01-25-2018 Columns

Time for your pre-retiree checklist? Like everyone, you want to enjoy a comfortable lifestyle when you retire. But a successful retirement doesn’t just happen – it requires a lot of planning. And that’s why it’s a good idea to draw up a “pre-retiree checklist.” Such a checklist might look like this: Twenty years before retirement: Try to estimate a “price tag” for your retirement, incorporating a variety of factors – where you might live, how much you might travel, what activities you’ll pursue, and so on. Then, assess if your retirement savings are on track to help you meet your expected costs. From this point, monitor your progress every year. Fifteen years before retirement: Although you’re still fairly far away from retirement, you’ll want to bring your goals and challenges into a clearer focus. For starters, try to establish a firmer target goal for the assets you’ll need during retirement. Also, consider your legacy goals and start developing your estate plans, if you haven’t already done so. You might also explore methods of dealing with potentially enormous long-term care costs, such as an extended stay in a nursing home. Solutions to long-term care may become much more expensive later in life. Ten years before retirement: At this stage, in addition to reviewing your target asset and spending levels, you’ll want to get more precise about how much income you can expect as a retiree, whether through your investments or retirement accounts (such as your 401(k) and IRA), or through some type of part-time work or consulting. Maintaining an adequate income flow is extremely important, because you could spend two or three decades as a retiree, and some of your expenses – health care in particular – will likely rise during the later years. It’s important to plan for health care and long-term care, given the costs and ability to qualify for coverage later in life. Five years before retirement: Re-evaluate your investment mix to help reduce the risk of having your portfolio vulnerable to a market downturn when you plan to retire. Generally speaking, stocks and other growth-oriented investments are more volatile than bonds and other income-producing vehicles. So, you may want to consider shifting some – but certainly not all – of your investment dollars from the “growth” portion of your portfolio to the “income” side. Two years before retirement: This close to retirement, you’ll want to pay particularly close attention to health-care expenses, so you may want to investigate Medicare supplemental policies. You’ll also want to ensure that you have an adequate emergency fund to cope with unexpected costs, such as major home repairs. In addition, you’ll want to think about whether you should take Social Security right away or if you can afford to wait until your monthly checks will be bigger. One year before retirement: Now it’s time for some key decisions: How much can you withdraw each year from your 401(k), IRA and other retirement accounts without running the risk of outliving your money? Have you lined up your health care coverage? And, finally, are you really set on retiring in a year or could you delay retirement to improve your financial picture? This checklist isn’t exhaustive – but it can give you a good idea of the various issues you’ll need to consider on the long road to retirement. And the sooner you start planning for that journey, the better. This article was written by Edward Jones for use by your local Edward Jones Financial Advisor.

Critical children’s health care program reauthorized Here in Michigan, the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) serves approximately 100,000 low-income and vulnerable Michigan children. Most of us came to Congress to fight for our nation’s seniors, families, and our kids. CHIP is a promise we make to these vulnerable children that they will be taken care of no matter what. This week, we delivered on our promise. Congress reauthorized this critical program for six years – the longest and most generous such reauthorization in the programs history. In 2015 I helped broker the bipartisan, bicameral deal that lead to the last reauthorization of the CHIP program. It wasn’t easy but we got there by working together. Over the course of the past year, we have been steadfast in our resolve to reauthorize CHIP. At the Energy and Commerce Committee, we’ve worked tirelessly to advance common-sense legislation that would extend funding for CHIP as well as community health centers. Last November, we passed a comprehensive bill on the House floor and later in the year we passed a Continuing Resolution (CR) that included short-term funding for CHIP. But we needed a long-term fix and we got one. This is an important public health initiative that keeps our promise to the most vulnerable among us. We delivered – CHIP will continue to serve thousands here in Michigan. To learn more about this and other important legislative issues, please visit my website: upton.house.gov or call my offices in Kalamazoo (269-385-0039), St. Joseph/Benton Harbor (269-982-1986), or Washington, D.C. (202-225-3761).

Working to improve mental health services Last week the House released a report from our mental health task force which creates a blueprint to help improve mental health services in Van Buren and Kalamazoo counties and across our great state. The House C.A.R.E.S. Task Force spent five months taking part in public meetings and site visits across Michigan, reviewing areas where vulnerable residents are lacking in care and resources and collecting feedback to learn how best to deliver meaningful solutions. In particular, the panel focused on five key elements: Community, Access, Resources, Education, and Safety (C.A.R.E.S.). The report addresses many of the problems plaguing our local communities and reflects concerns I have heard from local residents. It details the need to improve care in our criminal justice system, including training for first responders, better services for victims, enhanced court and diversion programs, and more treatment options during and after incarceration. Additionally, the task force looked at ways to improve services in areas that lack access to mental health care, a problem experienced by many residents of rural areas. The task force has made some solid recommendations to help address staff shortages in mental health-related services and promote teamwork across county, regional, and state boundaries to help citizens who need assistance. I’m looking forward to seeing this plan put into action in the coming months. The House C.A.R.E.S. report will not only serve as a blueprint for policy changes and legislation to be introduced in the next several months, but also establish a framework to further enhance mental health services in the future. While this report is a very helpful tool, I encourage you to continue sharing your ideas about how we can improve the quality of mental health services in Southwest Michigan. The full report is available to review at www.house.mi.gov/CARES.

Promoting all Michigan craft beverage industries

Michigan microbreweries, brewpubs and small distillers pay the license and renewal fees that fund the Michigan Grape and Wine Industry Council yet have no representation on the council or benefit from their contributions. I co-sponsored legislation to ensure that everyone who helps fund the council has a seat at the table. That legislation to revise the makeup of the council and update its name to the “Michigan Craft Beverage Council” has been approved by the Senate. The reform would ensure that the council is better positioned to promote and support our Southwest Michigan craft beverage businesses and manufacturers. Under Senate Bills 439 and 440, the number of members on the council would be reduced from 12 to 10 and would include representatives from breweries and distilleries. Under the legislation, a representative of the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development would serve as the council’s non-voting chairperson. The governor would appoint nine voting members, which would include a specially designated retail merchant who sells Michigan wine or beer, a restaurant operator who holds a Class C license and serves Michigan wine, two winemakers, a winemaker who manufactures hard cider, a large brewer, either a microbrewer or a brewpub license holder, a small distiller, and a distribution agent. This initiative is designed to ensure equal representation and membership on this important council, which has been an effective advocate for our wine industry for years. The updated council will be a great asset for Michigan’s booming craft brewing and distilling industries and all Michigan agriculture. As always, I look forward to hearing your comments and feedback on the important issues facing Michigan. You can contact me at 517-373-6960.

Adult vaccinations Vaccinations are not just for children – did you know that adults need vaccines too? Many adults in the U.S. are not aware of vaccines recommended for them – and that means they are not taking advantage of the best protection available against a number of serious diseases. There are many reasons to get vaccinated. Here are just a few: You may be at risk for serious diseases that could be prevented by vaccines, like influenza, pertussis, and shingles. You can reduce the chance that you’ll pass on a serious and contagious disease to your loved ones. You can’t afford to miss work! Vaccines can help you stay healthy so you have less chance of missing work days because of illness. You don’t want to pay the price of getting sick. The financial cost of medical visits or hospitalization is far greater than the cost of the vaccine. You don’t want to miss what’s important to you. Vaccines can help you stay healthy and enjoy the things you like to do. You want the peace of mind that comes with protecting your health. It’s important to stay up-to-date on your immunizations because no one can predict when disease will appear. You don’t want to feel crummy if you can prevent it! No one wants to feel sick. There are more than a dozen diseases that you can protect against simply by getting vaccinated. Vaccines are available at your health care provider, the Berrien County Health Department, and some pharmacies. Take the next steps to protect your health and get vaccinated today. To find out which vaccinations are recommended for adults, call the Berrien County Health Department at (269) 926-7121 or visit us online at www.bchdmi.org and Facebook at www.facebook.com/bchdmi.