How to fortify retirement plans against a financial shock

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Our daily roundup of retirement news your clients may be thinking about.

Bad Social Security advice cost recipients $131 million, report finds
A report from the Social Security Administration's Office of the Inspector General says that bad advice to widow and widower beneficiaries from the agency's representatives resulted in underpayment estimated at $131.8 million, according to this article on CNBC. Some 1,899 beneficiaries are expected to lose about $9.8 million in benefits every year when they reach the age of 70, the report adds. "We did not find any evidence SSA had informed claimants of the option to delay their retirement application when they applied for benefits, as required."

How to fortify your retirement against a financial shock
A brief from the Boston College Center for Retirement Research states that a decline in income as a result of the death of a spouse and an increase in medical expenses both pose a serious risk to retirement but can be curbed with proper planning, according to this article on CBS Moneywatch. Clients who are the primary wage-earner in the family should consider deferring their Social Security benefits to boost spousal benefits or elect a joint and survivor annuity in their defined-benefit pension plan. They should also sign up for Medicare supplement plan or Advantage plan and invest in a health savings account to prepare for sudden increase in healthcare costs.

Downturn protection not a reason to go active
An expert says that the good performance of actively managed funds during the recent market downturn should not prompt investors to shift to these funds, according to this article on Morningstar. "One is that we have far more up periods that we do down periods. The second is that we see active funds, they don't persist in their outperformance," says the expert. "If you look at a subsequent three-year period after a fund outperforms, it doesn't maintain that outperformance. It basically decays over time."

Your retirement plan is getting a facelift. How to take advantage
A survey by Willis Towers Watson has found that many employers have made changes to their 401(k) plans, such as increasing matching contributions, offering a Roth feature and making fees more transparent, according to this article on CNBC. Companies should help their workers secure their retirement by enhancing their defined contribution plans, says a retirement consultant with the advisory firm. "[Defined contribution] was never built as the primary retirement source."

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Social Security Social Security benefits Retirement income Healthcare costs Active management Passive management Center for Retirement Research