Government report sounds alarm on retirement crisis: Retirement Scan

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Government report sounds alarm on retirement crisis
A report from the Government Accounting Office states that a retirement crisis is imminent if the federal government fails to help Americans improve their financial security, according to this article on CNBC. The government should take actions, such as promoting universal access to retirement savings and giving Americans more options for the spend-down phase of retirement. "We recognize that some of these goals may compete with each other — in particular, ensuring greater retirement security and minimizing fiscal exposure to the federal government."
Column Congress tries to squeeze more out of Social Security, wrecking its customer service
The Social Security Administration can expect another year of tight budget as the House is considering keeping its funding the same as last year, according to this article on Los Angeles Times. The Senate is even planning to slash the budget by 4%, or $400 million. “Years of SSA cuts have already taken their toll, leading to long waits on the phone and in field offices for taxpayers and beneficiaries, as well as record-high disability backlogs,” says an expert.

How to deal with this retirement budget-buster
Home mortgage payment can be a single expense that can put a big dent on many retirees' budget, according to this article on CBS Moneywatch. To eliminate this financial obligation in retirement, pre-retirees may want to consider downsizing. Clients may also opt for arbitrage strategy that allows them to pay off mortgage debt using bonds. Those who look at this strategy as an option should know the tax implications by consulting an account.

The hidden costs of variable annuities and how to avoid them
Retirement investors who consider buying annuity products are advised to check the fees before making a decision, as these costs could reduce the investment earnings, according to this article on Kiplinger. These fees include surrender charges, mortality, expense and administrative fees, and earnings caps. These investment management and other charges are not treated as tax deductible expenses.

It's official -- the 2018 401(k) contribution limit is increasing
The IRS has raised the 401(k) contribution limit for employees to $18,500 for the 2018 tax year, according to this article on Motley Fool. This means an increase of $500 that will be deducted from their taxable income, as the account is funded with pre-tax dollars.

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Retirement planning Retirement readiness Social Security Annuities Investments