Spectrum Management Blog

By Spectrum Management Group | October 18, 2016

Social Security Checks to Get a Tiny Increase in 2017

Good news for recipients of Social Security—your checks will be a little bigger next year. Bad news? The increase is only between 0.2% to 0.5%, which translates to roughly $2.61 to $6.53. Keep reading If you'd like to learn more about this historic increase. 

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Topics: Social Security

By Tia M. Lee | November 13, 2015

New 2016 Medicare Premiums Increase While Providers Still Get Squeezed

On October 23, 2015, I published a blog post discussing the expected 52% increase in Medicare premium coupled with a warning about the potential destabilizing impact of Medicare's reimbursement rates on health care providers in 2016. On Wednesday, October 28, the House reached a budget agreement with President Obama and the bill was signed into law on November 2, 2015. The bill, HR 1314, averted unprecedented premium increases that would have impacted only 30% of Medicare enrollees. The new premium will be increased by 15%, which is more in line with Medicare's historical pattern. 


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Topics: Social Security, Retirement, Tia Lee

By Tia M. Lee | October 23, 2015

2016 Medicare Premiums Increase While Providers Get Squeezed [Updated]

This blog post was udated on Nov. 13, 2015 here due to the passage of Budget Bill HR 1314 on Oct. 28, 2015.  The bill limited the Medicare premium increase to 15%.

Medicare open enrollment is the time when Medicare recipients can change their supplemental insurance plans. It starts October 15th and ends December 7th with new coverage beginning January 1st of the following year. Open enrollment is also the time when Medicare recipients learn the amount they will pay for their Medicare Part B premium, and this year the increases are extraordinarily high for 30% of Medicare recipients. Recipients whose premiums are increased based on their income received the highest premium increase in the history of Medicare. The table below lists the base premiums from 2008 to the projected premium for 2016-2017 and the percentage increase from the previous year.

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Topics: Social Security, Health Care, Retirement

By Tia M. Lee | July 24, 2015

The History of Social Security: How Many Times Have Benefits Been Reduced?

This week is the 2nd National my Social Security Week and it provides the perfect opportunity to take a historical look at Social Security. Social Security claiming mistakes are often made due to fear the program will dramatically change or benefits will be significantly reduced or eliminated.  This fear is particularly common among those nearing retirement. While there are no guarantees about future governmental decisions, reviewing the historical changes to benefits may put those fears into perspective.

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Topics: Social Security, Tia M. Lee, Wealth Management

By Tia M. Lee | October 1, 2014

Will our government take back the promise to pay Social Security benefits?

I wish I had a nickel for every time I heard someone say that by the time they are ready to collect Social Security benefits there will be no money to pay the benefits. All things considered, this thought is certainly understandable. Before you, too, come to that conclusion, let us look at a relatively recent Supreme Court decision and consider the dynamics of our political system. 

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Topics: Social Security, Retirement, Tia M. Lee, Wealth Management

By Tia M. Lee | August 20, 2014

Are Social Security statements accurate?

Social Security benefits statements are useless for retirement planning purposes, testifies Andrew Biggs, Ph.D. and resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, at the July 29th U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Ways and Means held to explore what the American public needs to know about the Social Security program. Biggs goes as far as to say that the statements are wrong and underestimate future benefits by as much as 35 percent -- the factor used to discount the future amount back to the purchasing power of today's dollar is a big part of the reason. 

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Topics: Social Security, Retirement, Tia M. Lee, Wealth Management

By Tia M. Lee | May 21, 2014

How to assess the value of delaying Social Security benefits

Determining when to apply for your Social Security benefits requires looking at many factors. You must take into consideration how long you plan to work, you and your spouse's health, the future amount of both partners' full retirement benefits, income taxes now and in the future -- the list goes on and on. These variables call for you to use your best judgment because they are subject to change; once you have made your decision on the variables above you are then faced with a difficult choice.  

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Topics: Social Security, Retirement, Tia M. Lee, Wealth Management

By Tia M. Lee | April 2, 2014

Will there be changes to Social Security benefits?

In March, several news publications announced that President Obama's 2015 budget proposal included changes to Social Security claiming strategies. Announcements of this nature put in question the benefit of Social Security planning and, I fear, cause retirees to claim their benefits as soon as possible. After all, many retirees may think something is better than nothing and our government is bound to make some changes to the program.

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Topics: Social Security, Retirement, Tia M. Lee, Wealth Management

By Tia M. Lee | February 19, 2014

Are taxes eating away at your Social Security benefits?

In 1983, Congress passed a series of amendments that led to the taxation of up to 50 percent of Social Security benefits, and in 1993, a second tier was added that taxed 85 percent of the benefits. Today, single retirees with provisional income above $25,000 and couples with provisional income above $32,000 will be required to make a special tax calculation for the Social Security benefits they received. In short, the term provisional income is a special phrase used for the purpose of defining the tax on Social Security benefits. The additional income tax generated by these amendments goes directly back into the Social Security fund. At the time of the amendments, the thought was that retirees generating this level of income could afford to lose a little bit of their Social Security benefits to income taxes.

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Topics: Social Security, Retirement, Tia M. Lee, Taxes, Income Tax and Estate Planning

By Tia M. Lee | December 4, 2013

The Benefits of Delaying Social Security

Following up on my recent Social Security-related post, this piece will cover why it can be beneficial to delay claiming social security benefits at times. Social Security beneficiaries born before 1954 can begin receiving benefits as early as age 62 or as late as age 70 -- the majority of the strategies to maximize a person's benefits are built around when to claim benefits between these ages.

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Topics: Social Security, Retirement, Tia M. Lee, Wealth Management