Financial Tips for Federal Employees & Retirees – January 2020
Here are a series of financial tips/information for designed for quick reading, written in the style of Twitter.
- In May 2019 the yield curve inverted which means shorter term U.S. Treasuries had a higher yield than longer term ones. This created angst with investors as the yield curve could be one sign that a recession is on the horizon for 2020. It isn't intuitive that long-term bonds yield less than short-term bonds since you are risking money over a longer period. This may happen when the demand of safe investments (long term US Treasuries) increases and the yield drops (as the issuer has an oversupply of bond buyers so there is no incentive to keep rates high). The last seven recessions have been preceded by an inverted yield curve. But not every instance of an inverted yield curve has resulted in a recession. The yield curve has since corrected since May.
- If your income modified adjusted gross income is more than $87K (single) or $174K (married) your Medicare Part B will be AT LEAST $202.40 per month. More if your income is significantly higher. This is above the standard $144.60 payment for lower income beneficiaries. Some recipients won’t pay the full standard premium due to a “hold harmless” provision that prevents their Part B premiums from rising more than their Social Security cost-of-living adjustment. The annual deductible for Part B is $198, which is $13 more than the $185 deductible in 2019.
- Most Medicare beneficiaries do not pay a premium for Part A because they have enough of a work history of paying into the system to qualify for it premium-free. Part A covers inpatient hospital, skilled nursing and some home health-care service. There are deductibles that go with Part A. The amount you’ll pay when admitted to the hospital will be $1,408, up $44 from $1,364 in 2019.
- If you are a widower, and you remarry after you reach age 60, your remarriage will not affect your eligibility for Social Security survivors benefits from the deceased.
- For individuals, the 2019 tax brackets (for taxes due April 15, 2020) are 10% under $9.7K, 12% under $39.475K, 22% under $84.2K, 24% under $160.725K, 32% under $204.1K, 35% under $510.3K & 37% above that.
- For married couples the 2019 tax brackets (for taxes due April 15, 2020) are 10% under $19.4K, 12% under $78.95K, 22% under $168.4K, 24% under $321.45K, 32% under $408.2K, 35% under $612.35K and 37% above that.
- If you earn income that is not subject to tax withholdings, you most likely need to pay quarterly estimated payments to prevent paying extra fees on tax day. Quarterly estimated tax payments are due January 15th!
- Once US Savings Bonds are held to maturity, they will no longer earn any interest for you.
- If you reach the TSP contribution limit of $19.5K ($26K for those over 50) for 2020, your employee contributions will be suspended for the rest of the year. Your FERS matching contributions are also suspended.
- Positive returns for the #stock funds for December 2019 in the TSP, but a poor return in the bond fund: .16% for the G fund, -.08% for the F fund, 3.01% for the C Fund, 2.15% for the S fund and 3.24% for the I Fund.
The opinions voiced in this article are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual. Carefully consider your investment objectives, risk factors before investing. Investing involves risk, including the possible loss of principal. Diversification and asset allocation may not protect against market risk. Nothing in this article is intended as legal or tax advice. Please consult with your independent legal or tax advisor to seek advice based on your particular circumstances. For a list of states in which I am registered to do business, you can visit www.adviserinfo.sec.gov and search for my name.
Alexis Hongamen founded FederalRetirementAdvice.com to exclusively help civil servants with their financial planning & investment needs. As a 28 year federal employee & a Chartered Retirement Planning Counselor, he writes about financial matters of concern to gov. employees & retirees. He can be reached at (407) 900-1653.
© 2020 Alexis Hongamen. All rights reserved. This article may not be reproduced without express written consent from Alexis Hongamen.