Social Security Increases Benefits by 2.80% for 2019

A 30-second read by Nicholas Scheibner:  Social Security will begin increasing payments beginning in January of 2019. 

Why did this happen – because October 11th is the date when the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics releases its report of inflation. Social Security uses the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers (CPI-W) as their measure of inflation. 

Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) is Social Security’s term for inflation. Social Security uses the CPI-W to determine if an adjustment is needed to Social Security benefits. 

(Note: Social Security benefits do not go lower if inflation decreases)

You can read the official press release from Social Security here: https://www.ssa.gov/news/press/releases/2018/#10-2018-1

Contact your Baron Team for more information on social security benefits.

Important Update Regarding Freezing Your Credit

A 30-second read by the Baron Team: This is an update to our September 2017 blog post concerning the Equifax data breach that occurred in September of 2017.  Due to the data breach, we advised considering freezing your credit reports to stop thieves from opening new credit cards or loans in your name. Freezing your report also prevents you from opening new accounts, so each time you apply for a credit card, mortgage or loan, you need to lift the freeze a few days beforehand. 

Now, you can freeze and unfreeze your credit at the three major credit bureaus for free, thanks to a new federal law that took effect on September 21, 2018.

In addition, the law extends the length of time a fraud alert remains on your credit report to one year, from the previous period of 90 days.

You will need to contact all three credit bureaus to place a freeze on your credit report:

For more information regarding credit reports and identity theft, read our Equifax data breach post.

Please contact your Baron team with any questions.  

Tax Identity Theft Awareness Week 2018

A 30-second read by Nicholas Scheibner: The week of January 29th – Feb 2nd has been designated “Tax Identity Theft Awareness Week.” The FTC (Federal Trade Commission) will be offering some free webinars and chats on this topic. To learn more about the free webinar offerings, click here.

According to the FTC, tax identity theft occurs when another person uses your social security number for the purpose of getting a job or a tax refund. You will usually know when you receive a letter or notice from the IRS saying that you filed more than one tax return or see on their records that you were paid by an unknown employer. To learn more, click here for the FTC’s article on Tax-Related Identity Theft. If you’re the victim of tax fraud, visit the IRS website.

On a related note – if you are interested to know how long you should be keeping your tax returns, please refer to our “What documents are safe to shred? What must I keep?” blog post.

Feel free to reach out to us for any questions.

Important information regarding Equifax data breach

You may have read that hackers broke into the Equifax database and stole personal information tied to 143 million people.  Ongoing updates from Equifax about this incident are available at equifaxsecurity2017.com

Baron Financial does not use Equifax for any services, but we are sharing this information for educational purposes.

Equifax is one of the three main credit reporting agencies.  They collect and maintain individual credit information and sell it to lenders, creditors, and consumers in the form of a credit report.   

What you should consider doing now:

  1. Order a Credit Report at www.annualcreditreport.com.
  2. Freeze Your Credit Reports (after ordering a copy).  A freeze stops thieves from opening new credit cards or loans in your name, but it also prevents you from opening new accounts. So each time you apply for a credit card, mortgage or loan, you need to lift the freeze a few days beforehand.  Equifax said it will waive all fees until Nov. 21 for people who want to freeze their Equifax credit files. 
  3. Regularly Monitor Your Financial Accounts, Credit Cards and Loan Accounts for any suspicious activity

Something else to consider: Sign up by November 21 for the free Credit Monitoring offer from Equifax (equifaxsecurity2017.com). Some experts have offered differing opinions on taking advantage of this service.  However, we did want to make you aware of the offer.

Continue reading “Important information regarding Equifax data breach”

New Jersey Public Employees – Things to Know About Your Retirement Income

 A 30-second read by Nicholas Scheibner:    As public employees for the great state of New Jersey, there are some important factors to consider when it comes to your retirement income.

Regarding Your Pension:

New Jersey Pensions fall into two categories: “I contribute to my pension” or “I do not contribute to my pension”

  • For those employees who say, “I do not contribute to my pension” the entire portion of your pension in retirement will be taxable to New Jersey.
  • For those employees who say, “I do contribute to my pension”, when you retire, a portion of your pension will be taxable and a portion of your pension will be excluded from New Jersey state tax. Note: This is the reason your gross income is higher on your New Jersey tax return if you contribute to a pension. The federal government allows pension contributions to be deducted, but NJ State does NOT allow your pension contributions to be deducted.

Regarding Social Security:

Your Social Security may be greatly reduced if you have only worked as a public employee your entire life. The calculated estimates can be difficult, so it is important to speak with your financial planner about the possible impact a pension may have on your social security income.

As always, if you have any further questions, don’t hesitate to contact the Baron Financial Group team.