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Pandemic, Seniors and Retirement: Protecting Yourself Physically and Fiscally

Pandemic, Seniors and Retirement: Protecting Yourself Physically and Fiscally

One thing we know from the coronavirus pandemic data is that older Americans (60+), males, and those with pre-existing conditions are most likely to succumb to COVID-19. The underlying factors include cancer, diabetes, GI/Liver disease, heart disease, hypertension, immunodeficiency, kidney disease, lung disease, and asthma. [1] As a senior, you should take precautions to protect yourself physically and fiscally.

So, aside from following CDC guidelines, what can you do to help prevent infection?

We’ve all heard that frequently washing our hands, avoiding close contact with others (physical distancing), and wearing a mask in public are fundamental ways to help prevent the spread of the virus. When you’re at home, clean and disinfect everyday items such as counters, desks, doorknobs, faucets, handles, light switches, keyboards, phones, sinks, and toilets. The EPA has a list of products for use against COVID-19. [2]

Financially, there is help on the way.

The U.S. government CARES Act, which gives $1,200 to each adult (and $500 to each dependent), will help many seniors. But it is a one-time payment. While this will help, it most likely will not cover all expenses – especially medical costs, regardless of if you have insurance or Medicare/Medicaid.

Now, something to keep in mind: The CARES Act payments are direct deposit if the government has your banking information on file. (Many people opt for direct deposit with tax refunds and Social Security payments, so Uncle Sam has your bank info.) For those who receive a paper check, those are being mailed the Treasury Dept. cautions those could take up to five months to arrive.

“Do not let the stress overwhelm you,” said Scott Page, CEO of LifeGuide Partners. “I know this is a terrible time we’re all in. I urge seniors to stay connected, stay social – reach out to individuals you’ve known in the past; dig out that old address book. An old-school pick-up-the-phone will really help warm the soul.

“We’re not quite sure how the COVID-19 experience is going to affect the markets, but financial stress, in general, is toxic. Actually, it’s been coined “financial toxicity.” It’s when the mounting bills and overwhelming stress cause you to the point where you can’t make rational decisions, compounds negativity. Financial stress should be avoided at all costs.”

Among the ways you can help your finances – including not panic-selling in the stock market ­– is reducing expenses: credit card bills and reoccurring expenses. Page also recommends an accounting of your existing assets. Write down what you have of value, put into columns of things you cannot live without, and another column of things you may consider parting with for the right price.

“One thing that senior overlook is their existing life insurance policies,” Page noted. “Seniors can sell their policies for cash – much more than the cash-render value ­– and they can cash almost immediately. It relieves them from premium payments, and they can use the money any way they want.”

Page added that almost 85% of every policy ever issued lapses. “We can give a free appraisal, tell the consumer exactly what their policy is worth, and guide them through the process to convert it into cash. It’s a simple phone call, or they can do it online. If someone has a serious illness, someone who needs money now or cannot afford the premium payments.

“We’re all in the boat together,” he said. “Most people don’t know they can get the money now for their life insurance policy; they don’t have to wait to pass away and leave it to loved ones. We’re encouraging all seniors to get an appraisal on their existing life insurance policy.”

 

References

[1] Worldometer's COVID-19 data. https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/country/us/

[2] List N: Disinfectants for Use Against SARS-CoV-2. https://www.epa.gov/pesticide-registration/list-n-disinfectants-use-against-sars-cov-2

Stephen E. Terrell

Stephen E. Terrell is president of Life Guide Partners. He may be contacted at stephen@lifeguidepartners.com.