YOUR WEALTH CONNECTION

Updated Premiums and Deductibles for Medicare
Higher than normal.


Provided by Hilltop Wealth & Tax Solutions

 

Medicare’s premiums and deductibles have seen a larger-than-expected rise this year. For example, Medicare Part B monthly premiums have risen to $170.10, a 14.5% increase. The deductible for Part B rose to $233. The Part A deductible increased to $1,556.1,2

If you didn’t take advantage of the recent open enrollment period, you aren’t alone. According to a recent survey from MedicareGuide.com, 67% of beneficiaries hadn’t looked at their choices by mid-November, while the Kaiser Family Foundation discovered that 71% don’t review their options at all during the open enrollment period.1

For many Americans, Medicare remains a vital program, keeping healthcare affordable. Open enrollment comes again from October 15 to December 7 of 2022, it is definitely worth your time to familiarize yourself with the changes and the options you might select for your coverage.

Erik Brenner, CFP® may be reached at 574.889.7526 or erikbrenner@hilltopwealthtax.com  •  HilltopWealthTax.com

This material was prepared by MarketingPro, Inc., and does not necessarily represent the views of the presenting party, nor their affiliates. This information has been derived from sources believed to be accurate. Please note – investing involves risk, and past performance is no guarantee of future results. The publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting or other professional services. If assistance is needed, the reader is advised to engage the services of a competent professional. This information should not be construed as investment, tax or legal advice and may not be relied on for the purpose of avoiding any Federal tax penalty. This is neither a solicitation nor recommendation to purchase or sell any investment or insurance product or service, and should not be relied upon as such. All indices are unmanaged and are not illustrative of any particular investment.

«Representative Disclosure» 

Citations

  1. CNBC.com, November 29, 2021
  2. CNBC.com, November 12, 2021

Beware of Fraud and Scams

It wasn’t that long ago when our money and assets were safe, or at least there was a high degree of perceived safety.

Investment accounts were secured by SIPC insurance. The same could be said about FDIC-insured bank accounts. And, if you spotted a fraudulent charge on your credit card, all that was required was a quick phone call to the number on the back of your card, and it was removed.

Sure, there were fraudsters and scammers, but potential access to your personal finances was much more limited.

Those same SIPC, FDIC, and credit card protections remain in place today. Unfortunately, the advent of the Internet, social media, and a global reach have led to a proliferation of scams that can quickly deliver a knockout blow to your savings.

While you need not be in a perpetual state of readiness, a healthy level of vigilance and skepticism can go a long way. It will protect your savings and prevent you from becoming a victim of fraud.

How can you avoid becoming a victim? The FTC highlights four elements that can help you spot a scam.

  1. Scammers PRETEND to be from an organization you know. They may claim to be from the Social Security Administration, the IRS, a bank, a well-known company such as PayPal, Netflix, or Amazon, or your local utility.

Never give someone your password, bank information, PIN number, social security number, or personal identifying information. Never settle a debt or problem over the phone from an unexpected call that came your way.

Many solicitors are scammers looking for money. If you pay these criminals, they will come back in a short period of time, claiming another discrepancy was found and another payment is needed.

  1. Scammers say there’s a PROBLEM or a PRIZE. You’ve won a big prize, just make a good faith down payment to receive your winnings. If you do, you’ll never see that money again.

 

  1. Scammers PRESSURE you to act immediately. Whether a scammer or salesperson, pressure to act immediately is a red flag. Hang up the phone. You are in control. Don’t cede that control to someone else.

 

  1. Scammers tell you to PAY in a specific way. They may insist you send money through a money transfer company or put money on a gift card. Then, they will ask you to give them the number on the back of the gift card or someone will send you a check, request you to deposit it, and ask you to send them some of the money.

 

That check will bounce after you’ve delivered the cash to the scammer.

 

Major scams targeting older Americans

Older adults lost $600 million to fraud in 2020, when the pandemic fueled spikes in almost all top categories of fraud, federal officials say.

Whether it is Zoom phishing emails, Covid-19 vax card scams, phony online websites, or romance scams, please be leery when you venture online or on social media sites. Recently, the AARP highlighted some the avenues fraudsters use to take your money.

For example, “You receive an email, text or social media message with the Zoom logo, telling you to click on a link because your account is suspended or you missed a meeting,” says Katherine Hutt, national spokesperson for the Better Business Bureau. “Clicking can allow criminals to download malicious software onto your computer.”

Others will exploit what might be called the flavor of the month or topic of the day. Recently, the government said it will offer free Covid test kits. You can obtain yours at covidtests.gov/. The site takes you directly to special.usps.com/testkits to order.

But criminals attempt to impersonate these sites by adding a few letters or a word like “free” within the link. The link appears legit, but it’s not. The fraudulent site will encourage you to divulge personal information.

While we won’t touch on every scam, we wanted to highlight romance scams, which led the way in 2020.

According to AARP, the scam works like this. You place your profile on an online dating site, and a potential partner entices you with his or her charm, intelligence, and good looks. But you don’t live in the same city or state.

Though you become attached, you never seem to be able to meet this person. Eventually, an emergency, business crisis, or some type of problem “unexpectedly” surfaces, and you are asked to send money.

Give them cash and they will continue to prey on you until you figure it out.

It seems obvious, but never underestimate how easily you can be tricked when love and your emotions are in play.

 

Avoid being defrauded by following several commonsense tips offered by the FTC.

  1. Block unwanted calls and text messages.

 

  1. Don’t give your personal or financial information in response to a request that you didn’t expect. Legitimate organizations won’t call, email, or text to ask for your personal information.

 

  1. If you get an email or text message from a company you do business with and you think it’s real, it’s still best not to click on any links. Instead, contact them using a website you know is trustworthy. Don’t call a number they provided or the number from your caller ID.

 

  1. Resist the pressure to act immediately. Legitimate businesses will give you time to make a decision.

 

  1. Know how scammers tell you to pay. Never pay someone who insists you pay with a gift card, by using a money transfer service, or by setting up a PayPal account. Additionally, never deposit a check and send money back to someone.

 

  1. Stop and talk to someone you trust.

 

Finally, avoid the temptation of telling a scammer what you think of him or her. In researching this article, we came across those who regretted such action. Yes, they may have been an ocean away from the scammer, but that didn’t prevent a vindictive fraudster from placing the victim’s phone number on numerous fake ads or overwhelming them with robocalls.

Remember, they are sophisticated criminals that have access to the latest technology.

If, unfortunately you find you have become a victim, you can report the incident to the FTC at https://reportfraud.ftc.gov/#/

Just remember: Delete suspicious emails, ignore suspicious texts, hang up, and don’t argue with scammers.

 

 

Retirement Preparation Mistakes
Why are they made again and again?


Provided by Hilltop Wealth & Tax Solutions 

 

Much is out there about the classic financial mistakes that plague start-ups, family businesses, corporations, and charities. Aside from these blunders, some classic financial missteps plague retirees.

Calling them “mistakes” may be a bit harsh, as not all of them represent errors in judgment. Yet whether they result from ignorance or fate, we need to be aware of them as we prepare for and enter retirement.

Timing Social Security. As Social Security benefits rise about 8% for every year you delay receiving them, waiting a few years to apply for benefits can position you for higher retirement income. Filing for your monthly benefits before you reach Social Security’s Full Retirement Age (FRA) can mean comparatively smaller monthly payments.1

Managing medical bills. Medicare will not pay for everything. Unless there’s a change in how the program works, you may have a number of out-of-pocket costs, including dental, and vision.     

Underestimating longevity. Actuaries at the Social Security Administration project that around a third of today’s 65-year-olds will live to age 90, with about one in seven living 95 years or longer. The prospect of a 20- or 30-year retirement is not unreasonable, yet there is still a lingering cultural assumption that our retirements might duplicate the relatively brief ones of our parents.2 

Withdrawing strategies. You may have heard of the “4% rule,” a guideline stating that you should take out only about 4% of your retirement savings annually. Some retirees try to abide by it. 

So, why do others withdraw 7% or 8% a year? In the first phase of retirement, people tend to live it up; more free time naturally promotes new ventures and adventures and an inclination to live a bit more lavishly.            

Talking About Taxes. It can be a good idea to have both taxable and tax-advantaged accounts in retirement. Assuming your retirement will be long, you may want to assign this or that investment to its “preferred domain.” What does that mean? It means the taxable or tax-advantaged account that may be most appropriate for it as you pursue a better after-tax return for the whole portfolio.

Retiring with debts. Some find it harder to preserve (or accumulate) wealth when you are handing portions of it to creditors.

Putting college costs before retirement costs. There is no “financial aid” program for retirement. There are no “retirement loans.” Your children have their whole financial lives ahead of them.

Retiring with no investment strategy.  Expect that retirement will have a few surprises; the absence of a strategy can leave people without guidance when those surprises happen.

These are some of the classic retirement mistakes. Why not attempt to avoid them? Take a little time to review and refine your retirement strategy in the company of the financial professional you know and trust.

Erik Brenner, CFP® may be reached at 574.889.7526 or erikbrenner@hilltopwealthtax.com.

www.hilltopwealthtax.com

This material was prepared by MarketingPro, Inc., and does not necessarily represent the views of the presenting party, nor their affiliates. This information has been derived from sources believed to be accurate. Please note – investing involves risk, and past performance is no guarantee of future results. The publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting or other professional services. If assistance is needed, the reader is advised to engage the services of a competent professional. This information should not be construed as investment, tax or legal advice and may not be relied on for the purpose of avoiding any Federal tax penalty. This is neither a solicitation nor recommendation to purchase or sell any investment or insurance product or service, and should not be relied upon as such. All indices are unmanaged and are not illustrative of any particular investment.

Additional information about Hilltop Wealth Solutions is available in its current disclosure documents, Form ADV, Form ADV Part 2A Brochure, and Client Relationship Summary Report which are accessible online  via the SEC’s investment Adviser Public Disclosure (IAPD) database at www.adviserinfo.sec.gov, using SEC # 801-115255

Citations

  1. Forbes.com, December 9, 2021
  2. SSA.gov, January 24, 2022

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