collection site list to find disposal locations in your area.

Helpful Retirement Planning Tools

Request a 27 page Federal Retirement Report™ today.
A one hour session with a Certified Financial Planner is included.

Disclaimer: The information provided may not cover all aspect of unique or special circumstances, federal regulations, medical procedures, and benefit information are subject to change. To ensure the accuracy of this information, contact relevant parties for assistance including OPM’s retirement center. Over time, various dynamic economic factors relied upon as a basis for this article may change. The advice and strategies contained herein may not be suitable for your situation and this service is not affiliated with OPM or any federal entity. You should consult with a financial, medical or human resource professional where appropriate. Neither the publisher or author shall be liable for any loss or any other commercial damages, including but not limited to special, incidental, consequential, or other damages.

Posted in ANNUITIES / ELIGIBILITY, BENEFITS / INSURANCE, ESTATE PLANNING, FINANCE / TIP, RETIREMENT CONCERNS, SOCIAL SECURITY / MEDICARE, SURVIVOR INFORMATION

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Posted on Friday, 2nd April 2021 by

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I’ve been writing my retirement planning column for close to two decades and during this time received numerous candid queries from friends and subscribers concerning their retirement fears. These concerns often cause federal employees to delay their departure until they resolve the conflict or simply throw the dice and leave.

Togetherness

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A one hour session with a Certified Financial Planner is included.

The concerns range from financial, are they able to live comfortably once retired, to can I live with my spouse or partner 24/7 without going crazy. I’ve addressed the financial aspect of this dilemma many times in articles including, Looking at the Numbers – The Second Time Around and Retirement Essentials – Do You Have What it Takes!

It’s the latter of the two that I’ve not touched much on for all these years. Can you and your spouse/partner survive being joined at the hip during your retirement years?

Retirement doesn’t negate the fact that each of you still will have individual interests, friends, and other outlets.

Several of my newsletter subscribers relayed their sentiment on this subject recently. One commenting that having their spouse around 24/7 in retirement would be a big change. Another quipped, “I’m not sure what my wife has instore for me when I retire! I may have to get a part time job to remain sane.”

I can relate my firsthand experience with this conundrum. I believe my wife Mary and I were well suited for this transition since we’ve been together for 55 years, 37 years when I retired in 2004. I retired with 36 years of federal service, including military time, at age 55. That was almost 17 years ago.

My wife understood that I had a business to run when I left the FAA and would be working from home. My wife was als0 the office manager for the company; we worked together in the business at the time. It was still a significant change and it took a year or more to adjust to staying at home most days. My business’ warehouse allowed me to get out and about along with visits to other local business affiliated establishments.

Even though my wife knew that I would still be working, Mary frequently lamented, “I thought you were retired now!” I went from working 40 hours a week with the FAA plus 30 to 40 hours weekly in my business to just 40 hours a week after retiring. It felt like I was on vacation most days; being able to do what I and my wife desired with few distractions. I could delay projects, reschedule things, and catch up in the evenings or on weekends.

A successful retirement requires compromise and consideration. Divergent interests can create conflicts that must be resolved long before retiring. The report that I published titled “How to be Physically and Emotionally Prepared When You Retirementions that it’s important to discuss what each partner’s retirement expectations are before leaving. If one partner wants to sell the family home and travel the world while the other is a homebody, retirement could become a nightmare for both.

One of the compromises I made was a conscious effort to learn how to cook. Mary was the family’s primary cook, a task she disliked after many years in the kitchen. We now share that chore. Actually, we cook together, I often do the main dish and Mary does the side dishes and salad when I cook. When Mary cooks, I help where needed and do the dishes and vise versa.

Mary and I have set routines, she keeps active and walks 10,000 plus steps per day, enjoys taking care of our homes, uses her iPad to stay informed and connected, follows the children and family on Facebook, and loves to shop for the grandchildren. We both enjoy traveling and visit our children and grandchildren weekly or they stop over. I work in the office on a reduced schedule these days, recently completing my 28th book, a memoir of my early years, manage investments, pay bills, and enjoy several hobbies. After dinner we either read, watch the news or stream a Netflix or HBO Max TV series. During the week we often go shopping or just spend some time out and about. More so before the pandemic hit.

Do we occasionally get on each other’s nerves? Yes, a natural aside to life in general. Yet, these natural occurrences are few and far between these days.

The key to a successful retirement with your spouse or partner is to discuss what each other’s expectations are long before you turn in your retirement paperwork. Resolve any major disconnects and misconceptions in advance if possible.  Here are several good articles that you may find informative on this subject:

Helpful Retirement Planning Tools

Request a 27 page Federal Retirement Report™ today.
A one hour session with a Certified Financial Planner is included.

Disclaimer: The information provided may not cover all aspect of unique or special circumstances, federal regulations, medical procedures, and benefit information are subject to change. To ensure the accuracy of this information, contact relevant parties for assistance including OPM’s retirement center. Over time, various dynamic economic factors relied upon as a basis for this article may change. The advice and strategies contained herein may not be suitable for your situation and this service is not affiliated with OPM or any federal entity. You should consult with a financial, medical or human resource professional where appropriate. Neither the publisher or author shall be liable for any loss or any other commercial damages, including but not limited to special, incidental, consequential, or other damages.

Posted in LIFESTYLE / TRAVEL, RETIREMENT CONCERNS, SURVIVOR INFORMATION, Travel, WELLNESS / HEALTH

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Posted on Thursday, 18th March 2021 by

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This tune keeps playing in my head after listening to XM radio’s sixties on six yesterday. A Sonny and Cher hit that topped the charts in 1967! After 54 years the words are still relevant, especially the last stanza.

Grandmas sit in chairs and reminisce
Boys keep chasing girls to get a kiss
The cars keep a going faster all the time
Bums still cries, “Hey buddy, have you got a dime?”

My First Full Time Job – 1968

Life was simpler back then. I and many my age recall casually conversing with classmates during lunch, sitting on the front stoop in the evening with friends just passing time with casual conversation, listening to vinyl records at our friend’s house, and the slower pace of just about everything in our lives at the time. When you left the house, you went about whatever business you set out to do without interruption. No computers, cell phones, instant messaging, and social media to detract you from your plans. We had six channels to choose from on our black and white TVs; no remotes to channel surf and yet we all survived and many flourished considering the austere times we lived in.

Cars of the day had character and when a Cadillac, GTO, the early Mustangs or any of the classics passed by, you instantly knew the make, and often times the model. Many of the 50s and 60s cars were two tone, something you rarely see these days, Buicks had distinctive side ports, Cadillacs were true touring cars, the Corvair Spyder for the younger folks, classics all.  My first car, a 1957 Buick special was copper and cream with a straight six that still had some get up and go when I bought it for $100 in 1967!

Request a 27 page Federal Retirement Report™ today.
A one hour session with a Certified Financial Planner is included.

We recycled much of what we consumed, TVs, appliances, watches, vacuum cleaners, and just about everything else was repaired; not discarded in a local garbage dump, plastic wasn’t polluting the oceans, landfills, and everything in between. We returned pop and milk bottles to the local grocery store for cash: 2 cents for a 12-ounce pop bottle and 5 cents for a quart bottle. Paper was king, and even though I do recall littering, at least the paper was recyclable, and we used nothing but paper bags for groceries and our lunches.

Times have changed, often for the better, yet I do believe as a society those times and circumstances fostered character and motivated generations to exceed beyond their expectations. The civil rights movement rose up and enlightened America, we conquered space, and landed on the moon. America was and still is the beacon of freedom for the world. Yet, I’m not sure just how long this will hold true considering our current state of affairs.

The flip side is also revealing. We were embroiled in the Vietnam War that spurred antiwar protests and rioting. The draft was taking our youth in record numbers to the front lines in Vietnam; we watched the war up front and personal on TV each evening. Seems like never ending wars are the norm no matter what time period we live in. A sad but true state of our affairs.

We may reminisce about the old days, as our parents did, and their parents before them. The truth of the matter is left to individual interpretation; what was a good time for some was a nightmare for another. The automation and artificial intelligence of today would seem like fantasies to our ancestors that labored at the simplest of tasks to get through a day. I recall my mother in the 1950s washing clothes in a galvanized tub; scrubbing them on a corrugated wash board, and hanging the cloths out to dry summer and winter. She and my older sisters pulled a large galvanized tub into the kitchen every Saturday afternoon. They would heat water for our bath in large pots on the stove. The four children and Mother shared a small rundown two bedroom home in the country. I know for a fact my grandparents had it far worse; Mother appreciated having what little she had even back then.

Even though I look back with fondness on my formative years and do relish a less hectic pace, I can’t imagine living without the advancements made these past 70 years. The improvements in healthcare, automation, living standards, automobile reliability, the improved environment, less poverty, more support for those in need, and opportunities for all who choose to work hard and make the sacrifices that go along with that decision.

Correction (Last Article)

Last week’s article, “Blindsided – Don’t be Caught Off Guard,” discussed two bills before congress that require clarification. This article is updated on our blog. I used the first release of the Voting Rights Bill (HR-1) along with pending amendments and wrote this article before the age 16 voting amendment was rejected. The amendment for 16-year-olds lost 125-302 in the House. However, per Part 10 (Voter Registration of Minors) section 1094 of HR-1 states, “A State may not refuse to accept or process an individual’s application to register to vote in elections for Federal office on the grounds that the individual is under 18 years of age at the time the individual submits the application, so long as the individual is at least 16 years of age at such time.” They are allowing 16-year-olds to register to vote, a state’s age limit still applies for voting.

There is a contradiction with this passage and this extends to illegal alien voting. Per Section 1015 page 63 of the act, (Voter Protection & Security in Automatic Registration) “anyone who is preregistered under the automatic registration of any individual or the fact that an individual declined the opportunity to register to vote or did not make an affirmation of citizenship (including through automatic registration) under this part may not be used as evidence against that individual in any State or Federal law enforcement proceeding, and an individual’s lack of knowledge or willfulness of such registration may be demonstrated by the individual’s testimony.”

The Act states numerous times that voter registration is governed by the requirements of section 7(a)(6) of the National Voter Registration Act of 1993 (52 24 U.S.C. 20506(a)(6). However, if individuals are automatically registered, and most will be if the law passes, aren’t required to provide proof of citizenship, they could be on the voting rolls and vote without penalty per this clause. This leaves the door wide open for abuse, per the paragraph above, “an individual’s lack of knowledge or willfulness of such registration may be demonstrated by the individual’s testimony.” All anyone has to do is claim they didn’t know they shouldn’t vote, and state, “you registered me to vote!”

I received a number of messages from subscribers that suggested I was incorrect in several of my assumptions. If you perform a fact check online you will find many indicate illegal immigrants can’t vote under this bill. However, if you read the bill and per the above paragraphs, you will see where they can if automatically registered and that was my intention in the previous article. Automatic registration, without affirmation of citizenship, provides an out for anyone automatically registered. I revised the article on the blog and added specific reference paragraphs from the actual law that you can personally review.

As this bill works through the Senate hopefully reason will prevail. However, I’m not optimistic at this point. This bill does include desirable improvements: all voting machines must be manufactured in America and increased access for voters with disabilities.

The common-sense approach to voting reform is to require IDs and signature verification when voting, and proof of citizenship when registering to vote. We already have the national REAL ID program that could easily satisfy these requirements. This reminds me of a Beatles song, “Come Together,” the lead track on their Abby Roads album: “He say I know you; you know me – One thing I can tell you is you got to be free – Come together, right now, over me.” Maybe our representatives should play this during negotiations, let down their defenses, and compromise.  I doubt this will happen. “Absolute power corrupts absolutely.”

 

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Disclaimer: The information provided may not cover all aspect of unique or special circumstances, federal regulations, medical procedures, and benefit information are subject to change. To ensure the accuracy of this information, contact relevant parties for assistance including OPM’s retirement center. Over time, various dynamic economic factors relied upon as a basis for this article may change. The advice and strategies contained herein may not be suitable for your situation and this service is not affiliated with OPM or any federal entity. You should consult with a financial, medical or human resource professional where appropriate. Neither the publisher or author shall be liable for any loss or any other commercial damages, including but not limited to special, incidental, consequential, or other damages.

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Posted on Saturday, 13th March 2021 by

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Major laws are often passed without our representatives actually knowing what’s in them. Recall, the speaker of the house’s comment when Obama Care Passed. She stated, “We have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it.”  This isn’t a one-sided issue, both parties suffer from this irrational behavior. Most major bills like the massive H.R. 1 “For the People Act of 2021” aren’t written by house members, they are compiled by think tanks and lobbyists on both sites, liberal and conservative.  These lobbyists wine and dine our representatives; persuade them to wholeheartedly accept their proposals without reservations, then withhold their donations until they get what they want.


What’s Next!

Facts are facts, laws are laws, and never the twain shall meet. Bills have pleasant sounding names that make you feel warm and fuzzy inside. The, “For the Peoples Act,” and the recently passed COVID -19 relief bill titled, “The American Rescue Act.”

These titles are designed to sell the public, not on the substance of the bills, but on a desirable aspect that none can refuse. The American Rescue Plan is sending out checks to millions, helping those who most suffered during the pandemic, certainly the right thing to do. Most of the mainstream media hypes and pushes this limited misleading narrative; ignoring the fact that less than half of the 1.9 Trillion dollars of The American Rescue Act actually provides Covid relief, the remaining money is targeted to fund the party in power’s hidden agenda.

In the case of “H.R. 1391, The American Rescue act,” Forbes Magazine’s article titled, Is There Wasteful Spending In The New $1.9 Trillion Coronavirus Stimulus Bill?, spells out just where most of this money is actually going. “The Wall Street Journal editorial board estimated that only $825 billion was directly related to Covid-19 relief and $1 trillion was expansions of progressive programs, pork, and unrelated policy changes.” Others state that only 9% or 171 billion will be spent on immediate relief efforts. No republican voted for the bill.

Many will be surprised at what the “H.R. 1 For the People Act of 2021” voter rights legislation is targeting. I downloaded this 791-page monster and buried deep within, you will find unsettling facts and wonder just who our representative work for: themselves, the uber rich, and/or the large tech companies that now control all aspects of our daily lives. I provided a reference, section and page number, for HR-1 that you can use to read more about the line items listed below.

This bill will fundamentally change America as we know it if passed. I’m listing just some of the key changes to election law and you can decide for yourself if it is good or bad for society and America in general.

HR-1 “FOR THE PEOPLE ACT OF 2021”

  • The federal government takes over control of elections from the states. Section 3, page 16 of the act.
  • Requires automatic voter registration in all 50 states. Any person that provides information to a government agency including the Department of Motor Vehicles, public universities, or a social service agency would he registered to vote. Same day and online registrations are also mandated in the bill. Part 2 (Automtic Voter Registration), Section 1011, starting on page 46 of the act.
  • States would not be allowed to institute voter ID laws and states with existing voter ID laws must conform to this new edic per section 2001, page 269.
  • Mandates no-fault absentee ballots. Removes the requirement for witness signature or notarization requirement for absentee ballots. States must accept absentee ballots for up to 10 days after an election.
  • Non-citizens that are automatically registered to vote per Section 1015 of the law through a government organizations, university, college, state government and social programs, can’t be prosecuted if they vote even though the law does state in various places that you must be eligible to register.  Those who are automatically registered aren’t required to provide proof of citizenship.  Per Section 1015 page 63 of the act, (Voter Protection & Security in Automatic Registration) anyone who is preregistered under The automatic registration of any individual or the fact that an individual declined the opportunity to register to vote or did not make an affirmation of citizenship (including through automatic registration) under this part may not be used as evidence against that individual in any State or Federal law enforcement proceeding, and an individual’s lack of knowledge or willfulness of such registration may be demonstrated by the individual’s testimony.”
  • 16-year-olds will be allowed to pre register to vote – The amendment that would have allowed 16 year olds to vote was defeated by a vote of 125 to 302. However, the law does allow early registration at 16 per Part 10, Section 1094 page 96 of the Act, and these indiviudals will be automtically registers as noted above.
  • Felons will be allowed to vote, page 21, line item 23.
  • National mail in ballots are mandated without photo ID or any form of identification, Subtitle, 1, section 1621, starting on page 171 of the act.
  • All states must accept any and all mailed ballots 10 days after election day if they are postmarked before or on election day.
  • Colleges and universities must hire campus vote coordinators to encourage voter turnout per section 1901, starting on page 218 of the act.
  • Voter drop boxes must be placed and available 24 hours a day for 45 days before an election for people to drop off absentee ballots. Per above, no-fault absentee ballots must be accepted up to 10 days after an election per section 1907, starting on page 249.
  • States would no longer be able to redraw congressional districts. This would be delegated to independent commissions that are required to incorporate racial, ethnic, economic, and gender diversity in all voting districts per Section 241 stasrting on page 282 of the act.
  • This bill will allow politicians to use funds from their campaign to pay for personal expenses per the Help America Run Acr, Section 5301, starting on page 636 pf HR-1.
  • Ballot harvesting is promoted. A designated person could return absentee ballots to any drop-off point. There aren’t any limits on how many ballots a person could drop off.
  • Supports statehood for the District of Columbia and territories per Section 2101 Section C and Section 2201 Section D of the law.
  • Curbside voting is mandated, no state may prohibit this practice per section 1908, page 254 of the act.
  • States would be required to get approval from the federal government before making any changes to voting rules.

I included links to the actual bills for you to do your own due diligence.  What do you think? Only our representatives have the power to change the outcome and if they receive sufficient input from us, the ones they are suppose to serve, they may do the right thing.

Helpful Retirement Planning Tools

Request a 27 page Federal Retirement Report™ today.
A one hour session with a Certified Financial Planner is included.

Disclaimer: The information provided may not cover all aspect of unique or special circumstances, federal regulations, medical procedures, and benefit information are subject to change. To ensure the accuracy of this information, contact relevant parties for assistance including OPM’s retirement center. Over time, various dynamic economic factors relied upon as a basis for this article may change. The advice and strategies contained herein may not be suitable for your situation and this service is not affiliated with OPM or any federal entity. You should consult with a financial, medical or human resource professional where appropriate. Neither the publisher or author shall be liable for any loss or any other commercial damages, including but not limited to special, incidental, consequential, or other damages.

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