In my last article called “Do Financial Advisers Hate Your Wife?” I explained a discussion I had with Dan McGrath, one of the authors of “What You Don’t Know About Retirement Will Hurt You!.”
Dan’s point was that the traditional approach of financial planning for retirement and beyond is flawed given many of the realities and impacts of health-care costs on living well in retirement and one’s later years.
“The rules for retirement have changed and advisers have been slow to adapt to these new rules and thus we see many seniors, particularly women, get hurt financially as they need to adjust to the new costs that no one helped them to plan for,” McGrath says.
In the last article Dan painted a scenario that a widow may encounter after the loss of her husband. The widow is now faced with lowered income overall including less Social Security income along with increased health care costs due to her age and health and lack of long-term care coverage. In Dan’s scenario, the adviser held to the age-old approach of spending cash and non-qualified assets first.
Dan says, “this is a scenario that is occurring every day in this country. The last part about having all of her non qualified assets spent first, including her Roth, is particularly troublesome given the means tested nature of Medicare. It’s very similar to what happened to my mom.”
In fact, in the book, Dan discusses a conversation that he had with his mother, who felt that her son was able to address her financial planning needs and she would be in good hands. What Dan discovered is that the new rules of retirement require an approach that many advisers have avoided and one that he feels they need to utilize to help investors going forward.
This new approach would have addressed Dan’s scenario with a different strategy.
“While the couple was alive and implementing a retirement financial plan, I’d include products such as life insurance with LTC riders for each of them along with a LTC product such as Lincoln’s MoneyGuard or Pacific Life’s PremierCare. I’d also start using those precious tax deferred assets once they reach the qualifying age, while allowing the cash, the non qualified assets and the Roth accounts to grow, ” Dan says.
He goes on to recommend what he feels are two things that most advisers avoid for clients and he feels that they should be considered given the new rules of retirement: opening a home equity line or Reverse Mortgage to allow access to potential income, and use some of their non qualified assets to purchase a Single Premium Immediate Annuity the year they retire.
How would this have changed the scenario?
Dan reveals, “When the husband gets sick, the LTC is triggered, allowing her to hire someone to tend to him and helping her maintain her health. The life insurance kicks in to supplement the lost Social Security income when he passes away. Along with paying her bills with her cash, non qualified assets and Roth assets, she can tap her home equity or reverse mortgage to help as well.”
In the first scenario, Dan points out that the woman in declining health could find herself in a Medicaid situation which may lead her to a facility far from home and family. When Dan’s strategy is used, the widow doesn’t lose her home and uses her LTC coverage to hire someone to help her and stay in her own home.
“Along with the fact that her income from the SPIA, her home, cash and the Roth are either not taxed or taxed at a lower amount, the best part”, Dan says, “is that they are not recognized by Medicare so her health costs remain low and her Social Security benefits remain constant.”
In the next article, I’ll dive into this topic of means tested Medicare and how it impacts the income of retirees, including reaching into their Social Security when I discuss this with another author of “What You Don’t Know About Retirement Will Hurt You!,” Michael Gerali.