Many People in the US Unclear about Their Claims for Social Security

Social Security Benefits

Many people do not receive the maximum social security benefit they are entitled to when they retire. The confusion begins with the basic rules established for Social Security. Just under 40% of the populace knows that 62 is the earliest age that benefits can be claimed. This finding came from a survey conducted among 45 to 64-year-olds by the AARP and Financial Planning Association.

Both organizations surveyed 1,215 participants or future beneficiaries of social security. The respondents were asked how much income they expected and how well they understood the Social Security program. The research also included a survey that included 1,279 certified financial planners. The CFPs were asked if their clients had a reasonable level of knowledge about Social Security.

Most of the participants, or close to 90%, know that waiting until their full retirement age (66 or 67 years old) gets them a larger monthly check. However, only 5% know just how much more money they will receive by waiting until they are 66 or 67 years old. People tended to underestimate, rather than overestimate, the increase they received by waiting. Also, just one-third of the pre-retirees knew that they can max out their social security benefits by waiting to claim the money until after 70.

Most of the pre-retirees, or 84%, know that if they claim benefits before their full retirement age, the earnings they make will lessen their benefits. The amount retirees can earn before they see their benefits reduced is $15,720 for the 2015 tax year.

Also, the report adds that if you are married to your spouse for 10+ years and are unmarried when she or he dies, you can make a claim on the work record of your ex-spouse, assuming their benefits are higher than your own benefit amount.

About half of the respondents, who have been married, know they can collect social security benefits, based on the work record of their spouse, even if their spouse is still alive. Many, however, did not know that the level of their widow benefits is connected to the age of the spouse, when he or she began collecting benefits.

According to the report, referring to sources, such as the books, Social Security or Dummies or Get What’s Yours, by Laurence Kotlikoff, Philip Moeller, and Paul Solman, can de-mystify some of the confusion in the collection process.


Delaware Legislators Tackling Payday Loan Companies

Helene Keeley

You can add Delaware to the list of states looking to take aim at the payday loan industry.

According to the Delaware State News newspaper, several lawmakers will introduce new legislation in January that would restrict or curb payday loan businesses operating within the state of Delaware.

The proposed legislation was put forward on the very last day of the state session this year. This means that not only will public officials be required to debate the legislation next year, but it will also serve as a warning shot to the unscrupulous payday loan establishments.

One of the lawmakers is Wilmington Democratic State Representative Helene Keeley, who states that there needs to be a cap on interest rates. She pegs the number at 100 percent for short-term, small-dollar loans.

Today, critics say, payday loans in Delaware come with exuberant rates of interest that hurt low-income consumers who are trying to get by. The interest rates and other charges can cause some borrowers to roll over their loans because they can’t afford the previous amount.

Kelley attempted to reassure the industry and its proponents that her legislation isn’t trying to take them down or prohibit them from operating across The Diamond State. Instead, she says, she wants in place a number of consumer protection laws that ensure people do not enter a state of perpetual debt.

Sponsors of the bill are hoping that they can come to a consensus over the next six months that will create an environment of fairness and a “more reasonable” marketplace for impoverished families that sometimes rely on payday loans.

Proponents of the payday loan industry say that it’s the bad lenders that ruin it for the rest of the industry that tries to be honest. Pike Creek Republican State Representative Michael Ramone believes that you can’t paint everyone with the same brush, but noted that laws may be needed.

“There is also a point at which people are absolutely desperate and they’ll do whatever they can obtain money, and unfortunately some of these predatory lenders are taking advantage of that and making it a devastating environment for these people,” Ramone said.

“That’s not the way the system is supposed to work. There’s a lot of room for great online payday loans for bad credit to work within the parameters of reasonableness and help people and then there’s the ones trying to take advantage of people.”

This isn’t the first time that the state has tried to rein in the payday loan industry. In 2012, the state passed a law that would limit the number of payday loans a borrower can take out. The legislation at the time limited it to five over the course of one year.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) has been trying to incorporate this into its proposed federal regulatory framework. Other states have also emulated the same kind of thing. Eighteen states have outright prohibited payday loans altogether.

Payday lending costs surpassed $2.6 billion in Delaware, according to Responsible Lending. Nationwide, the payday loan industry is valued at $45 billion as millions of Americans take out a payday loan every year.


Photoelectric Alarms Are Safer and Offer a Lower Risk of Liability or Injury


Certain hidden hazards in the home can result in fires or other hazards if they are not checked or found. For example, the wrong smoke detector can potentially be deadly. The report states that two kinds of smoke detectors are available – ionization and photoelectric alarms. Ionization detectors are the most commonplace. The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) asserts that approximately 90% or 100 million of the alarms used are ionization detectors.

However, research shows that ionization detectors, which employ a small amount of radioactive material to trip the alarm when it detects burning particles, are less able to detect smoldering or slow-burning fires, or those fires that are triggered by such common ignition sources as frayed wires, cigarettes, or fireplace sparks.

According to Joseph Fleming, who works as a deputy fire chief for the Boston Fire Department, approximately 30,000 people in the US, have lost their lives by relying on ionization detectors. An ionization alarm may sometimes take 50 minutes longer to become activated when compared to a photoelectric smoke alarm.

Ionization alarms often are placed in homes because they are more affordable, or about half the price of a photoelectric smoke alarm. Also, the battery on an ionization alarm lasts longer. In addition, fire damage and injury from fast flaming fires is greater while smoldering fires have a lower number of injuries. However, the death rate is higher from smoldering fires because of carbon monoxide poisoning.

Ionization detectors also have a high false alarm rate, causing them to respond to such daily activities as showering or cooking. Photoelectric alarms, which employ a beam of light to detect burning particles, have a lower number of false alarms.

Firefighting experts suggest investing in photoelectric detectors in hallways and bedrooms and placing the ionization alarms in the kitchen, if they are placed at all. In 2008, the International Association of Fire Firefighters recommended the placement of photoelectric alarms only. Several states, such as Maine, Vermont and Massachusetts, also require photoelectric alarms in new home construction.