A WISER Guide. Financial Steps for Caregivers: What You Need to Know About Money and Retirement

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1 WISER WOMEN S INSTITUTE FOR A SECURE RETIREMENT A WISER Guide Financial Steps for Caregivers: What You Need to Know About Money and Retireent This booklet was prepared under a grant fro the Adinistration on Aging.

2 Purpose What Caregivers Need to Know About Money and Retireent The inforation in this booklet is designed to help you identify financial decisions you ay face as a caregiver. These decisions can affect both your short and long-ter financial security, including your own retireent. Nearly one out of every four U.S. households or 22 illion households provide care to a relative or friend aged 50 or older.* In addition, 40% of caregivers are also raising children and 64% work full or part-tie. On average, caregivers spend four and a half years providing care, and spend about 12 hours each week providing it.** The Costs of Caregiving Caregiving often results in financial consequences for the caregiver. Soe of the consequences are obvious: a decision to work part-tie, to decline a prootion requiring longer hours or to pass up a training opportunity requiring travel. But there are ore subtle consequences as well. These include: lost opportunities for copounded returns on 401(k) atching contributions, a reduction in savings and investents, or an inability to finance hoe iproveents that could increase the resale value of a residence. One study found that, on average, caregivers lose $659,130 over a lifetie in reduced salary and retireent benefits.*** on average, caregivers lose $659,130 over a lifetie *** * Aerican Society on Aging ** National Alliance for Caregiving *** National Center on Woen & Aging

3 Step 1: Budgeting Basics If you are a caregiver to a child, spouse or a disabled adult, having a household budget is a ust. A budget will enable you to live in a way that protects you fro financial crisis. If you are a caregiver to parents or another adult outside of your household, you ay find yourself paying expenses, both sall and large, for that person without adding it all up or considering the long-ter consequences. Sall expenses add up quickly and could be preventing you fro saving enough for your own retireent. Follow the steps on these pages to help your faily or another faily eber create a budget for living expenses. If there is a shortfall, exaine all the expenses individually and think about ways to reduce expenses. Or, consider asking other faily ebers to contribute to the onthly budget of the faily eber you are caring for. In your own household budget, be sure to include a regular onthly aount to save toward your own retireent. The first step toward creating your household budget is to keep track of spending. Buy a sall notebook and take it with you everywhere that you go for a couple of onths. Write down everything that you spend oney on. After a few weeks, start putting your expenses into categories, like food, transportation, and clothing. Look at how you spend your oney. You ay be surprised, for exaple, that you spend so uch on food when you are not eating at hoe. Make a list of bills you have to pay on a regular basis, like car insurance, rent or ortgage payents, dental checkups and even gifts that you buy every year. Add up your total incoe all of the oney you receive in salary, other payents and benefits and any earnings on investents each year. Divide your annual incoe by 12 to calculate your onthly incoe. Subtract all of your regular onthly bills and the other onthly expenses that you found by keeping track of your spending in your little notebook. This will tell you what oney you have left over for eergencies, like car repairs. Try to set soe oney aside for eergencies, so those situations won t copletely throw off your budget. Finally, if you are the caregiver, look for ways to start saving soe oney for retireent. Make a plan to start investing, even a sall aount, so that your oney can start to grow. 1

4 If you are a caregiver to an older adult who can not ake ends eet, here are soe additional tips: Health care expenses One ajor expense area for older adults is health care, particularly prescription drug costs. Research governental benefit plans that ight provide help, or private and state prescription drug discount plans to reduce drug costs. The National Council on Aging sponsors this interactive website to help older individuals deterine what kinds of benefits they ight be eligible for, plus where and how to apply. See Benefits Check-up on the web page of the National Council on the Aging (www.ncoa.org). This progra can identify sources of help for an older person who is struggling to ake ends eet. Medicare recipients are eligible to purchase a private prescription drug discount card approved by the Medicare progra. Investigate whether there is a card that will provide your loved one with needed financial help. Consult the website of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services at or call MEDICARE. In 2006, Medicare will add a prescription drug benefit that will provide assistance with drug costs for seniors. Private insurers offer edigap plans for edical costs not covered by Medicare. Investigate whether a edigap insurance plan akes sense for your faily eber. Call your state insurance coissioner for a list of edigap policies sold in your state. Also, states offer insurance counseling for older persons through progras called Senior Health Insurance Counseling Progras or SHIP progras. You can find a list of SHIP progras at or call MEDICARE and ask for a referral to an insurance counseling service. Seniors with very low incoes ight be eligible for Medicaid coverage along with Medicare. Although benefits vary by state, dually eligible individuals often receive drug coverage through Medicaid. Soe eligible recipients can also have their Medicare preius, deductibles and co-payents paid by Medicaid. Every year illions of eligible low-incoe seniors do not sign up for this benefit provided through state Medicaid agencies. Call your state agency responsible for adinistering Medicaid and ask about the eligibility rules. Advise your faily eber to consider investigating whether there is a good quality HMO or anaged care plan in their area that accepts Medicare patients. Frequently these plans include benefits that seniors in the traditional Medicare plan pay out of pocket for, such as eyeglasses, dental benefits or drug costs. Soe pharaceutical copanies will offer free drugs to low-incoe seniors with no eans to purchase the drugs. Check this website, for a coplete description of the available progras. 2 Woen s Institute for a Secure Retireent (WISER)

5 Budget Worksheet Fixed Expenses Planned Actual Rent or ortgage payent Child care Debt repayent Allowance for self Allowance for others Car payent Other Other Savings for retireent Total Fixed Expenses Flexible Expenses Planned Actual Food at hoe Personal care Telephone Clothing Medicine Gasoline/Bus Laundry/Dry cleaning Household supplies/hoe care Food away fro hoe Other Other Total Flexible Expenses + Total Fixed Expenses = Total Expenses Financial Steps for Caregivers 3

6 Reverse Mortgages If the faily eber you are caring for owns a hoe, they ight want to consider a reverse ortgage. A reverse ortgage is a way for hoeowners age 62 and over to borrow against the equity of their hoes. It is a ortgage that pays the hoeowner a loan as a line of credit, a lup su, or a series of onthly payents. It is iportant to know that the hoeowner does not need to repay a reverse ortgage as long as he/she lives in the hoe. The loan is repaid when the owner sells the hoe or dies. The estate can repay the reverse ortgage with proceeds fro the sale of the hoe or fro another source of funds. For ore inforation, order AARP s booklet Hoe Made Money: A Consuer s Guide to Reverse Mortgages by calling or visit AARP s website at aarp.org/revort. See also the Suer 2003 issue of WISER s newsletter, WISERWoan, for inforation on reverse ortgages: /articles_publications.htl Iediate Annuities Many older people worry about whether they will outlive their savings and not have sufficient resources at the end of their lives. Faily caregivers often worry about this too and whether they will be able to suppleent the incoe of a faily eber who exhausts his or her savings. There s no agic answer, but for any people, looking into purchasing an iediate annuity akes sense. An annuity can be purchased fro an insurance copany for a lup su and can guarantee a regular onthly payent for the rest of the purchaser s life no atter how long they live. (The downside is that funds used to buy an annuity are generally not available to pass on to heirs.) Consult a financial advisor about the risks and benefits of an annuity before buying one, but if the faily eber you care for has savings, consider an annuity as a way of insuring a guaranteed incoe to suppleent Social Security for the reainder of his or her lifetie. 4 Woen s Institute for a Secure Retireent (WISER)

7 Step 2: Leaving a Job or Working Part-Tie If you are thinking about leaving your job or reducing your hours to part-tie, you should check into what will happen to your benefits as a result. If you leave or reduce your hours without understanding the rules, you ight just lose out on benefits and retireent incoe. Pivotal decisions you ake now can have a treendous ipact on your financial future. Barbara B. knew she was going to leave her Be sure to exhaust your other options before job, but she was deterined to stay just leaving a job or reducing your hours. A good long enough (to the exact hour) to eet place to start is Eldercare Locator, sponsored the five-year vesting requireent for the by the federal Adinistration on Aging, which puts individuals in touch with local copany s traditional, defined benefit caregiving services and resources. (Call 800- pension plan. It was too uch oney to or see walk away fro, if she could anage to stay long enough. And, because she talked You know the upside of leaving to provide about it, the whole office becae aware of care for a faily eber, but it is also the five-year vesting requireent. iportant to understand and plan for the financial and retireent iplications. Staying hoe, you will lose copensation and benefits; you ay also lose job skills and contacts. For soe, there ay also be a loss of tenure and its benefits, such as prootional opportunities, job security or ore vacation days. If you are leaving behind a pension plan, you will lose years of service toward vesting or increased benefits and/or account contributions that build up while you work. If you decide to quit or reduce your hours, consider the effect on your retireent benefits: If you are in a traditional pension plan, you usually becoe vested in five years. Generally, the longer you stay the ore valuable the benefit will be. In a defined contribution pension plan, there is a siilar requireent you ust stay a certain nuber of years, often between three and six years. If an eployer provides retiree health insurance, it will usually be only for retirees who worked for the eployer for their full career and receive a onthly defined benefit pension over the reainder of their lives. If you are going to another job without health insurance coverage, you can elect to continue coverage under your previous eployer s group policy, but you will pay all of the preius. You have 60 days to decide if you want to elect this coverage under a federal law referred to as COBRA. Financial Steps for Caregivers 5

8 Things to Consider If you are thinking about leaving a job with a traditional pension plan, your eployer can tell you what you will receive as a onthly pension benefit when you reach retireent age. If possible, wait until you are vested in the defined benefit pension or in your eployer s contributions to your 401(k) or other defined contribution plan before you leave. If you are switching fro full tie to part tie, be sure to work enough hours to aintain your benefits. The longer you work at a job, the ore you ay have to lose in the way of retireent, seniority, and other benefits. In a defined contribution plan, such as a 401k plan, when you change jobs, you will have soe choices. You ay be able to leave your retireent savings in the sae account or roll it over into an Individual Retireent Account (IRA). You should resist the urge to take the oney out and spend it. Invest it so that it continues to grow until you retire. Also you ll avoid the IRS penalty for taking it out early. Eldercare Locator, sponsored by the Sit down with your spouse and budget your federal Adinistration on Aging, expenses. See budget worksheet on page 3. Include a contribution to an IRA for yourself puts individuals in touch with local as one of the expenses. If possible, pay off caregiving services and resources. credit card and loan debts before you quit. (Call or see Do soe worst-case planning and consider what ight happen if your spouse should becoe disabled or die. Find out what health, disability and life insurance coverage you have, and what it would cost if you decided to buy additional coverage on your own. You should consider putting oney into an Individual Retireent Account (IRA). You can contribute $3,000 a year to an IRA, or $3,500 if you are 50 or older. These aounts will be increasing over the next few years and, of course, you can always put in less. If you start your own business or do soe consulting while at hoe, you could also start a sall business pension plan, like a SEP, a Siplified Eployee Pension. A SEP is easy to set up and will let you contribute ore than an IRA. A qualified financial advisor, like your banker, can help you decide whether, and how, to start a SEP. 6 Woen s Institute for a Secure Retireent (WISER)

9 Step 3: Talk to your faily about the financial ipact of being a caregiver. Faily Financial Planning Talk to your siblings and other faily ebers about the various costs involved in your providing care to a faily eber. Consider setting up an Individual Retireent Account (IRA) to replace retireent savings lost fro your eployer. Contact WISER for ore inforation on various types of IRAs. Consider asking your faily to pay you as an independent contractor for the care you are providing. If you are paid, you can set up a sall-eployer type pension plan like a Siplified Eployee Pension (SEP), explained in WISER s Fact Sheet on Sall Eployer Pension Plans, at on the Pensions page. If you are caring for soeone who is a widow or widower, review the inforation in WISER s Special Report on Widowhood, at on the Divorce and Widowhood page. Consider the possibility of purchasing longter care insurance for yourself, which can give you ore choices when you face healthcare decisions in your own retireent. See WISER s fact sheet on Long-Ter Care Insurance at on the HealthCare page. Financial Steps for Caregivers 7

10 Step 4: Are You Saving Enough for a Secure Retireent? Like any Aericans, you ay be wondering how uch oney you will need when you are ready to retire and if you are saving enough to eet your goals. First, you need to know how uch you can expect fro Social Security, pensions, annuities or other retireent vehicles. Make a list of all of your sources of retireent incoe, and estiate what the onthly benefit will be. Include Social Security, pensions fro private or governent eployent, and IRA and 401(k) retireent savings. The Social Security Adinistration sends every adult over the age of 25 a stateent with their projected Social Security benefits. Contact the plan adinistrator of any pension plan you have participated in to deterine how uch your benefit will be. Look at your total IRA and 401(k) savings and estiate how uch onthly incoe you can withdraw fro savings. Ask yourself three iportant questions: Can you count on getting the incoe for life? Will the incoe keep up with inflation? Can soe or all continue to your surviving spouse? The second step is to calculate your net worth. Estiate the total value of your assets, including cash, hoe equity, autoobiles, other personal property, the value of insurance policies and so on. Then, subtract the total of your liabilities, including ortgages, credit card and loan balances, hoe equity loans and other debts fro your total assets. The result is your net worth. Reeber, not all of your assets will be available for retireent incoe unless you sell the or use your hoe equity as a source of retireent funds. Calculate how uch incoe you will need in retireent. Most experts recoend planning for at least 80% of your current pre-tax incoe in order to aintain your current living standard. WISER recoends planning for 100 percent to cover rapidly increasing heath care costs and inflation. Next, calculate the gap between incoe fro Social Security, retireent plans and assets and your retireent incoe goal. The gap represents the aount you will need to save between now and retireent in order to eet your overall goals. How uch you need to save each year to fill the gap is a coplicated calculation. WISER s website (www.wiserwoen.org) has an online calculator that can be used to calculate how uch you will need to save each year in order to build the nest egg you need. Struggling to save for retireent? Soeties, the best first step is to pay off your credit card and loan debts. Once you pay off the debts, put the oney in a retireent account. If you are working, be sure to participate fully in your workplace retireent plans. If your eployer will atch your contributions to your 401(k) that s free oney. Don t pass it up. Finally, learn to live beneath your eans. That s how people build wealth. 8 Woen s Institute for a Secure Retireent (WISER)

11 incoe, ask yourself three iportant questions: Once you ve ade this list, it s tie to add up your sources of retireent incoe. Look at the incoe total and fro your total assets. The result is your net worth. Reeber, not all of your assets your house or car, for exaple will be available for retire- Secure Retireent continued on page 4 Subscribe to WISER s Quarterly Newsletter: WISERWoan Winter 2002 WISERWoan A QUARTERLY NEWSLETTER FROM THE WOMEN S INSTITUTE FOR A SECURE RETIREMENT WISER Special Report on Social Security Refor Understanding the Basics & the Politics of Social Security Refor Why It s Iportant for Woen The Coission As directed by President Bush, the Coission to Strengthen Social Security, a 16-eber bipartisan coission released its final report at the end of As expected, the coission ebers agreed that people should be allowed to redirect part of their payroll taxes into private investent accounts. The Coission also found that it would cost approxiately $2 trillion over the next 75 years to cover the costs of starting the private accounts and aking up for the deficits in the progra. The report shows how difficult it is to both save the syste and set up a new syste of private accounts. The Coission did not reach agreeent on one ajor overhaul plan. Rather the ebers cae up with three alternatives to ake individual accounts part of the Social Security syste, leaving it up to Congress and the President to work out details. That is, when the political cliate allows is an iportant election year, when any Republicans and Deocrats fear their opponents will use their positions against the. As The New York Ties noted, overhauling the retireent syste is so coplicated, painful and politically sensitive that it is alost ipossible to get a consensus. Inside WISERWoan A QUARTERLY NEWSLETTER FROM THE WOMEN S INSTITUTE FOR A SECURE RETIREMENT Education Savings Accounts Earlier this year Congress recognized the growing challenge of paying for a child s post-secondary education by giving parents an iproved savings tool, Coverdell Education Savings Accounts (ESAs). ESAs have replaced the old under-powered Education IRA. Parents, grandparents or friends can now contribute up to a total of $2,000 a year, copared to the old Education IRA s liit of $500. While ESA contributions are not taxdeductible, account savings or investents grow tax free, significantly increasing total returns. Withdrawals are not subject to federal (nor often state) incoe tax either, unless they are ade for a non-educational reason. But Congress also expanded the eligible expenses for withdrawals. In addition to college expenses, any kindergarten-through-high school expenses qualify as well. The Mid-Ter Election Anybody s Guess? Political pundits predict that how voters view the positions of Deocrats and Republicans on who is best at safeguarding the Social Security syste will ake a difference in who controls Congress next year. So the debate is likely to continue for a year or ore. And while soe experts believe that nothing will happen until politics or circustances force Congress to act, others believe that President Bush will take the issue on before the next Presidential election, say in 2003 when it is ore doable. Yet just last week, the House Majority Leader Dick Arey stated that the House will soon consider easures that will iprove Social Security benefits for woen and revap the syste. The Stakes for Woen Woen earn less and live longer so they need ore incoe for retireent. Yet, they have fewer pension benefits and fewer assets. Social Security is of significant iportance to virtually all Aericans but it is particularly iportant to woen nearly 40 percent of older woen living alone depend on Social Security for alost all of their incoe and ore than half would be living in poverty were it not for their Social Security benefits. continued on page 2 5 Money Tips for 2002 Meet the Coissioner Tax Changes The Price of Motherhood page 3 page 3 page 5 page 6 And parents can now earn a higher level of incoe and still be eligible to contribute to an ESA: up to $220,000 for couples and $110,000 for single parents. For the great ajority of Aerican failies, though, the concern is not fitting within the incoe guidelines, it is how to find the oney to save. Drawbacks There are however, a few drawbacks with ESAs. First, the child owns the assets which eans that financial aid ay be reduced or eliinated. And, if the ESA is invested in a utual fund there s usually an annual fee to aintain the account according to experts, those fees can be as uch as $35 a year. which would be 7 percent on a $500 contribution. You can get a Coverdell ESA through any financial institution that norally offers IRAs, such as a bank, credit union, or utual fund copany. Congress Iproves State 529 Plans Congress has also expanded iportant provisions for state-based college savings plans, called 529 plans. 529 plans are naed after the section of the IRS code that governs the. Each state has its own investent plan designed to help failies save for college costs. All states will eventually Every issue of WISERWoan is filled with iportant inforation and resources for woen (and en!) of all ages. Spring 2002 WISER Special Report Education Savings Accounts Vs 529 College Savings Plans Reeber: there are no scholarships for retireent! Saving for college shouldn t be at the expense of your retireent savings. L WISERWoan A QUARTERLY NEWSLETTER FROM THE WOMEN S INSTITUTE FOR A SECURE RETIREMENT Are You On Track to a Secure Retireent? ike any Aericans, you ay be wondering how uch oney you will need when you are ready to retire and if you are saving enough to eet your goals. The answers depend on your individual circustances, but here are a few key things to consider. First, you need to know how uch you can expect fro Social Security, pensions, annuities or other retireent vehicles. This will give you an idea of retireent incoe that is already in place. First, sit down and ake a list of all of your sources of retireent incoe, and estiate what the onthly benefit will be. Include Social Security, any pensions fro private or governent eployent, and IRA and 401(k) retireent savings plans. The Social Security Adinistration sends every adult over the age of 25 a stateent with their projected Social Security benefits. Contact the plan adinistrator of any pension plan you have participated in to deterine how uch it will be. Look at your total IRA and 401(k) savings and estiate how uch onthly incoe you can withdraw fro savings. (See box on page 4.) Also, if you are planning to work part-tie, estiate how uch you can earn onthly and the length of tie you predict you will work. For each source of retireent have a plan, and as of today, 42 states have their plans in place. There s a coon belief that these plans only have value if you send your child to a state school. But, if you use a 529 savings plan, the value of the account can be used at any accredited college or university. even certain foreign schools. Advantages Higher Contributions Can you count on getting the incoe for life? In general, 529 savings plans allow draatically higher contributions Will the incoe keep up with inflation? Can soe or all continue to your surviving spouse? For exaple, Social Security pays benefits for life and is inflation adjusted each year. Social Security also pays a spouse benefit. continued on page 2 Inside Credit Scores Legislative Update Retireent Incoe Gap page 3 page 4 page 5 copare it to your current onthly incoe today. The second step is to calculate your net worth. Estiate the total value of your assets, including cash, hoe equity, autoobiles, other personal property, the value of insurance policies and so on. Then, subtract the total of your liabilities, including ortgages, credit card and loan balances, hoe equity loans and other debts Suer 2004 Order a subscription for yourself and consider giving WISERWoan as a gift! To order, use the for below, or order online: $15 for a one-year subscription. Inside Hidden Credit Card Charges Bankruptcy Increase Medicare Drug Benefit page 2 page 3 page 5 Nae Address City State Zip Enclosed is y check payable to WISER in the aount of: $ Please send payent to: WISER Woen s Institute for a Secure Retireent SM WISER WOMEN S INSTITUTE FOR A SECURE RETIREMENT 1725 K Street, NW Suite 201 Washington, DC fax:

12 WISER WOMEN S INSTITUTE FOR A SECURE RETIREMENT WISER s ission is to iprove the long-ter financial security of all woen through education and advocacy. WISER supports woen s opportunities to secure pensions and adequate retireent incoe through research, workshops and partnerships K Street, NW Suite 201 Washington, DC fax:

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