Ways to pay for long-term care

How to Cover Long-Term Care Expenses

Does planning for long-term care seem sensible for your retirement?

The answer: Many will not plan for an LTC until it is too late.

Where do you start?

Paying for Long-Term Care in Retirement

Each option has advantages and risks and knowing these will let you determine what your best plan of action is.

From Retirement Assets:

Without any coverage you will pay for LTC out-of-pocket. For most retirees, this is not the best option. If you are married, there is a good chance you and your spouse will both need long-term care. Essentially doubling your cost in LTC, you may consider shared care if you are married to save on costs.

Traditional Long-Term Care Insurance

This option is all-or-nothing. You either use the benefits or you do no end up using it. However, if you do not use the LTC insurance policy, your family/heirs do not typically see a death benefit payout. As a specialized insurance, you pay to have the insurance company cover out-of-pocket costs for long-term care. With the need for long-term care increasing, over the years policy holders have seen increases in premiums.

Life Insurance Policy with Chronic Care Rider

Life insurance can provide an upgrade. As part of your policy, many life insurance companies offer a rider that will help pay for long-term care. In the case you should need long-term care, your life insurance will pay out a fourth of the death benefit from your policy up to four years. Should you not use all the death benefit for your long-term care, your heirs will receive whatever remains after you pass.

These riders can also apply to permanent life insurance policies that will allow a portion of the policy to be invested; a portion that will grow and may be tax-free upon withdrawal.

Deferred-Income Annuities

While used more as a stream of income, deferred-income annuities may be used as monthly payments to offset the cost of long-term care. In some cases, you may be able to purchase a deferred-income annuity with long-term care coverage or a long-term care rider.

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How Inflation Silently Robs Your Retirement

Even with careful retirement planning, one risk that is often not planned for well-enough is inflation. Inflation alone can hit retirement assets the hardest. The budget retirees begin with will change easily within the first 5-10 years—even 20 years down the road. It is most likely that inflation, assuming a rate of 3-4%, will cause daily living expenses to double within 20 years. Retirees should plan for this because, according to life expectancy statistics, folks live 20-24 more years.

That said, the following things should be taken into consideration when planning the silent killer of retirement:

  1. With aging comes more health concerns and more medical bills. Given that inflation will increase day-to-day life, it is predicted that health care costs and services will increase, too.
  2. Social Security benefits will increase for retirees. In 2020, benefits went up by 1.6% which was an additional $24 paid out; accounted when considering cost-of-living adjustments. However, the extra money from SS is offset by huge cost increases across the board. For example, medical services and cost go up; as does Medicare costs. SS should only be considered a baseline for retirement funds.
  3. As mentioned, living expenses are predicted to double within 20 years due to inflation. With inflation, spending power for retirement assets could drastically be reduced if not accounted for properly.

Tacking this silent killer and its concerns takes careful planning and risk managing.

With life expectancy, family medical history and personal medical concerns need to be discussed. Family history of heart disease and cancer will affect your life expectancy. This in turn will determine how long your funds will need to last. If your family members are known to pass away early on or live well into their 90s, this will also factor into how long your funds will need to last. Longer life expectancy means a longer time inflation will affect cost and standard of living.

Reviewing medical history in advance will also allow for the retirement budget to account for any major medical expenses that could arise. For example, a history of knee injuries could mean a knee replacement in your early 70s. Your occupational hazards could cause late-life conditions. If you spent your working years in a steel mill, you have a higher risk for COPD. Planning for these major medical expenses in advance will allow for inflation to be accounted for, for the money to be there if necessary. In retirement, folks spend $250,000-300,000 in medical costs alone.

To account for inflation a realistic budget plan should be set. This includes daily expenses, monthly bills, and additional spending such as travel and hobbies. Factoring into this budget, would be those said medical costs, too. Once a budget and cost-of-living expenses are decided, it is important to review how high inflation rates and the historically low interest rates affect other return rates and income during retirement.

Have a strategy addressing inflation in place. Begin with small withdrawal rates and increase as cost-of-living and inflation go up. During retirement, the small withdrawal rates will be a huge part of your income. Larger withdrawal rates will make deplete retirement funds much sooner—potentially running out of money before running out of retirement. If possible, during working years, saving more will go a longer way. Investing your future retirement younger will also help offset inflation. Consider different income sources: Annuities, long-term care policies, life insurance policies.

Creating an income strategy and working with a Retirement Risk Advisor is key to a safe and secure retirement. Discussing options that can reduce inflation and provide the best management for retirement will save you money and time and give you peace of mind.

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Market Volatility: Invest Smart, Know the Risks

Investing into the market for retirement funds is a risky business. Retirees often purchase individual stocks or invest in financial products such as mutual funds, exchange-traded funds (ETFs), or even variable annuities. There are other options such as defined contribution plans that invest into stock market and sometimes a company’s stock. 401(k)s are a common option offered by employers with a matching percentage. Having various investments allows for a more diversified portfolio, leading to a better chance at the safe and secure retirement you have always dreamt of.

However, invest smart and know the risks: the financial markets have significant fluctuations. There is a huge chance of majorly reducing retirement funds due to a bad down in the stock market. Therefore, long- and short-term investments are encouraged.

With the roller coaster of the financial markets, timing is everything when it comes to withdrawing from retirement savings & investments. Unfortunately, what may happen with the return of these investments is more negative than anything to the investor. Meaning, more of the account or assets may need to be liquidated to ensure spending power and keep that consistent stream of income. This is called sequence of return risk. An example of this was with the 2008 Recession; where the market declined and many lost their homes, their other investments, their retirements. For those who have awhile to save and plan are able to likely recover loss. Retirees with less time or who need their income soon will have to sell their investment assets while the market is down to reduce further loss and keep that income. A great loss is encountered if assets cannot be recovered.

Diversification of these assets/investments is important. Individual assets, such as the mutual funds and ETFS, may be managed professionally. These funds may have a focus on small to larger companies, even with specific fields or industries in mind. For individually chosen stocks and annuities, consider stock investments. Within these various options, there are performance and choice risks. Investment for retirement funds is a choice that should be taken with research and guidance.

As mentioned, there is always risk with investing—especially for your dream retirement. The following are some great strategies to limit the risks.

Diversify. Hold various investments across the classes (i.e. hold bonds and stocks). The more spread out and full the investments are better at loss absorption your portfolio is. For example, loss in individual stocks can be offset by holding stocks in 15+ companies and balancing the funds throughout these. If you were to hold the same amount over 5 companies/stocks, you are exposed to a greater risk if one of those companies crashes versus if you have the funds spread over 15 or more. Even considering fixed income investments is great! These will not yield as much return, however.

Long term is best. With investments, time is typically on your side. Especially in the case of recovering losses. It is rare you will see recovery happen overnight—it takes years. Those near or in retirement will want to monitor their investments closely because if a major loss occurs, you may be better off selling. Top experts suggest relying on income-generating policies while moving funds from the stock market throughout your retirement years.

Roll with the pooled. Like carpooling to an event, a pooled investment is smaller contributions from individual to make a larger investment fund. Some examples are mutual funds and target-date funds. Oftentimes these are done with financial experts and there may be fees involved.

Remember fees. Higher fees do not necessarily mean a higher yield on investments. They reduce the overall return, so monitoring and understanding them is important for your financial wellbeing. 401(k)s and other defined contribution plans may have fees; sometimes a fee may be charged if using a financial advisor for advice and portfolio management.

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A Retirement Strategy Offering Both Savings and Income

In economic uncertainty, finding answers that provide both savings and an income during retirement becomes challenging. While you try to recover from a downturn, so are companies. And history speaks for itself: employee retirement programs are usually the first cut. This was seen after the Great Recession when corporations across the U.S. reduced and eliminated 401(k) matches. More recently, with the Covid-19 crisis, some companies have begun reducing retirement programs and other employee benefits to aid in recovering from the crisis.

Since retirement is up to the employee, you want something that will withstand the market fluctuations, lower risk, and provide a promised regular income: annuities. As an insurance product, annuities are either done with a single, lump sum payment or recurring premiums that will grow and provide retirement savings and income stream.

Overview of Annuity Types

Variable annuities often yield higher returns because they are directly tied to the consumer’s investment choices. However, they can be decrease in value when the market experiences a downturn. No guarantee is offered with interest or principal protection with these annuities.

Fixed annuities accrue interest off a fixed interest rate set at the beginning of the contract. These are written in stone for a set number of years, meaning they cannot decrease in value for that time. Thus, these annuities offer some protection guarantee, have low yields, and offer low risk.

Fixed indexed annuities are a middle ground of the other two annuities. Based on the performance of a specific index, they provide guaranteed principal protection. Risk is medium with this annuity and has a capped yield that becomes part of the annuity income stream.

Ways Annuities Lower Risk in Retirement

Lifetime income – After accumulation, income payments can be received as either a lump sum, an installment payment for a set number of years, or lifetime payments depending on the rider. This may come with a fee, but some riders have no fee associated.

Tax-deferred – As long as funds remain in the annuity, your savings will remain protected from the yearly taxation on interest. As a chance to earn interest on interest, principal, and on taxes deferred, you get ahead on retirement assets that is not typically available with other retirement accounts.

Principal protection – Protecting your hard-earned money will help reduce retirement risks you will face. With fixed and fixed indexed annuities, your principal investment is protected with the chance to grow and become a stable income stream for retirement.

Growth – Annuities offer a flexibility for growth that may be capped or have a participation rate. These are linked specifically to market indexes. A variable annuity has the potential for a high growth rate, but fixed or fixed indexed annuities allow for participation but less risk.

For more information on how annuities can reduce and eliminate risk in your retirement, please listen to The Retirement Risk Show episode, “The Crossroads of Longevity and Volatility: How Annuities Help.”

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21st Century Planning: Risk-Based Retirement

What will your retirement look like? Do you plan to downsize your home? Stay at home more or travel more? Will you begin a new business or work part-time? Retirement prompts a lot of questions, and many challenges will be faced during those years. Planning with a risk-based mindset will make the process all that much easier.

Surprising facts about retirement:

  • Retirement will likely last longer than expected.
  • Few spend adequate time creating a plan. Most folks spend more time planning their vacations than they do retirement.
  • Many remain in the workforce in some form after retirement,
  • A lot of folks invest only in 401(k)s.

The best way to tackle the risks of retirement is diversifying your retirement portfolio.

Annuities:

Fixed or variable, annuities are a good way to add to your retirement income and diversify your funds. Fixed annuities offered guaranteed returns while variable annuities provide a higher yield but come with much more risk and potential loss. And when it comes time to retire, you can receive distributions calculated based off your life expectancy. This guarantees it for life!

Permanent Life Insurance:

Life insurance, while not often thought of, can provide tax-deferred income, and protect your family. You may access this money from your premiums in the form of cash-value such as loans or direct withdrawals. Note, however, that accessing the cash-value will reduce the policy benefit).

Long-Term Care Insurance:

Expenses may seem unforeseen, but that does not mean that during retirement planning cannot account for them. As we live longer, we are more exposed to needing long-term care. Long-term care happens when we are limited and unable to perform daily activities such as dressing or eating. And long-term care insurance can help with this!

The insurance provides coverage for at-home care, assisted living facilities, and even community-based care. Structuring of policies varies, some provide monthly benefit while others are structured with traditional life insurance (and may offer more death benefit if the long-term care is never used).

Important: planning continues and needs maintained during retirement, too.

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