As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and the latest outbreak of the milder yet highly contagious Omicron variant of the virus – the many U.S. who are trying to claim Survivor benefits Social Security Benefits have encountered a lot of complications and difficulties due to the closure of the Social Security Offices. According to 19thnews, most of these applicants are women – such as widows and children of those who have died during the pandemic.
Nearly 900 Thousand Deaths
Indeed, since the start of the pandemic, some 900 thousand citizens have lost their lives due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Furthermore, even though this is the case – in reaction to the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Social Security Authority offices have been closed for the duration of the pandemic – up until the present. The offices which were due to open with the new year – have now delayed opening until March this year – 2022.
At present, thousands of people in the United States of America are constantly trying to get survivors benefits – the large majority – 92% of young survivors benefits are women with one child, and a staggering 96% of ‘aged’ survivors benefits are women or widows over the age of 60 seeking survivors benefits from social security.
Difficulties With The SSA Offices
The major difficulties are arising as a result of the fact that most Social Security offices, as mentioned earlier, are closed – and what would take normally not much more than one short visit – about half a day, is now taking weeks and even months to be done over the phone as opposed to 1 on 1 in-person meeting or interviews in the Authorities offices.
In addition to this, many prospective beneficiaries are complaining about the amount of time they spend waiting or on hold on the telephone. Coupled with the fact that only 51% of prospective calls are handled – the telephonic operational system and its backlogs at social security are becoming an area of real concern for American citizens who are already suffering during this COVID-19 pandemic as a result of the loss of a loved one.
Lastly, and even more sadly – many surviving children or spouses are not educated properly on what to expect from the Social Security Authority. As a result – many citizens might be eligible for benefits and not even know – or conversely think that they are while they are not. With a backlog of calls in their offices – this is not too easy to clear up – as one can not go in in-person to find out such information until at least March 2022
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Consumer Confidence Low As President Joe Biden’s Opinion Polls Drop
The American economy is currently experiencing its highest inflation for the past 40 years. The record-high consumer price index is currently standing at 7.5% – up from 7% last month. This is the highest annual increase in the consumer price index since 1982.
The Stats Are In
Indeed, according to the New York Post, Americans are not happy with the state of their economy. Furthermore – they seem large, to be unhappy with the commander and chief as well – the American president Joe Biden. According to the University of Michigan’s consumer sentiment index, consumer sentiment is at the lowest in a decade. A separate poll showed that one-third of Americans do not approve of a single thing President Joe Biden has done whilst in office. The University of Michigan’s consumer sentiment – measures how optimistic consumers are about their future and their economy.
The latest index came in at 61.7 for February 2022. This is a huge drop of 19.7 percent since February last year and 8.2 percent since last month. Furthermore, it is also the lowest it has been since October 2011 when the index stood at 60.9.
American’s Hesitant About Their Future
As it stood Americans were only slightly optimistic about the economy. Furthermore, consumers seem to have a lot of fear or bad expectations about the future of the economy. This is indicated by the future expectations index which stood at 57.5 percent. This has been a huge 18.8 percent drop from last year – 70.7%, respectively.
Such a decline in these indices can be attributed to high inflation, which in turn leads to a more difficult economy and less confidence in the government and its policies. This tide together with the fact that the long-term economic outlook is at its worst in a full decade can also explain this phenomenon.
America Disproves Of President Biden
With the massive 7.5% increase in the consumer price index – the average household will have to add $276 to its expenses. Food, shelter, and electricity were the three highest contributors to the latest consumer price index. This is according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Perhaps, largely because of many of these aforementioned statistics, 58% of Americans have expressed disapproval for President Joe Biden’s performance whilst in office. One-third of those interviewed for the polls could not even site a single the president had done that they liked or approved of.
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Closed-End Funds A Great Investment Choice For US Retirees: Know Its Advantages
Most retirees fail to save a decent amount from their retirement and Social Security benefits. Individuals in search of higher profits should consider investing in closed-end funds. However, these funds have higher risks with higher returns than conventional investment options. The closed-end funds provide stocks and bonds cheaper than the market price. CNBC reports that more than 500 closed-end funds were worth $296 billion by Jan 31. Mutual funds in the US are worth $24.3 trillion. Retirees need to understand the attributes of these funds and the probable downsides before investment.
The Market Is Full Of Risks
The closed-end funds provide various shares at a lower value and enable the individuals to trade them in the stock market at the standard price. The share price depends upon the fund’s assets and the investor’s supply chain. The report suggests that the closed-end funds are usually sold at a discount. CNBC quoted Robert Finley, principal at Virtue Asset Management in Chicago, who said, “For fixed-income funds, we are seeing a little better returns…..sometimes because they are at a discount, anywhere from 3% to 10% of NAV. From our point of view, that provides some protection in a rising-rate environment. When the overall market tends to have a pullback, closed-end funds tend to get oversold. So we’ll look through and see if there are any specific areas discounted.”
Investors Need To Make Smart Choices
Several experts manage the investment of these funds, including stocks, bonds, and others; the funds derive profits every quarter each year. CNBC reports that 62% of the closed-end funds are bond investments. The market is volatile, and investors need to exercise caution during investment and trading. Investors should choose stocks with good market history and high-profit rates. CNBC reports that federal mortgages have a 3% to 5% return while corporate debts yield a 5% to 7% return. Experts advise against having more than 15% of the assets in closed-end funds. Investors need to look into the share prices and manage their trades smartly. The leverage for several closed-end funds varies greatly; it can also incur huge losses if not handled carefully.
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Muni Bonds Come With Higher Medicare Premiums During Retirement
Municipal bonds are a primary choice among investors to evade taxes. The muni bonds can incur higher Medicare deductions from the post-retirement income. Individuals should be aware of the pros and cons of investing in muni bonds. CNBC reports that President Biden announced a probable increase in tax rates; this led to a higher demand for these bonds. The US muni mutual and ETFs are worth $96.8 billion at present. The government has not entertained the idea of a tax surge. However, the bonds still draw investors’ interests due to several unique attributes.
Several Individuals Opt For Muni Bonds
Due to unexpected Medicare costs, the muni bond investment can be a bane for many investors. CNBC quoted Matthew Chancey, certified financial planner at CostalOne, who said, “There are a lot of moving parts, and you need to have someone look at it holistically.” The retirees should consider the higher Social Security tax and Medicare deduction before being awestruck by their high returns and present tax stability. CNBC reports that retirees with the Social Security payments and modified adjusted gross income (MAGI) above $44,000 (for joint filers) and $34,000 (for individual filers) are taxable for more than 85% of their Social Security income.
Medicare Premium Will Increase For Retirees Above MAGI Threshold
CNBC states that the Medicare Part B premiums have witnessed a 14.5% increase, to $170.10 per month. The threshold MAGI for retirees is $182,000 and $91,000 for joint filers and individual filers, respectively. Retired couples with MAGI above $75,000 will have to pay $578.30 under Medicare premium. The reports suggest the retirees may suffer more due to the increase in Medicare Part D, including prescription medicines. In the higher income bracket, retirees will have to pay $77.90 per month in 2022. The retirees need to calculate the deductions before investing in the bonds.
CNBC quoted Mary Kay Foss, certified public accountant and CPA faculty at CalCPA Education Foundation in Walnut Creek, California, who said, “It’s something that taxpayers seem so aware of because if they get into this higher bracket, they have to pay higher premiums for a full year.” Experts suggest that retirees should not give up on muni bond investment; instead, they need to consider all sides of the coin before getting their hands into it.
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