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GAO Report Reveals Why People Claim Social Security Benefits Early

Why would people choose to claim Social Security retirement benefits at the earliest possible age of 62, rather than waiting until their full retirement age (66 to 67 for anyone born in 1943 or later), when doing so would reduce their monthly benefit by as much as 30%? There are many reasons, according to a recent General Accounting Office report titled, "Challenges for Those Claiming Social Security Benefits Early and New Health Coverage Options," including work-related and demographic factors.

The blue-collar blues

The study compared workers in a variety of positions and industries--farming, construction, sales, professional, and managerial, among others--and found that blue-collar workers were much more likely to claim early retirement benefits than others. This may be due to the fact that blue-collar work is typically more physically demanding, and therefore progressively harder as people age.

Examining the Freedom of Information Act — Part 3 of 3

Examining the Freedom of Information Act — Part 3 of 3


For the last in our three-part series on the Freedom of Information Act, we’ll be taking a look at what types of documents can be requested from U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and what the process is for making the request. 

Why are you paying more at the pump?

Have you ever stood at the pump wondering why you're paying so much to fill up your vehicle? The answer is ... complicated. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), many factors contribute to the cost of a gallon of gasoline, including the price of crude oil (which accounts for the majority of the cost), refining costs and profits, taxes, and distribution and marketing expenses.

Examining the Freedom of Information Act and the FOIA Request – Part 2 of 3

Examining the Freedom of Information Act and the FOIA Request – Part 2 of 3


In our previous blog, we detailed a general overview of the Freedom of Information Act. In today’s part two of the series, we will be discussing how to make a FOIA request with United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). To recap, the Freedom of Information Act provides that any person has a right to obtain access to federal agency records, so long as the records do not fall under one of nine exemptions (e.g. information that protects national security). 

How the Windsor Decision Affects Retirement Plans

Spouses of employer-sponsored retirement plan participants have certain rights when it comes to the plans. Because of this, the legal definition of "spouse" is very important to both plan sponsors and plan participants in understanding how a retirement plan works.

On June 26, 2013, in United States v. Windsor, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down as unconstitutional Section 3 of the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). Section 3 of DOMA stated that the definition of marriage was limited to the union of one man and one woman. The Windsor decision means that federal law recognizes same-sex couples married under state law; same-sex couples are now able to receive federal benefits and protections that were previously afforded only to opposite-sex married couples. The decision does not, however, require individual states to recognize same-sex marriages.

Examining the Freedom of Information Act

Examining the Freedom of Information Act


The website www.FOIA.gov describes the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) as the “law that gives you the right to access information from the federal government. It is often described as the law that keeps citizens in the know about their government.”  

In today’s part one of a three-part series of posts, we’ll be discussing what types of information can be requested and disclosed and what information the government is prohibited from releasing. Parts two and three of this series will take a closer look at FOIA requests for Citizenship and Immigration Services and Customs and Border Protection. 

Retirement Myths and Realities

We all have some preconceived notions about what retirement will be like. But how do those notions compare with the reality of retirement? Here are four common retirement myths to consider.

1. My retirement won't last that long