Marcia Mantell: Social Security, Medicare and What Advisors Need to Know – ThinkAdvisor

As founder and president of Mantell Retirement Consulting Inc., Marcia Mantell guides advisors on business development, marketing, education and communication.

Mantell is the author of “What’s The Deal With Retirement Planning For Women?” She also writes a regular column for ThinkAdvisor, Connecting the Dots, in which she responds to real questions from clients on Social Security and retirement, as well as has her own blog, Boomer Retirement Briefs.

In an email, Mantell responded to 10 questions on her professional and personal thoughts.

1. What market indicator, industry statistic, regulatory change or advisor trend are you watching most closely right now and why?

In general, I watch both consumer confidence (Conference Board) data and various Small Business Trends (NFIB Research Center). These give me a broad view of what’s happening in the hearts and minds of consumers and communities.

Also, each Q3 I await Social Security’s COLA announcement and the corresponding Medicare Part B premium increase. I first look at the implication to current retirees. Then, I can help pre-retirees prepare better for the high cost of health care in retirement. The more individuals can learn before age 65, the less shocked they are.

2. How has this statistic/indicator been changing recently (2021) and how do you expect it to change (2022)?

Frankly, I was surprised how high the Part B standard premium increased, jumping from $148.50 in 2021 to $170.10 for 2022. That’s a 15% hike over 2021 and a further reduction of $21.60 out of retiree’s Social Security checks. Thankfully, with the strong COLA of 5.9%, most retirees should still see an important increase in their benefits overall.

But health care is really expensive. It’s getting harder for many to manage — whether already in Medicare or in employer-sponsored plans or in the ACA Marketplace plans.

3. What would you suggest advisors do now or consider doing in the future about it?

Assuming health care costs will only rise going forward, it’s simply critical for people to plan for hefty increases. Advisors can provide important information about the rising costs in their local area. And, they can strongly encourage clients to use Medicare.gov to check their own personal costs.

Clients can (and should) enter their own prescription drugs and get real costs. Plus, clients can shop for Medigap plans or Medicare Advantage plans and get ahead of Medicare’s sticker shock that comes at age 65.

4. Who or what critical source of information do you track, or follow online, to keep up with this or other trends?

Medicare.gov’s “Find Plans” tool is probably my favorite tool. It is updated in October every year, so you can see the next year’s costs and make adjustments to your retirement income plan.

I track the CMS press releases for announcements of Medicare premiums. I signed up for Social Security’s enewsletters where they announce annual COLAs.

Another go-to resource for me on lots of economic data is Bureau of Labor Statistics. And, for retirement confidence it’s always EBRI’s Retirement Confidence Survey. They’ve published it for some 30 years — as long as I’ve been in the retirement industry!

5. Are you changing any of your work habits at this stage of the pandemic? Why/why not?