Tuesday, March 25, 2014

What Seniors Should Consider at Tax Time

As the tax filing deadline approaches there are several items that seniors should consider as they prepare their federal tax return. Here are some tax tips for seniors provided by our Vice President and Chief Financial Officer, Mark Celigoi:

Are your Social Security benefits taxable?
Social Security benefits could be taxable, along with any extra income you receive from other sources if your “provisional income” exceeds a specific amount. Typically your total provisional income is one-half of your Social Security benefits plus any other sources of income.   Generally, some Social Security benefits are taxable for singles if your total provisional income exceeds $25,000 or if you are a married couple filing jointly and your total provisional income exceeds $32,000.

Are medical expenses deductible?
If you are 65 or older you can deduct qualified medical expenses that are greater than 7.5% of your adjusted gross income. In 2017 this threshold increases to 10%.

Should I itemize my deductions?
If you are single and 65 or older your standard deduction is $7,600 or $1,500 higher than younger singles. If you are married couple filing jointly this standard deduction is $14,600 or an extra $2,400 for the standard couple deduction. If you have high medical expenses, large charitable deductions or other deductions you should consider itemizing your deductions.

When should I start withdrawing funds form my retirement savings?
Once you hit 59 ½, you are able to take out money from your IRA or 401(k) without a penalty. But those distributions are usually taxable.

When do I need to withdraw money from my retirement savings?
When you hit 70 ½, you need to withdraw a minimum distribution each year to avoid a penalty.

These questions are items that should be considered when you file your 2013 federal tax return and are only provided as a guideline. Any specific question should be directed to your tax professional and/or you can consult the IRS web site at IRS.gov.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Volunteer Spotlight - Rev. Chuck MacPherson

On January 28, 1987, I drove one of my grandmother's best friends to her new home, a nearby retirement home. She didn't have any extended family, and it was a major choice for a very determined and independent woman. She was moving from her home to a one room apartment, and it was a real change. While she faced major challenges in the move, she determined that this would work, and I determined that I needed to be an advocate.

I was blessed to be called to a position as pastor of the two Sewickley Presbyterian Churches outside West Newton in 1990. In arriving at Redstone Presbytery, I was invited to come visit the Greensburg Presbyterian Home by the then chaplain, the Rev. Sylvia Carlson. Soon, I was involved in board activities, then there was an opening the board, and there I was.

I'm still wondering at the honor I have had to be associated with some extremely talented and gifted community leaders. Our administrators and board members have largely been people who have had wonderful vision for providing a safe, secure, and dignified life for those facing their future. In everything, there has been a personal touch.  When I first connected with GPH, the typical resident was a bit younger and likely more mobile. A number of those folks were close friends of my Mother-in-law, Mary Lou Gettemy. Chapel services every month allowed me to meet and know some of the best folks in the world. Through the years I have been blessed by close friendships that will last forever.

It wasn't long before the 90's that our roots were in an aging building in downtown Greensburg. The first version of what we have become was a "T" of single room apartments. In the first days, a resident needed to be able to walk in. Our staffers developed ways of allowing people in our "family" to remain in place. Over the years we have become more and more sophisticated in offering care. We added apartments and enhanced care in order to increase our ability to serve. As we added structure, we were still in business for the residents. Our folks redefined skill and dedication, and I gained a new respect for their willingness to serve. I was around when we added the two new campuses. There was a lot of stress as we scrambled to complete on time and as we wrestled with finances and census. All I can say is that in light of the end results, we have been blessed. Thanks to the faithfulness and creativity of board and administration, we have become the standard for Westmoreland County against which everyone else is measured.

My family has been part of the Redstone family in a very personal way. Melinda's Aunt Stellamae Cramer was able to come to what is now the Personal Care wing, where she was able to finish her days with dignity. She was one of the early recipients of the Benevolent Care Fund, a commitment of the board that has been in effect as long as I can remember. Our Aunt Hope is presently at the Greensburg campus along with several of my church members and some dear friends. I have friends and church members at the Murrysville Campus, and in addition, my mom is at North Huntingdon along with even more friends. Looking ahead, I have made the request of my friends that they should take care of the place: Someday, Melinda and I will be up the hall.