Social Security Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) for 2021

Social Security Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) for 2021

It was announced in mid-October that Social Security beneficiaries will see a 1.3% cost- of-living adjustment (COLA) in their monthly distribution checks, effective January 1, 2021. The Social Security Administration says this is in line with prior years’ increases, although it is slightly smaller than the 1.6% increase in 2020 and a more significant 2.8% bump to monthly checks in 2019. Looking back over a longer timeline, the COLA was zero several times (2010, 2011, 2016) and only 0.3% in 2017. Back in the 1970s and 1980s, the figures are much higher, ranging from around 6% in 1977 to 14% in 1981.

Given the financial effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on many Americans, including those receiving Social Security checks, that 1.3% increase won’t go too far in many areas of the country. According to the Social Security Administration, the average monthly benefit increase will be as follows for various categories of recipients:

Some other changes coming in 2021 are:

Calculating COLA
The cost-of-living adjustment is based on the consumer price index for urban wage earners and clerical workers. However, this formula focuses on younger workers under age 62, who are not claiming benefits nor having Medicare payments deducted from their monthly Social Security income. Let’s not forget the rising costs of living seniors face in general, which outpace that COLA amount—food, housing, and prescription drugs among them.

There is a groundswell to change the COLA calculation to the consumer price index for the elderly instead. This is the Social Security 2100 Act, which is being put forward by Congressman John Larson of Connecticut. It expands benefits for current and future recipients, cuts taxes on the elderly, and aims to keep the Social Security Trust Fund solvent through the rest of this century.

Social Security is not so secure
Any way you slice it, relying heavily (or in many cases nationwide, solely) on Social Security for one’s retirement income does not bode well for today’s retirees —especially right now, when the fund is scheduled to be insolvent by 2033. Being more proactive about retirement saving can provide more stable financial health during one’s working and retirement years.

While Social Security benefits provide a financial safety net as per the program’s original intent, in today’s world, those benefits don’t stack up for individuals seeking to retire comfortably and maintain their accustomed lifestyle. That’s where self-directed IRAs and the nontraditional investment they allow can really shine.

Self-directed IRAs allow account owners to include a broad array of non-publicly traded, alternative assets, such as real estate, private equity, notes/loans, precious metals, and so many more. Self-directed investors can be proactive as well as nimbler about how they invest for their later years. That’s because, as individuals who make all their own investment decisions, self-directed investors can take advantage of market shifts and opportunities, and invest in many alternative assets they already know and understand, and that provide a hedge against stock market volatility.

At Next Generation, we’re all about client education. You can read more about the different types of self-directed retirement plans for individuals and business owners here. You may also schedule a complimentary educational session to get the information you need to decide whether self-direction is the right retirement strategy for you. Our helpful team is here to answer questions as well; you may contact us directly via phone at 888.857.8058 or NewAccounts@NextGenerationTrust.com.

The SECURE Act and Self-Directed Retirement Plans

The SECURE Act, signed into law on December 20, 2019, is comprehensive legislation written to expand retirement savings, simplify existing rules, preserve retirement income, and improve plan administration. SECURE stands for Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Enhancement.

The bill mostly makes significant changes to workplace retirement plans; other provisions affect retirement plans in general, including self-directed IRAs. Here is a look at some of the changes, effective January 1, 2020.

Individuals

For those who own a self-directed Traditional or Roth IRA:

Business Owners

For business owners who have a SEP IRA, Solo 401k, or other qualified retirement plan:

All SECURE provisions have tax consequences for individuals and plan sponsors. As always, the team at Next Generation strongly recommends you consult your trusted advisor regarding how the SECURE Act provisions may affect your specific tax situation.

Secure a more diverse retirement portfolio through self-direction

In light of the recent changes, consider including alternative assets within a self-directed retirement plan. Those who are comfortable making their own investment decisions and who understand certain nontraditional investments can build up their retirement savings—and hedge against stock market volatility—with such assets as real estate, precious metals, private equity, hedge funds, private notes, and more.

At Next Generation, we’re here to answer your questions about self-direction as a retirement wealth-building strategy, or how certain provisions of SECURE may affect your self-directed retirement plan. You can arrange a complimentary educational session with one of our representatives, or contact us directly at 888.857.8058 or NewAccounts@NextGenerationTrust.com for more information.

Why Yes, Millennials are Saving for Retirement

The Millennial generation—those born between1977 and 1996—is projected to equal or surpass the size of the Baby Boomer generation over the next 20 years. They currently comprise the largest segment of today’s workforce. So what is this age group doing about saving for retirement?

Although Millennials are often misrepresented as “live in the moment” folks who prioritize life experiences over long-term financial planning, you may be surprised to find out that they are also more engaged at an earlier age with retirement savings in the workplace.

According to the Pew Charitable Trust Retirement Savings Project, Millennials had higher balances in their defined contribution plans than their Gen X counterparts did at a similar age (based on U.S. Census Bureau data). In addition, Millennials between ages 25 and 31 are saving more into retirement accounts than those right out of school.

The Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies supported this with the following statistics:

Given that the Social Security Trust Fund Reserve may be depleted by 2034 and benefits reduced, these savers are not only being proactive, they’re being smart.

Another smart savings move for savvy Millennials: Self-directed IRAs

Motivated savers can build a more diverse retirement portfolio, given the diverse types of alternative assets these plans allow. By making their own investment decisions, Millennials and others can take advantage of market shifts they are following more nimbly, or choose to invest in assets they care about or that reflect their interests—from becoming an investor in a theatrical production to owning shares in a specialty farm business.

If you’re a younger investor looking to do more with your IRA, you probably have some questions about self-directed retirement plans. As a convenience, Next Generation offers complimentary educational sessions with easy scheduling. Alternatively, you can contact us via email at NewAccounts@NextGenerationTrust.com or call 888.857.8058.