Retiree States ►10 Best to Grow Old In When you picture the place where you’ll live out your golden years, what do you see? For many people, it’s a family home with plenty of relatives and friends living close by. For others, it may be a far-flung destination they’ve long dreamed of retiring in. Whether or not you plan to stay in your current state of residence or relocate, there are some important considerations to take into account. While proximity of family and friends is the top factor when deciding where to live in your later years, things such as access to quality healthcare, the cost of senior care and support for seniors in a given area are also important to consider. These types of considerations are especially key when deciding where to live in your late 70s, 80s, 90s, and beyond, as more and more people now do, says Sara Zeff Geber, Ph. D, an author and retirement planning expert. “At that age, we really need to start thinking about someplace that’s stable, someplace that’s safe and someplace that we can afford,” she says. “Those things don’t always add up to the Sun Belt.”
Caring.com’s own research found that the states that offer the best mix of quality healthcare, long-term care, affordability and selection of senior care and overall quality of life aren’t always found in the typical retirement destinations like Florida or Arizona. In fact, the states that offer ideal conditions for those 55 and older will probably surprise you. We assembled these ratings by incorporating data on quality of life in a given area for residents over 55, quality of healthcare, long-term care, support for seniors and family caregivers, affordability of senior care and more than 100,000 ratings of senior care providers in each state. Sources included:
The Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index http://www.well-beingindex.com,
Genworth’s 2015 Cost of Care Survey https://www.genworth.com/about-us/industry-expertise/cost-of-care.html, and
The Long-term Scorecard http://www.longtermscorecard.org , a joint effort by AARP, The Commonwealth Fund and The SCAN Foundation.
-o-o-O-o-o- 1. South Dakota - The land of Mount Rushmore, sweeping prairielands, buffalo, and just over 853,000 residents is the best state to grow old, outranking all other states on a combination of quality of life, healthcare and financial categories. Seniors in South Dakota have access to high-quality healthcare and senior care, with costs of care hovering around the national average (about $36,000 yearly for an assisted living community, and around $52,000 for a home health aide). In addition to financial considerations, our survey incorporated The Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index, which measures purpose, social, financial, community and physical well-being. As of 2015, the Mount Rushmore State boasted one of the highest combined rankings in these categories for residents 55 and older.
2. Iowa - Known for its endless cornfields, rolling plains and location at the heart of the Midwest, Iowa is the second-best state to spend your golden years. Like South Dakota, the Hawkeye State is far from the typical Sun Belt retirement destinations. Also like South Dakota, senior care costs here are around the national average. But the state ranked among the top 10 in the nation for quality of life and healthcare for residents over 55.
3. Minnesota - Sharing a border with Canada, it may be one of the coldest spots in the union, but it turns out, Minnesota is also one of the best states to grow old. Compared to the first two states on the list, senior care in Minnesota is pricier (an assisted living facility costs roughly $42,000 per year on average, while a home health aide runs about $57,000). Still, the state ranked especially high (#3) in quality of health care and overall quality of life for seniors.
4. Alaska - The “Last Frontier” is also one of the best places to spend your later years, according to our research. Of all 50 states, Alaska topped the list for quality of life and health care, and also ranked very high for quality and access to long-term care services and supports for seniors. At the same time, the state is also home to the most expensive senior care in the nation (a year in a nursing home costs a whopping $281,000 on average and assisted living runs more than $68,000 yearly), dragging its overall ranking down to the fourth spot.
5. Oregon - According to one highly cited study, Oregon was the most popular state to move to in 2015. And our research shows, there’s good reason for people 55 and older to jump on the Oregon-bound bandwagon. The state ranked fourth in the quality of life and healthcare studies and also very high in long-term care and supports for seniors. The ranking dipped somewhat due to pricier cost of senior care here– a year in an assisted living community runs about $50,000 on average and a home health aide costs over $51,000.
6. Colorado - With its abundant natural beauty and vibrant cities, Colorado is another great place to live for people of all ages. And for those 55 and older, the Centennial State ranks seventh in overall quality of life, well-being and healthcare quality. Its relatively high senior care rates (roughly $50,000 on average for either assisted living or a home health aide) pulled down the state’s ranking slightly.
7. Hawaii - In addition to being one of the world’s most popular vacation destinations, beautiful Hawaii boasts a great mix of quality of life, health care and support for people 55 and over. The state scored the highest marks in the nation on support for family caregivers, and among the highest for quality of long-term care and supports for seniors. But with senior care costs here among the highest in the nation (home health aides cost around $56,000 per year on average, while a year in an assisted living community runs about $48,000), not everyone can afford to spend their later years in the Aloha State.
8. South Carolina - South Carolina not only draws plenty of tourists to its beachfront vacation towns, pastel-colored houses and Civil War monuments, it’s also a smart choice for seniors looking for affordable long-term care. The only southern state to make the top 10, South Carolina boasts the nation’s fifth-cheapest elder care. A year in an assisted living community costs $37,500 on average, while a home health aide costs roughly $42,000 per year. Meanwhile, the state’s overall quality of life and healthcare rankings for seniors are around the national average.
9. Nebraska - While it’s mostly known for its agriculture, with cornfields blanketing the landscape, Nebraska is also an excellent choice for people looking for a place to spend their later years. The Cornhusker State also ranks high in the quality of life, healthcare and well-being indexes, and scores high marks for its quality of senior care and support for seniors and family caregivers. As far as affordability of senior care, Nebraska’s costs are around the national average (roughly $53,000 annually for a home health aide and about $43,500 a year for assisted living expenses).
10. Wisconsin - Wisconsin isn’t just for fans of cheese, beer and football – it’s also an excellent place to live for the 55-and-older crowd. While senior care here is relatively expensive ($48,000 per year on average for an assisted living community and about $50,000 yearly for a home health aide), the state ranks eighth in the nation for quality of life and health care. Wisconsin’s long-term care options and support for seniors and family caregivers also scored some of the highest marks in the country, cementing its place among the top 10.
[Source: Caring.com | Marilyn Lewis | May 2016 ++]
Skimmer Scam ► Card Reader Machine Attachment Next time you use the self-checkout lane at a store, be sure to take a second look at the machine you use to swipe your credit or debit card. Scammers are installing "skimmers," devices that collect the data from credit, debit or ATM cards, on these machines.
How the Scam Works:
You are checking out at the supermarket or another large store, and you decide to use the self-checkout lane. You ring up your purchases and swipe your credit or debit card to pay the bill. You may not notice anything strange about the card processor, but scammers have attached a skimmer to some registers. These devices "skim" your card's information off the magnetic strip.
Skimmers are most commonly installed on ATM card readers. But in the past few months, several big box stores have found them attached to the payment processors in self-checkout aisles. Be careful when using these lanes and follow the advice below for spotting a skimmer.
Protect Yourself from a Skimmer:
Pay with a credit card or cash: You aren't liable for fraudulent charges on your credit card (but be sure to report them to your bank). But if scammers gain your debit card info, they may be able to drain your account.
Protect your PIN. Place your hand or a piece of paper over the keypad when entering your number. Some scammers set up a video camera nearby to record customers entering their PINs.
Look for signs of skimmers. Tape is often used to attach the skimming devices; if something looks odd, wiggle it to make sure it doesn't come loose.
Use chip readers when available: The new credit/debit card processors -- which require you to "dip" a chip card instead of swipe the magnetic stripe -- are more secure. Check to see that your credit and debit cards have them, and use them whenever possible.
Be wary of strange signs. Some con artists attach signs to ATMs or card processors providing alternate instructions, such as telling users to swipe their card on a separate reader first. If something looks out of place, find a different machine and report it to the store manager or the police.
For More Information Read more about the scam on http://krebsonsecurity.com/2016/02/safeway-self-checkout-skimmer-close-up [Krebs on Security], a blog about computer security run by former Washington Post reporter Brian Krebs. To find out more about other scams, check out BBB Scam Stopper at www.bbb.org/scam. To report a scam, go to BBB Scam Tracker at www.bbb.org/scamtracker . [Source: BBB Scam Alert | May 27, 2016 ++]
Tax Burden for Iowa Retired Vets►As of May 2016 Many people planning to retire use the presence or absence of a state income tax as a litmus test for a retirement destination. This is a serious miscalculation since higher sales and property taxes can more than offset the lack of a state income tax. The lack of a state income tax doesn’t necessarily ensure a low total tax burden. Following are the taxes you can expect to pay if you retire in Iowa:
Sales Taxes State Sales Tax: 6% (food and prescription drugs exempt); local option taxes can add up to another 6.8%.
Gasoline Tax:: 50.4 cents/gallon (Includes all taxes)
Diesel Fuel Tax: 57.9 cents/gallon (Includes all taxes)
Cigarette Tax: $1.36/pack of 20
Personal Income Taxes Tax Rate Range: Low – 0.36%; High – 8.98% Note: Iowa now exempts active duty military pay from state income taxes.
Tax Bracket (Single)
Tax Bracket (Couple)
Marginal Tax Rate
8.98% (Highest in the U.S.)
Income Brackets: Above Nine.
Personal Tax Credits: Iowa has no personal or dependent exemptions. The Federal Income Tax, however, does allow a personal exemption to be deducted from your gross income if you are responsible for supporting yourself financially.
Standard Deduction: Unlike many other states, Iowa has no standard deduction. Certain itemized deductions (including property tax, qualified charitable contributions, etc) may be allowed depending on the income level and filing type of the taxpayer. Keep in mind that not all deductions allowed on your federal income tax return are necessarily going to be allowed on your Iowa income tax return. Iowa allows itemized deductions, and you can claim the same itemized deductions on your Iowa tax return as you do on your Federal tax return. You must choose between itemizing your deductions and choosing the Iowa standard deduction, so it's generally only worth itemizing your deductions if your itemized total is more then the Iowa and Federal standard deductions.
Medical/Dental Deduction: Federal amount
Federal Income Tax Deduction: Full
Retirement Income Taxes: If you receive a pension, annuity, self-employed retirement plan, deferred compensation, IRA or other retirement plan benefits, you may be eligible to exclude from Iowa income tax a portion of the retirement income that is taxable on your Federal return. The exclusion can be up to $6,000 for individuals and up to $12,000 for married taxpayers. For details refer to www.iowa.gov/tax/educate/TY2011Changes2.html. Social Security benefits are not included. Iowa does not tax Social Security benefits in the same manner as the IRS. In calculating the taxable amount of Social Security, single persons can exclude $25,000, married filing jointly can exclude $32,000. The state is implementing a gradual phase-out of the tax on Social Security income. For tax year 2012 the phase out percentage is 89%. To qualify for the exclusion you must be either age 55 or older on December 31, disabled or a surviving spouse or a survivor having an insurable interest in an individual who would have qualified for the exclusion during the year. Out-of-state government pensions qualify for exemptions. For more information refer to http://www.iowa.gov/tax/1040EI/Line/10Line21.html.
Retired Military Pay: Up to $12,000 can be excluded for joint filers and up to $6,000 for all other filing statuses for those 55 and older, disabled or surviving spouse of qualifying person.
Military Disability Retired Pay: Retirees who entered the military before Sept. 24, 1975, and members receiving disability retirements based on combat injuries or who could receive disability payments from the VA are covered by laws giving disability broad exemption from federal income tax. Most military retired pay based on service-related disabilities also is free from federal income tax, but there is no guarantee of total protection.
VA Disability Dependency and Indemnity Compensation: VA benefits are not taxable because they generally are for disabilities and are not subject to federal or state taxes.
Military SBP/SSBP/RCSBP/RSFPP: Generally subject to state taxes for those states with income tax. Check with state department of revenue office.
Property Taxes Iowa has more than 2,000 taxing authorities. All property is assessed at 100% of market value. Most property is taxed by more than one taxing authority. The tax rate differs in each locality and is a composite of county, city, school district and special levies. A property tax credit is available to residents whose total household income is less than $19,503 and are age 65 or older, totally disabled or are a surviving spouse (not remarried) and born before 1934. A homestead tax credit is given to residents who live in the state for at least six months of each year and actually live on the property on July 1. Once a person qualifies, the credit continues. The current credit is the first $4,850 of the actual value. Property taxes may be suspended or reduced if the property owner receives Supplemental Security Income or lives in a nursing home and the Department of Human Services is paying part or all of the costs. The suspended taxes will have to be paid when a property is sold or transferred. For more details refer to http://www.iowa.gov/tax/educate/78573.html .
Inheritance and Estate Taxes The Iowa inheritance tax ranges from 1% to 15% depending on the amount of the inheritance and the relationship of the recipient to the decedent. If all the property of the estate has a value of less than $25,000, no tax is due. The surviving spouse’s share, regardless of the amount, is not subject to tax. Currently annual gifts in the amount of $12,000 or less are not taxable. For details go to http://www.iowa.gov/tax/educate/78517.html. Iowa estate tax is not applicable for deaths on or after 1/1/05 due to changes in the IRS Code which replaced the state death tax credit with a state death tax deduction.
For further information, visit the Iowa Department of Revenue website http://www.iowa.gov/tax/index.html or call 515-281-3114 or 800-367-3388.
[Source: www.retirementliving.com May 2016 ++]
The Black Keys. A lot of people don't realize that just about all Negro spirituals are written on the black notes of the piano. Wintley Phipps expounds on this at http://www.karmatube.org/videos.php?id=1312.
Drinking. Global alcohol consumption decreased last year by 0.7%. This was the first first time in more than a decade. On a regional level, though, one continent bucked the trend. In North America drinking increased by 2.3 percent.
Donald Trump. Check out http://www.ebaumsworld.com/media/embed/84870597 to see Jimmy Kimbal’s Winners aren’t Losers Children book on Donald Trump.
Willamette Bearcats. Check out https://vimeo.com/31857407 to see what this Oregon football team experienced when they went to Hawaii for a 6 DEC 1941 game.
Car Insurance. Before buying another car check out what the average cost is on the vehicle by going to http://www.insure.com/car-insurance/insurance-rates-by-car.html. Location is a major factor in the cost.
USN Drill Team. Check out the team at https://youtu.be/OgcGNDxuyoI. Very impressive.
WWII Aerial Combat. Check out https://player.vimeo.com/video/31202906?autoplay=1 for an interesting slant on what occurred during the war in Ireland.
COLA Watch. The April CPI is 233.438, and remains .3 percent below the FY 2014 COLA baseline. Because there was not a positive COLA in FY 2015, the FY 2014 baseline is used. The CPI for May 2016 is scheduled to be released on June 16, 2016. Note: Military retiree COLA is calculated based on the CPI for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers (CPI-W), not the overall CPI. Monthly changes in the index may differ from national figures reported elsewhere.
Medical Marijuana. According to the Associated Press, lawmakers in New Jersey are considering relaxing the state’s strict medical marijuana law to include menstrual cramps as an ailment authorized for medical marijuana. Whoopi Goldberg’s new line of “Whoopi & Maya” products, launched last month, include an Epsom salt bath (called Soak), raw chocolate (Savor), body balm (Rub) and tincture (Relax), all of which are infused with cannabis.
VA Healthcare Applications. Beginning in July, 2016, all veterans will be able to complete applications for VA health care enrollment over the phone. This will eliminate paper applications, which means veterans will be able to get quicker access to medical attention. Also, VA is accelerating the applications of 31,000 combat Veterans who already have paper or online applications in the system.
Congressional Pay Raise. The House Appropriations Committee approved a fiscal 2017 legislative branch spending bill that would freeze representatives’ pay for the eighth consecutive year. Rank-and-file members of Congress now receive an annual salary of $174,000; the House Speaker earns $223,500 per year, while the Senate president pro tempore and the majority and minority leaders in both chambers each receive an annual salary of $193,400. The last pay boost members received took effect on Jan. 1, 2009.
Sniper Vide. Check out https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VOxqspu46zI to see what is going on in Afghanistan.
Yale ROTC. Defense Secretary Ashton Carter handed out commissions 23 MAY to the Yale's first ROTC graduating class in more than four decades. ROTC programs left Yale and the campuses of several other prominent universities in the late 1960s and early 1970s in the fervor of student protests against the Vietnam War.
Court Marital Results. The Army released the summary results of 78 courts-martial held in April. Names of soldiers acquitted of all charges were not provided. The verdicts, by judicial circuit can be seen at www.armytimes.com/story/military/crime/2016/05/23/army-releases-results-april-courts-martial/84801476.
Vet Suicide. A new survey found that 40 percent post-9/11veterans polled had considered suicide at least once after they joined the military, up from 30 percent in 2014, and roughly a third said the VA and DoD are not being proactive in addressing the problem.
FICO. Back in 2009, FICO, creator of the most widely used credit score, released information on exactly how some common credit hiccups affected their credit scores. The higher end of the ranges below would generally apply to those with the highest scores and the lower end to those with lower scores. Keep in mind that a perfect FICO credit score is 850, and to get the best possible deals, depending on the lender, you’ll need 730 to 760. Here’s a look:
Maxed-out card: 10-45 points
30-days late: 60-110 points
Debt settlement: 45-125 points
Foreclosure: 85-160 points
Bankruptcy: 130-240 points
Russian Jets. The Navy has released new video (https://youtu.be/qJFnDfvUVGc) of two Russian jets buzzing the USS Donald Cook in the Baltic Sea last month, as well as video of a Russian helicopter circling the destroyer.
VA Choice Program. When a former Army Specialist, attempted to get approval from his Veteran Affairs Choice Program healthcare provider, he was told he wasn’t eligible for coverage because his son (the donor) was not a veteran. The program – available to veterans who live more than 40 miles away from a VA transplant facility – only allows veterans to receive transplants from other veterans.