The news regarding the Coronavirus changes rapidly. It is impossible to keep up with all the developments unless you spend all day monitoring the news, and we hope that no one is doing that because it’s just too depressing.
Here is a summary of some of the key developments impacting older adults and their money during April.
(1) The health-related numbers are terrible. The number of cases and deaths is now forecast to exceed early estimates. Many people who care for older adults are on the front lines trying to help, but even the best healthcare professionals in the world are struggling. Nursing homes and assisted living centers are being impacted at a high rate, and the number of deaths in these locations is known to be underreported. Everyone should do all they can to help keep older adults safe and healthy as a top priority. Financial care is secondary.
(2) COVID-19-related scams against the elderly are rising. Many COVID-19 scams follow traditional patterns, but some are new. There are emails and phone calls asking people to provide personal information in order to receive stimulus checks. People are isolated and are more likely to respond to phone calls. Also, there are numerous con artists praying on people’s fears of becoming ill. The marketing of unproven healthcare products is growing rapidly, and scared seniors are more likely to become victims.
(3) People who receive Social Security began receiving stimulus checks. Individuals who met the income requirements became eligible for stimulus checks beginning in March. There was initially a catch in that stimulus checks required a person to file tax returns to show they qualified based on income. On April 1st, the U.S. Department of Treasury reversed course for Social Security recipients. The IRS will now use information from Social Security benefits statements and provide stimulus checks in the same manner as existing Social Security. AARP has good information regarding Social Security and stimulus checks. https://www.aarp.org/money/taxes/info-2020/social-security-recipients-stimulus.html
(4) For most people, monthly budgets have decreased. Americans of all ages are doing less: less restaurants; less travel; and, less shopping at the mall. Many people have seen their grocery bills rise a little with extra fees for delivery and prices increasing on a few items. But the decreases in other activities has been enough to cover higher prices associated with groceries. Given the many people losing jobs and declines in the markets, it makes sense to keep your budget low if you are feeling any financial pressure.
(5) A lot of wealth has been wiped out in February and March, but markets began to rebound in April. Because many older adults rely on their retirement investments rather than a job to support themselves, a major decline in the markets causes people to worry that they could outlive their financial resources. Although March was one of the worst months for the stock market since the Great Depression, April was one of the market’s best-ever months. Most financial planners have urged their clients to stick with their original plan and not be swayed by daily market swings. Having the right plan for your care needs makes it a lot easier to stay the course.