Articles for June 2018

Young Children are Targets for Identity Theft

We’re becoming savvier to identity theft and taking care of our personal information, both online and in the physical world. Perhaps it is this sophistication that has criminals turning to stealing the identity of children. Over 66% of such thefts are against children under the age of 8. Scammers practicing child I.D. theft made $2.6 Billion in 2017. The theft can often take years, even decades, to detect. Imagine leaving home for college and being unable to rent your first apartment because of thousands of dollars in previously unknown debt. Or, being unable to get that first “for emergencies only” credit card because some criminal has already obtained cards using your name and Social Security number.

Making this problem even worse? Sixty percent of the fraudsters have some relation to the child. Carefully secure your children’s personal information, such as their Social Security number as well as important documents like their birth certificate. If fraud is detected, contact the major credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian, TransUnion) to examine the credit file and place a security freeze if you are in a state that allows this. This should only be done in cases of fraud, though. If your state does not allow freezing, monitor your children’s credit reports, contact companies involved with these debts, and file a complaint with police.1

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

Website: www.cfgiowa.com

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.

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.

Citations.

1 – washingtonpost.com/news/get-there/wp/2018/04/24/why-does-a-2-year-old-have-a-credit-card-how-to-protect-your-children-from-identity-theft [4/24/18]

 

 

Why Medicare Should Be Part of Your Retirement Planning

The premiums and coverages vary, and you must realize the differences. 

Medicare takes a little time to understand. As you approach age 65, familiarize yourself with its coverage options and their costs and limitations.

Certain features of Medicare can affect health care costs and coverage. Some retirees may do okay with original Medicare (Parts A and B), others might find it lacking and decide to supplement original Medicare with Part C, Part D, or Medigap coverage. In some cases, that may mean paying more for senior health care per month than you initially figured.

How much do Medicare Part A and Part B cost, and what do they cover? Part A is usually free; Part B is not. Part A is hospital insurance and covers up to 100 days of hospital care, home health care, nursing home care, and hospice care. Part B covers doctor visits, outpatient procedures, and lab work. You pay for Part B with monthly premiums, and your Part B premium is based on your income. In 2018, the basic monthly Part B premium is $134; higher-earning Medicare recipients pay more per month. You also typically shoulder 20% of Part B costs after paying the yearly deductible, which is $183 in 2018.1

The copays and deductibles linked to original Medicare can take a bite out of retirement income. In addition, original Medicare does not cover dental, vision, or hearing care, or prescription medicines, or health care services outside the U.S. It pays for no more than 100 consecutive days of skilled nursing home care. These out-of-pocket costs may lead you to look for supplemental Medicare coverage and to plan other ways of paying for long-term care.1,2 

Medigap policies help Medicare recipients with some of these copays and deductibles. Sold by private companies, these health care policies will pay a share of certain out-of-pocket medical costs (i.e., costs greater than what original Medicare covers for you). You must have original Medicare coverage in place to purchase one. The Medigap policies being sold today do not offer prescription drug coverage. A monthly premium on a Medigap policy for a 65-year-old man may run from $150-250, so keep that cost range in mind if you are considering Medigap coverage.2,3

In 2020, the two most popular kinds of Medigap plans – Medigap C and Medigap F – will vanish. These plans pay the Medicare Part B deductible, and Medigap policies of that type are being phased out due to the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act. Come 2019, you will no longer be able to enroll in them.4

Part D plans cover some (certainly not all) prescription drug expenses. Monthly premiums are averaging $33.50 this year for these standalone plans, which are offered by private insurers. Part D plans currently have yearly deductibles of less than $500.2,5

Some people choose a Part C (Medicare Advantage) plan over original Medicare. These plans, offered by private insurers and approved by Medicare, combine Part A, Part B, and usually Part D coverage and often some vision, dental, and hearing benefits. You pay an additional, minor monthly premium besides your standard Medicare premium for Part C coverage. Some Medicare Advantage plans are health maintenance organizations (HMOs); others, preferred provider organizations (PPOs).6

If you want a Part C plan, should you select an HMO or PPO? About two-thirds of Part C plan enrollees choose HMOs. There is a cost difference. In 2017, the average HMO monthly premium was $29. The average regional PPO monthly premium was $35, while the mean premium for a local PPO was $62.6

HMO plans usually restrict you to doctors within the plan network. If you are a snowbird who travels frequently, you may be out of the Part C plan’s network area for weeks or months and risk paying out-of-network medical expenses from your savings. With PPO plans, you can see out-of-network providers and see specialists without referrals from primary care physicians.6

Now, what if you retire before age 65? COBRA aside, you are looking at either arranging private health insurance coverage or going uninsured until you become eligible for Medicare. You must also factor this possible cost into your retirement planning. The earliest possible date you can arrange Medicare coverage is the first day of the month in which your birthday occurs.5

Medicare planning is integral to your retirement planning. Should you try original Medicare for a while? Should you enroll in a Part C HMO with the goal of keeping your overall out-of-pocket health care expenses lower? There is also the matter of eldercare and the potential need for interim coverage (which will not be cheap) if you retire prior to 65. Discuss these matters with the financial professional you know and trust in your next conversation.

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

Website: www.cfgiowa.com

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.

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.

Citations.

1 – medicare.gov/your-medicare-costs/costs-at-a-glance/costs-at-glance.html [5/21/18]

2 – cnbc.com/2018/05/03/medicare-doesnt-cover-everything-heres-how-to-avoid-surprises.html [5/3/18]

3 – medicare.gov/supplement-other-insurance/medigap/whats-medigap.html [5/21/18]

4 – fool.com/retirement/2018/02/05/heads-up-the-most-popular-medigap-plans-are-disapp.aspx [2/5/18]

5 – money.usnews.com/money/retirement/medicare/articles/your-guide-to-medicare-coverage [5/2/18]

6 – cnbc.com/2017/10/18/heres-how-to-snag-the-best-medicare-advantage-plan.html [10/18/17]

Wealth Management with Memory Disorders

What steps can a family take?

Besides impacting lives and relationships, dementia can also impact family finances. It may call for another family member to assume money management responsibilities for a parent, grandparent, or sibling. It may increase the risk of financial exploitation, even as we do our best to guard against it.

Just how many older adults have memory disorders? Well, here are two recent estimates. The Chicago Health and Aging Project figures that nearly a third of Americans 85 and older have Alzheimer’s disease. The National Institute on Aging sponsored a study, which concluded that 14% of Americans age 71 and older have dementia to some degree.1

Older women may be the most vulnerable to all this. A new Merrill Lynch and Age Wave study notes that after age 65, women have twice the projected risk of Alzheimer’s that men do.2  

In the best-case scenario, parents or grandparents acknowledge the risk. They lay out financial maps and instructions, telling adult children or grandchildren who love them dearly about the details of their finances. They involve the financial professional they have long known and trusted and introduce them to the next generation. All this communication occurs while the elder still has a sound mind.

Absent that kind of communication and foresight, some catching up will be in order. The kids will have two learning curves in front of them: one to understand the finances of their elders and another one in which they discover the degree of care they can capably provide. The stress of these two learning curves can be overwhelming. Asking professionals for help is only reasonable.

The earlier the basic estate planning elements are in place, the better. This means a will, a durable power of attorney, a health care proxy, and possibly a revocable living trust. In cases of significant wealth or a complex personal history, more sophisticated estate planning vehicles may be needed. If a durable power of attorney is in place, another person has the ability to act financially in the best interest of the person with dementia.1

Children and grandchildren must also confer about major decisions. What kind of assisted living facility would be best for dad? How much of mom’s retirement savings should be used for her eldercare? How do we convince dad that he should not manage his investments day-to-day anymore? What do we do now that mom seems totally unaware she has to make an IRA withdrawal? These will be hard conversations, trying decisions. If they never occur, however, the household financial damage may grow worse.1,3

Financial inattention or incompetence may be one of the first signals of Alzheimer’s disease or another form of dementia. The National Institute on Aging explains that difficulty paying for an item in a store or figuring out a tip at a restaurant could amount to early warning signs; trouble counting change or reading a bank or investment statement may also reflect cognitive impairment. These instances may be harbingers of problems to come – unpaid bills, impulsive and questionable investment decisions, and unwise credit card purchases.4 

Should a household sign up for Social Security’s representative payee program? This may be a good idea. Many retirees have never heard of this option, which lets a designated, approved second party receive and manage monthly Social Security benefits on their behalf. The monthly benefit is sent to that representative, who must document to Social Security that the money was spent in the senior’s best interest. According to the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College, just 9% of Social Security recipients older than 70 with dementia were enrolled in this program in 2017.2,3

Elders suffering from such disorders often resist relinquishing financial control. Allowing limited financial independence (credit cards with lower limits, access to some cash for discretionary spending) may make the transition easier. Loved ones can also emphasize that seniors are so often victims of fraud and other forms of financial elder abuse.

The time to think about these things is now. We have all read horror stories of elders owing years of back taxes, facing lawsuits from creditors, or falling prey to investment scams. Your parents, grandparents, or siblings should not be left to experience such crises.

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

Website: www.cfgiowa.com

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.

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.

Citations.

1 – forbes.com/sites/nextavenue/2017/10/31/managing-finances-for-a-loved-one-with-dementia [10/31/18]

2 – barrons.com/articles/the-stubborn-wealth-gap-between-men-and-women-1524099601 [4/18/18]

3 – usatoday.com/story/money/columnist/powell/2017/09/16/financial-help-retirees-cognitive-impairment-dementia/627326001/ [9/16/17]

4 – nia.nih.gov/health/managing-money-problems-alzheimers-disease [5/18/17]