Social Security Press Release: Retirement Benefits Increasing 2.8% in 2019

Press Release

Thursday, October 11, 2018
For Immediate Release
Mark Hinkle, Acting Press Officer
press.office@ssa.gov

Social Security Announces 2.8 Percent Benefit Increase for 2019

Social Security and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits for more than 67 million Americans will increase 2.8 percent in 2019, the Social Security Administration announced today.

The 2.8 percent cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) will begin with benefits payable to more than 62 million Social Security beneficiaries in January 2019. Increased payments to more than 8 million SSI beneficiaries will begin on December 31, 2018. (Note: some people receive both Social Security and SSI benefits). The Social Security Act ties the annual COLA to the increase in the Consumer Price Index as determined by the Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Some other adjustments that take effect in January of each year are based on the increase in average wages. Based on that increase, the maximum amount of earnings subject to the Social Security tax (taxable maximum) will increase to $132,900 from $128,400.

Social Security and SSI beneficiaries are normally notified by mail in early December about their new benefit amount. This year, for the first time, most people who receive Social Security payments will be able to view their COLA notice online through their my Social Security account. People may create or access their my Social Securityaccount online at www.socialsecurity.gov/myaccount.

Information about Medicare changes for 2019, when announced, will be available at www.medicare.gov. For Social Security beneficiaries receiving Medicare, Social Security will not be able to compute their new benefit amount until after the Medicare premium amounts for 2019 are announced. Final 2019 benefit amounts will be communicated to beneficiaries in December through the mailed COLA notice and mySocial Security Message Center.

The Social Security Act provides for how the COLA is calculated. To read more, please visit www.socialsecurity.gov/cola.

Originally Posted right here: Social Security Press Release: Retirement Benefits Increasing 2.8% in 2019

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Social Security Matters

Need to access information about your Social Security benefits? The Social Security Administration no longer sends out paper statements, so understanding how to gain access to your benefits information or apply for benefits can all be done online. Here’s a direct link to their site. While on the site, you can also sign up for the blog for helpful updates about Social Security.

First Seen right here: Social Security Matters

Entertainment Gone, but Business Meals Still Deductible – IRS Issues Guidance on TCJA

Hot off the press, the IRS has announced clarification on the deductibility of entertainment, amusement, recreation, and business meals as a result of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act:

WASHINGTON — The Internal Revenue Service issued guidance today on the business expense deduction for meals and entertainment following law changes in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA).

 

The 2017 TCJA eliminated the deduction for any expenses related to activities generally considered entertainment, amusement or recreation.

 

Taxpayers may continue to deduct 50 percent of the cost of business meals if the taxpayer (or an employee of the taxpayer) is present and the food or beverages are not considered lavish or extravagant. The meals may be provided to a current or potential business customer, client, consultant or similar business contact.

 

Food and beverages that are provided during entertainment events will not be considered entertainment if purchased separately from the event.

 

Prior to 2018, a business could deduct up to 50 percent of entertainment expenses directly related to the active conduct of a trade or business or, if incurred immediately before or after a bona fide business discussion, associated with the active conduct of a trade or business.

 

The Department of the Treasury and the IRS expect to publish proposed regulations clarifying when business meal expenses are deductible and what constitutes entertainment. Until the proposed regulations are effective, taxpayers can rely on guidance in Notice 2018-76.

Original Post over here: Entertainment Gone, but Business Meals Still Deductible – IRS Issues Guidance on TCJA

Dunston Financial Group and Investor’s Business Daily on the Power of Business Partnerships

At Dunston Financial Group, we enjoy working with our partners in the press. Our latest contribution, in Investor’s Business Daily, is geared more for financial professionals than it is consumers, and it contains some of our thoughts on the power of forming powerful business partnerships.

Erin Hadary, a certified financial planner in Denver, Colo., often conducts client meetings with her colleague — another advisor — seated at the table. She says the arrangement works well because they complement each other and work together to host more substantive conversations with clients.

The entire article can be found here.

Original Post on: Dunston Financial Group and Investor’s Business Daily on the Power of Business Partnerships

New Addition to the Dunston Financial Group Team

Dunston Financial Group is proud to welcome Terri Hinrichs to the team as our Client Service Manager.

After owning her own financial planning practice for 17 years as a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ practitioner (CFP®) and Chartered Financial Consultant (ChFC®), Terri is a seasoned financial planning advocate who is committed to providing clients with outstanding financial plan implementation and customer service support. Terri’s unique experience enables her to anticipate and ultimately resolve client needs while understanding how those needs fit within the comprehensive financial planning process. Providing the clients of Dunston Financial Group with “raving fan” service is Terri’s ultimate mission.

As a Colorado native, Terri has raised her family together with her husband Eric to enjoy all the outdoor activities the state has to offer.  She also enjoys blues guitar music and hopes to someday master playing the guitar. Terri especially loves to spend her free time with her grandchildren and children.

Originally Posted over here: New Addition to the Dunston Financial Group Team

The End of the Fiduciary Rule and What It Means to You

A post about the squashing of the Department of Labor’s Fiduciary Rule has been long overdue. In case you haven’t heard, in June of this year, the Obama-era Fiduciary Rule-—a rule that sought to uphold more financial institutions and advisors to a fiduciary standard of care and obligated them to act in their clients’ best interest—was overturned and abolished. The Department of Labor’s research found that Americans lose $17 billion a year due to conflicts of interest, namely in the form of hidden and/or excessive fees. Our firm can attest to this: This year alone we’ve saved our clients hundreds of thousands of dollars in unnecessary fees and financial commitments from products they didn’t need and that were sold to them in a less-than-transparent manner. One case that is still ongoing involves a U.S. investment advisory firm that was just fined $8M from the SEC for several securities violations, some of which included lying to consumers by telling them they were “fee-only” financial advisors when they were in fact earning sales commissions, failing to disclose significant conflicts of interest, and substantially misrepresenting product tax benefits. There’s no doubt that with the overturning of the Fiduciary Rule, Wall Street has won, and Main Street consumers have lost an important battle.

What does this mean to you as a consumer? It primarily means that you will have to continue to do your due diligence when seeking out financial advice and products. The one bit of good news about all of this is that many consumers now understand what it means for an advisor to be a fiduciary, and they’ve learned that not all advisors are legally held to a fiduciary standard of care. Consumers will want to continue to ensure that any advisor with whom they work is indeed a fiduciary, i.e. that the advisor is obligated to provide advice that is in their best interest and is not being motivated by a desire for sales commissions or any other form of conflicted compensation. The best way to avoid these conflicts of interest is to work with an advisor who is a member of the National Association of Personal Financial Advisors (NAPFA). All NAPFA advisors are not only CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ professionals, but they are also fee-only planners, which means they’ve taken a fiduciary oath to never get paid in the form of sales commissions, and all of their compensation comes directly from the client on a fee-for-service basis. This is not to be confused with “fee-based;” fee-based advisors are what are known as dually-registered advisors, which means they can still get paid in the form of sales commissions and provide advice that is not in the client’s best interest. It’s also important to make sure any advisor with whom you work acts in a fiduciary capacity 100% of the time. Some advisors, namely fee-based advisors, can operate as a fiduciary for one part of an engagement, and then put on their sales hat to sell commission-based products for another part of the same engagement.

The SEC is currently working on another consumer protection rule, but there are are still a lot of unknowns about whether or not its final product will provide any useful protections for consumers. In the meantime, it’s a “buyer-beware” environment out there and, as was the case prior to the fiduciary rule, a consumer’s best course of action is simply to work with a fee-only financial planner who acts in a fiduciary capacity 100% of the time.

Article Source on: The End of the Fiduciary Rule and What It Means to You

Dunston Financial Group and MarketWatch on How to Handle Involuntary Retirement

As specialists in retirement planning, Dunston Financial Group was happy to work with Morey Stettner and MarketWatch on how to deal with an involuntary retirement.

“Depression is the No. 1 emotion that comes up,” said Lynn Dunston, a certified financial planner in Denver. “Your identity disappears suddenly. Your pride gets hurt. You’re used to having influence in the community and then it’s gone” when you’re forced to retire.”

 

“Then you’ll need to rethink what retirement looks like,” Dunston said. “If you can’t ski or bike, you need to be open to something else like traveling or spending more time with family. You don’t want your plans to be so rigid that they can’t be undone and redefined.”

 

Speaking of flexibility, allocate your assets to maximize cash flow if you must retire earlier than planned. Dunston encourages clients approaching retirement to set aside sufficient cash reserves to cover their income needs in an emergency.

 

“Have some intentionality in where you pull your money from,” he said. “Creating a retirement withdrawal strategy helps your assets last longer” and prevents you from, say, selling a stock at an inopportune time to cover your living expenses.

You can read the full article here.

Originally Posted over here: Dunston Financial Group and MarketWatch on How to Handle Involuntary Retirement

Moving to Be Near the Grandkids in Retirement: Dunston Financial Group Featured in Kiplinger Magazine

Thinking about moving to be near the grandkids in retirement? Our firm was grateful to collaborate with Jane Bennett Clark and Kiplinger Magazine on this important topic facing retirees.

To improve your odds of making the right choice, first identify your motivation for moving, says Lynn Dunston, a CFP in Denver. For instance, if getting help from your daughter with errands or with personal care—now or later—is a factor, find out whether she is willing and able to take on that role. “Put it all on the table,” says Dunston.

You can read the full article here.

Original Post right here: Moving to Be Near the Grandkids in Retirement: Dunston Financial Group Featured in Kiplinger Magazine

Why It Can Pay to Work with a Fiduciary Financial Planner

A really good question that we regularly get asked at our firm is, “What is the return on my investment if I hire you be my financial planner?” This question can be answered in a variety of ways, both quantitatively and qualitatively. Without going into too much detail on how a financial planner can provide value, I’d like to quickly share the results of just four of our recent financial plans, and how we were able to save just a handful of clients over $200,000 a year.

One of the things our firm regularly does for clients is analyze their investment holdings. Sometimes these investments are traditional stocks and bonds, and sometimes they’re cash value life insurance and annuities. We’ve recently analyzed six insurance contracts that were comprised of both annuities and life insurance. After doing extensive research on all of these contracts, it became apparent that our clients were sold products that were not in their best interest. While it doesn’t always make sense to disregard these products, in these cases the conclusion was clear: Our clients were sold products they didn’t need, and they were paying far too much for them. Fast-forward to the end result: For just four clients, we were able to save a combined $207,340 a year in annualized contract fees and unnecessary expenses. This is just a very small sampling of the kind of quantitative value a good fiduciary advisor can provide. And, given that the DOL Fiduciary Rule was just killed this week, it’s going to be increasingly important for consumers to do their homework and only work with a fee-only advisor who acts in a fiduciary capacity 100% of the time.

First Posted right here: Why It Can Pay to Work with a Fiduciary Financial Planner