How Much Will Your Social Security Benefit Be?

Understanding your social security benefit is a huge part of being prepared for retirement, and even the young generation should understand what they can expect to receive from social security.   It can be very confusing as there are many different rules and variables that go into the equation of estimating your social security benefit.

Basics

So let’s start with the basics.  Anyone who has worked 10 years or more, or is married to someone that has worked that long qualifies for a benefit.  The earliest you can start taking this monthly benefit is age 62, and the latest is age 70.   The monthly benefit is based on 2 main factors.  First, it is based on the amount of income you made throughout your working years (and thus how much you paid into the social security pot).   Second, it is based on when you choose to take your benefit, with a lower monthly payment if you start at age 62, continually growing until the maximum monthly benefit if you wait until age 70 to start your benefit.   Full retirement age, which I will discuss later, is age 67 if you were born after 1960.  If you were born in 1955 it is age 66 and 2 months, and increasing by 2 months each year until 1960.

Spousal Benefit

Spousal benefit is getting half of the Social Security benefit of your working spouse.  When you file to begin receiving social security, they will let you know if your individual benefit or your spousal benefit is higher, and automatically you will receive the higher of the two.  The spousal benefit maxes out when the non working spouse reaches full retirement age.  Thus it is not beneficial for a non working spouse to wait until age 70.

Real Numbers

You can actually run an estimate of your social security benefits on ssa.gov to see how much you could get in social security dollars.   I will give you one example I ran on the website with real numbers to show you an estimate of what you might expect with your social security benefit.

Ryder is 62 years old, and his wife Paisley is also 62.  He worked his entire life and made $60,000 a year.  Paisley only worked for 9 years, thus she does not qualify for her own benefit.  If Ryder chose to start taking his benefit today he would receive $1476/month.  If he waited until full retirement age, age 66 and 8 months, he would receive $2064/month.  And if he waited until age 70 he would receive $2627/month.

Now this is where it gets a bit confusing.  Time for some math.   If Ryder thinks he will die before age 78, he will receive the most total money from Social Security if he starts his benefit at age 62.  If Ryder thinks he will live past age 78 he will receive the most total money if he waits to start his benefit at age 70.     This is called the “break even” point.  The ages of 77 to 80 are almost always the break even years for any individual situation.

As for Paisley, if she chose to begin taking her spousal benefit at age 62 she would receive $671/month.  If she waited to full retirement age she would receive $1032/month.  And if she waited till age 70 she would still receive the same $1032/month.

Other Factors

If you plan to work in any form and are receiving income, it is not a good idea to take your social security before your full retirement age (66 or 67).  Your social security money is decreased based on the amount of income you receive.   Once you reach full retirement age, you can receive your social security benefit and it will not be effected by any income you are making.

The File and Suspend Strategy that you might have heard about, is no longer in effect and cannot be used by anyone filing for social security that was under age 66 as of April 30th 2016.

If no changes are made by the government to the social security program, it is projected that by the year 2035, there will only be enough money to pay 75% of the scheduled benefit to retirees.  1.   So in short, the younger generation cannot really count on the amount shown in the example above.

Retirement Plan

Your social security benefit will only be a small portion of what you will need to live on in retirement.  You need to have a retirement account to be your main source of retirement income if you do not have a work pension.  Whether it be a 401k, Roth IRA, or another type of account, most people need to have between $500k and $2 million saved in order to live a comfortable retirement comparable to how they lived in their working years.

If you need help figuring out social security or getting a retirement account set up to go along with your social security benefit, please contact us.

By Jimmy Hancock

References

  1. Goss, Stephen C. “Social Security Administration.” Social Security Administration Research, Statistics, and Policy Analysis, 1 Aug. 2010, www.ssa.gov/policy/docs/ssb/v70n3/v70n3p111.html.

Health Insurance Options in Idaho for 2021

As the Open Enrollment Period for enrolling in a qualified health insurance plans kicks off for 2021, I thought it would be a good time to review some basics on how health insurance in Idaho works these days.

Open Enrollment Period

If you do not currently have a health insurance plan you have until December 15th to get signed up, or else you will most likely have to wait for 2021.   If you already have a health insurance plan, the deadline to switch to a different plan is the same day, December 15th.

Who Qualifies for a premium tax credit?

APTC, or Advanced Premium Tax Credit is when your health insurance premiums are significantly reduced based on your income.  Anyone who isn’t offered coverage from work and has income between 138% and 400% of the federal poverty line(FPL) based on their family size may qualify for the premium tax credit.  If spouses and children are offered coverage from work they are not eligible for APTC.   The 2021 federal poverty line for a family of 1 is $12,760 and goes up by $4,480 for each additional person in the family. 1.   So a family of 4 can make as much as $104,800 and still qualify for a premium tax credit by being under 400% of the FPL.  In many cases if you qualify for APTC, you can get a high deductible health plan for Free or less than $100.   If you make below 138% of the FPL, you can qualify for Medicaid, adults and children.

Options for Coverage in Idaho

Options are pretty slim in most states, including Idaho.  There are 5 health insurance carriers (Regence, Mountain Health Co-op, Blue Cross, Select Health, and Pacific Source) offering individual and family coverage both on and off the Idaho Exchange(must get coverage on exchange to get APTC).     With that being said, whatever your current situation is you might be able to save money by looking into all your options.  The prices vary so much with each company each year that it is usually not in your best interest to stick with the same company year over year.  Last year, Select Health had the lowest prices in East Idaho, and now for next year, Regence has the lowest prices in East Idaho.

Saving Money

For example, I helped a family save hundreds of dollars a month by switching them from being a spouse and children on a school district employer health plan, to a family plan off the exchange with Regence, separate from their employer.  Coverage for the actual employee is usually a very good price, but if your employer offers coverage for your spouse and children, it is usually more expensive then what you could get separate from your employer.

Another option to possibly consider, is the new “Enhanced Short Term” plans available through Blue Cross and Select Health.   These plans can be renewed up to 3 years and in general are quite a bit cheaper than the on exchange plans.   These policies go through underwriting, so your price is based on your health history.   You cannot use APTC to get these plans, but if you do not qualify for a tax credit, this is a more affordable option.  These plans are also flexible in that you can start them whenever, not just January 1st.

If you need help with your health insurance I am a licensed agent  and work with the Idaho health insurance companies both on and off the exchange.

By Jimmy Hancock

References

1. “Federal Poverty Level (FPL) – HealthCare.gov Glossary.” HealthCare.gov, www.healthcare.gov/glossary/federal-poverty-level-fpl/.

Elections Impact on the Stock Market

2020 has obviously been a crazy year, and with the Presidential Election coming up, it is not about to calm down anytime soon.  The stock market has been a thrill ride ever since late February, with a big drop and then a steady climb.  Tech stocks and Large US stocks have already made it back in the positive territory for the year, while small stocks and international stocks are still lagging.

With that as the backdrop, I have gotten the question “How will the presidential election affect the market?” pretty often.   For questions like this I am glad I have my crystal ball with me at all times so I can tell my clients exactly what is going to happen.  O wait, I don’t have a crystal ball. But we can learn from history.

Historic Election Year Returns

Looking back at election years since 1928, the S&P 500 (Large US Stocks) has had a positive return 21 times, and a negative return 3 times (1).  I think most people would find that hard to believe.

Is there significantly better or worse returns during election years or the year after an election?

The average annual return of the S&P from 1928-2017 was 9.8%. The average return during election years and during the subsequent year were 11.3% and 9.9%, with plenty of volatility. If there was truth to the above speculations, we would consistently see extraordinarily high or low returns during election year followed by a reversal the following year. The data does not bear that out, and there is nothing in the above data that should lead an investor to make any tactical changes to their portfolio during or after election years. (3)

Republican vs Democrat

This is another interesting topic that divides people throughout the country, but is there any stock market effect based on which party gets into power?  The data actually surprised me.  From 1926 to 2019, we have had a Republican president for 46 years, and a Democratic president for 48 years.  The average annual return for the S&P 500 index when we had a Republican President was 9.12%. When we had a Democratic President, the S&P 500 averaged 14.94% per year. (2)

Whatever your political leanings are, this should give you solace knowing that average returns are over 9% long term no matter which party is in the white house.

False Patterns

The worst thing an investor can do is get caught up in trying to find and take advantage of patterns in the stock market.  It seems like a good idea, but trust me, it is not in your best interest.   For example, there is a super bowl stock market predictor, which states that if the team that wins the Superbowl is a team that had its roots in the original National Football League, then the stock market will decline.   There is another pattern showing that every mid decade year ending in 5 (1905, 1915, 1925 etc.) since 1905, has been an up year for stocks. (1)  These patterns are just random facts that people try to turn into something that seems important.

The Story of 2016

The 2016 election was a great example of this. Many financial experts and talking heads were predicting a decline in the market if Trump won. On Fortune.com, Katie Reilly reported that Citigroup predicted that a Trump win would have a negative effect on the stock market, believing the S&P 500 index would fall 3% to 5% if Trump was elected. Evelyn Cheng reported on CNBC the day before the election that JP Morgan, Barclays, Citi, and BMO all expected a Trump victory would have a negative impact on the stock market, with Barclays being as bold as saying the S&P 500 could potentially fall 11 to 13 percent. Some went even further with their market predictions.

In an interview with Neil Cavuto, noted billionaire Mark Cuban stated:

“In the event Donald wins, I have no doubt in my mind the market tanks,” Cuban said. “If the polls look like there’s a decent chance that Donald could win, I’ll put a huge hedge on that’s over 100% of my equity positions… that protects me just in case he wins.”

To the surprise of these pundits, the opposite occurred.  In just 2 months from November 1st through the end of the year, equity markets had a substantial growth period, with the S&P rising 6%, the Russell 2000 up 14% and the Russell 2000 Value increasing by 18%. (3)

In Conclusion

So the best and most honest answer to the question “How will the presidential election affect the market?”, is “I don’t know, but over the long term, stocks have made between 9 and 12% per year on average.”

By Jimmy Hancock

References

1.Anspach, Dana. “How Does the Stock Market Perform During Election Years?” The Balance. About Inc., 16 Oct. 2016. Web. 01 Nov. 2016.

2.French, Bob. “Are Republicans or Democrats Better for the Stock Market?” McLean Asset Management, 10 July 2020, www.mcleanam.com/are-republicans-or-democrats-better-for-the-stock-market/.

3. Gatliff, Kenny. On the Money, 23 Sept. 2020, on-themoney.com/2020/08/11/presidential-elections-and-the-market/.

Stocks vs Real Estate

The comparison is often made between investing in Real Estate vs investing in the Stock Market.   There are many strong points to both arguments, but as an Investment Advisor, I am going to argue the side of why the stock market is a better long term investment.  Note, I am not inferring you should not buy a home, nor am I inferring that you should exclusively put all of your money in the stock market.  This argument is just in terms of where you should put extra money that you would like to grow for retirement or other purposes.

Here are 6 advantages of investing in stocks over investing in real estate.

1.Effort/Work

Whether you are flipping homes, renting properties, or developing land, there is a whole lot more hands on work and extra time as compared to ownership of stocks.  If you have an investment advisor, you could realistically spend absolutely no time “working” on your stock ownership and still get the growth of the market.   Lucky for you, stocks don’t have furnaces that break, or water pipes that leak.

2. Diversification

Diversification is a very important concept.  The old saying is don’t put all your eggs in one basket.  Diversification in Real Estate would involve buying homes, apartments, commercial property, and farm land etc., all in different areas of the country.   You would have to have quite a bit of money to be fully diversified.  With the stock market, if you are invested in a Matson Money Fund, you can start with one dollar and be invested in about 12,000 stocks throughout the world.

3. Liquidity

Liquidity is how easy it is for you to sell.   Stocks are extremely liquid, with most stocks being sold within seconds of offering them for sale.   With Real Estate, it can take weeks, months, or sometimes years to sell or rent out a property.

4. Costs

The cost of owning property could include all or most of the following; real estate agent fee, property taxes, maintenance, utilities, mortgage interest, and insurance.   The cost of owning stocks usually only includes an investment advisor fee, and mutual fund management fee.

5. Debt

When investing in real estate it is almost always tied to taking on debt, because of the large amounts of money needed to buy a property.   Taking on debt automatically increases the risk level with any investment.   With stock based mutual funds, you can start with $1, and never have any debt to worry about.

6. Return

There is a lot of variables that come into play when comparing returns of real estate investing vs stock based mutual funds.  You can really cherry pick numbers to make either side look much better than the other.  Just comparing actual long term growth in prices of real estate vs prices of stocks, stocks win that competition easily.  But if you include rental income, it can obviously increase your overall real estate investment return. With that though, you have to consider the risk of not being able to rent it out.

If you are looking for a way to get a high return with lower risk and little hassel, my opinion is that your #1 option is to put your money in stocks, via a diversified Roth IRA or 401k.

Feel free to comment with your thoughts.

By Jimmy Hancock



References

  1. Kennon, Joshua. “Should You Invest in Real Estate or Stocks?” The Balance. N.p., 17 Oct. 2016. Web. 12 May 2017.

Large Stocks vs Small Stocks: Does the Last 3 Years Change Things?

Looking back at the last few years, small stocks have been under performing by a big margin compared to large stocks.   Is this just a short term fad or is this a bandwagon that you need to jump on?

The S&P 500 is a grouping of the 500 largest companies in America.  It is a very popular thing to invest in for many reasons.  First of all, it is made up of incredible companies that we all know and love like Google, Walmart and Apple.

Here is a chart showing 2017-2019 average annual returns from these different US stock categories.

 US Markets Annualized Return (%)
S&P 500 Index 15.27%
Dimensional US Large Cap Value Index 8.46%
Dimensional US Micro Cap Index 6.85%
Dimensional US Small Cap Index 6.75%
Dimensional US Small Cap Value Index 3.32%

Obviously the S&P 500 has done amazing, while the other categories have done below their long term averages.     This can sometimes lead to a problem called recency bias.   Recency bias is a form of timing the market and investing in what has done well recently.   We believe it can be detrimental to your long term investment strategy.

Different categories of stocks have returns that come at different times and for different reasons.   Our main job as investment coaches is to keep you diversified and disciplined during crazy times like this.   This has happened before, and it looked almost the same as it does in the chart above.

From 1995-March of 2000, the S&P 500 was the best category of stocks by a wide margin.  The next closest category was over 4% lower annually, with most of the other categories being 14% or more lower annually vs the S&P 500 during that time.     Then for the next 10 years starting in march of 2000, the S&P 500 was the only stock category that had a negative return.   Yes, it lost money over a 10 year period.  But International Small Value stocks were up over 14% per year during that same period and US Small Value stocks were up  over 11% per year.

The stock market is random and unpredictable in the short term.  It really does take patience to be a successful long term investor.  I know, just like you, how frustrating it is to see other people having great returns while I am not.

Below is a chart showing a longer term history, and the returns of each category, including international categories from march of 2000-through the end of 2019.

Markets Annualized Return (%)
Fama/French US Small Value Research Index 10.75%
Dimensional International Small Cap Value Index 10.51%
CRSP Deciles 9-10 Index 8.81%
Dimensional International Small Cap Index 8.79%
CRSP Deciles 6-10 Index 8.32%
Fama/French International Value Index 7.53%
MSCI Emerging Markets Index (gross div.) 6.99%
Fama/French US Large Value Research Index 6.76%
Dimensional International Large Value Index 6.14%
S&P 500 Index 6.01%
MSCI EAFE Index (net div.) 3.36%

You can see that the S&P 500 has been the second lowest category over this last 20 year period.

We keep our clients invested in the S&P 500, but we overweight towards small and value, because their long term returns have been higher.

Although the S&P 500 is popular, and has been up lately, that doesn’t mean you can forget the long term projections and academic studies that have proved again and again that an efficient diversified portfolio beats the S&P 500 in the long term.

By Jimmy Hancock

References

  1.  Matson Money. Three warning signs you may be speculating and gambling with your money powerpoint. N.p.: Matson Money Inc., 29 June 2020. PPT.

The Easiest Way to Become a Millionaire

Becoming a Millionaire used to seem like this totally unrealistic goal that would never happen unless I won the lottery or inherited a bunch of money from some distant relative.   As it turns out becoming a millionaire is not all that unrealistic of a goal. Becoming a millionaire just means that your net worth, or the amount of money and assets you own, is greater than $1 Million.   It is achievable on almost any salary if you do it the right way.  There are over 11 million Millionaire households in America.  That’s almost 10% of all households in the United States.   1.

Is it Possible?

This is my 3 step guide to reach the status of millionaire: 1. Saving/investing at least 10% of your income, 2. investing prudently while taking proper risks, and 3. starting young.

1. Saving at least 10% of Your Income

I will show you an example of how a person making $30,000 a year can be a millionaire by the time they retire.   A 25 year old, let’s say his name is Bayden, just graduated from college and got a job making $30k year.  He decides to put 10% of that into a Roth IRA, which is $250 a month.   As it turns out he stayed at that same job for his entire life and never got a raise, but continued to invest the 10%.   When he retires at age 67, with growth rate of 8%, he will have $1,058,593 in his Roth IRA.  And the best part of that is the money is all tax free!  Obviously with a higher salary and/or frequent raises you could end up with much more than a million if you follow the 10% rule.  For most people that are out of debt and have an emergency fund, I suggest contributing 15% of their income towards retirement.

2. Investing Prudently While Taking Proper Risk

Time, and growth rate are the two most important factors in that equation.  An 8% growth rate is not anything too crazy, but you have to be invested long term, and have a vast majority of your money in stocks.  You cannot panic and take your money out if there is a crash.  You must trust in the market, and understand that stocks are the greatest wealth creation tool in the world.

3. Start Young

millionaire

Total contributions     $12,000                $36,000

* assumes an 8% growth rate    2.

This visual further proves how important time and compounding is to your retirement account.  Starting young is a principle that everyone knows, they just don’t follow it.  The power of compounding interest is amazing, and the younger you start the more powerful it is.  Even if you can’t reach the 10% goal, if you have an income source, you should be contributing to a retirement account.  For those of you who don’t have 40 years till retirement, you will need to save more than 10% to reach a million.

Do you  really need $1 Million Dollars?

Going back to the example of Bayden, when he retires at age 67, he will literally need every cent (and more) that he saved and earned while investing.   Just to live on the equivalent of today’s $30,000 a year ($103k assuming 3% inflation) for 20 years in retirement, he would need $1.1 million.   And that is assuming a 6% growth rate on the money for those 20 years.   If you don’t have a pension at work, and you want to live on more than $30k a year in retirement, then you better get to saving! Most people will need at least $2 or $3 Million to live comfortably in retirement.

If you can apply discipline in your finances and in your investments, you can become a millionaire by the time you retire.    That is my plan.

By Jimmy Hancock

References

1. “Market Insights Report 2018.” Record Numbers of U.S. Households Achieve Millionaire Status in 2016, According to New Spectrem Market Insights Report, 22 Mar. 2018, spectrem.com/Content_Press/Spectrem-Press-Release-3-22-17.aspx.

Matson Money. Who Wants to be a Millionaire Powerpoint. Mason, OH: Matson Money, 16 Jul. 2015. PPT.

Now is the Time to Rebalance your Investments

With the big drop in the stock market last month, this is the best time to rebalance your investment portfolio.

Today we are going to discuss the topic of Rebalancing your portfolio and why it is so important.  I will explain to you how a continuously rebalanced portfolio is one that is constantly buying low and selling high.

“Rebalancing -The process of realigning the weightings of one’s portfolio of assets. Rebalancing involves periodically buying or selling assets in your portfolio to maintain your original desired level of asset allocation.”

Rebalancing for Dummies

Rebalancing can be very complex and confusing, but I will give a simple example to explain some of the benefits.

For example, lets say you have a retirement portfolio with $50,000 invested in stocks, and $50,000 invested in bonds. This is the 50/50 portfolio which is pretty safe and best for those close to or in retirement.  So you let it go 1 year and lets say it was like 2019 and stocks had a great year.   After 1 year you now have about $65,000 in stocks and $51,000 in the fixed portion.  You are no longer invested like you wanted to be, and are opening yourself up to way more risk than you originally planned on.   Rebalancing is then needed to sell off what is high, which is stocks, and buy into what is low, bonds.  The beautiful thing about it is, there is never a time when rebalancing forces you to buy high, or sell low.

Why doesn’t everyone rebalance?

Rebalancing never seems like the right thing to do at the time.  For example in 2008, or like we have seen in the last few months, when stocks were plummeting, rebalancing is selling safe fixed income to buy stocks.  If you think about it though, you are buying low and selling high.   Buying stocks low in a market like we have today can give you a huge advantage long term.

So by rebalancing a portfolio, what you are really doing is lowering the risk and keeping to your individual risk preferences.  That is really the main goal of rebalancing, but an added benefit is being able to consistently buy low and sell high.  This can help over the long term to increase your return as well.

The Proof

Take a look at this chart by Forbes which visually explains all of this.

 

Rebalancing chart forbes

 

You can see from the chart that rebalancing really does its work when the downturns in the market come.  The chart shows that the rebalanced portfolio made more than the portfolio that was left alone, and with much lower risk.

Make sure that your money is invested with an investment coach that has a scientific and predetermined way for rebalancing your hard earned money.

The portfolio’s we use with our clients are automatically rebalanced quarterly at the beginning of each quarter.

By Jimmy Hancock

 

References

1.”Rebalancing Definition | Investopedia.” Investopedia. Investopedia US, n.d. Web. 17 Sept. 2014. <http://www.investopedia.com/terms/r/rebalancing.asp>.

2. Brown, Janet. The Impact of Rebalancing. Digital image. Forbes.com. Forbes, 16 Nov. 2011. Web. 17 Sept. 2014. <http://www.forbes.com/sites/investor/2011/11/16/does-portfolio-rebalancing-work/>.

What to do during a Stock Market Crash

So the stock market has hit “bear market” territory over the last few weeks which is a 20% drop from the previous high.  And many people are panicked!  But panicking after a big drop in the market can be very bad for your long term retirement account.  Especially if that panic involved pulling your money (20% less than you had 4 weeks ago) out of the stock market.

This might sound weird but I actually got excited when the stock market took it’s big tumbles over the last few weeks.  I have been waiting for a good opportunity to “buy low” in the stock market.   Yes, now is the best time to put extra money into your retirement investment account.   Buying shares in a time like this is like when your favorite store has a 20% off your entire purchase sale!  Basically, you get the same items for a lower cost.

There are a few reason why I don’t panic when the stock market goes down.

First, I understand that the stock market has always come back from corrections and crashes to reach new highs.   Along with that, I know that the stock market as tracked by the S&P 500 has made about 10% per year on average over the last 30 years.   I often get asked by people, what if it just keeps going down and I lose all my money?   Investing in a diversified mix of over 12,000 stocks makes it very unlikely for you to lose all of your money.  What are the odds that 12,000 companies across the world in different sectors providing different products all go bankrupt at the same time?

Second, I know I am in this for the long haul.  Every investor is at a different place and will use their money for different things.  If you are needing the money you have invested in the next few years, you should definitely not have a vast majority of your money in stocks.   Even throughout retirement,  why wouldn’t you stay invested and give your money a chance to grow and keep up with inflation.  Smart people look at investing as a lifelong thing.

Third, I don’t believe that me or anyone else can accurately predict the future.  This is a big one.  I get asked all the time innocent questions about investing and the stock market from clients and others that are all based around predicting the future.  Questions such as, is this going to end up being a crash?  Do you think stocks are overpriced?  How much do you think a diversified mix of stocks will make this year?  When I answer this question by saying I cannot predict the future, people are usually not satisfied.   The great thing about it is that you do not need a prediction about the future to be a successful investor and make money in the stock market.

Lastly, I believe in the phrase, buy low and sell high.  It is usually the hard thing to do at the time.  When the stock market is crashing down and you see the headlines say, this is the biggest drop in the Dow in its history, it isn’t necessarily an easy thing to buy stocks on that day.  On the opposite end, when the market is up for 2 straight years and the economy looks great and the headlines say, this is just the beginning for stocks, it isn’t easy to rebalance your portfolio and thus sell stocks.

Ultimately, we know there are going to be stock market ups and downs in the short term, but if you have a low cost diversified mix of stocks you will be doing alright in the long term.

By Jimmy Hancock



References

1. Matson Money. Separating Myths From Truths, The Story of Investing. N.p.: n.p., n.d. PPT.

New SECURE Act Signed into Law

On December 20, 2019, President Trump signed into law the Further Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2020.  This includes the Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Enhancement (SECURE) Act provisions previously passed by the House in April 2019.  There are quite a few changes that may effect you now or in the near future.  Most, if not all the changes are positive and allow you more flexibility in general.  Many of the changes have already become effective as of January 1st, 2020.   Below is a few of the provisions and a brief explanation of each.

Required Minimum Distributions (RMDs).  The age at which required minimum distributions must begin will be increased to age 72 from age 70 ½.

Explanation- If you were born before July 1st, 1949, this does not effect your RMD at all.  Even if you just turned age 70 1/2 last year you will still be required to take your RMD in 2020.  But for anyone born after July 1st 1949, you can wait until the year in which you turn age 72 before you are required to start taking distributions from your Traditional IRA or 401k.

Birth/adoption excise tax exception.  Penalty-free retirement plan withdrawals for a birth or adoption.

Explanation- Before age 59 1/2, you can take out money from your Retirement Account to pay for a birth or adoption and you won’t be charged the 10% penalty tax.

No maximum age for Traditional IRA contributions.  You can contribute to a Traditional IRA at any age.

Explanation- Previously, you could not contribute to a Traditional IRA even if you were otherwise eligible after the age of 70 1/2, now you can.

 

Changes for business owners setting up company retirement Accounts

Increased Tax Credits. For new 401k’s being set up, there is an increase in tax credits for the startup costs of setting up and running the plan for the first 3 years.

Deadline to Setup New Plan. An employer has until the due date of the company tax return (with extensions) to establish a new plan for the year.  Previously, the deadline was the last day of their business year. 

 

These are some of the major parts of the new SECURE act.   If you have any questions about these new rules or how to best take advantage of them, feel free to contact me.

-Jimmy Hancock

References

  1.  Neal, Richard E. “The SECURE Act of 2019.” Secure Act Section by Section, House Committee on Ways and Means, waysandmeans.house.gov/sites/democrats.waysandmeans.house.gov/files/documents/SECURE%20Act%20section%20by%20section.pdf.

Health Insurance Options in Idaho in 2020

As the Open Enrollment Period for enrolling in a qualified health insurance plans kicks off for 2020, I thought it would be a good time to review some basics on how health insurance in Idaho works these days.

Open Enrollment Period

If you do not currently have a health insurance plan you have until December 16th to get signed up, or else you will most likely have to wait for 2021.   If you already have a health insurance plan, the deadline to switch to a different plan is the same day, December 16th.

Who Qualifies for a premium tax credit?

APTC, or Advanced Premium Tax Credit is when your health insurance premiums are significantly reduced based on your income.  Anyone who isn’t offered coverage from work and has income between 138% and 400% of the federal poverty line(FPL) based on their family size may qualify for the premium tax credit.  If spouses and children are offered coverage from work they are not eligible for APTC.   The 2018 federal poverty line for a family of 1 is $12,490 and goes up by $4,420 for each additional person in the family. 1.   So a family of 4 can make as much as $103,000 and still qualify for a premium tax credit by being under 400% of the FPL.  In many cases if you qualify for APTC, you can get a high deductible health plan for Free.   If you make below 138% of the FPL, you can qualify for Medicaid.

 

Options for Coverage in Idaho

Options are pretty slim in most states, including Idaho.  There are 4 health insurance carriers (Mountain Health Co-op, Blue Cross, Select Health, and Pacific Source) offering individual and family coverage both on and off the Idaho Exchange(must get coverage on exchange to get APTC) , and 1 more that offers individual coverage outside the exchange only (Regence).   But then when you talk about price increases and deductibles that keep going up, there are really no “affordable” options for most people.   With that being said, whatever your current situation is you might be able to save money by looking into all your options.  The prices vary so much with each company each year that it is usually not in your best interest to stick with the same company year over year.

Saving Money

For example, I helped a family save hundreds of dollars a month by switching them from being a spouse and children on a school district employer health plan, to a family plan off the exchange with Regence, separate from their employer.  Coverage for the actual employee is usually a very good price, but if your employer offers coverage for your spouse and children, it is usually more expensive then what you could get separate from your employer.

Another option to possibly consider, is the new “Enhanced Short Term” plans available through Blue Cross.   These plans can be renewed up to 3 years and in general are quite a bit cheaper than the on exchange plans.   These policies go through underwriting, so your price is based on your health history.   You cannot use APTC to get these plans, but if you do not qualify for a tax credit, this is a more affordable option.

If you need help with your health insurance I am a licensed agent  and work with the Idaho health insurance companies both on and off the exchange.

By Jimmy Hancock

References

1. “Federal Poverty Level (FPL) – HealthCare.gov Glossary.” HealthCare.gov, www.healthcare.gov/glossary/federal-poverty-level-fpl/.