Short Bits

Fewer Americans Receive Guaranteed Income

Just as more Americans are entering their retirement years, the number of Americans who get guaranteed retirement income is shrinking. According to the IRS, the number of tax returns reporting pension or annuity income fell from 28.4 million in 2015 to 28.05 million in 2016, a 1.2% drop. Although the number of people receiving this income fell, total income from these sources increased 0.4%.

Unemployment Is Down, But Hourly Wages Are Up

As of May, the unemployment rate fell to a low 3.8%, as reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. May saw 223,000 new jobs, and average hourly earnings for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls rose by 8 cents to $26.92. Average hourly earnings since May 2017 increased by 71 cents, or 2.7%.

New Medicare Cards

Starting in April, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) began rolling out new Medicare cards with unique numbers, replacing cards that used Social Security numbers as identifiers. This is expected to reduce the chances of identity theft. If you haven’t received your card yet or have questions, contact Medicare at 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227).

Credit Freeze Law Begins This Month

Starting September 22, you may obtain a free credit freeze, thanks to a new federal law. You’ll also be able to unfreeze your credit at no charge, and put a freeze on a minor child’s credit. Previously, states allowed credit reporting companies to charge customers for these services. A credit freeze can prevent identity thieves from opening new accounts in your name.