Widow’s Penalty Pitfall

Compared to past joint tax return filing with their deceased spouse, a surviving spouse may land in a higher marginal tax bracket – referred to as the “widow’s penalty.” Unfortunately, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) has made the widow’s penalty more severe in many instances.

With this in mind, clients, even in their 70s or 80s, may consider greater traditional IRA withdrawals or Roth IRA conversions as a means to take advantage of preferable marginal tax rates. It is important to act while both spouses are alive.

Medicare Premiums Increase for 2017

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services announced that monthly premiums for Medicare will be increasing next year. Seventy percent of Medicare beneficiaries are protected by the “hold harmless” provision, which says benefit checks cannot decrease due to Medicare increases. The provision was triggered by the small 0.3% cost of living increase to Social Security for 2017. If you are covered by the hold harmless provision and you are currently paying $104.90/month, your premium will increase to $109/month.

Social Security Cost of Living and Wage Base Increases for 2017

The Social Security Administration (SSA) has announced that the cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) for 2017 will be 0.3%, the smallest increase since automatic increases began in 1975. The adjustment is calculated using the percentage increase in the Consumer Price Index (CPI) over the previous year.

Breaking News-Changes to Social Security

October 2015

Several Social Security and Medicare issues have been making headlines this week. In an effort to help you understand the implications, we have summarized the changes below. These changes could impact your Social Security benefits if you or your spouse will reach your Full Retirement Age (FRA) of 66 in the next six months, if you have already reached your FRA but have not yet filed for benefits, or if you were born after 1954 and were planning to file a restricted application for spousal benefits.

Social Security Cost of Living Adjustment