Articles tagged with: loan

Could Education Debt Shrink Your Social Security Income?

$1.1 billion has been garnished from retirement benefits to pay back old student loans.

Do you have a federal student loan that needs to be repaid? You may be surprised at what the government might do to collect that money someday, if it is not paid back soon enough.

If that debt lingers too long, you may find your Social Security income reduced. So far, the Department of the Treasury has carved $1.1 billion out of Social Security benefits to try and reduce outstanding student loan debt. It has a long way to go: of that $1.1 billion collected, more than 70% has simply been applied to fees and interest rather than principal.1,2

How many baby boomers & elders are being affected by these garnishments? Roughly 114,000 Social Security recipients older than 50. In the big picture, that number may seem insignificant. After all, 22 million Americans have outstanding federal student loans.1,2,3

What is not insignificant is how quickly the ranks of these seniors have increased. According to the Government Accountability Office, the number of Americans older than 65 who have been hit with these income cuts has risen 540% since 2006.2

A college education is no longer an experience reserved for the young. As older adults have retrained themselves for new careers or sought advanced degrees, they have assumed more education debt.

The financial strain of this mid-life college debt is showing. Since 2005, the population of Americans aged 65 or older with outstanding education loans has grown 385%. The GAO says roughly three-quarters of those loans have been arranged for the borrower’s own higher education.2

Separately, data from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York shows that student loan balances held by Americans older than 60 grew from $6 billion in 2004 to $58 billion in 2014. No other age group saw education debt accumulate so dramatically in that time.1

In 2015, the GAO found that a majority of federally backed student loans held by borrowers older than 75 were in default – that is, a year or more had transpired without a payment. Overall, just one in six federal student loans are in default.1,3

Paying off a student loan in retirement is a real challenge. Household cash flow may not readily allow it, and the debt may not be top of mind. Even declaring bankruptcy may not relieve you of the obligation. The Treasury has the authority to garnish as much as 15% of your Social Security income to attack the debt, and it can claim federal tax refunds and wages as well.1

Is this the right way to solve this problem? It seems like cruel and unusual financial punishment to some. Taking a 5%, 10%, or 15% bite of a retiree’s monthly Social Security benefit is harsh – possibly harsh enough to induce poverty.

In 2015, more than 67,000 people age 50 and older carrying unsettled federal student loans had their Social Security benefits taken below the poverty level because of these income reductions. A Social Security recipient is allowed to retain at least $750 of a garnished monthly benefit – but that $750 minimum has never been adjusted for inflation since that rule was established in 1996. Last year, the federal government defined the poverty level at monthly income of $990 for an individual.2

Some people file for Social Security without knowing that they have unpaid student loans. As the GAO notes, 43% of the borrowers that had their Social Security incomes docked because of this issue had loans originated at least 20 years earlier.2

Is some forgiveness in order? That can be debated. A student loan is not a gift, and a student borrower is tasked to understand its terms. On the other hand, it is a pity to see people go back to school or train themselves for new careers at 40 or 50 only to carry student debt past their peak income years into retirement.

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 – time.com/money/3913676/student-debt-into-retirement/ [6/30/15]

2 – marketwatch.com/story/more-borrowers-are-losing-social-security-benefits-over-old-student-loans-2016-12-20 [12/20/16]

3 – time.com/money/4284940/student-loan-payments-debt-college/ [4/7/16

Mid-Life Money Errors

If you are between 40 & 60, beware of these financial blunders & assumptions.

Between the ages of 40 and 60, many people increase their commitment to investing and retirement saving. At the same time, many fall prey to some common money blunders and harbor financial assumptions that may be inaccurate.

These errors and suppositions are worth examining, as you do not want to succumb to them. See if you notice any of these behaviors or assumptions creeping into your financial life.

Do you think you need to invest with more risk? If you are behind on retirement saving, you may find yourself wishing for a “silver bullet” investment or wishing you could allocate more of your portfolio to today’s hottest sectors or asset classes so you can catch up. This impulse could backfire. The closer you get to retirement age, the fewer years you have to recoup investment losses. As you age, the argument for diversification and dialing down risk in your portfolio gets stronger and stronger. In the long run, the consistency of your retirement saving effort should help your nest egg grow more than any other factor.

Are you only focusing on building wealth rather than protecting it? Many people begin investing in their twenties or thirties with the idea of making money and a tendency to play the market in one direction – up. As taxes lurk and markets suffer occasional downturns, moving from mere investing to an actual strategy is crucial. At this point, you need to play defense as well as offense.

Have you made saving for retirement a secondary priority? It should be a top priority, even if it becomes secondary for a while due to fate or bad luck. Some families put saving for college first, saving for mom and dad’s retirement second. Remember that college students can apply for financial aid, but retirees cannot. Building college savings ahead of your own retirement savings may leave your young adult children well-funded for the near future, but they may end up taking you in later in life if you outlive your money.

Has paying off your home loan taken precedence over paying off other debts? Owning your home free and clear is a great goal, but if that is what being debt-free means to you, you may end up saddled with crippling consumer debt on the way toward that long-term objective. In June 2015, the average American household carried more than $15,000 in credit card debt alone. It is usually better to attack credit card debt first, thereby freeing up money you can use to invest, save for retirement, build a rainy day fund – and yes, pay the mortgage.1

Have you taken a loan from your workplace retirement plan? Hopefully not, for this is a bad idea for several reasons. One, you are drawing down your retirement savings – invested assets that would otherwise have the capability to grow and compound. Two, you will probably repay the loan via deductions from your paycheck, cutting into your take-home pay. Three, you will probably have to repay the full amount within five years – a term that may not be long as you would like. Four, if you are fired or quit the entire loan amount will likely have to be paid back within 90 days. Five, if you cannot pay the entire amount back and you are younger than 59½, the IRS will characterize the unsettled portion of the loan as a premature distribution from a qualified retirement plan – fully taxable income subject to early withdrawal penalties.2

Do you assume that your peak earning years are straight ahead? Conventional wisdom says that your yearly earnings reach a peak sometime in your mid-fifties or late fifties, but this is not always the case. Those who work in physically rigorous occupations may see their earnings plateau after age 50 – or even age 40. In addition, some industries are shrinking and offer middle-aged workers much less job security than other career fields.

Is your emergency fund now too small? It should be growing gradually to suit your household, and your household may need much greater cash reserves today in a crisis than it once did. If you have no real emergency fund, do what you can now to build one so you don’t have to turn to some predatory lender for expensive money.

Insurance could also give your household some financial stability in an emergency. Disability insurance can help you out if you find yourself unable to work. Life insurance – all the way from a simple final expense policy to a permanent policy that builds cash value – offers another form of financial support in trying times. Keep in mind; insurance policies contain exclusions, limitations, reductions of benefits, and terms for keeping them in force. Your financial professional can provide you with costs and complete details.

Watch out for these mid-life money errors & assumptions. Some are all too casually made. A review of your investment and retirement savings effort may help you recognize or steer clear of them.

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.

There is no assurance that the techniques and strategies discussed are suitable for all investors or will yield positive outcomes. The purchase of certain securities may be required to affect some of the strategies. Investing involves risk including possible loss of principal.

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 – nerdwallet.com/blog/credit-card-data/average-credit-card-debt-household/ [6/25/15]

2 – tinyurl.com/oalk4fx [9/14/14]

 

 

Taking a Loan from Your Retirement Plan = Bad Idea

Why you should refrain from making this move.

Thinking about borrowing money from your 401(k), 403(b), or 457 account? Think twice about that, because these loans are not only risky but injurious to your retirement planning.

A loan of this kind damages your retirement savings prospects. A 401(k), 403(b), or 457 should never be viewed like a savings or checking account. When you withdraw from a bank account, you pull out cash. When you take a loan from your workplace retirement plan, you sell shares of your investments to generate cash. You buy back investment shares as you repay the loan.

So in borrowing from a 401(k), 403(b), or 457, you siphon down your invested retirement assets, leaving a smaller account balance that experiences a smaller degree of compounding. In repaying the loan, you maybe repurchasing investment shares at higher prices than in the past – in other words, you will be buying high. None of this makes financial sense.1

Most plans charge a $75 origination fee for a loan, and of course they charge interest – often around 5%. The interest paid will eventually return to your account, but that interest still represents money that could have remained in the account and remained invested.1

Your contributions to the plan may be halted. Some workplace retirement plans suspend regular employee salary deferrals when a loan is taken. They can resume when you settle the loan.1

Your take-home pay may be docked. Most loans from 401(k), 403(b), and 457 plans are repaid incrementally – the plan subtracts X dollars from your paycheck, month after month, until the amount borrowed is fully restored.1

If you leave your job, you will quickly have to pay 100% of your loan back. This applies if you quit; it applies if you are laid off or fired. You will have 30-60 days (per the terms of the plan) to repay the loan in full, with interest.2

If you are younger than age 59½ and fail to pay the full amount of the loan back, the IRS will characterize any amount not repaid as a premature distribution from a retirement plan – taxable income that is also subject to an early withdrawal penalty.1,2

Even if you have great job security, the loan will probably have to be repaid in full within five years. Most workplace retirement plans set such terms. If the terms are not met, then the unpaid balance becomes a taxable distribution with possible penalties (assuming you will not turn 59½ in the year in which repayment is due). If you default on the loan, the retirement plan may bar you from making future contributions.1

Would you like to be taxed twice? When you borrow from an employee retirement plan, you invite that prospect. One, you will be repaying your loan with after-tax dollars. Two, those dollars will be taxed again when you withdraw them for retirement (unless your plan offers you a Roth option).1

Why go into debt to pay off debt? If you borrow from your retirement plan, you will be assuming one debt to pay off another. It is better to go to a reputable lender for a personal loan; borrowing cash has fewer potential drawbacks.

You should never confuse your retirement plan with a bank account. Some employees seem to do just that – in 2013, Fidelity researched participants in its retirement plans and found that 66% of those who had borrowed from 401(k)s had done so more than once. No doubt they became acquainted with the above dilemmas in the process.1

In a recent TIAA-CREF survey, 44% of those who had taken loans from their 401(k) plans said they regretted doing so. Why risk joining their ranks? Look elsewhere for money in a crisis, and borrow from your employer-sponsored retirement plan only as a last resort.2

Mike Moffitt may be reached at phone# 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 – cnbc.com/id/101848407 [9/14/14]

2 – mainstreet.com/article/why-you-cant-borrow-your-401k-and-only-way-you-should [7/24/14]