Club 50 eNewsletter
August 2020
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Connie Braceland
Vice President
Community Relations & Club 50
617-928-2338
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Connie's Corner
August 2020

On a recent trip to Yellowstone National Park, I was reminded how lucky we are to live in America.
The natural beauty is just breathtaking and leaves you speechless.
Everywhere we went, I thought, "Oh! Club 50 would love this!" Or, "Oh! Club 50 would be up to this challenge!" Or, "Oh! Club 50 could NEVER do this!"
(I couldn't even do some of the trails!)
It gave me hope that we will be able to travel together again.
I know we all miss each other.  But stay strong.  Your job is to stay healthy and safe.
Until we can be "On The Road Again."
Be well,
Connie

We Are Open!
Thank you for your patience as we continue to practice CDC Safety Guidelines.

All branch lobbies have reopened for branch teller services and, by appointment, other banking services. All WSB drive-up service will be open from 8:30am-4:00pm, Mondays through Fridays. Drive-up locations are also open Saturdays--please check our website's 'Locations' tab for each location's hours.

You can find drive-up services at the following locations:
Church Street, Warrendale, Market Basket, North Waltham/Lexington, Waltham Center, and Arlington.
Please call Customer Support at 617-928-9000 to discuss you banking needs.

**Connie and Arielle will continue working from home until further notice. Thank you for your understanding and patience as we transition into new ways of connecting with you.**

25th Anniversary Photo Contest!
Win Prizes!

We invite all Club 50 members to celebrate our milestone anniversary by participating in our 25th Anniversary Photo Contest.
Share your favorite photo you captured during a Club 50 trip and tell us why it is special to you. Please visit our forms section of the newsletter for more information on how to submit a photo and participate!

Although we cannot be together at the moment, we are hoping to share stories and photos that connect us. We are so excited to be celebrating this milestone with you, all of you who have made our days together so much fun!

Currently we are researching ways to connect and continue to experience new things, virtually! This contest will hopefully be one of many new things to come for Club 50.

If you have any ideas or you have a destination you want to see virtually, please let us know!

We are hoping to pilot some new, fun programs soon with our Club 50 Members. Be on the lookout for mail, or the next newsletter, for details on how to join the fun!

We look forward to hearing from you.

All the best,

Arielle and Connie

Council Moves Polling Place from Senior Housing to Middle School
The locations will be used for the Sept. 1 State Primary and the Nov. 3 Presidential Election!

After hearing from many people worried about having voters coming into a senior apartment building during the 2020 elections, the Town Council voted to move the polling location to Watertown Middle School.

A temporary location for Precincts 11 and 12 is needed because the normal voting location, Cunniff Elementary School, is under construction. School construction at Hosmer Elementary School also impacted Precinct 2, which will move to the Hellenic Cultural Center. The locations will be used for the Sept. 1 State Primary and the Nov. 3 Presidential Election.

The original plan from Town Clerk John Flynn called for moving the two Cunniff precincts down the street to the E. Joyce Munger Apartments at 100 Warren St. Town Councilors heard from many people concerned with having the public come into a facility that had been closed to outsiders since March due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Assistant Town Manager Steve Magoon said plans had been made to separate the public from the residents of the Munger Apartments, and to sanitize the area. However, he recommended changing the location.

“While I am confident that we could do that and do that safely, I think the suggestion for the use of Munger Apartment Building caused a lot of residents to have concerns and fears about having the public vote there,” Magoon said. “Instead of the Munger Apartments, we recommend that we utilize the Middle School cafeteria for Precincts 11 and 12.”

The Middle School gymnasium is already used as a voting location for Precincts 8 and 9, so the facility meets the requirements for parking and handicap accessibility.

The possibility of moving the voting site to a senior facility bothered many living there. They reached out to Town Councilors, Town staff and to the media, both local outlets and a Boston News station. Lisa Cavarretta said that she has not been able to visit her mother, who lives at the Munger Apartments, since March because of COVID-19. She said residents of the building have made many sacrifices to remain safe, so she was puzzled to hear that the public would be voting there.

“My mom is at the Munger Building. They are elderly, they are compromised in their health, and there will be hundreds if not thousands of people walking through building and using the same entrance and exit,” Cavarretta said.

Councilor Ken Woodland, who represents the Westside of town, including Precincts 11 and 12, said that he received a lot of messages of concern.

“I did get a lot of calls from residents, who I think will be happy with the change,” Woodland said.

Councilor John Gannon thanked the Town administration for responding to people’s concerns.

“First of all, I commend administration for responding to the residents’ comments about their safety and feeling exposed to the deadly disease we are facing right now,” Gannon said.

The Council wondered about what steps will be taken to make the polling locations safe during the pandemic. Town Council President Mark Sideris said he has been in contact with the Director of Public Buildings, Lori Kabel, who said that janitors have been using foggers among other efforts to sanitize areas.

“A significant effort has been made from the school side,” Sideris said. “They will be super, super sanitized and cleaned, as needed.”

Councilor Tony Palomba wants to make sure that people know the switch has been made from the Munger Apartments to the Middle School, including putting up signs at the Munger Apartments reminding them of the switch.

“Sometimes they get into their head, and neglect to read next email. Let’s make sure they are redirected to the Middle School,” Palomba said.

Councilor Anthony Donato said he supported the move of the polling location to the middle school. He also thanked the Watertown Housing Authority for what they have done to protect its residents, including those at the Munger Apartments.

“The Watertown Housing Authority had zero confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the 589 units that it overseas,” Donato said.

Councilor Caroline Bays also reminded people that they have other options to in-person voting if they are concerned with COVID-19. They can apply for a mail-in ballot (applications have been sent to homes) or they can request an absentee ballot. There will also be early voting at Town Hall for the Presidential Election from Oct. 17 to 30.

Social Security and Medicare Face Financial Challenges

Most Americans will eventually receive Social Security and Medicare benefits. Each year, the Trustees of the Social Security and Medicare Trust Funds release lengthy reports to Congress that assess the health of these important programs. The newest reports, released on April 22, 2020, discuss the current financial condition and ongoing financial challenges that both programs face, and project a Social Security cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) for 2021.


How Social Security and Medicare will be affected by the COVID-19 pandemic is still uncertain; the Trustees acknowledge that the estimates and analysis included in the reports do not reflect the potential effects.

Social Security Trust Funds

The Social Security program consists of two parts, each with its own financial account (trust fund) that holds the Social Security payroll taxes that are collected to pay Social Security benefits. Retired workers, their families, and survivors of workers receive monthly benefits under the Old-Age and Survivors Insurance (OASI) program; disabled workers and their families receive monthly benefits under the Disability Insurance (DI) program. The combined programs are referred to as OASDI. Other income (reimbursements from the General Fund of the U.S. Treasury and income tax revenue from benefit taxation) is also deposited in these accounts. Money that is not needed in the current year to pay benefits and administrative costs is invested (by law) in special Treasury bonds that are guaranteed by the U.S. government and earn interest. As a result, the Social Security Trust Funds have built up reserves that can be used to cover benefit obligations if payroll tax income is insufficient to pay full benefits.

Note that the Trustees provide certain projections based on the combined OASI and DI (OASDI) Trust Funds. However, these projections are hypothetical, because the trusts are separate, and generally one program's taxes and reserves cannot be used to fund the other program.

Highlights of Social Security Trustees Report

  • Social Security's total cost is projected to be less than its total income in 2020 and higher than its total income (including interest) in 2021 and all later years. The U.S. Treasury will need to withdraw from trust fund reserves to help pay benefits. The Trustees project that the hypothetical combined trust fund reserves (OASDI) will be depleted in 2035, the same as projected in last year's report, unless Congress acts.
  • Once the hypothetical combined trust fund reserves are depleted in 2035, payroll tax revenue alone should still be sufficient to pay about 79% of scheduled benefits initially, with the percentage falling gradually to 73% by 2094.
  • The OASI Trust Fund, when considered separately, is projected to be depleted in 2034, the same as projected in last year's report. Payroll tax revenue alone would then be sufficient to pay 76% of scheduled benefits.
  • The DI Trust Fund is expected to be depleted in 2065, 13 years later than projected in last year's report. For a second year in a row, the depletion date has changed significantly, reflecting the fact that both benefit applications and the total number of disabled workers currently receiving benefits have been declining over the past few years. Once the DI Trust Fund is depleted, payroll tax revenue alone would be sufficient to pay 92% of scheduled benefits.
  • Based on the "intermediate" assumptions in this year's report, the Social Security Administration is projecting that the cost-of-living adjustment (COLA), which will be announced in the fall of 2020, will be 2.3% (last year's report projected a COLA of 1.8% and the actual COLA was 1.6%). This COLA would apply to benefits starting in January 2021.

Medicare Trust Funds

There are two Medicare trust funds. The Hospital Insurance (HI) Trust Fund helps pay for hospital care (Medicare Part A costs). The Supplementary Medical Insurance (SMI) Trust Fund comprises two separate accounts, one covering Medicare Part B (which helps pay for physician and outpatient costs) and one covering Medicare Part D (which helps cover the prescription drug benefit).

Highlights of Medicare Trustees Report

  • Annual costs for the Medicare HI Trust Fund exceeded tax income each year from 2008 to 2015. There were small fund surpluses in 2016 and 2017. In 2018 and 2019, expenditures exceeded income, and deficits are expected for all later years.
  • The HI Trust Fund is projected to be depleted in 2026, the same year as projected in last year's report. Once the HI Trust Fund is depleted, tax and premium income would still cover 90% of estimated program costs, declining to 78% by 2044 and then gradually increasing to 90% by 2094. The Trustees note that long-range projections of Medicare costs are highly uncertain because the health-care landscape is shifting and the effects are unknown.

Why are Social Security and Medicare Facing Financial Challenges?

Social Security and Medicare are funded primarily through the collection of payroll taxes. Because of demographic and economic factors, including higher retirement rates and lower birth rates, there will be fewer workers per beneficiary over the long term, worsening the strain on the trust funds.

What is Being Done to Address These Challenges?

Both reports continue to urge Congress to address the financial challenges facing these programs soon, so that solutions will be less drastic and may be implemented gradually, lessening the impact on the public. Combining some of the following solutions may also lessen the impact of any one solution.

  • Raising the current Social Security payroll tax rate (currently 12.40%). According to this year's report, an immediate and permanent payroll tax increase of 3.14 percentage points to 15.54% would be necessary to address the long-range revenue shortfall (4.13 percentage points to 16.53% if the increase started in 2035).
  • Raising or eliminating the ceiling on wages currently subject to Social Security payroll taxes ($137,700 in 2020).
  • Raising the full retirement age beyond the currently scheduled age of 67 (for anyone born in 1960 or later).
  • Reducing future benefits. According to this year's report, to address the long-term revenue shortfall, scheduled benefits would have to be immediately and permanently reduced by about 19% for all current and future beneficiaries, or by about 23% if reductions were applied only to those who initially become eligible for benefits in 2020 or later.
  • Changing the benefit formula that is used to calculate benefits.
  • Calculating the annual cost-of-living adjustment for benefits differently.

You can view a combined summary of the 2020 Social Security and Medicare Trustees Reports and a full copy of the Social Security report at ssa.gov. You can find the full Medicare report at cms.gov.

Investment and insurance products and services are offered through INFINEX INVESTMENTS, INC. Member FINRA/SIPC. Infinex and the bank are not affiliated. Products and services made available through Infinex are not insured by the FDIC or any other agency of the United States and are not deposits or obligations of nor guaranteed or insured by any bank or bank affiliate. These products are subject to investment risk, including the possible loss of value.

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Prepared by Broadridge Advisor Solutions Copyright 2020.
Enjoy Summer Flicks...From Home!

We all know that one of the best ways to beat the summer heat is to find a good movie, and sit inside an almost-too-cold theater! Popcorn, sweet treats, and getting entranced by a dramatic story line.

In our new times...movie theaters have been unfortunately categorized as a high-risk activity.

However, movie theaters are working their hardest to get their movies to viewers like us!

For example, The Brattle theater now has a section on their website titled 'Virtual Screening.' They post films that they otherwise would have wanted to play on their screens -- a lot of classic favorites, as well as some smaller, independent films. Some are free to view via online platforms, and others are specially chosen to be featured in their Virtual Cinema Series. The films that are listed under the Brattle’s Virtual Screening Room are films that are available to rent from distribution companies through the Brattle. These events are fundraisers where a portion of proceeds will benefit the Brattle Film Foundation. This new distribution model is collectively being referred to as “virtual cinema.”

Coolidge Corner and Somerville Theater are hosting similar experiences.

Visit their websites for more!

If you want to get creative and have your own little theater at home, you can easily create a screen with a light-colored linen, and a small projector. The projector then connects to your laptop, iPad, or phone which screens the movie you are streaming. It's a lot of fun with family, neighbors, or even a socially distanced visit from friends!

Zoom Events for Seniors, Property Tax Work Off, Poll Workers Needed & More from the Senior Center

The Watertown Senior Center sent out the following information to Watertown MA News, which we are now passing on in our newsletter (to see more, go to the Watertown Senior Center Website):


To keep our senior community safe, the Senior Center remains closed to visitors for all programs, exercise classes, social activities and shuttle bus services until further notice as we adhere to recommendations for a safe re-opening.

However, many of our programs have moved to a Zoom format, including Art with Dawn, Chair Yoga, Tai Chi and Meditation, Seated Strength and Balance, Exercise with Joanna, Mellowtones Chorus and other discussion groups. New for August include Line Dancing, Flowers with Ernie, and Pilates! Please review the newsletter for details. Staff is available to respond to your phone calls and to emails. You can reach us by calling the Senior Center at (617) 972-6490 or by emailing SeniorCenter@watertown-ma.gov.

Senior Parking Permits: Renew or purchase a new permit by calling us at (617) 972-6490 for details.
 
Election Help: The Town Clerk is in great need of assistance with the process of mailing out and receiving ballots. Help is also needed on Election Days at the Polls on September 1 and November 3. Please call (617) 972-6490 for information.

Property Tax Work Off:  Applications are now available for senior or veteran work in a Town Department. Applicants who meet eligibility can earn up to $1500 towards their property taxes in exchange for 118 hours of work in a Town Department. For details and an application, please call the Senior Center at  (617) 972-6490 or Veterans Services at (617) 972-6416.

The Watertown Food Pantry is located at 80 Mount Auburn Street and is open on Tuesdays from 10:00 AM – 2:00 PM. Donations of food will be accepted from 9-2, also on Tuesdays. Monetary donations can be made payable to Watertown Food Pantry and sent to the Watertown Senior Center at 31 Marshall Street, Watertown, MA 02472. Thank you to everyone who has donated funds and food for our neighbors. We are grateful for your support.

Sincerely,
Anne-Marie Gagnon
Director of Senior Services
Email: SeniorCenter@watertown-ma.gov
Phone:  (617) 972-6490

Stimulus Payments - Avoiding Potential Scams

The IRS has issued warnings about Coronavirus-related scams related to the economic impact payments that many individuals and families are expected to receive.

The IRS urges taxpayers to be on the lookout for a surge of calls and email phishing attempts that could lead to tax-related fraud and identity theft.

In addition, taxpayers should be suspicious of any text messages, websites, and social media outreach that attempt to request money or personal information.

In most cases, the IRS will deposit the economic impact payments via direct deposits. The IRS wants to remind individuals that no one from the agency will be reaching out to them by phone, email, mail or in person asking for any kind of information to complete any form related to the economic impact payment.

Watch out for these potential scams fraudsters could initiate:

  • Ask the taxpayer to sign over their economic impact payment check to them.
  • Ask by phone, email, text or social media for verification of personal and/or banking information saying that the information is needed to receive or speed up their economic impact payment.
  • Suggest that they can get a tax refund or economic impact payment faster by working on the taxpayer's behalf. This scam could be conducted by social media or even in person.
  • Mail the taxpayer a bogus check, perhaps in an odd amount, then tell the taxpayer to call a number or verify information online in order to cash it.

To report any coronavirus-related or other phishing attempts, contact the IRS at phishing at irs . gov

Learn more about the economic impact payment or visit the IRS website directly at irs.gov

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Source: The IRS website: https://www.irs.gov/newsroom/irs-issues-warning-about-coronavirus-related-scams-watch-out-for-schemes-tied-to-economic-impact-payments

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Disclaimer - All content contained in this newsletter is for informational purposes only and should not be relied upon to make any financial, accounting, tax, legal or other related decisions. Each person must consider his or her objectives, risk tolerances and level of comfort when making financial decisions and should consult a competent professional advisor prior to making any such decisions. Any opinions expressed through the content in this newsletter are the opinions of the particular author only.
 
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