Latest from OWL
Beware Potential Pitfalls Enrolling in Medicare Part B!
Guest post from Mitchell Clark and Stacy Sanders, Medicare Rights Center
It is often reported that 10,000 Baby Boomers turn 65 and become eligible for Medicare every day. What is less well known, and often times misunderstood, are the rules concerning how to enroll in Medicare. While most people who become eligible for Medicare are automatically enrolled, others have to make a proactive choice to enroll in one or multiple parts of the program.
A recent analysis of call data from the Medicare Rights Center’s national helpline found that many older adults struggle to understand Medicare enrollment periods, coordination of benefits rules and the penalties associated with delayed enrollment. In 2013, Medicare Rights fielded more than 15,000 questions on its helpline, and the second most common call concerned enrollment (22 percent).
At age 65, retirees already collecting Social Security retirement benefits are automatically enrolled in Part A and Part B. The same is true for individuals ages 64 and younger who are collecting Social Security disability benefits following a 24-month waiting period. For those not collecting Social Security benefits, it is necessary to actively enroll in Medicare, taking into consideration specific enrollment periods and existing coverage. If this transition is mismanaged, individuals new to Medicare may face a lifetime of late enrollment penalties, higher health care costs, gaps in coverage and disruptions in care continuity.
Posted by Pat Lewis on 11/25 at 11:10 AM
OWL Letter on Social Security Published in Washington Post
I’m surprised the Nov. 2 Business article detailing how readers would fix Social Security didn’t include information from the recent in-depth survey by the National Academy of Social Insurance (NASI). That report, which The Post did mention upon its release [“GOP pivots on Social Security,” news, Oct. 25], found that large majorities of Republicans and Democrats agree on ways to strengthen Social Security — without reducing benefits or raising the retirement age.
The support The Post found among readers for raising the earnings cap was even stronger in the NASI survey, with 70 percent of Republicans and 92 percent of Democrats agreeing that top wage earners could pay more.
People don’t want to ignore what they are constantly being told is a looming crisis, but when they learn about the range of options available, that alarm drops considerably. The only way we are going to have a fact-based discussion on Social Security is by presenting the facts. So cheers to The Post for including the fact that if wages had continued to rise as predicted in 1983, Social Security would be in much better shape — and more earnings would be subject to Social Security taxes. But jeers for telling only part of the story.
Posted by Pat Lewis on 11/12 at 02:05 PM
If MythBusters did an episode on Social Security, they might start here
• Did you know that half of the projected Social Security shortfall has been caused by lousy wage growth?
• That if our wages had kept pace with the projections made in 1983, the earnings cap for Social Security taxes would be about 27 percent higher than it is?
• Or that the baby boomers didn’t sneak up on us?
One of the most ignored factors in the predicted 2033 Social Security shortfall has been slow and unequal wage gains.
As far back as 1983, analysts could foresee that the baby boomer’s retirement would mean fewer workers paying taxes compared to retirees receiving benefits. Despite what many alarmists imply, we saw the boomers coming. After all, the last ones were born in 1964.
What the experts couldn’t predict was the significant slowdown in the average wage index. That’s the index used to adjust the cap on Social Security earnings.
Posted by Pat Lewis on 11/10 at 02:19 PM
Americans Make Hard Choices on Social Security: A Survey with Trade-Off Analysis
In order to gain a better understanding of Americans’ attitudes toward Social Security and what they would choose to do to resolve the future financing gap, the National Academy of Social Insurance (NASI) joined forces with Greenwald & Associates to look at the changes Americans favor and are willing to pay for. NASI released its study “Americans Make Hard Choices on Social Security: A Survey with Trade-Off Analysis” on Thursday, October 23. The 2014 study expands on an earlier study done in 2012.
The survey results showed that Americans do not mind paying for Social Security because they value it for themselves, their families and for the millions of other Americans who receive retirement, disability, children’s, and widowed spouses’ benefits. The vast majority of those surveyed (86%) agreed that current benefits do not provide sufficient retirement income and 72% believe that benefits should be increased. Overall, 77% agreed that it is critical to preserve Social Security for the future, even if payroll taxes must be increased to pay for the long-term security of the nation’s social insurance program. Read more.
Posted by Amy Shannon on 10/29 at 09:12 AM
Standing Room Only at OWL’s Fall Meeting in Chicago
More than 70 women and men attended the OWL fall meeting October 11. After being greeted by board President Margaret Huyck, Vice President Lida Rodriguez-Taseff facilitated the event. Christina Swoope, a Medicare expert from the Henry Kaiser Family Foundation, shared their latest research on the key role Medicare plays for older adults, particularly women. She also talked about the foundation’s newest interactive tool, which provides visual representation of income and assets of Medicare beneficiaries now and in the future.
Next to speak was Zelda Wisdom founder Carol Gardner, the newly appointed Secretary of the OWL board. She started with her very personal story of finding herself at the age of 52 divorced and deeply in debt. She took her divorce attorney’s advice to get a therapist or get a dog, bringing home four-month-old Zelda, an English bulldog. Another friend suggested that Carol use her creative skills to enter a local greeting card competition. She won, and the idea for Zelda Wisdom was born. Read more here.
Posted by Pat Lewis on 10/14 at 01:39 PM
OWL, Sewall-Belmont House & Museum, to Launch Campaign to Engage Missing 22 Million Women Voters
Women may consistently register and vote in higher percentages than men, but 22 million women who were eligible to vote sat out the November 2010 mid-term election.
That’s why OWL and the Sewall Belmont House & Museum are launching a campaign to encourage women to get to the polls. With experts predicting record-low turnout for the midterm elections, each additional vote carries more weight. “The turn-out by women varies enormously,” said Celinda Lake, founder of Lake Research Partners. “In 2008, 66 percent of women voters turned out to vote; in 2010 46 percent turned out.”
It’s important because women tend to have a different perspective on politics. A bipartisan September 2012 survey by Lake and Republican pollster Kellyanne Conway found that regardless of political affiliation, 80 percent of women agreed on 80 percent of the issues. They also tended to support efforts to build consensus, solve problems and bring private and public interests together.
Read more here.
Read the Spanish language version here.
Posted by Pat Lewis on 10/08 at 03:14 PM
OWL, Sewall-Belmont House & Museum, al lanzamiento de la campaña para atraer la participación de 22
Las mujeres se inscriben de manera consistente y votan en porcentajes más altos que los hombres, pero 22 millones de mujeres que eran elegibles para votar dejaron pasar las elecciones de mitad de período de noviembre del 2010.
Es por eso que OWL y el Belmont House Sewall & Museum están lanzando una campaña para alentar a las mujeres a acudir a las urnas. Con expertos haciendo predicciones récord de mínima participación para las elecciones de mitad de término, cada voto adicional tiene más peso. “La participación de las mujeres varía enormemente,” dijo Celinda Lake, fundadora de Lake Research Partners. “En el 2008, el 66 por ciento de las mujeres votantes acudieron a las urnas; en el 2010, solo el 46 por ciento participo”.
Posted by Pat Lewis on 10/07 at 11:27 AM
Will we see you in Chicago?
You are invited to join the OWL Board of Directors and special guests at our fall meeting Saturday, October 11, 11:00 – 12:30 p.m., in Chicago, at the Hyatt Place in Hyde Park. The meeting is free, and open to the public.
OWL’s board Vice President, Lida Rodriguez-Taseff will facilitate an inspiring panel of experts, including Zelda Wisdom founder Carol Gardner, White House Conference on Aging Executive Director Nora Super, and Christina Swoope, a Medicare expert from the Henry Kaiser Family Foundation. Read more here.
Posted by Pat Lewis on 09/29 at 11:17 AM
Sneak Preview of Zelda’s Dogma on Voter Registration!
OWL is pleased to share this special preview of Zelda Wisdom’s dogma for National Voter Registration Day. It’s a great day to make sure your registration is up-to-date, and to reach out to friends to do the same. Speaking of voting—did you know that 22 million women eligible to vote in the last midterm election didn’t? OWL and the Sewall-Belmont House and Museum are working to engage those women this fall. (Yes, we’ve written about this before. But we’re doing it again because, yes, it’s that important.) Read more here.
Posted by Pat Lewis on 09/15 at 02:17 PM
Letter to the Editor: The New York Times
If you didn’t know any better, Sunday’s opinion piece “When Did We Get So Old?” would have you believe that the biggest issue facing aging boomers is whether or not to dye their hair. With only the briefest of nods to financial issues, the author focuses instead on the ‘psychological quandary’ she says is causing her and her peers the ‘most unpleasantness’ –being the oldest in the room.
Really? This warrants how many column inches? That we’re a very large, very self-important demographic that has discovered that aging is icky?
Meanwhile, the web is replete with alarming statistics about how unprepared boomers are for the more important aspects of aging. How we’re working well past ‘retirement’ age out of necessity, that we have no savings and have given no thought to long-term care—concepts particularly true for women and people of color.
But instead of taking advantage of some of media’s most valuable real estate to point out that these are societal and not just personal issues, this piece instead chooses to perpetuate the myth that all boomers are awash in cash and retirement savings, and are ready to SoulCycle their way into their 90s.
Posted by Pat Lewis on 09/05 at 01:18 PM
Letter to the Editor: Washington Post
Letter to the Editor Washington Post
September 3, 2014
John Delaney makes several excellent points in “The solution to fixing dysfunction in Congress”. One of the most critical aspects is low turnout, which is quickly becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy. Faced with a dysfunctional Congress, people see little point in voting, which concentrates the voting power in an increasingly small set of hands – and the cycle continues. Any steps that we can take to enfranchise more voters, such as open primaries, can only strengthen our democracy.
Even women, who consistently register and vote in greater percentages than men (Post columnist Catherine Rampell wrote about this recently), are not exercising their power in midterm elections. In the 2010 midterms, 22 million women who could have voted didn’t; that’s why OWL, along with the Sewall-Belmont House & Museum, is launching an initiative this year to engage these women. After all, the only way we as individuals can have an impact now is by participating in the process, even if the process itself is less than ideal.
Posted by Bobbie Brinegar on 09/05 at 01:01 PM
Women’s Equality Day: We Challenge You
The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge has served as a real wake-up call about truly devastating illnesses.
And it’s also a wake-up call of how we as a nation tackle problems like ALS, or Alzheimer’s, or Parkinson’s- because this is where the government plays a vital, irreplaceable role.
And our irreplaceable role as citizens is to choose the people who determine the federal response.
Today, we celebrate Women’s Equality Day- the day the 19th amendment was approved in 1920.
What better way to celebrate this momentous day than by reaffirming our commitment to exercising the hard-fought right to vote in November?
Also- it’s way more comfortable than this...
Posted by Pat Lewis on 08/26 at 02:19 PM
Investing in Companies that Invest in Women
There’s a new kid on the block in the area of socially responsible investing. The Pax Ellevate Global Women’s Index Fund (PXWEX) is the only mutual fund in the U.S. dedicated to investing in companies that have a significant proportion of women in senior leadership roles.
The fund is led by Sallie Krawcheck, a former Bank of America and Citigroup executive who is now an entrepreneur.
“Companies with more women in senior management have higher returns on capital, lower volatility, greater client focus, increased innovation and greater long-term orientation…I can think of no better way to invest in women than to invest in those companies around the world that have distinguished themselves by both their business performance and their leadership in advancing women,” said Krawcheck.
Click here to read the full post.
Posted by Deborah Akel on 08/17 at 11:19 AM
OWL Quoted in Baltimore Sun Article on Funding Challenges for Women Entrepreneurs
When The Baltimore Sun reporter Danae King set out to write a story on the difficulties faced by women entrepreneurs in funding their businesses, she reached out to OWL. Danae interviewed OWL’s Communications Director Pat Lewis, who is quoted in the August 16 article responding to the recent Harvard University study that showed “profound and consistent” gender bias among investors, who prefer pitches by male entrepreneurs over identical pitches by female entrepreneurs:
“It’s the way [entrepreneurs] are portrayed,” said Pat Lewis, a spokeswoman for OWL, a national organization that advocates for women over age 40.
An underlying bias against women as entrepreneurs might exist, as entrepreneurs are often portrayed as white males, she said.
The lack of funding for women also could be related to the lack of female investors as studies show people are “more likely to give money to someone who looks like [them],” Lewis said.
Click here to read the entire article in The Baltimore Sun.
Posted by Deborah Akel on 08/16 at 11:18 AM
You’re fed up— but will you keep taking it?
A recent NBC News/Wall St. Journal poll clearly shows Americans are fed up:
· 6 in 10 Americans are dissatisfied with the economy, and 71% blame our elected officials in Washington
· Over 70% think the country is headed in the wrong direction
· Nearly 80% are dissatisfied with our political system
· Only 14% approve of the job Congress is doing
These sobering statistics aren’t new. This is the 7th-straight NBC/WSJ poll (since 2011) in which Congress’s approval rating has been below 15%.
But instead of rallying to the booths on Election Day to express their frustration, an increasing number of Americans are opting out of their hard-earned right to vote.
Click here to read the full post.
Posted by Deborah Akel on 08/15 at 07:02 PM
Happy 79th Anniversary, Social Security!
When I started with OWL as an intern through the National Academy of Social Insurance, I had my questions about Social Security. I did not believe, like over 80% of my generation, that Social Security wouldn’t be there for me when I retired. Although, the pervasive scare-tactic messaging had skewed my idea of the program enough to make me wonder: When the time comes, will I be able to retire and live comfortably? How exactly will Social Security figure into that? During these turbulent times, these are some of the questions Americans ask each day, leaving many worried about their retirement security.
I learned that, in an era rife with uncertainty, one program has proven, for 79 years, its ability to weather the storms: Social Security.
Since its passage in 1935, Social Security has provided insurance through the likes of poor housing markets, declining pensions, rising health care costs, and recession after recession.
In fact, Social Security is essential to the economic security of older Americans, particularly women. Two in three seniors get over half of their income from Social Security, and one in three get almost all of their income from Social Security. Social Security benefits keep a significant portion of women out of poverty- 37.5% in 2012. In 2012, 26.5% of women relied on Social Security for 90% or more of their income.
Click here to read more.
Posted by Brittany Reid on 08/14 at 01:20 PM
OWL Executive Director One of New Founders of WomenAgainstAlzheimer’s (WA2) Network
TheWomenAgainstAlzheimer’s Network (WA2) “harnesses the power and creative energy of women - the disease’s disproportionate victims, as patients and caregivers – to create a new approach to finding a cure and to build a movement that commits our nation to a bold and aggressive plan for the prevention and treatment of Alzheimer’s disease.”
Their goals include:
*Challenging policymakers and the research community to move away from business as usual to collaborate, to innovate, and to forge ahead in new and previously unforeseen ways to reach for a cure.
*Marshalling an army of women advocates in Washington and state capitals, and throughout industry and the research community.
*Educating lawmakers and the general public about the prevalence of the disease, its particularly cruel burden on women, and the resulting costs to our society.
The statistics are sobering:
*3.2 million women have Alzheimer’s; women are diagnosed twice as often as men
*60-70 percent of the 15.5 million primary caregivers for Alzheimer’s patients are women
*Women leaving the workforce to care for a diagnosed family member lose, on average, more than $300,000 in earnings, pensions and Social Security benefits
Posted by Pat Lewis on 08/05 at 01:48 PM
OWL Takes Part in First Roundtable Discussion on 2015 White House Conference on Aging
OWL was pleased to be part of this event, hosted by Cecilia Munoz, Director of the White House Domestic Policy Council. The conference will be a timely one—2015 is the 50th anniversary of Medicare, Medicaid and the Older Americans Act, as well as the 80th anniversary of Social Security.
“The 2015 White House Conference on Aging is an opportunity to look ahead to the issues that will help shape the landscape for older Americans for the next decade,” Ms. Munoz writes. “As we listen to aging leaders and older Americans, some of the common themes we hear include the following:
· Retirement security is a vitally important issue. Financial security in retirement provides essential peace of mind for older Americans, but requires attention during our working lives to ensure that we are well prepared for retirement.
· Long-term services and supports remain a priority. Older Americans overwhelmingly prefer to remain independent in the community as they age. They need supports to do so, including a caregiving network and well-supported workforce.
· Healthy aging will be all the more important as baby boomers age. As medical advances progress, the opportunities for older Americans to maintain their health and vitality should progress as well.
· Seniors, particularly the oldest older Americans, can be vulnerable to financial exploitation, abuse, and neglect. The Elder Justice Act was enacted as part of the Affordable Care Act, and we need to realize its vision of protecting seniors from scam artists and others seeking to take advantage of them.
Posted by Pat Lewis on 08/04 at 02:22 PM
Medicare Trustees Report Brings Good News
Americans got good news in the 2014 Medicare Trustees Report released in late July.
Medicare’s financial status improved modestly, and the date the trust fund is projected to become insolvent is 2030, four years later than was projected in 2013.
Among several factors that contributed to the modest improvement: the Affordable Care Act helped to increase revenues as well as efficiency in Medicare, and healthcare costs for Medicare beneficiaries have grown at a slower pace in recent years. The Congressional Budget office estimated that Medicare spending for each beneficiary would be $1,000 lower in 2014 than was estimated in 2010 and $2,400 lower in 2019. If nothing is done and the Medicare trust funds are exhausted in 2030, incoming payroll taxes and revenues could still pay 85% of benefits decreasing to 75% of benefits starting in 2045.
Currently, there are 52.3 million Medicare beneficiaries, of whom 43.5 million are 65 and older. Medicare is also a critical source of retirement security for 22.4 million women ages 65 and over, who tend to have lower incomes and more chronic conditions than older men. More than half (56%) of all older Medicare beneficiaries are women; two out of three beneficiaries ages 85 and older are women.
The improvement in Medicare’s finances will provide more time for policy makers to come up with a plan to ensure its long-term solvency and allow for incremental changes rather than emergency measures.
Posted by Amy Shannon on 07/29 at 12:01 PM
OWL Talks Business with Shark Tank’s Barbara Corcoran
If you’ve ever seen ABC’s Shark Tank, a reality show where Barbara Corcoran sits on a panel of successful venture capitalists hearing pitches from aspiring entrepreneurs, you’ll know exactly why this feisty businesswoman gives a whole new meaning to the term “loan shark.”
In fact, at this week’s Senate hearing on Women Entrepreneurship, hosted by the U.S. Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship, The Shark wasn’t the only one talking about loans. Everyone involved was emphasizing the challenge women face in accessing finance, from Small Business Administrator Maria Contreras-Sweet to media mogul and entrepreneur Nely Galán to leaders from Women Impacting Public Policy (WIPP). When it comes to women reeling in venture capital funding, witness after witness proved that it is “enormously difficult to compete with men”.
Given the egregious findings of the report Senator Cantwell released yesterday on behalf of the Committee, “enormously” is an understatement. The report stated that women receive only 4.4% of business loans, and that the U.S. government has never met its goal of allocating a mere 5% of federal contracts to women-led businesses.
Click here to read the full blog post.
Posted by Brittany Reid on 07/25 at 10:47 AM