Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Depression is bipartisan | BenefitsPro

Robin Williams, center, with Saturday Night Live cast members Eddie Murphy, left, and Joe Piscopo, Feb. 10, 1984. (AP Photo/Suzanne Vlamis)

Robin Williams, center, with Saturday Night Live cast members Eddie Murphy, left, and Joe Piscopo, Feb. 10, 1984.
 (AP Photo/Suzanne Vlamis)

August 11, 2014

Robin Williams is dead.
Apparently he took his own life. The early reports are that he’d battled depression most of his life. And from what it sounds like, he lost.
Sure, it might not seem that big a deal to most, but I grew up with this guy.
(It’s funny. As a kid I often wondered why my elders cared so much about celebrity deaths. I was in the principal's office — of course — when I’d heard Elvis died. Everyone seemed so shocked and I all could wonder was, “Who’s he?”)
But now I understand. I grew up watching “Mork and Mindy.” (Yeah, I’m that old.) I even had a pair of those awful rainbow suspenders — remember, this was long before gay pride. His manic, improvisational style of acting spoke to me even at an early age.
See, I was one of those manic kids myself. I couldn’t sit still. Sarcasm was my second language. And jokes were all I had. They just came naturally. More than a few times I found myself in the principal’s office because I simply couldn’t sit still and shut up. Hell, these days I’d have been so doped up on one (or more) of the various kid-tamers that I would have slept-walked through my childhood.
So, early on, I identified with him. From those early days as Mork, to that Vietnam War DJ to his brilliant and mostly improvised — and brilliant — role as Aladdin’s genie, this was someone I could relate to.
Of course, it wasn't until last year that I realized that I’d been battling depression myself— for probably a lot longer than I ever realized. Or even still am able to acknowledge. I suppose humor was the only weapon I thought I had.
I think I’m doing better. I’m taking my meds. My diet’s a helluva lot better. And I really am trying my best with the gym, but it’s so easy to let other things take priority. My boss has been doing double-duty as my therapist. And my wife has been my rock. I wouldn’t be here without her.
But when I see news like this, about someone else plagued by demons so much like my own, it shakes me to my core. If he can’t handle it — with access to the best health care money can buy — how the hell am I supposed to? What chance do I have?
Then I look at my three kids, who still see me as someone worth emulating, and loving unconditionally, and I can’t even fathom not being there for them. And I look at my wife, whose patience would drive Job to the nearest bar (or shrink).
I met a broker friend of mine for drinks a couple of weeks back, and (of course) we talked about work. He mentioned that no matter how hard his job is, he never gets called the names I do on a weekly (sometimes daily) basis. He doesn’t have outraged readers (or clients) calling his CEO asking for his job or trolls calling him every sophomoric name they can dream up.
And it made me wonder why it never got to me. Then I realized: No one can call me anything I haven’t already called myself. When it comes to being one's own worst critic, I’m freakin’ Roger Ebert at a Jerry Bruckheimer premiere.
Which also makes me think: We’re so quick to demonize one another in this hyper-partisan age, but there’s no demon harder to exorcise than the ones inside us.
Rest in peace, Robin. Thank you for making this little boy’s own scattered mind make a little sense. I hope your demons have finally fled.

About the Author
Denis Storey
Denis Storey
Denis Storey is editor for and Benefits Sellingmagazine. He can be reached at

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Tuesday, July 8, 2014

NAPA Net » ‘Out’ Takes

NAPA Net » ‘Out’ Takes:Nevin Adams 7/8/14 
My first car wasn’t anything special, other than it was my first car. It was an older model Ford, ran reasonably well, with one small problem — it went through oil almost as quickly as it did gasoline. At first I attributed that to being a function of the car’s age, but as the leakage grew, I eventually dealt with it by keeping a couple of quarts of oil in the trunk “just in case.” Eventually, I took the car to a dealership — but by the time they finished estimating the cost of a head gasket repair, let’s just say that, even on my limited budget, I could buy a lot of oil by the quart, over a long period of time, and still be ahead financially.

“Leakage” — the withdrawal of retirement savings via loan or distribution prior to retirement — is a matter of ongoing discussion among employers, retirement plan advisors, regulators and policy makers alike. In fact, EBRI Research Director Jack VanDerhei was recently asked to present findings on “The Impact of Leakages on 401(k) Accumulations at Retirement Age” to the ERISA Advisory Council in Washington.
Ida May Fuller, the first recipient
Ida May Fuller, the first recipient (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
EBRI’s analysis considered the impact on young employees with more than 30 years of 401(k) eligibility by age 65 if cashouts at job turnover, hardship withdrawals (and the accompanying six-month suspension of contributions) and plan loan defaults were substantially reduced or eliminated. The analysis assumed automatic enrollment and (as explicitly noted) no behavioral response on the part of participants or plan sponsors if that access to plan balances was eliminated.
Looked at together, EBRI found that there was a decrease in the probability of reaching an 80% real income replacement rate (combining 401(k) accumulations and Social Security benefits) of 8.8 percentage points for the lowest-income quartile and 7.0 percentage points for those in the highest-income quartile. Put another way, 27.3% of those in the lowest-income quartile (and 15.2% of those in the highest-income quartile) who would have come up short of an 80% real replacement rate under current assumptions would reach that level if no leakages are assumed.
The EBRI analysis also looked at the impact of the various types of “leakage” individually. Of loan defaults, hardships and cashouts at job change, cashouts at job change were found to have a much more serious impact on 401(k) accumulation than either plan loan defaults or hardship withdrawals (even with the impact of a six-month suspension of contributions included). The leakages from cashouts resulted in a decrease in the probability of reaching an 80% real replacement rate of 5.9 percentage points for the lowest-income quartile and 4.5 percentage points for those in the highest-income quartile.
Advisors take note: that effect from cashouts — not loans or hardship withdrawals — turns out to be approximately two-thirds of the leakage impact.
However, and as the testimony makes clear, it’s one thing to quantify the impact of not allowing early access to these funds — and something else altogether to assume that participants and plan sponsors would not respond in any way to those changes, perhaps by reducing contributions,1 potentially offsetting some or all of the prospective gains from restricting access to those funds.
Because ultimately, whether you’re dealing with an old car or your retirement savings account, what matters isn’t how much “leaks” out — it’s how much you put in, and how much you have to “run” on.
  1. An EBRI/ICI analysis published in the October 2001 EBRI Issue Brief found that, “on average, a participant in a plan offering loans appeared to contribute 0.6 percentage point more of his or her salary to the plan than a participant in a plan with no loan provision.” Testimony provided to the ERISA Advisory Council testimony notes that it’s likely that a similar relationship exists with respect to the availability of hardship withdrawals. See “Contribution Behavior of 401(k) Plan Participants,” online here

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