November's Articles:

Social Security Beneficiaries Will Receive a 2 Percent Increase in 2018

In 2018, Social Security recipients will get their largest cost of living increase in benefits since 2012, but the additional income will likely be largely eaten up by higher Medicare Part B premiums.

Cost of living increases are tied to the consumer price index, and an upturn in inflation rates and gas prices means recipients get a small boost in 2018, amounting to $27 a month for the typical retiree. The 2 percent increase is higher than last year’s .3 percent rise and the lack of any increase at all in 2016. The cost of living change also affects the maximum amount of earnings subject to the Social Security tax, which will grow from $127,200 to $128,700.

The increase in benefits will likely be consumed by higher Medicare premiums, however. Most elderly and disabled people have their Medicare Part B premiums deducted from their monthly Social Security checks. For these individuals, if Social Security benefits don't rise, Medicare premiums can't either. This “hold harmless” provision does not apply to about 30 percent of Medicare beneficiaries: those enrolled in Medicare but who are not yet receiving Social Security, new Medicare beneficiaries, seniors earning more than $85,000 a year, and "dual eligibles" who get both Medicare and Medicaid benefits. In the past few years, Medicare beneficiaries not subject to the hold harmless provision have been paying higher Medicare premiums while Medicare premiums for those in the hold harmless group remained more or less the same. Now that seniors will be getting an increase in Social Security payments, Medicare will likely hike premiums for the seniors in the hold harmless group. And that increase may eat up the entire raise, at least for some beneficiaries.

For 2018, the monthly federal Supplemental Security Income (SSI) payment standard will be $750 for an individual and $1,125 for a couple.

For more on the 2018 Social Security benefit levels, click here.

Choosing a Trustee for A Child’s Special Needs Trust

is often the most difficult decision our clients have to make. It can be even harder than choosing a guardian for a minor child, because the guardian, hopefully, will never have to serve, while the trustee almost certainly will.

Being a trustee can be a difficult job. The trustee's duties include making proper investments, paying bills, keeping accounts, and preparing tax returns. And the job of trustee of a special needs trust is particularly fraught because the role could last a lifetime.

But a trustee must be chosen, and we try to reassure our clients with the following: That whoever serves can always hire people to help, such as accountants and investment advisors. That the clients can change the trustee in the future if they want. That the trustee can always resign. Eventually the decision gets made, and our clients sleep better at night.

By way of background, the law isn't very strict about who may serve as your trustee, as long as the person is legally competent, meaning he or she is over 18 years of age and is capable of managing his or her own affairs. The main considerations when selecting a trustee are picking someone who is trustworthy, will stay involved, will seek help as needed, and can make sometimes difficult decisions. The trustee has a duty to manage the trust in the beneficiary's best interest. The trustee does not need legal or financial expertise, but he or she must have good judgment.

Another consideration is that the trustee be able to manage the trust for an extended period of time. Your choice of trustee should be someone who will likely be around for a long time and who has the time to devote to trustee duties. It is important that the trustee be of sound mind and body. If you don't know anyone who meets these qualifications, you can look into hiring an independent trustee. This can be an individual or an institution such as a bank or trust company, a professional trustee, an investment advisor or manager, an investment banker, an accountant or a lawyer. In addition to being independent, a professional trustee will usually have experience and expertise in managing trusts. If you aren't comfortable with having a stranger manage the trust, it may be possible to choose a family member and a professional trustee as co-trustees. The downside to hiring an independent trustee is that the trustee will charge a fee, which is usually a percentage of the trust, but this is generally well worth the benefits professional trustees provide.

We are often asked whether the trustee and the guardian should be the same person. Personally I did that, because I wanted my sister, who is going to be in charge of my autistic and sometimes very difficult son, to have the money to deal with him without the extra hassle of having to ask someone else for the funds. But often people pick someone different, because for example one family member is more nurturing, and the other more financially savvy.
Or they want to keep both sides of the family involved, so they name the mother’s relative as the trustee, and the father’s relative as the guardian, or vice-versa. Or, for other reasons – each situation is different. Whomever you choose as trustee, it is important to reevaluate your choice every few years. The person who is right today may not be right tomorrow. Your attorney can help you determine who is the best trustee for you.

By: Karen Mariscal,

40 Things Only Older People Say

How does one actually define an “older” person these days? Is it when he or she reaches 50? Or is it 60? Or maybe it’s measured by something else entirely… After all, these days “old” is definitely more of a state of mind—or perhaps a feeling—than it is purely a number.

Whatever the case, we’d strongly posit that the truest definition of “old” is anyone who regularly uses these words and phrases we’ve compiled here. Trust us: you’ll never find a more wonderfully old-fashioned and lovably outdated collection of sayings, statements, and questions that will practically scream: “I’m an older person!”

So read on (and please know that all of the silly punchlines here come from a very good, warmhearted place). And if you’d like to learn how to speak millennial, we’ve got your back! Just check out the 40 Things Only Millennials Say.

1) “Back in my day…”

Incoming: A long story of hardship and perseverance that we’d all be so lucky to hear. Oh, and while we’re looking backward, here are the 23 Old-Fashioned Etiquette Rules That Still Apply.

2) “I left a message on your answering machine.”

Sure, it may be “voicemail” today, but you’ve got to give credit where credit is due: answering machines made for way better plot devices in horror films. And speaking of answering machines: they’re definitely one of 50 Things You No Longer See in Offices. 

3) “I taped the game last night.”

Today, we DVR things. Yesterday we Tivo’d. A long, long, long time ago we taped.

4) “When did this song become ‘classic’ rock!?”

It’s been a long time since that Rush album came out, I’m afraid.

5) “What’s your fax number?”

I know what you’re going to say next: “They’re useless until you absolutely need one.” Which is definitely true! But it doesn’t make you any younger, friend.

6) “I printed the directions from Mapquest.”

Unfortunately, these printed directions cannot “recalculate your route.”

7) “I took a nap on the davenport.”

There’s nothing wrong with an occasional nap, but calling your couch a “davenport?” Sorry, but a total #oldpersonmove.

8) “You go ahead, I’m just going to sit for a minute.”

We hate to say it, but when the bench looks more enticing than the walk, it could be a sign of advanced age. And for some great health advice, here are 40 Ways to Stay Sharp After 40.

9) “I need to swing by the bank and make a deposit.”

But kudos to those friendly few who prefer to chat with a teller over using an ATM and direct deposit.

10) “Can I borrow your calculator?”

Rare exception: if you’re a high-schooler taking calculus.

11) “Kids today.”

If you follow this phrase with something derogatory, you’ll be a walking stereotype! Oh, and speaking of those crazy kids: Here are 25 Things That Were Considered Scandalous 100 Years Ago But Are Totally Normal Now. 

12) “I found some great photos for Throwback Thursday on Facebook!”

Throwback Thursdays began with widespread appeal. But more recently the average age of the people still using this hashtag with enthusiasm is increasingly getting up there.

13) “The 90s were only ten years ago!”

Sorry, it’s been almost two decades.

14) “I’ll call a cab.”

It’s an Uber or Lyft world, my friend.

15) “I’m just going to rest my eyes for a minute.”

Also: If you’re having trouble with sleeping, here are 11 Doctor-Approved Secrets for Falling Asleep Faster—Tonight. 

16) “I saw this great segment on 60 Minutes.”

Yes, 60 Minutes is the new Matlock.

17) “I know the newspaper delivery kid on a first name basis.”

It’s a good bet even little Steve owns a tablet.

18) “I slept like a baby last night.”

There’s just something about this phrase that strikes us as lovably old-fashioned. Perhaps it was Bob Dole’s use of it after losing the 1996 presidential race. (Either way, we just dated ourselves considerably with that reference.)

19) “Hold on, I think I have exact change.”

We dare you to find us a Millennial who carries pennies.

20) “The machine.”

When referring to a computer.

21) “Can you print out this email?”

A classic baby boomer move.

22) “I’ll call the operator and get her number.”

Otherwise known as the analog Siri.

23) “I’m just going to stick with Windows 98. It works fine enough.”

It’s time for an upgrade, friend.

24) “I’ll make you a mixtape.”

For the record: we think this is a way better and more personal gesture than simply sending a Spotify playlist over email. That said, it still screams “older person.”

25) “I remember when there wasn’t so much swearing on TV.”

“Ah, the Brady Bunch. Now that was good TV!”

26) “Work hard and you’ll get to the corner office!”

If only corner offices were still in abundance.

27) “I just don’t get selfies.”

We hear you. But perhaps the “pasta selfie” will change your mind.

28) “We have some leftovers in the ice box.”

Of course, “iceboxes” started to fall out of fashion in the 1930s. But it’s a delightful, throw-back affectation.

29) “Why would I pay for water when I can get it for free out of the faucet?”

Said no young person ever.

30) “I’m hip, right?”

If you have to ask…

31) “Can I pay for this by check?”

Thanks to phones, even debit cards are becoming dated. So checks are officially two generations ago.

32) “Thanks for asking.”

Specifically when a bartender, waitress, or liquor store employee requests your ID before selling you alcohol. Gratefulness for being carded is not an emotion experienced by young people.

33) “It sounds like a lot of noise to me.”

When referring to, say, Daft Punk.

34) “We sure are in a pickle.”

Unless, of course, you’re playing baseball.

35) “Off my lawn before I hit you with this rake!”

You’ve officially become the cranky neighbor in the Dennis the Menace.

36) “I almost forgot to print my boarding pass!”

Another thing made obsolete thanks to the smartphone.

37) “I never use a credit card on the Internet.”

But honestly, no one would blame you for this. Chalk one up to the older folks!

38) “Time to schedule my annual colonoscopy.”

It’s a sign you’re aging, for sure.

39) “Let’s hit the early-bird special”

It’s not so much the whole buffet thing. It’s the fact that you’re probably eating dinner while so many people are at work.

40) “I have some hard candy in my pocket.”

If you’ve grown to enjoy the taste of caramel candies combined with pocket lint, I’m afraid it’s official: You are no longer young.

By: Bob Larkin,

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