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More than Money Newsletter - March 2017

Dear Friends,

“Please Welcome Our Social Security Expert –Mr. Mark Bacak to More than Money!”

Mark has joined our More than Money team to serve all of you with the best Social Security information we have to offer.  Mark will be sharing his wealth of knowledge on our radio shows, in our newsletters, in workshops, and on-on-one with folks – just like you.

Mark retired from the Social Security Administration after 39 years of service.  During his career, Mark assisted thousands of citizens filing for retirement, disability, widows and Medicare benefits. 

To help educate people and make complex Social Security regulations understandable, he has delivered hundreds of community presentations, wrote many articles and participated in TV and radio shows.  During the last 10 years of his career, Mark was privileged to serve the people of the Lehigh Valley as the manager of the Bethlehem and Allentown Social Security offices.

Mark graduated from Lehigh University and earned a Master’s Degree from the University of Pittsburgh.  Mark has been an adjunct professor at Northampton Community College.  He served on the board of VIA of the Lehigh Valley and has been a community volunteer for over 30 years.

Mark and his wife Nancy are the proud parents of Abby, Bart and Tim.

If you would like a free Social Security consultation with Mark please contact JoAnne Mohr at 610-746-7007 or 

“Social Security Insights with Mark Bacak”

2017 brings changes for new Social Security retirement beneficiaries. Full retirement age is 66 and two months for people born 01/02/1955 through 01/01/1956.  They are still eligible to receive permanently reduced retirement benefits when they turn 62 in 2017.

Full retirement age is the age at which a person first becomes entitled to full (unreduced) retirement benefits or 100%.  It had been 65 for many years.  However, beginning with people born in 1938 that age has been gradually increasing until it reaches 67 for people born in 1960 and later (It is 66 for people born after 1942 and before 1955).

As the full retirement age continues to increase, there are greater reductions in benefits if you claim them before you reach full retirement age.  For example, if you apply for benefits in 2017 at age 62, your monthly benefit amount will be reduced nearly 26 percent.  Those planning to defer taking their benefits until age 70 will see their benefits grow to 130.33%, slightly lower than the 132% benefits available to folks born before 1955.

You can find your full retirement age, along with other important information, at

Some things you must remember when you’re thinking about retirement:

  1. You may start receiving Social Security benefits as early as age 62 or as late as age 70. The longer you wait, the higher your monthly benefit will be.
  2. Your monthly benefits are reduced permanently if you start them any time before full retirement age.
  3. If you die, your retirement date can affect the payment to your surviving widow or widower.  If you started receiving retirement benefits before full retirement age, we cannot pay your surviving spouse their full retirement age benefit amount.  We base their benefit on the amount of your reduced benefits.
  4. If you elect to receive benefits before you reach full retirement age, you should understand how continuing to work  affects your benefits.

While deciding when to start Social Security benefits is a personal decision, people should consider all available options before filing a claim.  The staff at MTM can assist you in preparing for this important decision.

This information is subject to possible future legislative and/or regulatory changes.

 Real Life Questions – Real World Answers

“I’m 64 and have been retired for just over two years.  I have an IRA that holds my 401(k) rollover with about $385,000.  I want to start taking my monthly distributions in September and I don’t want to mess this up.  How much should I take?  How do I handle taxes?  What if I mess this up?”

More than Money’s Mark Belcak consulted with MtM’s Tax Expert Diane Dickison to answer this gentleman’s question.  First, relax.  You are highly unlikely to ‘mess this up.’  

One of the great things about receiving IRA distributions is they are not set in stone.  You can change your mind, change the amounts, change the tax status, change just about everything multiple times until you get it just the way you want it.  Income taxes?  Most IRA custodians will withhold an appropriate amount for federal income taxes (check with your income tax professional for the correct amount for your situation).  The state of Pennsylvania does not tax IRA distributions (check with your tax professional for other tax rules in other states).

How much should you take?  It depends.  It depends on how much you need.  It depends on your other financial assets.  It depends completely on your personal circumstance.  Consult with a professional financial advisor who will guide your thinking to the conclusion that best benefits you.

“My husband and I are both 86.  We have three children 56, 58, and 61.  They are all married.  We have five grandchildren.  Our health isn’t great and it seems like we find new things going wrong every week.  Our house is long ago paid off, but it’s costing us a lot to keep it up and pay the taxes.  We hate the idea of leaving, but I’m not sure we have a choice.  Two of our children are doing very well, but one son has always struggled with money.  We have more than we need and want to help, but we don’t want to be unfair to his sisters and their families.  There are lots of things we want to share and work out with our children, but we’re afraid.  Is there a financial advisor who would take this on?

Maybe we should leave well enough alone.”

More than Money’s Gene Dickison tackled this question.  You are seeking a financial advisor who is also a family mediator; has the wisdom and experience to navigate the treacherous waters of family dynamics; and also stays cool under pressure.  The folks who bring all those traits together are few and far between.  However, they do exist.  And they do assist families like yours tackle their challenges.

You should not ‘leave well enough alone’.  You and your husband have been blessed in many, many ways.  One of your blessings is you’ve both lived to see this day.  You should not waste that gift by letting fear stand in the way of your sharing important ideas and plans with your children.

These are legal and financial strategies that will assist you in benefiting your entire family.  Please interview potential advisors until you find the one in which you have confidence.

“My dad has an annuity worth about $280,000.  He bought it years ago for $100,000.  My sister and are the beneficiaries.  Dad isn’t taking anything out of the annuity.  I understand that when we inherit this annuity we will have to pay income taxes on $180,000.

Is there a way to avoid paying all those taxes?”

More than Money’s Daryl Okken and Bill Maughan cautiously answer – maybe. 

Maybe. While profits inside annuities are taxes at ordinary income tax rates, not all income tax rates are equal.  You may find that Dad currently has a very low tax bracket.  He should then begin taking out strategically identified chunks of profit from the annuity at his low rate.  He can then reinvest the proceeds or gift them as best fits his goals.

Interestingly, you may find that you and your sister have lower income tax brackets than your father.  Then you should wait to withdraw these funds until after your father has passed.

One more creative idea is for your father to secure a $280,000 (+/-) life insurance contract payable to you and your sister.  Proceeds from a life insurance contract are nearly always income tax free.  Your father could then use some annual withdrawals from his annuity to pay the premiums on the life policy. 

Certainly, this is a situation worthy of sitting with a trusted financial advisor for a review and second opinion.

More than Money Radio and Television

Have Breakfast with Gene every Saturday Morning at 8:06 as 

More than Money with Gene Dickison airs on AM790 WAEB. 
all with your questions live at 610-720-7900 
Two Full Hours – 8:06 through 10:00 AM.

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Words are Powerful Tools for American Freedom

Gene Dickison, is an American entrepreneur, financial advisor, television and radio show host, gentleman farmer, and one who thinks deeply about his faith, his country, the people he loves, the people he serves, and how they all fit together.

Recently, Gene was asked a question by a twenty-three year old young man, just out of college, and a fan.  The young man wanted to know what Gene had done to achieve the success he has enjoyed.  The result become more than a bit of a project and produced Gene’s new book, Success in Today’s America.  

Success means many different things to many different people.  So this young man could best understand Gene’s advice, Gene started with his definition of success:

My definition of success?  I feel successful in direct proportion to how much of my day is engaged in serving and loving people.  Using the gifts that God first gave me to serve the needs, wishes, and desires of people I love gives me the greatest feeling of success I’ve ever known. 

Of course it then follows that to be more successful your efforts must be to find more and more people to serve and love.  Interesting . . . the bigger your heart . . . the bigger your success.

Your definition of success may be different.  I’m hopeful whatever definition you choose the path toward that success keeps you in alignment with God’s plan.  Partnering with God – always a great idea.

Please allow us to serve you and those you love.

Thank you,



P.S.  Gene’s book Success in Today’s America will be available soon.  Watch for that announcement.

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