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...
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Tax & Estate Planning Update for Married Same-Sex Couples

In this age of marriage equality, there are new possibilities. The 2015 Obergefell v. Hodges Supreme Court decision streamlined tax and estate planning for married gay and lesbian couples. If you are filing a joint tax return for 2016, or thinking about updating your estate plan, here are some important things to remember. You can file jointly for 2016 if you married at any time during 2016. If you married on January 1, June 8, or December 31, it doesn’t matter – you can still do it. Under federal tax law, your marital status on the final day of a year determines your filing status. (That same rule applies for divorcing couples.)1,2 If you are newly married, or have not considered filing jointly, the fact is that most married couples can potentially benefit from that choice. Extremely high earners may find joint filing disadvantageous, but they are the exception to the norm. If you have or want to have children, you will need to file jointly to qualify for the Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit. Filing jointly also makes you eligible for Lifetime Learning Credits and the American Opportunity Tax Credit.3 The irritation of filing state tax returns under...
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Do Our Attitudes About Money Help or Hurt Us?

We may need to change them to better our financial prospects. Our relationship with money is complex & emotional. When we pay a bill, go to the mall, trade in a car for a new one, hunt for a home or apartment, or pass someone seemingly poor or rich on the street, we feel things and harbor certain perceptions. Are our attitudes about money inherited? They may have been formed when we were kids. We watched what our parents did with their money and how they managed it. We were told how important it was – or, perhaps, how little it really mattered. Parental arguments over money may be ingrained in our memory. This history has an effect. Some of us think of money, finance, investing, and saving in terms of getting ahead, in terms of opportunity. Others associate money and financial matters with family struggles or conflicts. Our family history is not responsible for our entire attitude about money – but it is, undoubtedly, an influence. Our grandparents (and, in some cases, our parents) were never really taught to think of “retirement planning.” Just a century ago, the whole concept of “retiring” would have seemed weird to many Americans....
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