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Can You Pass This Retirement Quiz?

The Gilmer Free Press

Ready for a quick quiz on how Social Security benefits work?

You should ace it. After all, Social Security is the most important retirement benefit for most Americans, and understanding the rules is critical for getting the most out of the program.


So here we go with a few questions:

1. At what age can you receive your full benefit?

2. Can you keep working while collecting a full benefit?

3. If you are divorced, can you collect a benefit based on your ex-spouse’s earning history?

4. Can you receive a benefit even if you are not a U.S. citizen?


Only 28% of Americans can give enough correct answers to questions like these to get a passing grade, according to a new survey by Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Co.

Just one in 1,500 respondents correctly answered all 12 questions, and only 38% got more than half of the answers right.

The findings are disturbing. Ninety% of Americans over age 65 receive Social Security benefits, and, for 65%, the program provides more than half of total income, according to the National Academy of Social Insurance. For 36%, Social Security is the entire retirement income ballgame.

“We didn’t expect everyone to get a 100% score, but what shocked us was that only 28% got a passing grade,” said Michael R. Fanning, executive vice president of MassMutual’s U.S. Insurance Group.

The silver lining is that the retirement industry has ramped up efforts to educate workers about Social Security. Information and tools about benefits are cropping up in many workplace 401(k) plans, and much media coverage of the program has shifted of late away from political rants to useful information.

So how did you do? Here are the answers:


FULL BENEFIT AGE

Most people got this wrong. Some 71% of respondents think 65 is still the full retirement age for Social Security. But it is 66 for today’s retirees and will be 67 for people retiring in 2022.

Only 57% of respondents were aware that the timing of their claim affects the monthly benefit amount.


WORKING WHILE RECEIVING BENEFITS

Slightly more than half missed this one, believing people can continue to work while collecting a full Social Security retirement benefit. But that is true only if you have reached your full retirement age.

This year, an early Social Security filer with income of more than $15,720 from work (employment or self-employment) will pay a penalty. One dollar will be deducted from benefit payments for every $2 earned above that limit.


COLLECT FROM AN EX-SPOUSE

Just 45% think that it is possible to claim a benefit on the record of an ex-spouse. They are correct, and it does not matter if that ex-spouse has remarried.

This can boost benefits dramatically, since spousal and survivor benefits are among the most valuable features of Social Security.

You can claim half of an ex-spouse’s benefit if you are at full retirement age (currently 66), had been married for at least 10 years, and if that benefit works out to be higher than your own. You are entitled to 100% of a deceased ex-spouse’s benefit.


CITIZENSHIP

Three-quarters of survey respondents think that being an American citizen is necessary to receive Social Security retirement benefits. But the main eligibility requirement to receive benefits is paying into the system.

You must have contributed payroll taxes for a cumulative total of at least 40 quarters (10 years). Along with citizens, individuals who are “lawfully present” in the United States, including permanent residents, refugees and asylum seekers, are eligible for benefits.

Apple Announce Streaming Music Service

The Gilmer Free Press

Apple launched Apple Music on Monday, a $9.99-a-month streaming music service that may not differ dramatically from competitors but comes with Apple’s deep music roots, global brand and hundreds of millions of iTunes customers.

Apple’s push into the streaming business will likely alter the dynamics of how consumers listen to music as the music industry grapples with declines in downloaded songs and tries to figure out new ways to get people to pay for music.

“The Apple brand speaks for itself and it will have an earthquake-like impact on the industry,“ said Daniel Ives, an analyst with FBR Markets. “Given the gold standard brand, given Apple’s breadth and awareness, it’s more important what Apple is doing strategically than moving the needle financially.“

Offering few surprises to what had been expected, Apple Inc (AAPL.O) shares did not react strongly, closing down less than 1% at $127.80.

“The only thing that is going to move Apple stock is iPhone sales and there wasn’t enough news to be a mover in profitability,“ said Michael Yoshikami, the chief executive officer of Destination Wealth Management in Walnut Creek, California.

The unveiling of the service, the kick-off to the week-long Worldwide Developers Conference, also included the announcement of an upgraded operating system for Apple’s watch that will let developers create speedier “native” apps that rely less on the iPhone. Apple said that “El Capitan” will be the name of the next version of OS X for its Macs.

It disclosed that the next version of the software that powers iPhones and iPads, called iOS 9, will come out this fall and detailed the continued expansion of Apple Pay, which will launch in the United Kingdom next month.

But the music service was the star of the show. Apple introduced it with clips and live appearances by stars like Drake and up-and-comer The Weeknd. Legendary music industry figure Jimmy Iovine, who came to the company as part of its acquisition of Beats, took the stage to unveil details of the new service.

Apple’s music service will enable artists to share songs directly with fans, include a global 24/7 radio station named Beats 1 and stream music from the entire iTunes catalog. Apple Music follows similar streaming services from Spotify, which streams music from record labels and media companies, Pandora, a self-described personalized radio station and others.

Apple Music’s $9.99-a-month price takes effect after a three-month free subscription period. The company is also offering what it calls a “family plan” for $14.99 a month for up to six family members.

The success of Apple Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook’s first new product, the Watch, will likely hinge on a compelling collection of apps. But early apps for the timepiece have been tied to the iPhone, placing limits on what developers could do.

“This will be a big deal in creating a much more useful set of apps for the Watch,“ said Jan Dawson, an analyst with Jackdaw Research, explaining that apps did not always run smoothly when tethered to the iPhone. “Watch apps could feel slow and unresponsive at times.“

The company also unveiled new details about its Apple Pay service, saying it was already supported by more than 2,500 banks and will surpass 1 million locations accepting it next month.

In a related move, Apple said it would rename Passbook, its app for credit and debit cards and boarding passes, to Wallet.

Vehicle Recall Notice from Defects Investigation - 06.09.15

The Gilmer Free Press
Recall Notice from Defects Investigation
NHTSA Campaign ID Number :15V259
Manufacturer :Jayco, Inc.
Make / Model Years :JAYCO / 2016
Subject : Wheel Attaching Studs may Break
NHTSA Campaign ID Number :15V260
Manufacturer :Eldorado National- California, Inc.
Make / Model Years :ELDORADO / 2012-2014
Subject : Wire that Connects Starter to Alternator May Chafe
NHTSA Campaign ID Number :15V261
Manufacturer :Mercedes-Benz USA, LLC - DBA Sprinter
Make / Model Years :MERCEDES BENZ / 2015
Subject : Oil may Leak from Chain Tensioner Gasket
NHTSA Campaign ID Number :15V262
Manufacturer :Gillig LLC
Make / Model Years :GILLIG / 2010-2015
Subject : Vent Tube May Detach from Engine Breather
NHTSA Campaign ID Number :15V263
Manufacturer :Starcraft Bus
Make / Model Years :STARCRAFT / 2015
Subject : School Bus Seats may be too Flammable/FMVSS 302
NHTSA Campaign ID Number :15V264
Manufacturer :Eldorado National- Kansas
Make / Model Years :ELDORADO NATIONAL / 2012-2015
Subject : Rear Shock Absorbers may Separate
NHTSA Campaign ID Number :15V266
Manufacturer :Jayco, Inc.
Make / Model Years :JAYCO / 2013-2015
Subject : Quad Entry Step Rivet Failure
NHTSA Campaign ID Number :15V269
Manufacturer :General Motors LLC
Make / Model Years :CHEVROLET / 2011-2012
Subject : Steel Cable that Anchors Seat Belt may Fail
NHTSA Campaign ID Number :15V277
Manufacturer :Blue Bird Body Company
Make / Model Years :BLUE BIRD / 2016
Subject : School Bus Seats may be too Flammable/FMVSS 302
NHTSA Campaign ID Number :15V278
Manufacturer :General Motors LLC
Make / Model Years :CHEVROLET / 2015
GMC / 2015
Subject : Brake Fluid Leak
NHTSA Campaign ID Number :15V320
Manufacturer :Honda (American Honda Motor Co.)
Make / Model Years :ACURA / 2002-2006
HONDA / 2001-2011
Subject : Driver’s Frontal Air Bag May Rupture
NHTSA Campaign ID Number :15V345
Manufacturer :Mazda North American Operations
Make / Model Years :MAZDA / 2003-2008
Subject : Driver’s Frontal Air Bag May Rupture
NHTSA Campaign ID Number :15V346
Manufacturer :Mazda North American Operations
Make / Model Years :MAZDA / 2004-2006
Subject : Passenger Front Air Bag Inflator May Rupture

Wall Street Falls on Greece, Rate Hike Concerns

The Gilmer Free Press

U.S. stocks ended lower on Monday as investors worried about Greece and mulled the prospect of the Federal Reserve raising interest rates as early as September.

With investors growing more nervous about the timing of the Fed’s first rate hike in nearly a decade, the Dow dipped into negative territory for 2015.

Stronger-than-expected May jobs data released on Friday prompted expectations of a Fed rate hike in September, sooner than some expected.

The May jobs number is pointing in the direction of a more likely interest-rate hike. The market is cringing at that idea.

Also weighing on U.S. investors, officials from Greece and the European Union met on Monday but there was little indication of progress to head off a potential Greek debt default when the country’s bailout program expires at the end of June.

The news flow continues to revolve around Greece.

The dollar retreated after a report – later denied – that President Barack Obama had expressed concern over its strength after a year-long rally.

The Dow Jones industrial average .DJI fell 82.91 points, or 0.46%, to end at 17,766.55. The S&P 500 .SPX lost 13.55 points, or 0.65%, to 2,079.28 and the NASDAQ Composite .IXIC dropped 46.83 points, or 0.92%, to 5,021.63.

Nine of the 10 major S&P sectors were lower, with the technology index’s .SPLRCT 1.2% drop leading the losses.

With Monday’s losses, the Dow is down 0.32% in 2015, while the S&P 500 is up a modest 0.99% and the NASDAQ is 6.02% higher.

Atmel Corp (ATML.O) jumped 3.56% after Reuters reported the chipmaker is exploring strategic alternatives including a possible sale.

Apple (AAPL.O) weighed most on the NASDAQ Composite and the S&P 500. It was down 0.66% to $127.80 after the iPhone maker unveiled a new music service.

Airlines stocks .DJUSAR fell 4.34%, with JetBlue (JBLU.O) slumping 7.22%. Qatar Airways asked the industry’s largest trade group to address protectionism, hitting back against U.S. airlines campaigning to restrict competition from Gulf carriers.

Tesla (TSLA.O) rose 2.87% after plans for its Gigafactory got a boost from Panasonic’s (6752.T) move to start sending its employees to the plant, with manufacturing expected to begin next year.

Declining issues outnumbered advancing ones on the NYSE by 2,153 to 884, for a 2.44-to-1 ratio on the downside; on the NASDAQ, 1,785 issues fell and 1,004 advanced for a 1.78-to-1 ratio favoring decliners.

The S&P 500 posted 9 new 52-week highs and 9 new lows; the NASDAQ Composite recorded 131 new highs and 28 new lows.

About 5.5 billion shares changed hands on U.S. exchanges, below the 6.1 billion daily average so far in June, according to BATS Global Markets.

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