Calculating Social Security Benefits

Calculating Social Security Benefits are a function
of three primary factors.

How Many Years Have You Worked?Calculating Social Security Benefits

The Social Security Administration uses 35 years of earning history

▶ If you worked more than 35 years – it uses the highest 35 years of salary

▶ If you worked less than 35 years – it still uses 35 years of salary (the years you didn’t work count as $0) This rule impacts far more women than men.

Why? Many women took significant time away from work to raise one or more of their children. 

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Five Considerations When Researching Retirement Questions on the Internet

The internet is a great place to do research on most any topic. You have to be cautious that the information you find is current and accurate. Here are five things to consider when researching retirement questions.


Check the Dateresearching retirement questions

The tax code and rules change often. Check the date of the article to see when it was written. What was true three years or five years ago may not still be relevant. Often, brackets or income limits are adjusted for inflation each year. Those numbers need to be checked to see if they are the most recent limits.


Check out the Website

Is the website reputable? Who controls the content on the website? Are they creditable? Are they unbiased or are they selling a product or strategy? Do a search on the company to see if you come up with reviews. Look for unbiased information.

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The Evolution of Retirement Planning

by Scott Smith, CIMA®

Retirement planningIt should be no surprise that traditional pension plans are a thing of the past. As I believe it should be, retirement planning is the responsibility of the individual, not the employer. Automatic enrollment, automatic annual escalation of salary deferrals, annual opt out requirements for nonparticipants, default investment options into target date retirement funds, performance history and description of investment options and expenses, as well as, employer matching are all meant to increase participation in company 401(k) plans so employees can take responsibility for their own retirement security.

Employee salary deferral limits for 401(k)s and 403(b)s are $18,000 for 2016. Those who are 50 or older can contribute an additional $6,000 a year. According to the Employee Benefit Research Institute, the average and median 401(k) balances were $76,293 and $18,127, respectively, at the end of 2014. 401(k) retirement balances vary significantly by age and years of service.

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How Much Do You Need to Save for Retirement?

Save for RetirementTips on financially preparing for your retirement

How much you need to save for retirement depends on your estimated yearly living expenses once you stop working full-time. Here are tips on how to estimate future financial needs.

  • Gather a month’s worth of bills, ATM slips, and credit card receipts. Total the amounts omitting expenses that you don’t anticipate having after retirement such as college tuitions, mortgage payments, credit card debt, disability insurance premiums, etc.

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Six 2015 Retirement Tax Rules You Must Know

2015 Retirement Tax Rules

Tax laws affecting your retirement savings are constantly changing, and 2015 has been no exception. Here are six 2015 retirement tax rules to be aware of.

1.  Once-per-year IRA rollover rules. The tax court ruled in the Bobrow case (January 28, 2014) that the once-per-year IRA rollover limit applies to ALL of a person’s IRAs and not to each IRA separately, as was the case in the past. IRS Announcement 2014-32 (effective January 1, 2015) stated that Traditional and Roth IRAs are combined for purposes of the once-per-year rule. Checks made directly to receiving IRAs qualify as trustee-to-trustee transfers.

— The fallout: Clients could lose their IRAs. IRS has no authority to give relief.

— The action plan: IRA-to-IRA direct transfers are not affected and are strongly recommended. Be careful with every new client rollover.

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3 Essential Questions to Ask When Preparing a Power of Attorney for an IRA

documentGiving another person the ability to make significant financial decisions and/or take actions on your behalf is not an easy thing to do. That said, various situations may arise where you no longer want to, or are able to, manager your own finances. In such cases, you want to make sure someone else can act on your behalf.

Typically, this is done via what’s known as a Power of Attorney (POA) document. This form, which is generally prepared by an estate planning attorney, grants a person – known as your attorney-in-fact (or agent – the ability to step into your shoes and make what are often critical and important decisions.

Clearly, great thought should be given to whom you name as your attorney-in-act. All too often through, that’s where the thought stops. In reality, a commensurate level of thought and discussion should take place regarding the document itself and the provisions that are incorporated into your POA.

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A New Reason to Hoard Assets

Article credits | The Wall Street Journal | March 28, 2014 | By Arden Dale

The wealthy may be putting the brakes on the gifting bonanza of the past few years.

State of Estate TaxThe wealthy are gifting less to their families these days.

Large gifts that shrink an estate for tax purposes no longer make sense for many people now that the federal government taxes only estates larger than $5.34 million, or $10.68 million for couples.

With that threshold—which adjusts for inflation and which Congress has called permanent—so high, many financial advisers recommend that their clients wait until they die to give their assets away.

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Retirement Strategies for 30-Year-Olds

C&J Wealth Advisors have numerous clients with 30-year-old children. This article gives good advice on saving/investing and retirement strategies that you can pass to your children and grandchildren. Society encourages us to consume, consume, consume.  We need to hear more voices that encourage younger generations to save, save, save.

Scott Smith
C&J Wealth Advisors
Article credits: MarketWatch |Wall Street Journal | May 19, 2014

Investing for 30-year-olds

Retirement Strategies for 30-Year-Olds

It’s never too early to start planning for retirement. With this in mind, we asked The Experts: What retirement money tip do you wish you’d given yourself when you were 30? Investment tips nobody told me…

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