Social Security cost-of-living allowance increases for 2017 is just 0 #fa #playbook, #special #reports, #fa


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Social Security cost-of-living allowance increases for 2017 is just 0.3 percent

Your Social Security check will increase by a measly 0.3 percent next year.

That’s according to the Social Security Administration, which announced its 2017 cost-of-living adjustment on Tuesday. The “COLAs” are based on increases in the Consumer Price Index.

The agency also will be taking more. It said it will increase the maximum amount of earnings subject to the Social Security tax to $127,200 from $118,500, starting in January.

Social Security checks

The announcement comes months after the agency’s board had predicted that the adjustments payable next January would range from zero to 0.7 percent. The Medicare Trustees report in June had predicted a COLA increase of 0.2 percent for Social Security.

The average monthly Social Security benefit in January will be $1,360, $5 more than now, according to the government.

News of the tiny increase doesn’t come as a surprise for financial planners, who already held out pessimistic expectations.

Stretching a dollar

Financial advisors have said that they aren’t counting on Social Security COLAs as a retirement income boost, especially since 2016 was a year with no increase for retirees.

As a result, advisors are looking for other ways to help older clients generate income, including increasing allocations to stocks.

“If inflation happens, whether Social Security recognizes it or not, you’ll have to increase retirement income,” said Benjamin Brandt, a fee-only financial planner at Capital City Wealth Management in Bismarck, North Dakota.

“It’s not coming from your pension or from Social Security,” he said. “It’s coming from your investment portfolio.”

The effect of having a tiny-to-flat increase in Social Security is much more jarring for people who largely depend on the government program.

“The government is looking at CPI, and if they see no inflation, then there’s no increase,” said Gregory L. Olsen, a partner at Lenox Advisors in New York.

“Seniors who rely on it are in a position where if their rent goes up $50 a month, but Social Security increases by only $5 a month, what will you do without now?” he asked.

There aren’t very many ways for retirees to squeeze out an extra dollar from otherwise “safe” pots of cash. Rates on three-year certificates of deposit are still below 2 percent. and savings accounts are crediting interest in the neighborhood of 1 percent.

Medicare woes

Next year, a handful of retirees will contend with increased costs for Medicare Part B, the insurance program that applies to doctor’s services and outpatient care.

A “hold harmless” provision buffers most retirees from increased Medicare Part B expenses in a year when the increase in the premium is higher than the Social Security COLA. These people will not pay higher Part B costs.

You can expect to pay higher Part B premiums in the following situations:

  • You’re eligible to enroll in Medicare for the first time in 2017.
  • You’re enrolled in Medicare, but you aren’t collecting Social Security.
  • You’re already subject to Medicare premium surcharges because you didn’t enroll on time and now have to pay a penalty.

Keep a lid on your costs by enrolling for Medicare when you’re eligible. You can sign up during the initial enrollment period, which starts three months before your 65 th birthday and ends three months after.

If you miss that first enrollment window, you will be subject to a 10 percent late fee for each 12-month period you went without coverage. You will pay this surcharge for the remainder of your life.

Where do the candidates stand?

As retirees and their financial advisors grapple with the prospect of another year with flat Social Security income, the presidential candidates have had little to say about the program at the last two debates.

But Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton spelled out their positions in an AARP Bulletin on June 27.

There, Clinton’s campaign said she was against cutting COLAs, would push back against privatization of the program, and fight efforts to increase the retirement age. She has also supported taxing high earners’ income beyond the current cap of $118,500.

In that same AARP Bulletin. Trump’s campaign said he would work with Congress to ensure “we have a pro-growth agenda in place,” but did not provide details on specific changes to Social Security.

“If we are able to sustain growth rates in GDP that we had as a result of the Kennedy and Reagan tax reforms, we will be able to secure Social Security for the future,” his campaign said.

Darla Mercado Personal Finance Writer


Security Risks of FTP and Benefits of Managed File Transfer #deep #web #search #engine, #hacker


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File transfer services such as FTP or HTTP has been the most common way of file transfer for business requirements. Typically what a file transfer means is that a file transfer protocol such as FTP or HTTP is used to send the stream of bits stored as a single unit in a file system including file name, file size, timestamp and other metadata from one host to another host over a TCP-based network such as the Internet.

But this process is not foolproof. FTP, by itself, is not a secure file transfer protocol and it has a lot of security vulnerabilities. It s a known fact that FTP doesn t provide any encryption for data transfer. Most of the times, the requirement in any business is pretty simple: to transfer files between two endpoints in different locations, and the parties involved do not think much about how secure the file transfer process is going to be.

Using FTP for official file transfer can leave your data transmission exposed to many security attacks:

FTP Bounce Attack

Generally a file transfer happens when the source FTP server sends the data to the client which transmits the data to the destination FTP server. When there s a slow network connection, people often resort to using a proxy FTP which makes the client instructs the data transmission directly between two FTP servers. A hacker can take advantage of this type of file transfer and use a PORT command to request access to ports by posing as a middle man for the file transfer request; then execute port scans on hosts discreetly and gain access data transmitted over the network.

FTP Brute Force Attack

An attacker can carry out a brute force attack to guess the FTP server password by implementing a means to repeatedly try different password combinations until they can succeed in the break-in. A weak password and repeated use of the same password for multiple FTP servers can also help the hacker gain quick access. Once the password is guessed, your data is exposed.

Packet Capture (or Sniffing)

Because the data transfer via FTP is in clear text, any sensitive information such as usernames, passwords can be easily read network packet capture techniques such as packet sniffing. A packet sniffer is just a piece of computer program which can capture transmitted data packets and decode the packet’s raw data exposing data contained in the various fields of the packet.

When we restrict access to FTP servers based on the network address, it is possible that a cyber-criminal can use an external computer and assume the host address of a computer on the enterprise network, and download files during data transfer.

When operating systems assign dynamic port numbers in a particular order or pattern, an attacker easily decodes the pattern and identify the next port number which will be used. By illegally gaining access to a port number, the legitimate client trying to access the file will be denied and the hacker can steal files, or even insert a forged file or malicious file into the data stream which will be accessed by other legitimate users in the organization.

As we discussed above, there are a lot of devious means to intercepting an FTP-based file transfer and the chances of your data being exposed is also high. Networks that adhere to federal compliance norms such as PCI DSS, HIPAA, GLBA, etc. and those agencies and institutions that share government data, and customer records are at high risk if they just depend on FTP for file transfer. So, what s the optimum solution if not FTP?

Managed File Transfer Remedies the Vulnerabilities in FTP

Managed file transfer (MFT) is the best option for file transfer compared to all other file sharing methods such as using FTP, HTTP, TFTP, peer-to-peer file sharing and cloud drives. A managed file transfer server facilitates secure file transfer through the Internet by providing a high level of data security. The MFT server software provides secure internal, external and ad-hoc file transfers for both pull-based and push-based file transfers.

Though MFT also uses FTP for data transfer, this type of file transfer ensures the data is protected by using secure FTP (FTPS, SFTP, etc.) With B2B file transfers, especially in a DMZ environment when internal IP addresses need to be concealed, MFT server s authentication and data encryption methods help ensure secure, reliable and auditable file transfer.

MFT is widely used for securely transferring files over public or private networks and you can:

  • Perform secure file transfer via FTP, FTPS, SFTP, HTTP and HTTPS over IPv4 or IPv6 networks
  • Carry out ad hoc file transfer
  • Monitor the file transfer process in real time
  • Get notified of the status once the transfer is complete
  • Report on transfer activity and user access
  • Limit MFT access by user role and integration with Active Directory
  • Transport large wiles with integrity checks and protocol fidelity

When the secure file transfer is concerned at an organizational level, MFT server is the best option that ensures both security and endpoint management simplicity when compared to FTP.

Guest Post by:Vinod Mohan, Product Marketing Specialist Team Lead at SolarWinds with technical expertise in IT management and operations spanning IT security, SIEM, network management, application, systems, storage Virtualization management.


Rollover rethink: 4 good reasons not to roll 401(k) funds into an IRA #age-based #investing,


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Rollover rethink: 4 good reasons not to roll 401(k) funds into an IRA

Rollover rules Friday, 6 Jun 2014 | 12:00 AM ET

It seems that just about every financial company pitches the benefits of rolling your 401(k) plan into an individual retirement account, or IRA, after leaving your former employer. Clearly, there are many situations where this could be beneficial.

But there are many other times when it may be best to keep the 401(k) intact and not transfer the funds to an IRA.

John Lund / Drew Kelly | Blend Images | Getty Images

Here are four situations when it may be best to keep the 401(k) with your previous employer:

1. You are between ages 55 and 59½. By now, most of us know that we must be at least 59½ before we can take money out of a retirement plan and not get hit with penalties. If we withdraw money before that age, we get slapped with a 10 percent early withdrawal penalty. (One exception to this rule is separation from service.)

If you are at least 55 years old when you leave your employer or will turn 55 sometime in that calendar year, you can access your 401(k) without early withdrawal penalties. You don’t have to wait until age 59½, and you can pull money from the plan as many times as the employer’s plan allows (typically, several withdrawals per year).

Once the 401(k) is transferred to an IRA, the age 55 rule is eliminated and withdrawals are restricted until age 59½.

Oftentimes, people will roll their 401(k) to an IRA without even knowing about this rule. Many financial advisors will neglect to mention this to their clients, because they have a financial incentive to receive commissions from an IRA that they can manage rather than leaving the money in the 401(k).

Keep in mind that this separation-from-service rule applies only to the retirement plans from the employer you leave after age 55. It does not apply to other 401(k) plans that may exist from previous employers.

2. Your plan consists of highly appreciated employer stock. For many of us, the majority of our 401(k) plans are invested in funds and stable value accounts. But for some, a large portion of their 401(k) funds is invested in their employer’s stock.

A great tax-planning opportunity known as Net Unrealized Appreciation (NUA) exists for those who have a significant amount of company stock within their 401(k). NUA works like this: Suppose you paid $5,000 for your employer’s stock and now the value has risen to $20,000.

The best 401(k) plans Friday, 6 Sep 2013 | 1:46 PM ET

Rather than roll the stock into an IRA, you choose to have the shares sent directly to you or your brokerage account. In this scenario, you would incur taxes on a $5,000 retirement distribution, but you wouldn’t be taxed on the gain until you sold the stock. If and when the stock is eventually sold, the gains would be treated as capital gains rather than ordinary income.

There are a number of things to keep in mind before utilizing the NUA strategy: First, many 401(k) plans don’t enable an employee to purchase their stock; rather, the plans have a “fund” that mimics the performance of the stock. It’s very important to verify that your plan provides actual company stock.

Second, having stock distributed rather than rolled over to an IRA can result in a hefty tax bill. A large distribution could push you into such high tax rates that the current taxes would offset any savings that NUA could offer.

Careful planning is necessary when evaluating this technique, but it can work wonders in the right situations.

Your Wealth: Weekly advice on managing your money

3. Your 401(k) plan has adequate options. Many people complain that their 401(k) doesn’t provide enough investment options. If you are lucky enough to have a plan with plenty of good options and you are adept at picking and managing your investments, it may be best to leave the money in the original plan.

A 401(k) often can access institutional pricing that everyday investors cannot, which results in fees that may be lower than a similar portfolio constructed within an IRA.

Read More Maximize a 401(k) in 8 steps

4. You could benefit from help but don’t know a good financial advisor. Some people are great at managing their 401(k) and wouldn’t benefit from hiring a financial advisor. But it’s been my experience that most people would benefit from having some help with their retirement investing.

The challenge that I’ve seen is that for many, it’s hard to tell the good financial advisors from the not-so-good ones. If you don’t already have a relationship with a good advisor, you may be sold an IRA that contains expensive investments that may not perform as well as your 401(k).

“A target-date fund would certainly be a better option than rolling your 401(k) balance into a lousy financial advisor s IRA.”

Most 401(k) plans these days contain target-date funds. These are funds that are designed to be more aggressive while you are younger but become more conservative as you get closer to your retirement age.

While using these funds may not be a perfect strategy, for many they can work just fine. A target-date fund would certainly be a better option than rolling your 401(k) balance into a lousy financial advisor’s IRA.

There are many good reasons to roll a 401(k) to an IRA, and most investment firms will spell out those benefits. Just keep in mind that there are times when it may be of greater benefit to keep the 401(k) intact.

—By Scott Hanson, special to CNBC.com. Scott Hanson, a certified financial planner, is a senior partner at Hanson McClain Advisors .


New Tecumseth, Alliston, Beeton, Tottenham local news #alliston, #beeton, #new #tecumseth, #tottenham, #madhunt, #tony #veltri,


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All stories, unless otherwise noted,
by Tony Veltri

Fending off Ministry charge cost Town over $108k, ice cream battle, $27k
Posted June 29 – New Tecumseth was billed more than $108,000 for its successful defense against a Ministry of Labour charge for “paperwork not being onsite” connected to the June 20, 2014 death of its public works employee, Geoff Gaston. Baxter Foundation donation to fund at-home palliative care
Posted June 29 – Baxter International Foundation is donating $80,000 (U.S.) to Matthews House Hospice to launch the “Sanctuary at Home” program that provides trained nurses and PSWs with palliative care education and experience to deliver care to patients and families at home. Changes that add time, costs to County waste management plans no deterrent
Posted June 28 – Springwater Township mayor Bill French’s notice of motion calling for a delay in Simcoe County’s process to develop an organics sorting facility and transfer station on Horseshoe Valley Road until the impact of planning policy changes announced last month by the province, are factored into the proposal, was ruled out of order, and never made it to a vote. Base funding increase tops $450k for Stevenson Memorial
Posted June 28 – Stevenson Memorial Hospital’s annualized base funding was increased by $450,000 according to the Central LHIN’s allocation report from June. Council supports bid to stop amendment to Conservation Authority Act
Posted June 28 – New Tecumseth councillors joined in supporting a motion circulating across the province from the municipality of Brockton that seeks to kill a proposed amendment requiring Conservation Authority Boards to have a composition of 50 per cent members with science backgrounds.


Trinidad and Tobago s Newsday #triniad #news, #trinidad #sport, #trinidad #business, #trinidad #sms, #trinidad #movies,


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Trade unions plot �hurricane� protest

VERNE BURNETT Tuesday, July 11 2017

THREE of the country�s major labour federations are threatening a hurricane of a protest on August 4th against bad governance and the retrenchment of workers. �Bret is joke, we will take this country by storm. Its time to shake up this blasted place and let those who took the job to govern, govern properly.

They are not doing that,� said Ancel Roget, President General of the Joint Trade Union Movement (JTUM) yesterday during a news conference at The Dial in Arima.

Roget said that during Labour Day celebrations in Fyzabad the trade unions had committed themselves to the August 4 protest and were now going through the country to sensitise workers about the issues that have inspired the protest. Roget said they were �Not just labour issues, but people issues, man in the street issues, man on the ground issues which generally affect Trinidad and Tobago.� He said Tobago was not being left out and last Friday the unions had staged a �good and powerful� meeting in Tobago and the labour federations were determined to go all over the country to make workers aware of the planned protest on August 4. �We are about rescuing the country, rescuing citizens and workers generally that is why we are here this morning.

The people of Arima are no different from the people in Port of Spain, and San Fernando and Sangre Grande, Mayaro and throughout the country because anywhere you go the people are disenchanted, dissatisfied and they are suffering and we believe that the only true body that can speak truly on behalf of the people and can bring some measure of relief.� In fact, Roget said that it was probably because the trade unions had not been active enough that there had been such a display of bad governance manifested in disrespect for workers and the trade union movement. In response to a question, Roget said the �tripartite conversation� has failed.

�Are they committed to tripartism and the body that is responsible for that failed to excite and to ignite the type of discussion to really get things going. You would imagine that in this period more than any other period that is required but the Government failed.

As a matter of fact while we were discussing, Government and employers were sending workers home.

�You would recall the Tourism Development Corporation (TDC) workers among others, so how could we be in discussion discussing how should we share the burden of adjustment and at the same time the Government, who is one of the tripartite partners in that arrangement, they are sending workers home. And that is wrong and we said that we will withdraw ourself until you halt that and then we will come back to the table because we are all equals.� Among other things, the August 4th protest will demand an end to mass retrenchment; sustainable jobs; the settlement of outstanding negotiations; increased minimum wage; timely payment of pension and gratuity to Police; teachers; public sector workers; the end to contract labour and support for local farmers.


Researcher: No – Rational Reason – to Avoid Reverse Mortgages #news, #reverse #mortgage


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As the American population ages, experts have increasingly pointed to home equity as a key source of retirement income — even as many older homeowners remain hesitant to tap into it for reasons that continue to confound both academics and players in the mortgage industry.

Steven Sass, a research economist at Boston College’s Center for Retirement Research, has studied the behavioral roadblocks to home equity extraction, and concluded in a recent Boston College brief that the main culprits are lack of understanding and fear, as RMD recently reported .

“There’s not really a rational reason to avoid a reverse mortgage,” Sass told RMD in a recent phone interview. “It might be a fairly sophisticated analysis, but it makes sense for a lot of people.

Sass pointed a finger at some familiar targets, including the deep-seated aversion to going into further debt among older folks, as well as the sense of accomplishment and satisfaction that can come from owning a home free and clear. But he also mentioned distrust of financial institutions in general, as well as a general inability to imagine a need for future cash early in retirement — a key reason many retirees don’t think to open a reverse mortgage line of credit soon after turning 62.

“If you have a sufficient income to cover your expenses, is there any great need to go out and secure this line of credit or get the money?” Sass asked rhetorically. “So I think people might need some impetus to use a reverse mortgage.

That impetus could be the only way to convince older homeowners that a Home Equity Conversion Mortgage is a good idea, and Sass said the breaking point might start coming earlier an earlier. Social Security benefits could retract in the future, he said, and more and more boomers are entering their retirement years without sufficient cash or investment savings.

“The elderly will be increasingly dependent on savings to support their standard of living, maintain their consumption needs,” Sass said, noting that many of them won’t have employer-paid pensions or extensive Social Security benefits. “As households increasingly need to use their financial assets, at that point, home equity might be viewed as another store of savings and more households will consider using home equity in lieu of, or in combination with, financial outlets.

While many seniors typically consider traditional “forward” home equity lines of credit as well as reverse mortgages, Sass said they shouldn’t necessarily be used to tap into home equity for retirement.

“A traditional HELOC is just a credit card, cash-flow kind of thing,” Sass said. “It’s not really good for eating your home equity.

Sass said seniors could use HELOCs to cover specific smaller expenses that might come up during the retirement years — for instance, if a boiler breaks — but because they must be repaid within a set period of time, they re a less attractive option for people who intend to stay in their homes for an extended period of time.

“It’s a different beast,” Sass said of the HELOC. “To really access your home equity, the two primary ways are to downsize or to take out a reverse mortgage.

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Picking the best credit card depends on your lifestyle more than the interest rate #personal


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Picking the best credit card depends on your lifestyle more than the interest rate

The type of credit card you put in your wallet should say something about you. Your choice of plastic answers a financial question as well as a philosophical one.

Selecting the right card comes down to one truth: “Know thyself,” said Matt Schulz, senior industry analyst at CreditCards.com. “You should pick a credit card that fits your lifestyle.”

Unfortunately, too many people live lifestyles more lavish than they can afford. Outstanding credit-card debt topped $1 trillion at the end of last year. the highest level since the Great Recession.

Of course, you should know the annual percentage rate your card levies on balances. “But if you pay off your balance each month, the APR is meaningless,” Schulz said.

Check whether the card charges an annual fee and the terms and conditions of the offer before you apply. “You don’t want to let the rewards tail wag the debt dog,” said Reed Fraasa, a certified financial planner and managing director of Highland Financial Advisors in Wayne, New Jersey.

“If you pay off your balance each month, the APR is meaningless.” -Matt Schulz, senior industry analyst at CreditCards.com

Rewards cards, which dole out points when you make purchases at airlines, gas stations and restaurants, have a higher-than-average interest to compensate credit issuers for the additional perks. Keep in mind that the typical credit card charges 16.38 percent, according to Bankrate.com .

Here’s a scenario Fraasa uses to illustrate the financial risks: A major bank credit card pays a sign-up bonus of 50,000 points and bonus points for certain purchases. Assuming you charge $2,000 a month, you would receive about $850 in value within the year. However, if you missed two months of payments and carried $4,000 for 10 months, the card would charge more than $950 in interest and fees, eating up your gains from the points.

“We tell clients that you don’t put anything on your credit card you can’t pay off in three months,” Fraasa said.

NerdWallet s best travel credit cards of 2017

More people are using credit cards for small purchases. Seventeen percent of cardholders have used their cards to buy something that costs less than $5, up from 11 percent from last year, according to a recent survey from CreditCards.com of 1,001 adults in mid-March.

The rise in small transactions is tied to the use of rewards cards, Schulz said. He recommends that people with good credit. a score of 720 or above, should consider opening a rewards card when they make a major buy. On average, Americans make about five purchases of more than $500 each year.

“Cash back is the popular credit-card reward ,” said Schulz at CreditCards.com. “It’s also the simplest.”

With other perks, such as travel miles and retailer discounts, figure out if you will actually use them for your everyday purchases or if they will entice you to overspend.

“There is a psychology behind reward points,” said Fraasa of Highland Financial Advisors. “It’s like retailers who give out $10 coupons hoping you come to the shop and make $80 in impulse purchases.”

“On the Money” airs on CNBC Saturdays at 5:30 a.m. ET, or check listings for air times in local markets.

Tom Anderson Personal Finance Writer


PNC Stock Price & News – PNC Financial Services Group Inc #pnc #financial #services #group


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PNC Financial Services Group Inc. PNC (U.S. NYSE)

P/E Ratio (TTM) The Price to Earnings (P/E) ratio, a key valuation measure, is calculated by dividing the stock’s most recent closing price by the sum of the diluted earnings per share from continuing operations for the trailing 12 month period. Earnings Per Share (TTM) A company’s net income for the trailing twelve month period expressed as a dollar amount per fully diluted shares outstanding. Market Capitalization Reflects the total market value of a company. Market Cap is calculated by multiplying the number of shares outstanding by the stock’s price. For companies with multiple common share classes, market capitalization includes both classes. Shares Outstanding Number of shares that are currently held by investors, including restricted shares owned by the company’s officers and insiders as well as those held by the public. Public Float The number of shares in the hands of public investors and available to trade. To calculate, start with total shares outstanding and subtract the number of restricted shares. Restricted stock typically is that issued to company insiders with limits on when it may be traded. Dividend Yield A company’s dividend expressed as a percentage of its current stock price.

Key Stock Data

P/E Ratio (TTM)

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Drive-by shooting victim from Rolling Meadows gets rehab help from friends #news, #arlington #heights, #hinsdale,


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Drive-by shooting victim from Rolling Meadows gets rehab help from friends

Video: Quadriplegic after shooting

Chelsea Black, 20, of Rolling Meadows, was the victim of a drive-by shooting in November that has left her a quadriplegic. Above, Chelsea asks her mother, Liz Black, to put a blanket around her head.
Daniel White | Staff Photographer

Chelsea Black can use the internet with special technology controlled by her eye movements. Here she scrolls to a Facebook page and shows a photo of herself singing, a sign of happier times.
Daniel White | Staff Photographer

Chelsea Black, 20, the victim of a drive-by shooting in November that has left her a quadriplegic, hopes some day she will gain use of her limbs. She is being treated at RML Specialty Hospital in Hinsdale.
Daniel White | Staff Photographer

Chelsea Black, 20, continues her rehabilitation after being the victim of a drive-by shooting back in November. Above, her mother Liz Black frequently assists Chelsea, who hopes to gain some sort of limb function at RML Specialty Hospital in Hinsdale, before she is transported to the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago.
Daniel White | Staff Photographer

Chelsea Black, 20, the victim of a drive-by shooting back in November that has left her a quadriplegic, is always happy to see her sister Tamara Black, right. Chelsea is rehabbing at RML Specialty Hospital in Hinsdale.
Daniel White | Staff Photographer

By Eileen O. Daday
Daily Herald correspondent

Liz Black of Rolling Meadows has graphic memories of the night last November when she learned her daughter, now 20, had been hit by gunfire while riding with friends in a car on the Northwest Side of Chicago.

“It was at 2 a.m.,” Black recalls. “They told me my daughter had been shot, and that it was serious. When I got there a chaplain met us, and the doctors told me she had been shot in the worst possible place.”

Monetary donations can be directed to: Chelsea Black Trust, MB Financial Bank N.A. Attention: Trust Department, 1400 Sixteenth St. Oak Brook, IL 60523.

For donations in a form other than a check, contact MB Financial at (630) 203-2742.

Her daughter, Chelsea, had been taken to Loyola University Medical Center in Maywood, where she was admitted as Yazmine Doe, since medical personnel could not immediately find any identification. Once hospital officials found her wallet, they called her mother.

Within days, Chelsea underwent surgery to reroute her nerves and insert pins in her spine. Doctors told her mother she would be a quadriplegic, with no movement from her chest down.

Chelsea was a member of the Rolling Meadows High School class of 2015, and she played basketball, tennis and softball, and sang in the variety shows. She is being treated at a rehabilitation facility in Hinsdale that specializes in weaning patients off a ventilator.

Chelsea Black, the victim of a drive-by shooting in November that has left her a quadriplegic, can use the internet with special technology controlled by her eye movements. Here she scrolls to a Facebook page with her mother, Liz Black. – Daniel White | Staff Photographer

Some of her former high school friends try to visit, but she mostly keeps in touch with the outside world through a specialized computer she operates with her eyes.

Doctors first told Chelsea she never would be able to breathe without a ventilator. She now is able to breathe on her own for short amounts of time, allowing her to speak softly.

“It’s just so awful that no matter who you are or where you’re from, that you’re not safe from a drive-by shooting that could take your life or paralyze you at any moment,” said Sue Dungan of Arlington Heights, whose daughter, Bridget, is a close friend of Chelsea’s.

Dungan and her husband, Chris, and Chelsea’s former tennis coach, Carol Martini of Arlington Heights, have established a trust fund for the family held by MB Financial Bank in Oak Brook, where supporters can donate to the family’s needs.

They also are organizing fundraisers to rally community support, including a live performance by Michael Ingersoll of “Jersey Boys” and his wife, Angela, on June 11 at the Metropolis Performing Arts Centre, and a women’s tennis tournament at Forest View Racquet Club.

“The family doesn’t have a support network, so we’re trying to do everything we can to help them,” Martini said, adding details of the fundraisers are still being finalized.

Liz Black said Chelsea describes having tingling sensations in her arms and a burning feeling in her legs, giving them hope she may one day regain some movement.

Martini, who coached Chelsea in tennis and badminton, said she has her relative youth and athleticism going for her.

“I’m sure that fierce determination I saw in her as a tennis player is getting her through each day,” Martini said. “I know she just wants to go home.”

According to Liz Black, Chelsea, then 19, had gone to hang out with a friend from Chicago whom she had met when the girls lived in the same apartment complex in Arlington Heights.

Chelsea Black, 20, a graduate of Rolling Meadows High School, was the victim of a drive-by shooting back in November that has left her a quadriplegic. She is rehabbing at RML Specialty Hospital in Hinsdale. – Daniel White | Staff Photographer

The two were riding with a third person in a car about 1 a.m. Nov. 4, a few blocks from The Brickyard shopping center in the Belmont Cragin neighborhood, when four shots rang out. One bullet ripped through Chelsea’s neck, tearing through her spinal cord and the nerves in her neck, and another hit her friend, an 18-year-old woman, in the abdomen, Chicago police said. The friend was also taken to Loyola, while the vehicle’s third occupant was not injured.

Police said the circumstances of the shooting are not known, and no one has been charged. The investigation is ongoing, police said.

Liz Black has worked as a driver for the Pace Suburban Bus Service for the last 15 years. Her husband died of a drug overdose in 2010, and the family lives in a rented house in Rolling Meadows.

Liz Black dreams of one day bringing Chelsea home, but she would need to move to a place that is handicapped accessible and obtain a vehicle equipped to transport her daughter and her wheelchair.

“My daughter has always been headstrong and determined,” Liz Black said. “She will get through this. There is no option other than to get through this.”

One of Chelsea’s dreams is to strengthen her voice and vocal chords enough to sing again. Back in high school, she was known for her singing and she even tried out for “American Idol” and “America’s Got Talent.”

Her mother remembers waiting in line with her for more than five hours with thousands of other potential singers, at Chicago’s McCormick Place.

On the spur of the moment, Liz Black said, Chelsea chose the song she would sing: “My Heart Will Go On,” from the movie “Titanic.”

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Don’t rush to refinance your federal student loans #advisor #insight, #special #reports, #advisor #insight, #student


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Don t rush to refinance your federal student loans

For an overwhelming number of young professionals, the topic of student debt is a sensitive one. With some federal loan rates as high as 7.9 percent, it does not take much to entice my fellow millennials, especially the older ones, into an emotional discourse on the subject.

In fact, student loans are such a hot topic right now that they are a frequent, if not focal, point of discussion in the 2016 presidential primary debates .

Tom Williams | CQ Roll Call | Getty Images

Interns from around the city protest near the Senate steps to urge the Senate to act on a House passed bill, Smarter Solutions for Students Act, which would prevent student loan interest rates from doubling.

Politicians aren’t the only ones listening, either. Due to the notoriety and overwhelming amount of outstanding student debt, financial technology start-ups looking to address the issue have emerged. A number of existing large financial institutions have also been joining the conversation, with “attractive” refinancing opportunities, which could give student loan borrowers a much needed financial break.

When it comes to privately refinancing federal student loans (e.g. any lending organization other than the government), the overarching strategy is to obtain an interest rate that is lower than the rate of your current loan(s).

As a result, refinancing at a lower rate is often a financially positive one because reducing the rate on your federal student loans could:

  1. Reduce the amount of interest you pay over the life of your loan(s).
  2. Reduce your monthly loan payments.
  3. Be a combination of the two, depending on the details of the loan.

Before we get overly excited and say that privately refinancing your federal student loans is a “no-brainer,” it’s extremely important to understand what you are keeping and losing should you choose to stick with those government loans or privately refinance them.

The biggest advantage to keeping your student loans with the federal government is repayment-plan flexibility. Federal loans offer their borrowers a myriad of repayment plans to choose from and the ability to switch between plans at any time.

The main categories of plans are standard, graduated, extended and income-driven plans. Each plan has its own advantages and disadvantages, depending on what your financial needs are.

“The ability to adjust your repayment plan could be a reason for keeping your loans with the federal government, even if it is at a higher interest rate than what you could get privately.”

For example, if you find yourself in a difficult financial situation or should your financial priorities shift due to a significant life event, having the flexibility to move from one payment plan to another could be valuable.

Therefore, the ability to adjust your repayment plan could be a reason for keeping your loans with the federal government, even if it is at a higher interest rate than what you could get privately. Additionally, there are loan-forgiveness options for public servants that are also worth considering before refinancing away from Uncle Sam.

While having repayment flexibility can be a major benefit to keeping your federal loans where they are, there can be some danger involved with frequently switching plans, especially when choosing among the income-driven plans.

By overly relying on these plans and using them as a sort of financial crutch, you could find yourself paying back your loans for far longer than you had hoped. In more extreme cases, you could actually find yourself moving backward, meaning your loan balances can actually grow because those more flexible payments don’t cover the interest accruing each month.

However, if repayment flexibility is not needed and you feel secure in your financial situation, refinancing your federal loans with a private lender at a lower rate could turn out to be a no-brainer, after all.

It is important to remember that eligibility for refinancing is based on your financial health and is determined through financial underwriting. After all, financial technology companies and institutions alike will want to understand your financial situation so they can determine what new rate, if any, you are eligible for.

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Therefore, if you are qualified and confident in your ability to make your payments each month, you should strongly consider privately refinancing your loans, potentially saving thousands of dollars in interest through the life of your loan.

Overall, the important lesson here is that the choice between privately refinancing federal loans or keeping them where they are is about more than just your ability to obtain a lower interest rate and better loan terms. Ultimately, the decision requires a closer examination of your overall financial picture to determine whether it is in your best interest financially, because once your federal loans are refinanced, there’s no going back.

I would also like to point out that the discussion surrounding student debt is part of a greater discussion surrounding financial education in our country. For those of us who have already finished our college and graduate school educations, refinancing student loan debt is a reaction to costly financial decisions already made.

If anything, the opportunity to take advantage of any student loan refinancing is a reminder of the importance of financial literacy so that, in the future, we are voting on issues other than who can solve a growing $1.2 trillion-dollar problem.

You can learn about all the federal student loan repayment plans at website StudentAid.gov.

— By Douglas A. Boneparth, partner at Longwave Financial