Articles for June 2016

Moving Into a Nursing Home Facility

What you and your loved ones need to know.

At some point, someone you love may make the transition from living at home to residing at an assisted-living facility or nursing home. When should that transition occur, and what factors must be considered along the way? And what don’t these facilities tell you?

When is it time? If an elder is a) safe and content at home, b) in reasonably stable health, c) can draw on personal or family resources for in-home care, d) has a sufficient “rotation” of family or professional caregivers available so as not to exhaust loved ones, then there may be no compelling reason for that elder to enter a nursing home or assisted-living facility.

If, on the other hand, an elder’s health notably worsens and caregiving strains your own health, relationships and/or resources, then the time may have arrived.

If it is time, is a nursing home really necessary? It may not be. Keep in mind that long-term care insurance will often pay for home health aides, adult day care, and forms of at-home nursing. This is called respite care, and perhaps 10-15 hours of these services per week will do. LTC insurance covers respite care. Even without LTC coverage, this level of care may fit into your budget.1

Will an assisted-living facility suffice? If an elder is ambulatory and reasonably healthy, it might. Assisted-living (allowing an elder to have their own space plus quality care) costs much less than nursing home care, usually tens of thousands of dollars less annually. A Place for Mom’s Senior Living Price Index estimates the savings at $1,600-$2,300 a month. Most people pay for it using a combination of long-term care insurance and private funds.2

Is an assisted-living facility several steps above a nursing home? Its marketing will tell you so; truth be told, many assisted-living facilities are comparatively brighter, more comfortable and cheaper than nursing homes.

Keep in mind, however: many assisted-living facilities do not offer their residents 24/7 medical attention, and costs may climb if your loved one needs or wants more than the basics in terms of care or comfort. According to Genworth’s 2016 Cost of Care Survey, the median yearly cost of a semi-private room in a nursing home now exceeds $82,000.3,4

Are insurers raising premiums for LTC policies? Yes, significantly. As a Money article notes, yearly premiums for the more expensive policies can now exceed $2,300 for a 55-year-old man and $4,406 for a 55-year-old woman. Annual premium increases of 10% or more (sometimes much more) have occurred with disturbing frequency in this decade.5

Is long-term care insurance worth the cost, with the possibility that benefits may go unused? In some cases, it may not be. As CNBC notes, households with $2 million or more in assets may not need LTC coverage at all, while those with savings of less than $100,000 may get much of the help they need from Medicaid when the time comes.6

Alternatives have surfaced to traditional LTC insurance coverage. Recently, “hybrid” life insurance policies (and other life insurance products) have emerged that offer an add-on LTC benefit to consumers, for a price. Short-term care policies, while long available through certain insurance companies, are getting a second look. Some have benefit periods as long as a year, and they may be the only option for seniors with conditions that would disqualify them for an LTC policy.4,5,6

What isn’t said about eldercare? Nursing homes and assisted-living facilities are not predisposed to tell you about the downsides to their communities. So what isn’t usually expressed on the tour or in the brochure?

First, let’s talk about nursing homes. Genworth’s 2016 survey notes that the national median price for the typical shared room at a nursing home is $225 per day. Imagine handling that without help from LTC insurance or Medicaid. (Medicare will not pay for long-term nursing home care or home health care.)3,5

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, an elder is twice as likely to suffer a fall in a nursing home as he or she is in the community. In fact, the CDC says that the average nursing home patient suffers 2.6 falls per year and that physical restraints do nothing to reduce the risk. If you have ever visited a nursing home and noticed a preponderance of residents in wheelchairs, it may be a response to liability as much as disability. A corollary to this: if residents are discouraged from being ambulatory, their leg strength may quickly diminish.7

If your parent or grandparent has known and trusted a family doctor for decades, there is a risk that the relationship may wane or end after a move to an eldercare facility. Nursing home residents are placed under the care of one or more staff physicians who more or less become their primary doctors.

The rules and regulations governing care at assisted-living facilities can vary greatly among states and counties, and, while nursing home ratings are relatively easy to find online, reviews of assisted-living facilities are not.

When considering an assisted-living facility, it is worth remembering that more than 80% of residential care facilities are for-profit businesses; roughly 40% of these facilities are outposts of national chains. In some cases, that can be a plus; in other cases, a minus.8

You may know someone whose parent or grandparent was asked to leave an assisted-living community. This circumstance isn’t all that rare, especially if an elder copes poorly with the advance of dementia. If a resident is particularly difficult, the possibility of eviction may arise.

When the time comes, stay involved. Our lives are often busier than we want them to be, but our elders count on us to be visible and engaged in their lives after they enter assisted-living facilities or nursing homes. Your vigilance and support can make a difference in the experience for the one you love.

Mike Moffitt may be reached at ph# 641-782-5577 or email: mikem@cfgiowa.com
Website: www.cfgiowa.com

Michael Moffitt is a Registered Representative with and Securities are offered through LPL Financial, Member FINRA/SIPC. Investments advice offered through Advantage Investment Management (AIM), a registered investment advisor. Cornerstone Financial Group and AIM are separate entities from LPL Financial.

This material was prepared by MarketingPro, Inc., and does not necessarily represent the views of the presenting party, nor their affiliates. This information has been derived from sources believed to be accurate. Please note – investing involves risk, and past performance is no guarantee of future results. The publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting or other professional services. If assistance is needed, the reader is advised to engage the services of a competent professional. This information should not be construed as investment, tax or legal advice and may not be relied on for the purpose of avoiding any Federal tax penalty. This is neither a solicitation nor recommendation to purchase or sell any investment or insurance product or service, and should not be relied upon as such. All indices are unmanaged and are not illustrative of any particular investment.

Citations.
1 – nextavenue.org/take-break-caregiving/ [5/16/16]
2 – aplaceformom.com/senior-care-resources/articles/elder-care-costs [6/29/15]
3 – genworth.com/about-us/industry-expertise/cost-of-care.html [4/16]
4 – kiplinger.com/article/insurance/T027-C000-S004-short-term-care-insurance-policies-on-the-rise.html [10/15]
5 – time.com/money/4250147/long-term-care-insurance-rising-premiums/ [3/8/16]
6 – cnbc.com/2015/01/28/weighing-the-pros-cons-of-long-term-care-coverage.html [1/28/15]
7 – cdc.gov/HomeandRecreationalSafety/Falls/nursing.html [6/30/15]
8 – aplaceformom.com/blog/4-22-15-non-and-for-profit-assisted-living/ [4/22/15]

Life Insurance … is it time?

Have you been putting it off?

A March 2011 survey from Genworth Financial and the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business found that almost 70% of single parents and 45% of married parents were living without any coverage.1

Why don’t more young adults buy life insurance? Shopping for life insurance may seem confusing, boring, or unnecessary. Yet when you have kids, get married, buy a house or live a lifestyle funded by significant salaries, the need arises.

Finding the right policy may be simpler than you think. There are two basic types of life insurance: term and cash value. Cash value (or “permanent”) life insurance policies offer death benefits and some of the characteristics of an investment – a percentage of the money you spend to fund the policy goes into a savings program. Cash value policies have correspondingly higher premiums than term policies, which give you death benefits only and have terms of 10 years or longer. Term may be a good choice for young adults because it is relatively inexpensive. But there is an economic downside to term life coverage: if you outlive the term of the policy, you and/or your loved ones get nothing back. Term life policies can be renewed (though many are not) and some can be converted to permanent coverage.2

The key question is: how long do you plan to keep the policy? If you don’t want to pay premiums on an insurance policy for more than 10 years, then term life stands out as the most attractive option. If you are just looking for a short-term hedge against calamity, that’s the whole reason behind term life insurance. If you’re getting into estate planning, then permanent life insurance may prove a better choice.

Confer, compare and contrast. Talk with a financial or insurance professional you trust before plunking down money for a policy. That professional can perform a term-versus-permanent analysis for you and help you weigh per-policy variables.

Mike Moffitt may be reached at Ph: 641-782-5577 or email: mikem@cfgiowa.com

Michael Moffitt is a Registered Representative with and Securities are offered through LPL Financial, Member FINRA/SIPC. Investments advice offered through Advantage Investment Management (AIM), a registered investment advisor. Cornerstone Financial Group and AIM are separate entities from LPL Financial.

This material was prepared by MarketingLibrary.Net Inc., and does not necessarily represent the views of the presenting party, nor their affiliates. This information should not be construed as investment, tax or legal advice. All information is believed to be from reliable sources; however, we make no representation as to its completeness or accuracy.

Citations.
1 – mainstreet.com/article/moneyinvesting/insurance/study-70-single-parents-forego-life-insurance [3/25/11]. More recent data may alter this assessment.
2 – money.msn.com/life-insurance/term-or-permanent-life-insurance.aspx [3/16/11]

How Can You Make Your Retirement Money Last?

These spending and investing precepts may encourage its longevity.

All retirees want their money to last a lifetime. There is no guarantee it will, but, in pursuit of that goal, households may want to adopt a couple of spending and investing precepts.

One precept: observing the 4% rule. This classic retirement planning principle works as follows: a retiree household withdraws 4% of its amassed retirement savings in year one of retirement, and withdraws 4% plus a little more every year thereafter – that is, the annual withdrawals are gradually adjusted upward from the base 4% amount in response to inflation.

The 4% rule was first formulated back in the 1990s by an influential financial planner named William Bengen. He was trying to figure out the “safest” withdrawal rate for a retiree; one that could theoretically allow his or her savings to hold up for 30 years given certain conditions (more about those conditions in a moment). Bengen ran various 30-year scenarios using different withdrawal rates in relation to historical market returns, and concluded that a 4% withdrawal rate (adjusted incrementally for inflation) made the most sense.1

For the 4% rule to “work,” two fundamental conditions must be met. One, the retiree has to invest in a way that will allow his or her retirement savings to grow along with inflation. Two, there must not be a sideways or bear market occurring.1

As sideways and bear markets have not been the historical norm, following the 4% rule could be wise indeed in a favorable market climate. Michael Kitces, another influential financial planner, has noted that, historically, a retiree strictly observing the 4% rule would have doubled his or her starting principal at the end of 30 years more than two-thirds of the time.1

In today’s low-yield environment, the 4% rule has its critics. They argue that a 3% withdrawal rate gives a retiree a better prospect for sustaining invested assets over 30 years. In addition, retiree households are not always able to strictly follow a 3% or 4% withdrawal rate. Dividends and Required Minimum Distributions may effectively increase the yearly withdrawal. Retirees should review their income sources and income prospects with the help of a financial professional to determine what withdrawal percentage is appropriate given their particular income needs and their need for long-term financial stability.

Another precept: adopting a “bucketing” approach. In this strategy, a retiree household assigns one-third of its savings to equities, one-third of its savings to fixed-income investments, and another third of its savings to cash. Each of these “buckets” has a different function.

The cash bucket is simply an emergency fund stocked with money that represents the equivalent of 2-3 years of income the household does not receive as a result of pensions or similarly scheduled payouts. In other words, if a couple gets $35,000 a year from Social Security and needs $55,000 a year to live comfortably, the cash bucket should hold $40,000-60,000.

The household replenishes the cash bucket over time with investment returns from the equities and fixed-income buckets. Overall, the household should invest with the priority of growing its money; though the investment approach could tilt conservative if the individual or couple has little tolerance for risk.

Since growth investing is an objective of the bucket approach, equity investments are bought and held. Examining history, that is not a bad idea: the S&P 500 has never returned negative over a 15-year period. In fact, it would have returned 6.5% for a hypothetical buy-and-hold investor across its worst 15-year stretch in recent memory – the 15 years ending in March 2009, when it bottomed out in the last bear market.2

Assets in the fixed-income bucket may be invested as conservatively as the household wishes. Some fixed-income investments are more conservative than others – which is to say, some are less affected by fluctuations in interest rates and Wall Street turbulence than others. While the most conservative, fixed-income investments are currently yielding very little, they may yield more in the future as interest rates presumably continue to rise.

There has been great concern over what rising interest rates will do to this investment class, but, if history is any guide, short-term pain may be alleviated by ultimately greater yields. Last December, Vanguard Group projected that, if the Federal Reserve gradually raised the benchmark interest rate to 2.0% across the three-and-a-half years ending in July 2019, a typical investment fund containing intermediate-term fixed-income securities would suffer a -0.15% total return for 2016, but return positively in the following years.3

Avoid overspending and invest with growth in mind. That is the basic message from all this, and, while following that simple instruction is not guaranteed to make your retirement savings last a lifetime, it may help you to sustain those savings for the long run.

Mike Moffitt may be reached at ph: 641-782-5577 or email: rsmlbyer@mchsi.com
Website: www.cfgiowa.com

Michael Moffitt is a Registered Representative with and Securities are offered through LPL Financial, Member FINRA/SIPC. Investments advice offered through Advantage Investment Management (AIM), a registered investment advisor. Cornerstone Financial Group and AIM are separate entities from LPL Financial.

This material was prepared by MarketingPro, Inc., and does not necessarily represent the views of the presenting party, nor their affiliates. This information has been derived from sources believed to be accurate. Please note – investing involves risk, and past performance is no guarantee of future results. The publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting or other professional services. If assistance is needed, the reader is advised to engage the services of a competent professional. This information should not be construed as investment, tax or legal advice and may not be relied on for the purpose of avoiding any Federal tax penalty. This is neither a solicitation nor recommendation to purchase or sell any investment or insurance product or service, and should not be relied upon as such. All indices are unmanaged and are not illustrative of any particular investment.

Citations.
1 – money.cnn.com/2016/04/20/retirement/retirement-4-rule/ [4/20/16]
2 – time.com/money/4161045/retirement-income/ [5/22/16]
3 – tinyurl.com/hjfggnp [12/2/15]

The Things Most Likely to Kill Us

What are the biggest risks to our lives? Some are overblown.

What are the major risks to our lives? If we look at the statistics of what claims lives, some of our collective fears look unfounded.

According to the Centers for Disease Control’s most recent tally, 614,438 Americans died of heart disease in 2014, and another 591,699 from cancer. Chronic lower respiratory diseases (not including the flu and pneumonia) took 147,101 lives in that year, while 136,053 people died accidental deaths. Strokes claimed 133,103 lives, Alzheimer’s disease 93,541 more and diabetes another 76,488. Those were America’s leading causes of death.1

Notice what that list did not include. It did not include war, terrorism, murder, plane crashes, natural disasters, or the Zika or Ebola viruses. Many of us fear these things, but they are hardly prominent causes of American mortality. Our perception of risk may be skewed. You may know someone who is afraid to fly, but who consistently smokes. You may know someone who fears dying in a terrorist attack, yet drives aggressively and recklessly on the freeway.

Note also that many of the mortality causes on the CDC list may be preventable. Lifestyle choices may help us avoid certain forms of cancer, diabetes, stroke, or lung and heart disease.

Depression is a comparatively underpublicized risk to our lives. In 2014, CDC statistics show that 42,773 Americans died from suicide or forms of “intentional self-harm.” Suicide was the tenth biggest killer in America that year.1

Medical errors may pose a major risk. The medical professionals who treat us are only human, and they can make mistakes. How often do serious mistakes occur? Far too often, according to a team of researchers at Johns Hopkins University’s School of Medicine. This year, that research team published a study in The BMJ (formerly, The British Medical Journal) critiquing the CDC’s figures, asserting that medical mistakes actually represent America’s third-leading cause of death. The CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics does not list doctor and hospital errors as a cause of death, but the researchers estimate that these lapses result in more than 250,000 deaths a year.2

We don’t know exactly when or how we will die, so we can only strive to live well. Avoiding addiction, eating enough fruits and vegetables, controlling our sugar and fat intake; these are all things we are capable of doing. Rather than worry about what might take our lives, we can take better care of ourselves to sustain our health and quality of life.

Mike Moffitt may be reached at ph: 641-782-5577 or email: mikem@cfgiowa.com
Website: www.cfgiowa.com

Michael Moffitt is a Registered Representative with and Securities are offered through LPL Financial, Member FINRA/SIPC. Investments advice offered through Advantage Investment Management (AIM), a registered investment advisor. Cornerstone Financial Group and AIM are separate entities from LPL Financial.

This material was prepared by MarketingPro, Inc., and does not necessarily represent the views of the presenting party, nor their affiliates. This information has been derived from sources believed to be accurate. Please note – investing involves risk, and past performance is no guarantee of future results. The publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting or other professional services. If assistance is needed, the reader is advised to engage the services of a competent professional. This information should not be construed as investment, tax or legal advice and may not be relied on for the purpose of avoiding any Federal tax penalty. This is neither a solicitation nor recommendation to purchase or sell any investment or insurance product or service, and should not be relied upon as such. All indices are unmanaged and are not illustrative of any particular investment.

Citations.
1 – cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/leading-causes-of-death.htm [4/27/16]
2 – newsok.com/article/5496838 [5/7/16]