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Andy Landis
December 27, 2016


Avoid retirement surprises by understanding the Social Security computation. Let’s go back to school to study the math behind your Social Security. A little understanding of the numbers goes a long way to avoiding retirement surprises and shortfalls. Like other pension systems, your Social Security is based on three factors: eligibility, earnings, and age. SSA puts its own twist on each factor. Math 101: Compute your eligibility To be eligible for Social Security retirement payments, you need 40 Work Credits (WCs). You can earn up to 4 WCs per year, so they’re sometimes called quarters. In 2015 you earn one WC for each $1220 you earn anytime in the year. So if you earn 4 x $1220, or $4880 in 2015, you get all 4 WCs for the year. (Only work where you pay Social Security taxes counts. The cost per WC generally increases annually with inflation.) 40 WCs ÷ 4 WCs per year = 10 years of part-time work needed for a retirement payment. Math 102: Compute your average earnings The second factor is your lifetime average earnings. Many pensions are computed on your best 5 years of work. Not Social Security. It’s based on your best 35 years of work. Here’s how: • SSA records each year’s earnings subject to Social Security taxes. • When you hit 62, every year is multiplied by an inflation factor to make it more comparable to today’s pay level. • The top 35 years of inflated earnings are selected and averaged together. The years need not be contiguous (in a row or block). That 35-year average determines your Social Security payment—a higher average means higher Social Security. 35 years are used, even if you don’t have 35 years of work. Missing years post as zeros, reducing your 35-year average. A little math hocus-pocus (see http://www.socialsecurity.gov/OACT/COLA/piaformula.html) converts your 35-year average into your Social Security payment. Avoid two mistakes here. • First, high late-career earnings don’t always mean high Social Security, if you had low earnings earlier. It’s a lifetime average. • Second, retiring a few years early after lifelong work won’t drastically reduce your Social Security. A few zeros have little impact on your 35-year average. Math 103: Compute your age The third factor is your age when you start payments. That’s based on your Full Retirement Age (FRA). Your FRA is between 65 and 67, determined by your birth year. (See http://www.socialsecurity.gov/OACT/ProgData/nra.html) Whatever your FRA, you can start payments any month from 62 to 70. Start payments at your FRA and you get a 100% payment. Start payments earlier and you get a small reduction for each reduction month. For example, if your FRA is 66, and payments start at 62, your 48 reduction months yield a 75% payment. Start payments after your FRA and you get a raise for each month’s Delayed Retirement Credit (DRC). For example, if your FRA is 66 and payments start at 70, the 48 DRCs yield a 132% payment. Age factors top out at 70; don’t delay filing after that. An SSA calculator at http://www.socialsecurity.gov/OACT/quickcalc/early_late.html#calculator figures the percentage for any month from 62-70. More schooling • Get SSA’s estimate of your future payments at www.ssa.gov/myaccount. • Math nerds: See a sample computation dissected by SSA at http://www.socialsecurity.gov/OACT/ProgData/retirebenefit1.html or in my book, available at http://andylandis.biz/index_files/Page403.htm. • Compute your own estimate at www.ssa.gov/pubs/index.html. Type “your retirement” in the lower search box (under the “Publications” headline), and select your birth year in the “PDF” button. It all adds up. So as always, keep on planning.

How to Win in Court
January 22, 2019


What is good legal writing?

  • Impress the judge?
  • Confuse the opponent?
  • Or ... win your case?


Your goal is: make a winning record!

Too many pro se litigants miss this point.

Any words not making a winning record must go!

Learn to write with punch, power, and persuasive effect

Legal writing is NOT story-telling!

Any fact not "relevant" and any law not "controlling" must be eliminated.

The purpose for every word must be to make your winning record.

Say what needs to be said and stop!

Our onlineLegal Self-Help Course shows you what to say and what to leave un-said.

Click HERE for more information.

How to Win in Court
February 6, 2019


Arguing with judges is like arguing with baseball umpires. You better know the rules AND HOW TO USE THEM!

Here are a few rules from the Official Major League Baseball Rulebook:

  • A player is not permitted to step or go into a dugout to make a catch.
  • A player is permitted to reach into a dugout to make a catch.
  • If a player makes a catch outside the dugout and his momentum carries him into the dugout, the catch is allowed as-long-as the player does not fall in the dugout.

Simple enough?

But, what if one team doesn't know the rules?

Will it do any good to argue with the umpire?

Probably not!

And will only get you thrown out of the park!

To argue with a baseball umpire or judge in a courtroom, you must know the Rules ... and how to use them tactically. Know the official rules and how to use them ... or lose!

Click HERE to learn more legal tips and tatics with Win Without a Lawyer's online Legal Self-Help Course

How to Win in Court
August 21, 2019

Whether you're a plaintiff or defendant, you must know what smart defendants do to dodge lawsuits.

If a defendant is served with a complaint, he may dodge the lawsuit by filing motions to avoid filing an Answer!

This is called the "flurry of motions".

Once a defendant files an Answer, he's locked in and misses this chance to dodge the lawsuit altogether.

Don't file an Answer if you can dodge the lawsuit with a "flurry of motions".

Inexperienced lawyers and pro se people make the mistake of filing an Answer to plaintiff's Complaint ... instead of using the flurry of motions.

  • Motion to Dismiss
  • Motion to Strike
  • Motion for More Definite Statement

Each of these motions postpones the necessity of filing an Answer to the Complaint ... and gains you valuable time and evidence-gathering opportunities!

In some cases it puts an end to the case. Period!

Use your Flurry of Motions.

For information on the "How to Win in Court” self-help course, click HERE

Website:  https://www.howtowinincourt.com?refercode=SR0094

WealthCare Connect may receive compensation from Juris Dictionary for purchases make through link(s) on this website.

February 14, 2019


We’ve previously written about “Why the Days of Calendar-Based Rebalancing are Numbered,” making the case that rebalancing on a set periodic schedule has been made obsolete by the advent of what we called “cost-benefit rebalancing” — rebalancing not by the clock but whenever it is beneficial to the client, based on a cost-benefit analysis of each trade. Cost-benefit rebalancing has a triple advantage over more traditional approaches: it is more efficient, it reduces dispersion, and it supports greater tax efficiency. Simultaneously. But what, exactly, is cost-benefit rebalancing? We’ll lift the hood and show some of the mechanics.

Cost-benefit rebalancing starts with the idea of a cost-benefit score.1 Any trade can have both costs and benefits. Costs include taxes, commissions and losses from bid/ask spreads. Benefits include risk and drift reduction, improving the average “ranking” (e.g. “strong buy” or “strong sell”) of the securities in the portfolio, and loss harvesting. To get a cost-benefit score, we assign every cost and benefit a numerical value and then, roughly speaking, add them up. Once you have this scoring mechanism in place, you can use optimization technology to find the set of trades that have the highest possible cost-benefit score for every portfolio. The higher the score, the more the trades benefit the investor.

We then use these cost-benefit scores to implement a very simple rebalancing workflow: trade every account that either a) has a mandate, like a cash withdrawal or b) has a cost-benefit score above a predetermined threshold. That’s it. This two-step workflow is repeated every day.

This approach not only makes it easy to implement investment ideas, tax manage, etc., it also makes it easy to deal with process failures like trade errors and suspensions, which makes cost-benefit rebalancing less error prone. For example, you no longer need to have a special process to deal with accounts that are temporarily suspended — as soon as they are unsuspended, the daily cost-benefit rebalancing workflow will step in, automatically.


What actually goes into a cost-benefit score?

On the benefit side, we include:

  • Drift reduction: getting a portfolio closer to your recommended asset allocation and security selection. We use expected reduction in “tracking error” to measure drift reduction.3

  • Rankings improvement: increasing the average quality of the securities in the portfolio as measured by your rankings (e.g. “strong buy”, “strong sell”).  

  • Loss harvesting: selling a security, not because you want to get rid of it, but in order to reduce your taxes by realizing a loss.  

On the cost side, we include:

  • Commissions

  • Taxes won realized capital gains

  • The implicit costs of bid/ask spreads

After we assign each of these factors a numeric value, we can add them together to get a single net cost-benefit score. Our users set a preference for how much they value “low drift and dispersion” vs. “low cost and taxes.” There’s no right answer, and different firms will choose differently. This preference is folded into the way we add up the numbers so that the final score reflects each firm’s beliefs and preferences.3

Compared to common alternatives (like calendar-based or min/max weight rebalancing), cost-benefit rebalancing is better for investors. It enables wealth managers to simultaneously lower return dispersion and provide investors with higher levels of customization and tax management. We can quantify this. Compared with calendar-based rebalancing, cost-benefit rebalancing reduces BOTH return dispersion and taxes by more than 60% (see Are Your Portfolios Noisy?). As a general rule, you'd expect a tradeoff between low taxes and low dispersion. That it’s possible to simultaneously reduce both is a measure of the power of the cost-benefit approach.

Have more questions? Wondering whether cost-benefit rebalancing would make sense in your firm? Give us a call at 617-453-0078 or write to us.


Source:  https://www.smartleaf.com/our-thinking/smartleaf-blog/an-inside-at-cost-benefit-rebalancing?utm_campaign=thought%20leadership&utm_medium=email&_hsenc=p2ANqtz-_aurI-FG5rhilKHLjsPKIpvcJ3nJeBrVJq2oKcvSYMmM5pqSErdCtv4hgn9XrzhI0lphUpMkC8nXhNyMOr88k4nDRiXBeyerhJ66-WZ9IbHSCmXrQ&_hsmi=69892809&utm_content=69892360&utm_source=hs_email&hsCtaTracking=afeb3630-d604-478d-ba9c-a6d3acec1d60%7Cf3dba6cf-78c9-4bca-bd85-120856bedccf


1 In the Smartleaf application, we call our cost-benefit score the “opportunity score”.

2  Tracking error is the standard deviation of the expected difference in return of two portfolios. Tracking error is calculated using a multi-factor risk model. (Ask us if you want to hear more!).

3  OK, it’s actually a little more complicated than simple addition — at least one square root works its way in.


How to Win in Court
February 15, 2019

Control those who Control YOU!

The Wild Wild West was won by a few folks clever enough to establish "Law & Order" in the unsettled wilds west of the Mississippi by bringing along:

  • A thoroughly-read Bible,
  • A Colt revolver and Winchester rifle,
  • A good horse and well-provisioned wagon, and
  • A sturdy copy of Blackstone's Commentaries on the Laws of England


England, did you say?


In that single book (you can get a Kindle or Nook version for free) written before our Declaration of Independence, those early settlers found enough common-sense law to jail bandits, hang rustlers, and open the way for railroads and booming towns and cities ... impossible without law and order.

Contrary to what you see on TV, it wasn't faster guns or bigger fists that settled lawless towns like Tombstone and Dodge City. It was the support of local townsfolk who wanted law and order. People who believed in the principles of Justice found in those two books: the Bible and Blackstone. People with courage to put an end to lawlessness.

Yet today we face a new threat ... lawlessness!

For many it's the threat of government officials refusing to follow the law - tax collectors, police officers, and corrupt judges who break the law to allow fraud to reign free in their courts as lawyers rape people who do not know "How to Win in Court".

It may be a bank using fraud to foreclose.

It may be a corrupt business partner, ex-spouse, or next-door neighbor out-of-control.

For many it's the threat of government officials refusing to follow the law - tax collectors, police officers, and corrupt judges who break the law to allow fraud to reign free in their courts as lawyers rape people who do not know "How to Win in Court".

When "the law" becomes outlaw, there's only one remedy.

People who know how to use the Rules to put a stop to it!

Solve your legal problems today the same way western settlers brought lawlessness to its knees in the Wild West more than a century ago ... learn the Rules!

Justice is Yours for the Taking!

Protect yourself from lawless legal officials, scheming bankers, incompetent doctors, rival siblings, and anyone else who seeks to do you harm. Learn "How to Win in Court"!

That's how the West was won!


Click HERE for information on Win Without a Lawyer's online Legal Self-Help Course


How to Win in Court
February 21, 2019

Evidence is the "stuff" that wins cases.

Do you know how to find it?

One way is with interrogatories.

Interrogatories are written questions others must answer under oath ... or go to jail!

For example, one interrogatory I serve on opponents reads, "Identify all persons having first-hand knowledge of any material fact alleged in the pleadings of this case and, with regard to each such person, state what they know about each such fact and how they came to know it.".

The other side will have a fit!

You are entitled to find the evidence you need ... no matter who has it.

No matter who tries to hide it!

Rule 26(b) Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provides, "Parties may obtain discovery regarding any nonprivileged matter that is relevant to any party's claim or defense — including the existence, description, nature, custody, condition, and location of any documents or other tangible things and the identity and location of persons who know of any discoverable matter. For good cause, the court may order discovery of any matter relevant to the subject matter involved in the action."

Don't be left holding an empty evidence bag!

Use interrogatories.


Click HERE for information on Win Without a Lawyer's online Legal Self-Help Course


February 26, 2019

On January 15th I wrote an article in which I described that the most likely outcome to fund the government was congress passing a bipartisan resolution while President Trump declares the situation at the southern border a national emergency. And on Friday, this largely played out (though I also predicted that all of this would take place by January 21st and end the first shutdown). So, while I was correct on the ultimate outcome, I was off by a few weeks on the timing. But my other expectation was that all of this would have no effect on markets.

And on this point, I stand with my original conclusion – neither the contents of the bipartisan resolution nor the nature of the declared national emergency will have any effect on the markets. In fact, the market barely reacted to the declaration in real time. From a market perspective, this is as close to a non-event as it gets. Trade with China, Brexit, the Fed and other economic issues will continue to dominate the market cycle. Any noise surrounding the emergency declaration, be it a congressional override, lack of a congressional override, a lawsuit, or any other political maneuverings, will also have no effect on markets.

The decision to declare a national emergency to get what couldn’t be passed through congress is one with which I strongly disagree. It sets a very dangerous precedent where the current or future presidents could declare national emergencies to fulfill their campaign promises or other pet projects. And the results may not always be so benign for the markets. A democratic president could declare a national emergency on gun violence where they ban the sale of certain weapons. They could declare a national emergency in health care and mandate Medicare for all, enact a Green New Deal unilaterally, etc.

While this turn of events doesn’t warrant a new risk scenario in Portfolio Crash Testing, be sure that if the ‘emergency’ isn’t reversed by congress or the courts, we will begin to create scenarios around potential future ‘emergencies’ that may occur by presidential decree. We have promises from various parties that lawsuits are on the way to being filed, and we have the House likely to pass a resolution effectively undoing the ‘emergency’, and potentially even more than 50 votes in the senate. Overriding a veto is another issue, and it may come down to the courts to decide. Hopefully, we don’t have to start creating those scenarios.

Source: https://www.rixtrema.com/blog/emergency-sos/

How to Win in Court
March 2, 2019


Want to drive your opponents nuts?

Tie them down with word-power!

Stuff your opponents in a word-box and win your case!

Most pro se people don't understand ... so they lose, needlessly.

Many lawyers don't understand ... so they also lose, needlessly ... and take their client's money anyway!

Sentences with ONE VERB.

Sentences with ONE SUBJECT.

One subject. One verb. And only the absolutely necessary adjectives and adverbs.

If it's important to say your opponent's nose was gigantic, say so. Otherwise, leave it out!

Each sentence is a complete thought.

Mrs. Edgerton taught me that in Second Grade, and it's helped me win countless court battles.


Click HERE for information on Win Without a Lawyer's online Legal Self-Help Course

How to Win in Court
March 1, 2019


What is the goal of legal writing?

Impress the judge?

Confuse the opponent?

Or, win the case?

In law, the goal is to win!

Every word, spoken in the courtroom or written on paper filed with the clerk and served on the other side, must aim toward a specific goal.

Any words not aimed at the goal must go!

Most of what I've seen from pro se people (and quite a bit from the dozens of lawyers I had to deal with since 1987 when I first started as a licensed attorney) read more like a long-winded story.

Legal writing is NOT "story-telling"!

Every word has a purpose.

Any word that does nothing to achieve the goal (which is winning, by the way) must go.

Say what needs saying and stop!

Aim every word at your goal.

You don't need a "novelist's eye" or a "bartender's ear", like Jimmy Buffett.

You're assembling the parts of a powerful engine.

Write case-winning paperwork.


Click HERE for information on Win Without a Lawyer's online Legal Self-Help Course