Posted on Thursday, 6th February 2014 by

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The last series of articles focused on signing up for Medicare at age 65 and FEHB plan impact. Here is another update before moving on to other areas. I use Turbo Tax to complete our income taxes each year. When I was entering data from my wife’s Social Security SSA-1099 Form I discovered that Part B, C and D premiums are deductable from your Social Security earnings which can reduce your federal income taxes. This is another fact to consider down the road when you sign up, there is at least for now, a tax break for your Medicare premiums.  Also the link I included in the last article for Medicare and Blue – Medicare, Blue and You was for the 2013 brochure. They just removed that link and posted the new 2014 brochure this week. Click on the highlighted link above to download the 2014 brochure.

Investment Option (Series EE Savings Bonds)

If you go to  and look up EE bonds you will find that the current fixed interest rate is a meager .1%! At first glance anyone in their right mind, from my perspective, would simply say NO to EE savings bonds. Most don’t realize that Uncle Sam guarantees that the original paper bonds or original purchase amount through the new Treasury Direct online program will double if held for 20 years and they continue to earn interest for 30 years from their issue date.  Essentially, if you cash in an EE Savings Bond after 20 years your effective yield is about 3.5%! I wish I could get that on a 1 year CD but of course I’m dreaming. The Federal Reserve continues to keep interest rates artificially low so the government can continue to borrow at discount rates.  The long and the short of it is that you must hold EE bonds for at least 20 years to earn the higher rate, if you cash out even a day earlier you are held to the much lower .1% rate.  

If you are 10 or more years from retirement, purchasing EE bonds may be worthwhile for a place to park at least some of your cash if you know you can live without it for that long. Otherwise, retirees might want to consider buying them for their children or grandchildren since they have time on their side and in most cases can wait for the cash. I liked the paper bonds that were discontinued several years ago. Today you must purchase them online through Treasury Direct. Additional Ways to Save are provided on our retirement planning site.  

Jobs update

Companies continue to submit job vacancies to our Jobs Board to attract federal retirees. You will find jobs ranging from Retirement Benefits and HR Specialists to part time job opportunities in hundreds of occupations across the country.  Many opportunities exist for those looking to supplement their retirement income or to start a second career.  We provide this free job listing service to companies that are seeking to hire experienced retired federal workers.

Home Remodeling with Retirement in Mind

Over the years I’ve remodeled many homes and only when I entered my 60s did I consider the impact of aging on my remodeling projects. I built a new home when I was 50 for what I thought retirement would be but until you get there you never know what to expect.  If you are in your 40s or older and considering staying in place, consider all of the following when you plan your next remodeling project:

  • Install bathroom vanities and kitchen cabinets at a higher height so you won’t have to bend down as far. Most bath vanities today are higher than they were 10 or 15 years ago however some contractors will use the lower profile cabinets to cut costs. Always have them specify the cabinet heights before signing on the dotted line.
  • For new homes consider a lot that will have an entrance with as few steps as possible, preferably none, including steps from the garage.
  • When remodeling your bath install bath tub grab bars and a bench in the walk in shower.  Also consider higher profile commodes located in an area where grab bars can be easily installed if and when needed.
  • Use easier to grasp handles on cabinets and doors that are made for the elderly.
  • Are your steps to the second floor and/or basement wide enough to accommodate a stair lift? Without an elevator your only option will be a stair lift and there are clearances that need to be maintained for proper and safe use.
  • If you plan to complete a major remodeling project; knocking down walls, etc., replace existing doors with 36 inch wide doors and widen hallways to accommodate a wheelchair down the road.  Also, consider finding a location to stack 5 feet square closets on each floor that can be used for an elevator installation if needed.  Check with a local elevator company for installation specifications.  For new 2 story homes have the contracor stack closets one above the other from the basement to the second floor. It’s easy to do before you build and much more difficult and costly adding an elevator shaft to an existing dwelling.
  • Larger 2 story homes often have two furnaces, one in the basement and a second one in the attic. Attic access can be a challenge for anyone with arthritis or joint problems.  If you are considering purchasing a new or used home with this configuration consider if you will be able to get to the attic to change filters, etc.
  • In northern climates, many 2 story homes have high efficiency furnaces installed in the attic that expel a considerable amount of condensate (water). This water can easily freeze during the winter months and shut your furnace down.  I don’t understand why building codes permit installation of high efficiency furnaces in unheated attics that are subjected to freezing.  Some builders are enclosing attic furnaces in heated space or installing lower efficiency furnaces that use a regular flue and that doesn’t expel condensate.  Check on this with your builder.
  • Add additional storage to reduce clutter if possible to reduce trip hazards.

Learn more about your benefitsemployment, and financial planning issues on our site and visit our Blog frequently at to read all forum articles.

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The information provided may not cover all aspect of unique or special circumstances, federal regulations, and financial information is subject to change. To ensure the accuracy of this information, contact your benefits coordinator and ask them to review your official personnel file and circumstances concerning this issue. Retirees can contact the OPM retirement center. Our article is not intended nor should it be considered investment advice and our articles and replies are time sensitive. 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 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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