Friday, February 10, 2012

Take Social Security benefits before GOP cuts?

Is it smart to wait for Social Security benefits?

Now that the GOP is talking about cutting our future benefits, we have to reconsider when to start getting our money back. There are many situations—married, divorced, divorced 10 years, spouse passed away, younger takes benefits while older works, the reverse, playing the odds of living to 100, taxable benefits and 2nd job, supplement early benefits with spouse benefit while working, etc, etc. We need to know our options as soon as age 62. Read the info and

House agrees to stop illegal insider trading—sort of.

60 minutes caught House leader Pelosi without answers on her ‘illegal’ trades.

House’s Cantor exempts those who sell “intelligence” to Wall Street. Allows “corruption” to continue, according to GOP Grassley.

Questions for your HR 401k Plan administrators/investment guides.

Forbes just outlined the types of questions to ask about your 401k so that you can make decisions about your best investment choices. Unbiased advisors say that cost is the best predictor of mutual fund returns. Why is there no Vanguard index option?

Auto insurance instantly

Progressive announced today an application for the iPhone that is designed to radically change the auto insurance buyer’s experience. Positioned for the direct-to-consumer space, Progressive’s mobile app uses image capture technology designed to provide an accurate auto insurance rate that is customized to the user, and upon acceptance, to actually bind (guarantee immediate) coverage. “We can’t get a shortcut around the information we need, and we need lots of pieces of data, so keying in that data can be challenging at best. What’s unique about a mobile device is that it’s faster and more convenient—so we are taking the next step.” Progressive will be the first company to use image capture in this manner, Lehman says. “This is real time in front of the customer.”

Retirement income guarantee but at a cost

Uncle Sam wants to expand the transparency of 401(k) fees and broaden the availability of retirement plan payout options to encourage the use of annuities to provide lifetime income. Uncle Sam is giving a windfall to the financial services industry by making annuities available in our employer’s retirement plans. It will be easier to buy an annuity with our 401k money when we leave our job. Many people just cash out their 401k and the government is worried we won’t have a nestegg for later. Most annuities sold today are very expensive so sellers will make a fortune on the $11 Trillions in pension plans. Memebers have a better way and save 1-2% on the commissions too.

CA Medical Debt Keeps Rising, New Report Shows

In 2009, 2.6 million non-elderly Californians had some kind of medical debt -- an increase of 400,000 since 2007, the new "State of Health Insurance in California" report shows. Among enrollees in Medi-Cal, the program that is intended to provide comprehensive care for low-income residents, 18.2 percent had medical debt, a level comparable to the uninsured (18.4 percent). "This suggests that the program may not be providing everything its enrollees need, either because certain services are not included in coverage or there are increasingly fewer doctors that accept Medi-Cal patients," said Lavarreda.

Another long-term care insurer quits—raises rates for existing policies

Unum is getting out of the group long-term care insurance (LTCI) and preparing to increase the premiums it charges for in-force group LTCI coverage. "We intend to aggressively manage the long-term care business," Thomas Watjen, president of Unum, Chattanooga, Tenn., said today. "This will include continuing our practice of seeking rate increases on the in-force business where warranted and also exploring opportunities for capital management." Members consider alternatives like using their Wealth Reserve if needed.

Media spotlights how insurer evades paying claims--again

TV station highlights struggle of a patient’s family and regulators to battle for long-term care insurance coverage after buying a policy, the head of the NAIC health committee has vowed stronger regulation for those LTC insurers that deny coverage even when it deemed valid. The case involves a company making no benefit payments after claim for over $165,000 in care for a Miriam Mills, a 93-year-old nursing home patient with memory lapses. Mills' case was meant to expose the alleged problems with Bankers Life and Casualty (Conseco), which serves seniors. “Despite numerous faxes, telephone calls, letters, a flood of paid nursing home statements, care plans forms and even a formal complaint filed with the Missouri Insurance Commissioner, no benefits have been paid,” a Mills relative stated. Insurers don’t like paying claims. See The Rainmaker:

The End
Eastman Kodak Co, the photography icon that invented the hand-held camera and helped bring the world the first pictures from the moon, is exiting the camera business.

GOP claim high taxes hurt job formation is disproved by Romney’s own work

Romney’s business profits for investors is evidence that fair tax rates don't hold back profit-seeking capitalists. From 1984 until 1999, the top rates on capital gains -- the profit from investments as opposed to compensation for work -- were often at 28 percent, and never lower than 20 percent. Indeed, in 1987, under President Ronald Reagan, the 20 percent rate rose to 28 percent -- a 40 percent increase in potential taxation of Bain investment profit. (Yes, Reagan did raise taxes, even on capital.)

Capitalists invest when there are profits to be made. Jobs are created when the workers earn enough to buy the stuff they produce.

Henry Ford had it right: Paying high wages," he concluded, "is behind the prosperity of this country."

Will anyone go to jail for mortgage mess?

New Mortgage Suits Against BofA, JPMorgan, Wells Fargo Plus Goldman

A federal judge certified a class-action lawsuit being led by a pension fund for Mississippi’s public sector employees that invested in the securities. A class action suit may draw in more plaintiffs who would otherwise not have the resources to take on Goldman in court. The case in question concerns a $698 million offering that was backed by New Century loans.

How could Romney have an IRA worth $20 - $100 million as per WSJ

The IRA max was $2000 in 80’s, now $5000. Rollover IRA from 401k max $30,000 a year. Romney was not making cash contributions to his IRA. Was he parking equity shares of his companies’ investment funds there, or quite possibly putting shares of private companies that his firm bought into his 401(k). If this happened, we need to know at what valuation Romney made these contributions. It is very easy to claim a low stated value for shares of private companies or investment funds that have no market price. If Romney purposely understated the true value of the shares he contributed to his retirement plan he could be held criminally liable. He used offshore accounts for this perhaps.

Romney will face earned income tax when he takes out the IRA money. IRA money is not taxed at capital gains rates. ... unless he can arange a special deal with the IRS. He might have a chance if he becomes Pres, unlike us tax payers. Maybe this is why he is running for President. The ultimate capitalist pays only 13%. Everyone else pays more.

Wall Street offers CD with 24% return—sort of, if you a lucky, maybe, perhaps, etc, etc.

Regulators are examining sales of certificates of deposit tied to derivatives after banks sold a record number of the investments last year. The industry-backed regulator wants to make sure the so-called structured CDs, where principal is protected by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., are properly understood by investors given their increasing complexity and lengthening maturities, said Maria Rabinovich, a lawyer in Finra’s risk division.

The watchdog issued an alert on “complex products” in January, outlining a few examples of misunderstandins, such as those where information is not readily available about the assets they’re tied to, and so-called“steepeners,” which typically bet on the shape of the Treasury yield curve. Goldman Sachs offered a four-year CD linked to the monthly returns of the Dow Jones Industrial average in December that returns as much as 24 percent a year. The Dow would have to gain at least 2 percent each month over the CD’s life for the maximum payout, according to an offering statement. Investors are guaranteed an annual yield of 0.5 percent, an amount less than the average 0.77 percent rate paid by one-year certificates of deposits.

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