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Strategies to Maximize Your Social Security Benefits

The choice of when to retire and collect Social Security can impact your retirement for years into the future. Because people are generally living longer today than in previous generations, they are choosing to work longer and delay retirement to accumulate additional savings. However, according to the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College, although the proportion of people signing up for Social Security at age 62 (the earliest age you become eligible for benefits) has steadily declined since the mid-1990s, more than 40% of men and women still choose to claim their benefits as soon as they become eligible.
While no single age or method is appropriate for everyone when it comes to claiming Social Security benefits, certain strategies can be employed to optimize your benefits, boosting your income in retirement and potentially reducing the risk of outliving your savings.
Delay claiming Social Security benefits until your Full Retirement Age (FRA) or older. Certain circumstances may require you to sign up for Social Security before reaching full retirement age (FRA). For example, you may need the extra income to offset expenses, or you may not be healthy enough to continue working. Unfortunately, if your FRA is 67, and you choose to start receiving your retirement benefits at age 62, your monthly benefit amount may be reduced by as much as 30%
The percentage by which your benefit amount is reduced decreases each year until you reach your FRA, at which point you are entitled to full, or unreduced, benefits. However, if you can delay signing up for Social Security beyond your FRA, you will earn delayed retirement credits that increase your monthly benefit amount each year until you turn 70, at which point you are eligible to receive your largest benefit.
Take advantage of spousal benefits. If you are married and your spouse has earned a larger Social Security benefit than you can claim on your own record, you are entitled to receive a spousal benefit based on your spouse’s earnings—without changing the amount they receive. Ex-spouses can also collect benefits based on the higher earner’s record if they were married for at least ten years and have not remarried, and widows and widowers can collect 100% of the higher earner’s benefits instead of their own.
You can claim a spousal benefit as early as age 62—as long as your spouse has already filed for Social Security (this requirement is slightly different for ex-spouses in that they need only be eligible to file for Social Security). With spousal benefits, you can collect 50% of your spouse’s benefit amount as calculated at their FRA. If you file before you reach your FRA, keep in mind that this amount is reduced based on how far you are from full retirement.
For some married couples, it may be beneficial for the spouse with the lower lifetime earnings record to file for Social Security first on his or her record and delay collecting the higher-earner’s benefits. This strategy allows the couple to collect some income early in retirement and then collect larger monthly benefits later.
Avoid filing for benefits during high-income years. You can file for Social Security while you are still working, but if you have not yet reached FRA and your earnings exceed the yearly limit—in 2020 this limit is $18,240—your benefits will be reduced. Once you reach FRA, you are entitled to full benefits with no limit on your earnings. However, those with other sources of income often must pay taxes on their Social Security benefits. For the highest earners—individuals who earn more than $34,000 annually and married couples who earn more than $44,000, as of 2019—up to 85% of Social Security benefits may be taxable. Delaying your benefits until after you have stopped working may allow you to keep a larger portion of your Social Security income, especially if you have not yet reached FRA.
How and when you choose to collect your Social Security benefits ultimately depends on your unique circumstances, including your financial situation and family dynamics, health, longevity expectations and retirement savings. Social Security can be a meaningful component of your income during retirement, and understanding the various claiming strategies can help maximize the benefits you have earned. Because there are many nuances to claiming Social Security, reviewing these strategies within the context of your overall retirement plan with a financial advisor is essential and can make a significant difference in the income you collect during your retirement years.
You’ve paid into Social Security with every dollar that you’ve earned. To assure that you receive your maximum benefit, call us for a free consultation to plan the best strategy for your personal situation!
... See MoreSee Less

Strategies to Maximize Your Social Security Benefits

The choice of when to retire and collect Social Security can impact your retirement for years into the future. Because people are generally living longer today than in previous generations, they are choosing to work longer and delay retirement to accumulate additional savings. However, according to the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College, although the proportion of people signing up for Social Security at age 62 (the earliest age you become eligible for benefits) has steadily declined since the mid-1990s, more than 40% of men and women still choose to claim their benefits as soon as they become eligible.
While no single age or method is appropriate for everyone when it comes to claiming Social Security benefits, certain strategies can be employed to optimize your benefits, boosting your income in retirement and potentially reducing the risk of outliving your savings.
Delay claiming Social Security benefits until your Full Retirement Age (FRA) or older. Certain circumstances may require you to sign up for Social Security before reaching full retirement age (FRA). For example, you may need the extra income to offset expenses, or you may not be healthy enough to continue working. Unfortunately, if your FRA is 67, and you choose to start receiving your retirement benefits at age 62, your monthly benefit amount may be reduced by as much as 30%
The percentage by which your benefit amount is reduced decreases each year until you reach your FRA, at which point you are entitled to full, or unreduced, benefits. However, if you can delay signing up for Social Security beyond your FRA, you will earn delayed retirement credits that increase your monthly benefit amount each year until you turn 70, at which point you are eligible to receive your largest benefit.
Take advantage of spousal benefits. If you are married and your spouse has earned a larger Social Security benefit than you can claim on your own record, you are entitled to receive a spousal benefit based on your spouse’s earnings—without changing the amount they receive. Ex-spouses can also collect benefits based on the higher earner’s record if they were married for at least ten years and have not remarried, and widows and widowers can collect 100% of the higher earner’s benefits instead of their own.
You can claim a spousal benefit as early as age 62—as long as your spouse has already filed for Social Security (this requirement is slightly different for ex-spouses in that they need only be eligible to file for Social Security). With spousal benefits, you can collect 50% of your spouse’s benefit amount as calculated at their FRA. If you file before you reach your FRA, keep in mind that this amount is reduced based on how far you are from full retirement.
For some married couples, it may be beneficial for the spouse with the lower lifetime earnings record to file for Social Security first on his or her record and delay collecting the higher-earner’s benefits. This strategy allows the couple to collect some income early in retirement and then collect larger monthly benefits later.
Avoid filing for benefits during high-income years. You can file for Social Security while you are still working, but if you have not yet reached FRA and your earnings exceed the yearly limit—in 2020 this limit is $18,240—your benefits will be reduced. Once you reach FRA, you are entitled to full benefits with no limit on your earnings. However, those with other sources of income often must pay taxes on their Social Security benefits. For the highest earners—individuals who earn more than $34,000 annually and married couples who earn more than $44,000, as of 2019—up to 85% of Social Security benefits may be taxable. Delaying your benefits until after you have stopped working may allow you to keep a larger portion of your Social Security income, especially if you have not yet reached FRA.
How and when you choose to collect your Social Security benefits ultimately depends on your unique circumstances, including your financial situation and family dynamics, health, longevity expectations and retirement savings. Social Security can be a meaningful component of your income during retirement, and understanding the various claiming strategies can help maximize the benefits you have earned. Because there are many nuances to claiming Social Security, reviewing these strategies within the context of your overall retirement plan with a financial advisor is essential and can make a significant difference in the income you collect during your retirement years.  
You’ve paid into Social Security with every dollar that you’ve earned.  To assure that you receive your maximum benefit, call us for a free consultation to plan the best strategy for your personal situation!

Roth IRA Beats Traditional IRA For Young Workers; Here's How

Roth IRAs are best for workers who expect their tax rate to rise in retirement. And the younger you are, the more likely that is to be true. So, if you're a young investor, remember: a Roth IRA is a savings tool whose benefits tilt in your favor.

Roth IRA Is A Hedge Against Rising Taxes
And by "young," Slott means anyone up to about age 50.
"People think their tax rate will be lower in retirement," said Ed Slott, founder of IRAHelp.com. "But you can't go wrong betting on your tax rate going higher in the future. The U.S. just topped $1 trillion in federal debt. The only way to reverse a deficit is to bring in more revenue. So tax rates are at their lowest right now."
In additional to the federal government's need for revenue and budget balancing, taxpayers often get pushed into higher brackets by unexpectedly high income during retirement.
"Many people don't realize how large their required minimum distributions (RMDs) will be," said Slott, referring to the withdrawals that people must start to take from retirement accounts after reaching age 70-1/2. "Some RMDs are larger than their salaries before they retired. They can easily push you into a higher tax bracket."

TRY IT FREE!
How does a Roth IRA help young investors?
The bottom line of its benefit is that a Roth IRA is going to leave you more money after taxes than a traditional IRA once you start taking withdrawals, in any normal scenario if your tax rate rises in the future.
That's the case because of timing. When you pay taxes with each type of IRA makes all of the difference.
Roth IRA Vs. Traditional IRA: Timing Is Everything
With a traditional IRA, you get an upfront tax deduction for your contribution, that year. The money you put in does not count as part of that year's taxable income. You delay paying income tax until you take money out.
That can be years or even decades later.
The opposite occurs with a Roth IRA. You do not get an upfront tax deduction. But once your money is inside the account, earnings grow without being taxed year by year. That's the same treatment that earnings get inside a traditional IRA.
The key difference is that your withdrawals are typically tax-free. If you use a Roth IRA properly, money you take out does not get taxed.
That difference — taxing you at the outset of the process rather than at the tail end — saves you a lot in taxes.
When Do Withdrawals From A Roth IRA Become Tax-Free?
Exactly what does "use a Roth IRA properly" mean? You can always withdraw your contributions tax-free. In addition, you can withdraw your earnings tax-free and free from any early withdrawal penalty once the account is at least five years old and once you're over age 59-1/2.
Why does the timing matter? Basically, it matters because you'll typically get taxed on a smaller amount of money — just the money that you stuff into the Roth IRA, before earnings have built up.
Equally important, you're being taxed at a stage of your career when your income, and tax rate, is likely to be lower.
Combined, those differences mean that your tax bill is smaller in most scenarios. And if your tax rate is lower, the amount of after-tax money that you pocket is greater.
A Roth IRA Is Exempt From RMD Rules
A Roth IRA has additional benefits too.
For one thing, you can commonly keep your money at work, growing tax-free, inside a Roth IRA longer than you can with a traditional IRA.
That's because a Roth IRA is exempt from the RMD rule that dictates that you begin to take withdrawals by April 1 of the year after you turn age 70-1/2 from a traditional IRA or usually any type of 401(k) account.
With either type of 401(k) — a traditional or a Roth 401(k) — you can delay the start of RMDs until April 1 of the year after you retire.
But that's the case only if you meet two conditions. First, you must still be working for the company where you have that account. Second, you must not own more than 5% of that company.
If you do meet those conditions, your money can keep growing without being nibbled by taxes inside the Roth. But that right to postpone RMDs applies only to 401(k)s. There is no such exemption from RMDs for traditional IRAs.
In plain English, here's what that means: with a Roth IRA, you can keep contributing and protecting your money no matter what your age is. With a traditional, you cannot contribute past age 70-1/2 under normal circumstances.
Taxing Sooner Vs. Taxing Later
Let's take another look at why taxing you sooner with a Roth IRA is better than taxing you later with a traditional IRA. After all, intuitively, delaying a tax seems like a better idea.
Here's why it does not work out that way.
Delaying the income tax means that you end up being taxed at a time in your life when, odds are, your income is higher.
Higher pay is likely to put you into a higher tax bracket. That means you get hit with a higher tax rate.
It can also have costly ripple effects. Rising into a higher tax bracket can lead to taxation of Social Security benefits that otherwise would not be taxed.
Roth IRA Helps Your Heirs
One more edge that Roth IRAs have versus traditional IRAs involves heirs. Basically, with an inherited traditional IRA, the heirs will pay taxes on any money they withdraw from the account.
With an inherited Roth IRA, your heirs don't pay taxes on distributions, Slott says.
Your heirs will thank you.
Congressional Mischief?
But what about the risk that Congress will kill or cut the tax-free status of withdrawals from Roth IRAs and Roth 401(k)s?
Congress has made adverse moves against other IRA rules. The U.S. House voted to pass the Secure Act, which would radically change the rules for so-called stretch IRAs.
To raise cash for a strained federal budget, will Congress end tax-free withdrawals from Roth accounts? "Congress tipped their hand with the Secure Act," Slott said. "You can't trust them to keep their word about long-term retirement planning."
Not knowing if Congress will mess with a key Roth IRA rule creates uncertainty. "It creates uncertainty for decisions that people have to make about financing their retirements for decades in the future," Slott said. "That's a big problem."

PAUL KATZEFF Investors Business Daily 9/30/2019
... See MoreSee Less

Roth IRA Beats Traditional IRA For Young Workers; Heres How
 
Roth IRAs are best for workers who expect their tax rate to rise in retirement. And the younger you are, the more likely that is to be true. So, if youre a young investor, remember: a Roth IRA is a savings tool whose benefits tilt in your favor.
 
Roth IRA Is A Hedge Against Rising Taxes
And by young, Slott means anyone up to about age 50.
People think their tax rate will be lower in retirement, said Ed Slott, founder of IRAHelp.com. But you cant go wrong betting on your tax rate going higher in the future. The U.S. just topped $1 trillion in federal debt. The only way to reverse a deficit is to bring in more revenue. So tax rates are at their lowest right now.
In additional to the federal governments need for revenue and budget balancing, taxpayers often get pushed into higher brackets by unexpectedly high income during retirement.
Many people dont realize how large their required minimum distributions (RMDs) will be, said Slott, referring to the withdrawals that people must start to take from retirement accounts after reaching age 70-1/2. Some RMDs are larger than their salaries before they retired. They can easily push you into a higher tax bracket.

TRY IT FREE!
How does a Roth IRA help young investors?
The bottom line of its benefit is that a Roth IRA is going to leave you more money after taxes than a traditional IRA once you start taking withdrawals, in any normal scenario if your tax rate rises in the future.
Thats the case because of timing. When you pay taxes with each type of IRA makes all of the difference.
Roth IRA Vs. Traditional IRA: Timing Is Everything
With a traditional IRA, you get an upfront tax deduction for your contribution, that year. The money you put in does not count as part of that years taxable income. You delay paying income tax until you take money out.
That can be years or even decades later.
The opposite occurs with a Roth IRA. You do not get an upfront tax deduction. But once your money is inside the account, earnings grow without being taxed year by year. Thats the same treatment that earnings get inside a traditional IRA.
The key difference is that your withdrawals are typically tax-free. If you use a Roth IRA properly, money you take out does not get taxed.
That difference — taxing you at the outset of the process rather than at the tail end — saves you a lot in taxes.
When Do Withdrawals From A Roth IRA Become Tax-Free?
Exactly what does use a Roth IRA properly mean? You can always withdraw your contributions tax-free. In addition, you can withdraw your earnings tax-free and free from any early withdrawal penalty once the account is at least five years old and once youre over age 59-1/2.
Why does the timing matter? Basically, it matters because youll typically get taxed on a smaller amount of money — just the money that you stuff into the Roth IRA, before earnings have built up.
Equally important, youre being taxed at a stage of your career when your income, and tax rate, is likely to be lower.
Combined, those differences mean that your tax bill is smaller in most scenarios. And if your tax rate is lower, the amount of after-tax money that you pocket is greater.
A Roth IRA Is Exempt From RMD Rules
A Roth IRA has additional benefits too.
For one thing, you can commonly keep your money at work, growing tax-free, inside a Roth IRA longer than you can with a traditional IRA.
Thats because a Roth IRA is exempt from the RMD rule that dictates that you begin to take withdrawals by April 1 of the year after you turn age 70-1/2 from a traditional IRA or usually any type of 401(k) account.
With either type of 401(k) — a traditional or a Roth 401(k) — you can delay the start of RMDs until April 1 of the year after you retire.
But thats the case only if you meet two conditions. First, you must still be working for the company where you have that account. Second, you must not own more than 5% of that company.
If you do meet those conditions, your money can keep growing without being nibbled by taxes inside the Roth. But that right to postpone RMDs applies only to 401(k)s. There is no such exemption from RMDs for traditional IRAs.
In plain English, heres what that means: with a Roth IRA, you can keep contributing and protecting your money no matter what your age is. With a traditional, you cannot contribute past age 70-1/2 under normal circumstances.
Taxing Sooner Vs. Taxing Later
Lets take another look at why taxing you sooner with a Roth IRA is better than taxing you later with a traditional IRA. After all, intuitively, delaying a tax seems like a better idea.
Heres why it does not work out that way.
Delaying the income tax means that you end up being taxed at a time in your life when, odds are, your income is higher.
Higher pay is likely to put you into a higher tax bracket. That means you get hit with a higher tax rate.
It can also have costly ripple effects. Rising into a higher tax bracket can lead to taxation of Social Security benefits that otherwise would not be taxed.
Roth IRA Helps Your Heirs
One more edge that Roth IRAs have versus traditional IRAs involves heirs. Basically, with an inherited traditional IRA, the heirs will pay taxes on any money they withdraw from the account.
With an inherited Roth IRA, your heirs dont pay taxes on distributions, Slott says.
Your heirs will thank you.
Congressional Mischief?
But what about the risk that Congress will kill or cut the tax-free status of withdrawals from Roth IRAs and Roth 401(k)s?
Congress has made adverse moves against other IRA rules. The U.S. House voted to pass the Secure Act, which would radically change the rules for so-called stretch IRAs.
To raise cash for a strained federal budget, will Congress end tax-free withdrawals from Roth accounts? Congress tipped their hand with the Secure Act, Slott said. You cant trust them to keep their word about long-term retirement planning.
Not knowing if Congress will mess with a key Roth IRA rule creates uncertainty. It creates uncertainty for decisions that people have to make about financing their retirements for decades in the future, Slott said. Thats a big problem.

PAUL KATZEFF Investors Business Daily 9/30/2019

An HSA account lets you use pretax funds to pay for qualified medical expenses. But using a health savings account can help build long-term wealth too. First, the money you put into a health savings account is tax-deductible, at least at the federal level. (States' tax treatment of HSAs vary.) Then if you don't use all the funds in your HSA, it accrues interest tax-free. Longer term, HSA accounts can grow even more if you invest some of your funds.

A health savings account can be a good addition to your financial plan whether you're new to the workforce, well along in your career with other savings plans in place, or nearing retirement. If you're a millennial just starting out with an HSA, you probably don't need to cover many medical expenses. So look for an HSA with low fees and decent interest rates. If you've had your account a few years and have a sizable balance, think about investing the money in stocks, mutual funds or ETFs. Look for HSA providers that offer a nice choice of investment options.

If you're considering opening a new HSA account, check out this overview of how a health savings account works and the annual list of the Best HSAs based on low fees, investment options, interest rates and user experience.

10 HSA providers made IBD's list:

10 Best HSA Account Providers
HealthEquity
Optum Bank
HSA Bank
UMB Healthcare Services
Fidelity Investments
Further
HSA Authority
HealthSavings Administrators
Saturna HSA
Lively

Your HSA account will let you set aside pretax income to cover health care costs that aren't paid by your insurance. A health savings account is only available to people who have a qualifying, high-deductible insurance plan. HDIPs are defined differently from state to state, but generally they are health care insurance plans with an annual deductible of more than $2,700 for a family and $1,350 for an individual.

Health Savings Account Growth
The total number of HSA accounts grew to 25 million at the end of 2018, up 13% year over year, according to Devenir, an HSA consultant. HSA holders had $53.8 billion in their accounts at the end of 2018, a 19% year-over-year increase. Devenir expects this number to grow to $75 billion by the end of 2020.

HSA account holders contributed more than $33 billion to their accounts in 2018, up 22% from the year before, according to Devenir. Employers who offer HSAs also boosted their contributions to employee accounts in 2018. The average contribution amount by employers rose to $839 from $604.

Despite rocky stock market performance, HSA investment assets reached $10.2 billion in 2018, up 23% from 2017. The average investment account holds a $14,617 total balance.

The top HSA account providers offer a wide selection of investment options at low cost. Some of the best providers allow "no minimum" account balances to invest health savings account funds.

What's New For HSAs In 2019?
HSA contribution limits have gone up a tad. For 2019, the contribution limit is $3,500 for individuals and $7,000 for families.

Fidelity, already among the top health savings account providers, has taken its offerings up a notch. Fidelity HSAs used to be available only through employer-based plans and mainly through large companies. The company now offers HSA accounts directly to individuals too.

"One of our goals is to expand access to HSAs," said Begonya Klumb, Fidelity Investments' head of HSA, Workplace Solutions. "We are also expanding our presence in the workplace, as we are now working with smaller clients as well."

Klumb says Fidelity strives to make the cost of having an HSA account as low as possible. But while more people are opening HSA accounts and making saving for health care a priority, a recent Fidelity report shows that more than 90% aren't taking advantage of one of the HSA's most valuable benefits — investing.

"We're trying to remove as many barriers as possible, especially transaction fees," she told IBD. "That's why (Fidelity HSAs require) no minimum balance, no fee to open the account, no minimum to invest. This is key. We want clients get the most out of their account."

HSA Accounts: Best Of 2019
To arrive at our list of the best health savings account administrators, IBD looked at dozens of providers. We took into account customer ratings as well as input from industry experts.

All 10 providers on the list offer solid HSAs. To highlight exceptional strength in particular areas, we also named award winners in five categories: Investment Options, Investment Quality, Low Fees, Interest Rates and Easy Access.

Easy-To-Use HSAs
Category winners for Easy Access to a health savings account have consistently positive online customer reviews for user experience. They give HSA account holders access to their funds through online banking, debit cards and checks. And their websites are easy to navigate.

Six of the 10 providers earned recognition in this Best HSAs category: HealthEquity (HQY), Optum Bank, HSA Bank, Fidelity, Further and HealthSavings Administrators.

Best HSAs For Investing
The choice of Investment Quality category winners was based on Morningstar ratings and interviews with financial advisors. Among the best health savings account providers, Fidelity, Optum Bank, HSA Bank, UMB Healthcare, Further, HSA Authority and HealthEquity offer plenty of high-quality options. See our full Best HSAs list for details.

Some providers are standouts for the breadth of Investment Options they offer. Saturna's offerings are expansive, for instance, and include the option of a self-directed brokerage account. But be prepared to do some research. Its focus is on sophisticated investors who need little assistance.

Other top providers in this category are Lively, HSA Bank, Fidelity, Further and HealthSavings Administrators.

Best HSAs: Fees And Interest Rates
What remains most elusive for all except a few providers is keeping fees to a minimum. In fact, it has become increasingly difficult for consumers to easily figure out exactly how much it will cost to maintain a health savings account.

But notable providers for Low Fees include category winners Lively, Fidelity, UMB Healthcare and HSA Authority.

Also, HealthSavings Administrators spokesperson Ginny Latham told IBD in an email that the company "offers a primary lineup of institutional-grade funds featuring low expense ratios for our account holders, which has contributed to account balances that are five times more than the industry average."

And the leaders in the Interest Rates category? The three health savings account providers recognized by IBD are HealthEquity, Further and Fidelity. At HealthEquity, you can earn up to 1.5% depending on your account type and balance.
... See MoreSee Less

An HSA account lets you use pretax funds to pay for qualified medical expenses. But using a health savings account can help build long-term wealth too. First, the money you put into a health savings account is tax-deductible, at least at the federal level. (States tax treatment of HSAs vary.) Then if you dont use all the funds in your HSA, it accrues interest tax-free. Longer term, HSA accounts can grow even more if you invest some of your funds.

A health savings account can be a good addition to your financial plan whether youre new to the workforce, well along in your career with other savings plans in place, or nearing retirement. If youre a millennial just starting out with an HSA, you probably dont need to cover many medical expenses. So look for an HSA with low fees and decent interest rates. If youve had your account a few years and have a sizable balance, think about investing the money in stocks, mutual funds or ETFs. Look for HSA providers that offer a nice choice of investment options.

If youre considering opening a new HSA account, check out this overview of how a health savings account works and the annual list of the Best HSAs based on low fees, investment options, interest rates and user experience.

10 HSA providers made IBDs list:

10 Best HSA Account Providers
HealthEquity
Optum Bank
HSA Bank
UMB Healthcare Services
Fidelity Investments
Further
HSA Authority
HealthSavings Administrators
Saturna HSA
Lively

Your HSA account will let you set aside pretax income to cover health care costs that arent paid by your insurance. A health savings account is only available to people who have a qualifying, high-deductible insurance plan. HDIPs are defined differently from state to state, but generally they are health care insurance plans with an annual deductible of more than $2,700 for a family and $1,350 for an individual.

Health Savings Account Growth
The total number of HSA accounts grew to 25 million at the end of 2018, up 13% year over year, according to Devenir, an HSA consultant. HSA holders had $53.8 billion in their accounts at the end of 2018, a 19% year-over-year increase. Devenir expects this number to grow to $75 billion by the end of 2020.

HSA account holders contributed more than $33 billion to their accounts in 2018, up 22% from the year before, according to Devenir. Employers who offer HSAs also boosted their contributions to employee accounts in 2018. The average contribution amount by employers rose to $839 from $604.

Despite rocky stock market performance, HSA investment assets reached $10.2 billion in 2018, up 23% from 2017. The average investment account holds a $14,617 total balance.

The top HSA account providers offer a wide selection of investment options at low cost. Some of the best providers allow no minimum account balances to invest health savings account funds.

Whats New For HSAs In 2019?
HSA contribution limits have gone up a tad. For 2019, the contribution limit is $3,500 for individuals and $7,000 for families.

Fidelity, already among the top health savings account providers, has taken its offerings up a notch. Fidelity HSAs used to be available only through employer-based plans and mainly through large companies. The company now offers HSA accounts directly to individuals too.

One of our goals is to expand access to HSAs, said Begonya Klumb, Fidelity Investments head of HSA, Workplace Solutions. We are also expanding our presence in the workplace, as we are now working with smaller clients as well.

Klumb says Fidelity strives to make the cost of having an HSA account as low as possible. But while more people are opening HSA accounts and making saving for health care a priority, a recent Fidelity report shows that more than 90% arent taking advantage of one of the HSAs most valuable benefits — investing.

Were trying to remove as many barriers as possible, especially transaction fees, she told IBD. Thats why (Fidelity HSAs require) no minimum balance, no fee to open the account, no minimum to invest. This is key. We want clients get the most out of their account.

HSA Accounts: Best Of 2019
To arrive at our list of the best health savings account administrators, IBD looked at dozens of providers. We took into account customer ratings as well as input from industry experts.

All 10 providers on the list offer solid HSAs. To highlight exceptional strength in particular areas, we also named award winners in five categories: Investment Options, Investment Quality, Low Fees, Interest Rates and Easy Access.

Easy-To-Use HSAs
Category winners for Easy Access to a health savings account have consistently positive online customer reviews for user experience. They give HSA account holders access to their funds through online banking, debit cards and checks. And their websites are easy to navigate.

Six of the 10 providers earned recognition in this Best HSAs category: HealthEquity (HQY), Optum Bank, HSA Bank, Fidelity, Further and HealthSavings Administrators.

Best HSAs For Investing
The choice of Investment Quality category winners was based on Morningstar ratings and interviews with financial advisors. Among the best health savings account providers, Fidelity, Optum Bank, HSA Bank, UMB Healthcare, Further, HSA Authority and HealthEquity offer plenty of high-quality options. See our full Best HSAs list for details.

Some providers are standouts for the breadth of Investment Options they offer. Saturnas offerings are expansive, for instance, and include the option of a self-directed brokerage account. But be prepared to do some research. Its focus is on sophisticated investors who need little assistance.

Other top providers in this category are Lively, HSA Bank, Fidelity, Further and HealthSavings Administrators.

Best HSAs: Fees And Interest Rates
What remains most elusive for all except a few providers is keeping fees to a minimum. In fact, it has become increasingly difficult for consumers to easily figure out exactly how much it will cost to maintain a health savings account.

But notable providers for Low Fees include category winners Lively, Fidelity, UMB Healthcare and HSA Authority.

Also, HealthSavings Administrators spokesperson Ginny Latham told IBD in an email that the company offers a primary lineup of institutional-grade funds featuring low expense ratios for our account holders, which has contributed to account balances that are five times more than the industry average.

And the leaders in the Interest Rates category? The three health savings account providers recognized by IBD are HealthEquity, Further and Fidelity. At HealthEquity, you can earn up to 1.5% depending on your account type and balance.

Save More For Retirement, Delay Tax: How 'Secure Act' Would Help Workers
Changes are coming to your retirement savings accounts. The recent U.S. House vote to let workers protect investments longer from income tax inside their IRAs and 401(k)s got the headlines. That bill — known as the Secure Act — calls for additional, important moves that would turbocharge retirement planning by workers inside their 401(k) accounts in particular.
Among the key changes in the Secure Act are several that can make it easier for workers to save for retirement, boost the amounts they save or create income streams once they retire.
Those changes would open the way for certain employers to start to offer 401(k) plans — especially smaller employers. Another change would encourage plans of all sizes to offer annuities to plan members. The bill also would make it easier for workers to save up to 15% of their pay.
Retirement Planning Help
Understanding how the legislation's key provisions are poised to change rules for retirement accounts can help you in your own retirement planning. You might want to pay more attention to some aspect of your retirement savings.
It might show you that you need to boost your contribution rate. It can also show that you need to think more about how you'll convert your savings into retirement income.
Understanding the new rules in the Secure Act could also highlight changes you'd like to ask your plan administrator to consider implementing.
Here's how each key change proposed by the Secure Act would work:
Secure Act Would Delay Your RMD
The House voted to delay the age at which a worker must start to make withdrawals from their IRAs and 401(k)s to 72. The current starting age is 70-1/2. These withdrawals are known as a required minimum distribution (RMD).
The delay would apply to regular IRAs. It would also apply to 401(k) accounts, unless you are still working and don't own 5% or more of the company.
Secure Act: A Green Light For MEPs
An MEP is a multi-employer plan, which is a plan run for the employees of two or more separate businesses. "Today you can have an MEP, but they are closed MEPs," Spence said. "The employers have to have something in common, like belonging to a certain trade association."
The Secure Act would let a plan be run for the workers of totally unrelated businesses, which do not do anything together.
The idea is to make it easier and less costly for businesses, especially small businesses, to join forces to offer workers a 401(k) plan. It would enable businesses to share costs and administrative efforts. "This should let a lot more small companies offer 401(k)s," Spence said.
Remove Annuity Roadblock
A key step in retirement planning is figuring out how much income you'll receive in retirement. Yet few 401(k) plans offer tools for converting savings into income, critics say. Nor do plans do enough to help you forecast how much income you can expect from your 401(k).
The trouble is that many employers are afraid of lawsuits, under current rules. Employers are concerned that in their role as fiduciary for the plan, they would be held responsible for problems in any annuity offered by their plan, even though they don't run the annuity or decide how its money gets invested — an outside insurance company does that.
But the fiduciary is supposed to monitor the provider. The Secure Act proposes letting employers off the hook. It would do that by offering a trade. In exchange for providing a needed service, an annuity, the new law would grant employers what's known as safe harbor status — an exemption from being sued.
In fact, the Secure Act would expressly shift the liability onto insurers and, to some extent, onto state insurance regulators.
Spence said, "This is what plan sponsors have been looking for."
Boost Your Contribution Rate
Many Financial Advisors agree that workers should save 15% of their pay to build a big enough nest egg. Yet few workers save that much. So the Secure Act would let auto-enrollment plans increase the cap on automatically rising worker contributions to 15% from the current cap of 10%.
If you'd resent having the government dictate how much of your pay gets sidetracked for retirement savings, relax. This only applies to the auto-default amount of contributions in auto-enrollment plans.
If you pick your own rate of contribution, this would not apply to you. That's a benefit of good retirement planning.
Besides, the 15% would be a cap. Your plan could decide to pick a lower amount.
If you have questions or concerns about your retirement plan, call for a free consultation with a qualified advisor to help you navigate the options within your plan. Mattix Wealth Management - 678 580-2643
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Save More For Retirement, Delay Tax: How Secure Act Would Help Workers
Changes are coming to your retirement savings accounts. The recent U.S. House vote to let workers protect investments longer from income tax inside their IRAs and 401(k)s got the headlines. That bill — known as the Secure Act — calls for additional, important moves that would turbocharge retirement planning by workers inside their 401(k) accounts in particular.
Among the key changes in the Secure Act are several that can make it easier for workers to save for retirement, boost the amounts they save or create income streams once they retire.
Those changes would open the way for certain employers to start to offer 401(k) plans — especially smaller employers. Another change would encourage plans of all sizes to offer annuities to plan members. The bill also would make it easier for workers to save up to 15% of their pay.
Retirement Planning Help
Understanding how the legislations key provisions are poised to change rules for retirement accounts can help you in your own retirement planning. You might want to pay more attention to some aspect of your retirement savings.
It might show you that you need to boost your contribution rate. It can also show that you need to think more about how youll convert your savings into retirement income.
Understanding the new rules in the Secure Act could also highlight changes youd like to ask your plan administrator to consider implementing. 
Heres how each key change proposed by the Secure Act would work:
Secure Act Would Delay Your RMD
The House voted to delay the age at which a worker must start to make withdrawals from their IRAs and 401(k)s to 72. The current starting age is 70-1/2.  These withdrawals are known as a required minimum distribution (RMD).
The delay would apply to regular IRAs. It would also apply to 401(k) accounts, unless you are still working and dont own 5% or more of the company.
Secure Act: A Green Light For MEPs
An MEP is a multi-employer plan, which is a plan run for the employees of two or more separate businesses. Today you can have an MEP, but they are closed MEPs, Spence said. The employers have to have something in common, like belonging to a certain trade association.
The Secure Act would let a plan be run for the workers of totally unrelated businesses, which do not do anything together.
The idea is to make it easier and less costly for businesses, especially small businesses, to join forces to offer workers a 401(k) plan. It would enable businesses to share costs and administrative efforts. This should let a lot more small companies offer 401(k)s, Spence said.
Remove Annuity Roadblock
A key step in retirement planning is figuring out how much income youll receive in retirement. Yet few 401(k) plans offer tools for converting savings into income, critics say. Nor do plans do enough to help you forecast how much income you can expect from your 401(k).
The trouble is that many employers are afraid of lawsuits, under current rules. Employers are concerned that in their role as fiduciary for the plan, they would be held responsible for problems in any annuity offered by their plan, even though they dont run the annuity or decide how its money gets invested — an outside insurance company does that.
But the fiduciary is supposed to monitor the provider. The Secure Act proposes letting employers off the hook. It would do that by offering a trade. In exchange for providing a needed service, an annuity, the new law would grant employers whats known as safe harbor status — an exemption from being sued.
In fact, the Secure Act would expressly shift the liability onto insurers and, to some extent, onto state insurance regulators.
Spence said, This is what plan sponsors have been looking for.
Boost Your Contribution Rate
 Many Financial Advisors agree that workers should save 15% of their pay to build a big enough nest egg. Yet few workers save that much. So the Secure Act would let auto-enrollment plans increase the cap on automatically rising worker contributions to 15% from the current cap of 10%.
If youd resent having the government dictate how much of your pay gets sidetracked for retirement savings, relax. This only applies to the auto-default amount of contributions in auto-enrollment plans.
If you pick your own rate of contribution, this would not apply to you. Thats a benefit of good retirement planning.
Besides, the 15% would be a cap. Your plan could decide to pick a lower amount.
If you have questions or concerns about your retirement plan,  call for a free consultation with a qualified advisor to help you navigate the options within your plan.  Mattix Wealth Management - 678 580-2643

How much of your Retirement Account is yours to keep...After taxes? Find out how to set up tax-free retirement income. Click here to learn more >
mattixwealthmanagement.com/landing-tax-time-bomb/
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How much of your Retirement Account is yours to keep...After taxes? Find out how to set up tax-free retirement income. Click here to learn more >
http://mattixwealthmanagement.com/landing-tax-time-bomb/

Your CPA Firm: Proactive or Reactive?

Given the complexity of the tax code, it has become inconceivable for any CPA to be an expert in all areas of tax and business planning.

There is growing demand among small business owners and entrepreneurs for CPAs to offer more comprehensive planning services. Many accounting firms that are offering only reactive or compliance related services such as bookkeeping, payroll, and tax form preparation, are finding it increasingly more difficult to maintain or grow their client base. In fact, many are losing clients to more proactive accounting firms.

Today’s business owners expect more of an advisor type of relationship whereby their accounting firm is guiding and directing them with strategies and solutions to their tax and business planning issues. In a survey completed by the Sleeter Group, 72 percent of small business owner respondents have changed their CPA or accounting firm in the past, at least in part because the firm “did not give proactive advice, only reactive service.”1

The challenge, for many CPAs, is that they are expected to remain current and competent on tax law changes, maintain proficiency on numerous bookkeeping software platforms, manage the daily workflow, all while keeping their prices competitive. In addition, many are managing an ever-growing list of third party referrals for clients with planning needs that are outside of the realm of services offered by the CPA.
Perhaps the real problem is the inefficiency of the business model that many accounting firms are using. This model is typically built on billing client’s hourly fees or charging on a flat fee basis.

Consider the fact that a tax attorney will charge as much as $10,000-$30,000 per engagement for tax reduction work. Surprisingly, few clients complain. They’re happy to pay the fee, in exchange for the reduced tax liability.

The CPA Team Based Model is a very efficient approach that allows the CPA to expand the planning services offered, adding value to client relationships. The focus is to elevate the overall client experience and level of satisfaction. This model integrates the services of the CPA and those of a Registered Investment Advisory firm providing a team of exceptional financial professionals. Based on a much more proactive approach, this model utilizes advanced tax planning and business strategies and implements solutions in a timely and efficient manner. The benefits to the CPA are enhanced client service, improved client retention, and substantially increased revenues without increasing workload or overhead.

To explore the value that this model can add to your accounting firm, feel free to contact us to discuss the details.

All the Best,

Bradley A. Mattix

MattIx Wealth Management
3905 Harrison Rd. Ste 500, Loganville, GA 30052
Ph: 678-580-2643 Fax: 678-957-6284 Email: Service@MattixWealth.com

Advisory services offered through Mattix Wealth Management LLC., Registered Investment Advisor. Brad Mattix is the founder and Managing Member of Mattix Wealth Management LLC.
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