The Future of Social Security

Social Security taxes- They’re taken out of every paycheck. We all see the figures every few weeks on our stub and although a small part of us wishes we could hold onto that money, we know that it’s going towards a good cause, so we let it slide. We are appreciative of a system that is supposed to take care of us after we retire. At least, that’s how it used to be.

When Social Security was enacted in the 1930’s it was a great bargain for its recipients because payroll taxes were very low.

“For the early generations, it was an incredibly good deal,” said Andrew Biggs, a former deputy Social Security commissioner as quoted in a Fox News article.* “The government gave you free money and getting free money is popular.”

The article says that if you retired in 1960, you could expect to get back seven times more in benefits than you paid in Social Security taxes and more if you were a low-income worker, as long as you made it to age 78 for men and 81 for women.

However, in recent years those numbers have changed drastically. According to a 2011 study by the Urban Institute, the average married couple retiring last year paid $598,000 in Social Security taxes during their careers and can only expect to collect about $556,000 in benefits if they live into their 80’s.

Fox’s article explains why the decrease is happening.

“The shift among middle-income workers is happening just as millions of baby boomers are reaching retirement, leaving relatively fewer workers behind to pay into the system. It’s coming at a critical time for Social Security, the federal government’s largest program.

“The trustees who oversee Social security say its funds, which have been built up over the past 30 years with surplus payroll taxes, will run dry in 2033 unless Congress acts. At that point, payroll taxes would provide enough revenue each year to pay about 75 percent of benefits.”

This leaves future generations either getting fewer benefits or paying higher taxes, and individuals who fall into this bracket are less than pleased. One recent college graduate states that she recognizes the money she pays in now, isn’t going to be waiting for her when she retires. “If I wanted Social Security 50 years from now I would have to hope that someone else is still working and putting money aside in their paychecks to pay for my Social Security at that point,” she says.

Some have taken a more aggressive approach and opened their own private retirement accounts to ease their worry that Social Security won’t provide adequate benefits in the future.

David Armbruster, Investment Advisor Representative in South Carolina, sees more and more clients of the younger generation, who are interested in finding the best place to invest their funds.

“They know that although their parents and grandparents have been able to rely on Social Security, it may not be there, or be sufficient when their turn rolls around, and they don’t want to take any chances,” he says.  “The biggest problem that we see overall when it comes to retirement funding is that costs are going up and benefits are going down. For our younger generations, it is imperative, more so now than ever before, that they be involved in their own retirement planning. IRA, 401K, Roth IRA and other retirement vehicles are becoming more and more important. These younger generations will be responsible for their own retirements. Gone are the days of waiting for Uncle Sam to pass out a paycheck. Self sufficiency is a must.

“There are a lot of wonderful investment vehicles out there. Some of the best programs around right now are annuities. Inside annuities we can find protection from market risk, guaranteed growth moving towards retirement, and guaranteed income once we get to retirement. For many folks, annuities will be the tool that can be used to create their own “social security” checks. Pensions are a thing of the past. Social security is moving that direction quickly. People are going to have to get smarter about their planning or plan on working for a lot longer.”

For more information on the types of products discussed above visit www.cswta.com.

http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2012/08/07/new-retirees-receiving-less-in-social-security-than-paid-in-marking-historic/

the future of social security

The future of social security

Cornerstone Voted #1 for Employee Benefits Broker

Cornerstone is SO proud to announce that we have been voted by local readers, #1 for Employee Benefits Broker by the Charleston Regional Business Journal’s Book of Lists for January 2018!

“This recognition is a great honor for us,” says CEO and Founder Mike Haskett. “It’s nice to know that the hard work and dedication we have put in over the last 10 years is really starting to pay off and the community is becoming aware of all that we do for the community both within and outside of our organization.”

Cornerstone has received a number of honors recently including winning the Better Business Bureau’s Torch Award for Ethics in 2017.

Cornerstone Wins BBB Torch Award for Ethics

Financial Review: How to protect yourself from financial fraud

You’re at home on a Tuesday afternoon and you receive a phone call from a local retirement planner, offering to visit you at your home, explain the Medicare program and do a free financial review.

Of course, as an informed consumer, you are skeptical. “What are they going to try to sell me? Is this legitimate?” You may wonder. And these are valid questions. ANY time ANYONE wants to visit you at your home or wants you to divulge personal information, it’s your responsibility to do your due diligence and make sure the representative is legitimate. In a society filled with dishonesty, scams and scandals it can be hard to know who to trust! This article will discuss a few ways you can help ensure that you are dealing with who you THINK you’re dealing with and also that they give you the treatment you deserve.

Step 1- Identification

When you book an appointment with a representative over the phone, be sure to get their FULL name and the name of the Company they represent. Your first step is to make sure that they are licensed to do what they say they do. If they are representing an insurance company, or a group that works with insurance companies, they are required to have a state insurance license. You can easily go online and do a search for the Department of Insurance for the state you live in. Each website usually has something called a “Producer Search” which allows you to inquire by Insurance License Number, or by name.

When you find the name of the person you’re looking for you will want to verify that their license is current and active. If you have trouble finding them, don’t hesitate to contact them back and ask for a State Insurance License Number. If you still can’t find it, or if it’s not active, do not meet with this person! Contact their company back and ask for a manager. The company should be able to provide you with a different representative who can help you. You can also contact the state Department of Insurance for more information on that individual.

If you DO find them online, you’ll also want to search further and see which companies they’re licensed with. If you don’t immediately see a particular company listed, don’t be alarmed. Insurance Agents frequently become contracted with new companies as rates fluctuate and products change. They just want to be able to offer their clients the very best options! But sometimes these companies take time to reflect those contracts in the State’s online system.

Another issue is that sometimes an agent works with an agency of a certain name (For example: Jones Retirement Center) who has contracts with insurance companies (Like, John Hancock or Lincoln Financial) So the person on the phone might say: “This is Mike, with Jones Retirement Center.” but when you look him up online you don’t see any sort of contract listed for “Jones Retirement Center”, you only see “John Hancock and Lincoln Financial”. This is because the State sometimes only lists the contracts for actual Insurance Companies, not for the agencies they work through.

If this is the case, you’ll want to do another online search for the name of the agency they work for. So, using the example above “Jones Retirement Center in Financeville, Washington.” Most agencies have a website and you can use this site to review a little more about the company the agent represents and possibly even verify that the agent DOES in fact, work for that agency. (Many agencies list their representatives on their website.) You might also check other outside online listings such as Yellow-Pages or Google, to read reviews about this agency. If negativity seems prevalent with no response or explanation from the business, then you might want to turn elsewhere for your financial planning advice.

If the agent and agency clear all the above filters, the last thing you’d want to do, is just verify that they are who they SAID they are, when they come to your house for their appointment. Asking to see a driver’s license or insurance license will not throw an honest agent off-guard. They will be happy to share their credentials with you. Hopefully they’ll tell you that they appreciate your diligence and that they’re glad to be working with someone who has taken steps to protect themselves in this crazy world we live in.

Step 2- Fact Finding

If you went to a doctor for a check-up and he walked in the room and handed you a prescription for a heart medication, without ever talking to you, taking your blood pressure or running any other tests, you’d think he was crazy! He knows nothing about you or your situation, yet he’s trying to get you to take a drug for a heart condition! How can he even know you HAVE this condition? And even if he’s right, you might already be taking some other medication to treat it! Who knows how the two could affect each other!

It’s just as unreasonable, for a representative to come to your home and tell you that a certain product or service will best suit your needs, if they haven’t first done a financial review.

Also called a “Fact Finder” a financial review will let your agent know about everything you are and aren’t currently doing with your insurance, investments and savings. Having this information will allow them to inform you of possible problems and offer valid solutions.

It can be unsettling to divulge this type of personal information but keep in mind, you’ve already verified that this is a licensed and trained representative, working for a company that has a good reputation. It’s vital that they have a full picture of your financial situation BEFORE you purchase any new product, or they suggest any changes to your retirement plan.

You may be asked any of the following questions:

What types of investments do you currently have? What are the interest rates and total balance of those accounts? (They will want to see statements if you have them and might even call the company to confirm different details of your policies.)
What type of life insurance do you have? (This is another case where showing the agent your policy and letting them call the company for full details is definitely to your benefit.)
What are the balances of your checking and savings accounts?
What type of health insurance do you currently have?
What is the current state of your physical health?

Honestly answering all of these questions is the only way that your representative can truly evaluate your situation and offer real solutions that could change your life!

If your representative doesn’t take the time to do this type of review with you, they aren’t doing their job. To get the best service in this industry, you must demand it! Don’t settle for less. Give them your full attention, and they will give you theirs.

Together you can work toward a secure future for yourself and your family.

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Cornerstone Wins BBB Torch Award for Ethics

Cornerstone is proud to announce that they are the 2017 Large Business recipient of the Better Business Bureau’s Torch Award for Ethics.

“We were absolutely thrilled to learn we had been chosen as the recipient of this prestigious honor,” said CEO Mike Haskett.

According to the BBB, the Torch Award is their most prestigious award which celebrates and recognizes local companies that demonstrate integrity and a strong commitment to ethics in all that they do.

BBB Representative of the Lowcountry Chris Hadley explained that Cornerstone was awarded this honor due to their diligent efforts towards community outreach and in charitable giving.

Cornerstone’s dedication to these efforts has made a huge impact on the local community for the last 10 years.

Cornerstone gives back to the community in truly full-circle way.

For starters, they support the community by the excellent services their team brings to the clients they serve. In a world where senior citizens are frequently scammed and taken advantage of, Cornerstone has a team of advisors who travel to the homes of clients and spend hours meticulously reviewing their financial situation in an effort to
save them money and make sure that the products and services they pay for are
actually in their best interests. They’ve had the honor of helping the elderly, who
they view as valuable pillars of our society, to secure their futures and ensure
stability as they move through their retirement years.

“Cornerstone also feels proud to know that while helping our clients we are able to change lives for our agents as well!” Says CEO Mike Haskett. “Over the years our employees have had the chance to participate in sales contests and incentives through the more than 100 A+ rated insurance and investment companies we are affiliated with. It makes us feel good to know that providing the best services to our clients results in our
staff being able to provide a stable future for themselves and their families. We
all have to make a living somehow, but our hearts swell with pride when we see
how putting client service FIRST results in blessings for our staff.”

Helping people is really what Cornerstone is all about. But they don’t stop there.
Haskett believes strongly in giving back and makes sure that
the organization is always looking for ways to give back to the community.

To highlight a few, for the last 4 years Cornerstone has been the premier sponsor for
Chase After a Cure- a local organization that funds children’s cancer research, donating a total of more than $25,000 and participating in fund-raising efforts which brought in additional donations totaling more than $30,000. Cornerstone also donated office space for Chase After a Cure so that they would have a comfortable place to manage their organization.

In the fall of 2015 Cornerstone reached out to the community and asked what the local
schools needed. The response was huge and they had a tough time choosing, but
in the end were able to donate hundreds of supplies to a classroom at
Knightsville Elementary School. (see video link below for the whole story and
footage of the day they presented the supplies to Ms. Fuller’s Kindergarten
classroom)

They have also provided support to children who need help getting through
school, whether it’s scholarship dollars, helping out with books or even their
lunch fund when times get hard.

Cornerstone has also supported the arts/physical fitness for our youths by
helping raise money for local music, theatre and sports programs.
Overall, Cornerstone Wealth Advisory Group is committed to helping the
community through various forms of community service and outreach in addition
to the financial planning services they offer to their clients.

“We are proud to know that the Cornerstone name is now being recognized for more than just great customer service, or just as a great place to work, but also for all the extra stuff we do for the community,” says Haskett. “Ultimately, I encourage everyone to give back as much or as little as they are able. It takes all of us chipping in when we are able, to make a difference for those who need it most.”

Knightsville Elementary School Supply Surprise