Feature

What the experts say

When Social Security overpays; Rolling over your FSA; A stock market predictor

When Social Security overpaysWatch out if the government starts sending you more money than you’re due, said Blake Ellis in CNN.com. The Social Security Administration has been overpaying “big sums of money to disability beneficiaries” long after they’ve gone back to work. “It’s not until a notice from Social Security shows up that they discover they owe tens of thousands of dollars to the agency.” Should you receive such a notice, request a waiver from the agency—especially if “you believe the overpayment wasn’t your fault, or if you don’t have the means to repay the money.” If that doesn’t work, you can appeal the agency’s decision, but be aware that the process is often “very lengthy.”

Rolling over your FSAThe use-it-or-lose-it rule on flexible spending accounts just got loosened, said John D. McKinnon in The Wall Street Journal. The Obama administration announced last week that employees can now “roll over as much as $500 in unused funds each year.” The popular FSA plans, which about 14 million American families use to set aside pretax dollars to pay for medical expenses that their health insurance doesn’t cover, have long had a pitfall: If you had set aside too much, you ended up forfeiting unspent funds to your employer at the end of the year. That provision has not only caused a year-end frenzy to pay for sometimes frivolous expenses like extra eyeglasses but also has “discouraged some people from signing up, including lower-income people who could benefit most.”

A stock market predictorEveryone, of course, “wants to know where the market is going next,” said John Nyaradi in MarketWatch.com. Professional investors and traders keep their eyes on the relative-strength index (RSI), a measure of the momentum of a stock price or index, expressed as a numeral between 0 and 100. “Most traders interpret an RSI below 30 as indicating that a stock is oversold”—which might mean it’s a good time to buy—and one of more than 70 as evidence that it has been “overbought” and should be avoided. The problem is that the RSI “usually becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy”: Once investors “see that a stock has passed above the overbought threshold,” they sell or avoid buying it. The S&P 500 has fallen back several times over the last few months as its RSI surpassed 70, and last week it was nearing that threshold again.

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