Longevity & Aging

No doubt about it: at some point we’re neither semi-retired, findependent or fully retired. We’re out there in a retirement community or retirement home, and maybe for a few years near the end of this incarnation, some time to reflect on it all in a nursing home. Our Longevity & Aging category features our own unique blog posts, as well as blog feeds from Mark Venning’s ChangeRangers.com and other experts.

Retired Money: A third of OAS recipients can also expect Guaranteed Income Supplement

My latest MoneySense Retired Money column was published today and looks at the Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS) to Old Age Security. You can find the full column by clicking on the highlighted headline adjacent: What to expect when applying for GIS.

Service Canada says as of June 2017, 1.94 million seniors were receiving the GIS, roughly a third of the country’s 5.93 million OAS pensioners.

You can get an overview of the GIS program at the Service Canada web site. It says the first requirement to receive GIS is that you also qualify for and are receiving OAS. So that means you have to be age 65: unlike CPP (which can pay reduced benefits as early as age 60), there’s no such thing as early OAS or early GIS, except in certain special circumstances. If you were automatically enrolled in OAS, you should apply for GIS three months before your 65th birthday.

Maximum monthly GIS payments for a single is $871.86: tax-free!

How much can you receive if you qualify? Service Canada’s media relations department says that as of the July to September 2017 quarter, maximum GIS amounts for those receiving the full OAS pension of $583.74 a month are $871.86 a month for a single, widowed or divorced OAS pensioner (so adding the two, $1,455.60 a month); $524.85 if your spouse/partner receives full OAS, $871.86 if your spouse does not receive an OAS pension or the Allowance, and $524.85 if the spouse receives the Allowance.

Thresholds to qualify are very low

Of course, the fact that two thirds of OAS recipients do NOT qualify for GIS suggests that most people are unlikely to qualify: after all, GIS has been referred to in some circles as “Senior’s Welfare.”

In the case of a couple with a combined income of no more than $23,376 and where the spouse gets full OAS, the maximum monthly GIS for the other spouse is $524.85. If the partner is not receiving OAS and the combined income is no more than $42,384, the individual will get some GIS; they will get the full $871.86 monthly GIS benefit if they have no other income. In the case of a couple making no more than $42,384 and where the spouse is receiving the Allowance, the maximum monthly GIS for the other partner is $524.85. For updated numbers, click here.

Still, if you’re close to these thresholds there’s little to lose by seeing if you may qualify. It used to be that Service Canada didn’t always go out of its way to notify low-income seniors that they may qualify for GIS. This has since been rectified: free money that’s also tax free is certainly something worth investigating!

How to handle windfalls, inheritances, gifts, estate freezes

“We should all be concerned about the future because we will have to spend the rest of our lives there.” — Charles F. Kettering (1876–1958), American inventor

Will a lifetime of work help the next generation’s financial security? Let’s imagine.

Boomers and younger generations often receive cash and other financial assets from several sources. Three popular ones come to mind, such as inheritances, gifts and estate freezes. Let’s call them wealth transfers or windfalls. Some are modest while others are substantial. All ought to be much appreciated.

In Canada, the value of transfers is estimated to exceed $1 trillion. Similarly, the US ballpark is likely higher than $10 trillion. These windfalls serve as a welcome boost for ageing boomers. Especially where the nest egg is in need of a little help.

Inheritances consist mostly of family homes, cottages, land, income properties, stocks, bonds, mutual funds, family businesses, cash and term deposits. Gifts typically include cash and equivalents, savings and a variety of deposits. An estate freeze often involves private companies, family businesses, farms, income real estate and family trusts.

Don’t make any snap decisions that cannot be reversed. Don’t sell things you now own or buy anything new, like stocks or real estate.

Receiving a wealth transfer is like winning the lottery. We are human and can fall prey to emotional, spur of the moment decisions. Avoiding the pitfalls of dealing with our exuberant feelings of sudden wealth is not always easy.

No need to rush

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100 Kilometers per Hour to Full Stop!

By Heather Compton 

Special to the Financial Independence Hub

You’re busy!  You’ve been diligently advancing your career, paying bills, raising kids and saving for retirement.  Lots of your available life hours spent grooming for, travelling to or toiling away at work.

Now fast forward to your first day of retirement — nowhere to be; no need to get out of your bathrobe or into the car.  For some that sounds like nirvana; for others, their worst nightmare. Even nirvana wears thin if it’s a steady diet with no variety.

The shift from active work-life to part-time work or full-time retirement is one of the important tasks of mid-and-later life.  Psychologists speak of it as a transition, and like other life transitions it brings both bumps and bonuses. Imagine adjusting, as one of my clients put it, to “twice as much husband on half as much income!”

What’s Next?

What comes next? You may need to reclaim or rediscover yourself.  You’ve defined yourself as parent, partner and businessperson and now you’re “out of work” on two fronts – kids grown plus the job has flown.  Where does your routine, sense of purpose, identity and social engagement come from?

A rockin’ retirement isn’t a given, it’s an intention.  A rich life is a goal worth meeting, but it takes focus that goes far beyond your net worth statement.

A Life with Style

At the core of virtually all measures of life-satisfaction is your state of health.  Now you are driving an older vehicle, one where replacement parts don’t function as well as the factory originals. Creating a vehicle-maintenance schedule becomes your new job.

The World Health Organization describes health as, “a state of physical, mental and social well-being.” That requires a focus on all aspects of your health – financial, physical, emotional, mental and spiritual well-being.

Begin Again

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Retired Money: Sticker shock on Healthcare costs for Seniors

Senior with her caregiver at home

Have you factored rising Healthcare costs into your retirement planning? Here’s my latest MoneySense Retired Money column, which you can access by clicking on the highlighted headline: One huge cost to factor into retirement plans.

That huge cost is of course unexpected medical expenses, which tend to escalate the further along you go in your golden years. Typically, the early years of Retirement (say, in your 60s) are dubbed “Go-Go” years, which are the healthy ones during which you can travel, and medical costs tend to be minimal.

Costs rise as you go from Slow-go to No-go years

But as time goes on, often between the late 60s and early 70s, you can expect a few medical problems to emerge for at least one member of a senior couple, if not both. That’s why they some dub the middle period the “Slow-go” years.

And of course, the last few years is where costs can really mount up: the so-called “No-go” years, especially if you no longer “stay in place” in your home, or require extensive in-home care, or are forced out of the family home altogether to go to a retirement home or nursing home.

Continue Reading…

5 Steps to a Victorious Retirement

Who doesn’t want a Victorious Retirement?

Just in time for the long weekend and Canada’s 150th birthday, MoneySense.ca has just published a 5-part series on retirement, going from deciding what you want to working longer, the Ages & Stages by decade, being a snowbird, and finally what to do once you finally reached the hallowed land of Retirement/Findependence/Victory Lap.

Here’s a summary of each piece (all written by Yours Truly), and links to the full articles:

1.) The first step: What do you really want?

Take a custom approach to retirement planning. There’s no point fretting too much about retirement and how much to save if you haven’t first determined what you want to DO once you’re retired. For starters, how are you going to fill those 2,000 hours a year you use to spend in the office and commuting? Click here for full article.


2.) We live longer. Why not work longer?

Ask questions about a retirement plan that’s right for you. Life expectancies are on the rise: more and more Baby Boomers can expect to become centenarians and that probably goes double for their children, the Millennials. Makes sense to consider working a little longer, if only part-time. Or if you really dislike your chosen profession, go back to school or retrain and find something you’d really enjoy doing in your golden years: preferably something that pays! Click here for full article.


3.) Snowbird? Learn the “substantial presence” test

Learn the tax pitfalls of retiring to the sun in the U.S. It all depends on how long you plan to stay down south each year: the formula isn’t simple. If you don’t relish the thought of paying tax to two countries, you may want to make sure you’re not considered to have a “substantial presence” in the U.S.  Click here for full article.

4.) Your retirement plan has a life cycle

Retirement planning strategies for every age. Every decade from your 20s to your 70s and beyond should take you a little further along the journey to financial independence/Retirement. Just like we all share the same fate in our human life cycle, so it is with the financial life cycle. Click here for full article.


5.) Retirement planning —after you retire

The plan doesn’t stop when you stop working.

My co-authored book Victory Lap Retirement features on its cover what appears to be a sprinter breaking through the finish line of a long marathon. But that doesn’t mean we’re saying Retirement is a literal finish line and with it the end of striving and purpose. In fact, we’re saying a “Victory Lap” really only begins when you reach the “finish line” of financial independence, or Findependence.

There will still be a big adjustment as you move from Wealth Accumulation to the De-accumulation or “Decumulation” phase: less earned income and more passive sources of income. And you’ll need to master the tax aspects because Tax may be one of the biggest expenses in Retirement. Click here for full article.