Millions of seniors collect Social Security in retirement and use those benefits to help pay for their living costs. If you are nearing retirement without much or any savings, you should know that Social Security income alone won’t cover all of your living expenses.

The average senior citizen today collects $ 17,748 a year in benefits. In most of New York State, the minimum wage at the time of this publication (late 2019) is $13.26 per hour. If work in Nassau, Suffolk or Westchester County, your minimum wage is currently $14.00 per hour. And if you work in New York City, your minimum wage is $15.00 per hour if your employer employs 10 people or fewer and $13.00 per hour if your employer employs 11 people or more. However, all of those hourly rates are set to gradually increase over the next several years, with the goal of the rate capping at $15.00 per hour for all state employers. Using the $15 per hour rate, based on a 35-hour week, would mean $31,200 a year in income. The income shortfall, based on the average Social Security benefit, is $13,452. To fund the gap, you have to tap into your savings.

To see where you fall based on the average benefit amount, compare your current annual income to the average Social Security benefit ($ 17,748). The difference is your shortfall. In other words, you will need additional funds to cover your living costs. Your savings can bridge the gap. However, if you’re nearing retirement without much savings, you may need a part-time job to cover your living costs. That is why you can’t neglect to save for retirement.

Social Security is facing a funding shortfall, that if left unaddressed, could result in a major reduction across the board, in the retirement benefits millions of retired workers receive. If a cut in benefits were to happen, many seniors would not be able to cover their living expenses. Others would be pushed into poverty, particularly if they suffer from chronic conditions that would make it impossible for seniors to work, even on a part-time basis to cover the loss of benefits. Future retirees would also have to work longer than planned, should the retirement age for eligibility for the Social Security program change, because of the funding shortfall.

A proposal was introduced in Congress by U.S. Senator Mitt Romney from Utah, to raise the full retirement age at which seniors can collect their monthly benefits in full. Raising the Social Security’s program retirement age for program eligibility was last done over 35 years ago. Legislation effective in 1983, pushed Social Security’s former full retirement age of 65 up to a range of 66 through 67, depending on year of birth. Today, seniors can take benefits as early as age 62. However, each month claimed before full retirement age reduces the benefit paid on a lifelong basis.

Proponents of raising Social Security’s full retirement age say it’s a reasonable thing to do given increased life expectancy. Opponents argue that it won’t solve the problem. Raising Social Security’s retirement age would be unfair to many seniors they argue.

According to USA Today, nearly 64 million people receive a Social Security benefit check each month. Of the 64 million, more than four out of 5 are senior citizens, with approximately 62% counting on their monthly payout for at least half of their income.

The single most important decision senior citizens will make, is deciding when to begin taking Social Security benefits. Today, seniors can claim Social Security benefits when they retire and are age 66 through 67, depending on year of birth. Social Security benefits can also be taken as early as age 62. The retirement age is significant because it determines how much seniors would be paid each month by Social Security.

Over half a dozen factors are considered by the Social Security Administration (SSA), that can impact what you’ll receive from Social Security. Most seniors are aware that your work and earnings history are two such factors. SSA will take your highest-earning, inflation-adjusted years into account when calculating your monthly payout at full retirement age. This is why working in your 50s and 60s can be so important to boosting your overall benefit.

It is very tempting to turn 62 and claim Social Security benefits. Generating instant guaranteed income for the rest of your life is a seductive proposition. However, if you have very little saved or worse, no retirement savings, claiming Social Security benefits early can be devastating.

There are instances where it can be beneficial for seniors to accept a permanent reduction to their monthly payout in order to begin receiving their benefits early. The permanent reduction is a penalty of sorts, for early claims. For example, someone in poor health, who’s unlikely to live into their 80s, would probably collect more in lifetime income by taking their benefits earlier than by waiting an extra four to eight years to begin taking their Social Security benefits. The reverse is also true. Someone in excellent health with longevity on their side will do better by claiming benefits after Social Security’s retirement age, increasing the lifetime take home benefit from the Social Security program exponentially.  

The worst position to be in, however, is to enter retirement, claim Social Security benefits at 62, with little to no savings. For most seniors, their Social Security benefit is the major or sole source of income heading into retirement. When you claim Social Security early, your monthly payout will be reduced, as high as 30%, depending on your birth year.

“There is a time for many words, and there is also a time for sleep.” — Homer

 
Sleep, like food and water, is essential for humans to survive. Sleep affects almost every type of tissue and system in the human body. The brain, heart and lungs perform functions while you sleep. Similarly, your metabolism and immune system perform functions while you are sleeping. Sleep also affects your mood and ability to resist and fight diseases. Research shows that a chronic lack of sleep, or getting poor quality sleep, increases the risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, depression, and obesity. The next day you feel exhausted, tired, or fatigued after a poor night’s rest.

 
What is sleep?

We are examining sleep and its role in our overall health and wellbeing. There are individuals that suffer from sleeping disorders, not just insomnia, that affects the quality of their sleep. As our last post examined, during sleep our bodies repair and resets itself. Interrupting that process, due to poor sleep, causes consequences the next day and to your overall health.

 
Do you or your partner snore?

 
“The one who snores will fall asleep first.” Proverb

There is a book by John Green called, “The Fault in Our Stars,” that was made into a movie, about teens who fall in love while undergoing cancer treatment. It’s a real tearjerker, no spoilers here. One of my favorite passages in the book is when the main character Hazel Grace Lancaster’s mother tells her “sleep cures cancer.”

 
Sleep cures cancer

For anyone suffering with cancer, this phrase functions as both an affirmation and a command. Sleep makes coping with cancer better and helps the body physically repair itself. Sleep however is very difficult to get to when suffering from cancer. Fear, hope, dread, and solace feelings as well as physical aches and pains constantly fight for your attention, especially when you attempt to sleep with cancer.

As we get older, changes to our sleep patterns occur. In fact, a normal part of the aging process is different sleep. People often report that they have trouble falling asleep and staying asleep as they age. Every night, people achieve sleep, by experiencing periods of light and deep sleep. For the most part, during sleep, our bodies remain still as our minds and body functions race to repair and reset themselves. Some of us even dream, vividly experiencing feelings and sensations all while laying perfectly still.

 
The trouble with achieving deep sleep

As we age, older people spend more time in the lighter stages of sleep rather than in deep sleep. People often report that they were able to fall asleep but then woke up and could not return to sleep. Our bodies need deep sleep to perform functions on just about every organ, tissue, and system. Individuals suffering from chronic illnesses, like high blood pressure and cancer, need sleep to heal and get batter. Instead, older people report that the next day after poor sleep quality their mood and ability to perform active tasks is affected by fatigue.

Last week, the Trump Administration announced two regulatory changes in an effort to provide price information to patients about the medical services they are undergoing. President Trump has made price transparency a centerpiece of his health care agenda.

 
Hospital will be required to display their negotiated rates to patients

The first regulatory change, scheduled to become effective in January 2021, will require hospitals to display their secret, negotiated rates to patients starting in January 2021.

Very few people look forward to living in a nursing home the last years of their lives. There is a growing segment of the population that wishes to remain in their homes as long as possible. To do so however, assistance is needed from medical professionals and home health aides.

 
Continuing care retirement communities

Continuing Care Retirement Communities, also known as CCRCs, are well known to retirees. The premise is that residents live on a campus-like setting in facilities that change as their care needs increase. For example, a CCRC resident may begin at independent living facility, shift to assisted living, and enter a memory-care unit or nursing home. Where a resident starts depends on their overall health, mental faculties, and mobility level.

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