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Cross Border Retirement Income: Canada Pension Plan, Canadian Old Age Security, U.S. Social Security and the Windfall Elimination Provision

Calling all eligible benefit holders of the Canada Pension Plan (CPP), Canadian Old Age Security (OAS) and U.S. Social Security (SS)……….

Do you or your spouses’ story narrate a history of employment in both Canada and the U.S.? If so, you may have the privilege of drawing from SS, OAS and CPP. The confusion lies amidst the qualifications and how these benefits interact with one another given the Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP).

Let’s break it down……

Social Security (SS)

To qualify for retirement benefits under U.S. Social Security, you must have 40 credits of covered work.  Each credit represents a quarter (i.e. 3 months) of full time employment.  Thus, generally speaking, you must have 10 years of full time employment in order to qualify for retirement benefits.

All monthly benefits are based on your Primary Insurance Amount (PIA), which is the amount you would receive if you retired at your full retirement age (FRA). The FRA is 65 for people born before 1938, gradually increasing to 67 for those born in 1960 and later. You can choose to take it as early as 62, resulting in a 25% reduction in benefit. At a more granular level, the monthly PIA is reduced by 5/9ths of 1% for each of the first 36 months before FRA. You can also choose to earn delayed retirement credits (DRCs) for any month from FRA up to age 70. DRCs increase the benefit for the retired worker but not the spouse (if utilizing the spousal benefit). If you were born in 1943 or later, you earn 8% DRCs for each full year (prorated for months) up to age 70 for a total increase of 32%.

Individuals have the opportunity to take a SS benefit on the greater of their own record or 50% of their spouses.

Canadian Old Age Security (OAS)

To qualify for full OAS benefits under the Canadian system, the rules are centered on residency in Canada, not employment history, beyond the age of 18. A full benefit is received when an individual has accumulated a Canadian residence history of 40 years. The pension can commence as early as the month following one’s 65th birthday or be delayed as late as 70. By deferring one’s OAS, the benefit increases by 0.6% per month/7.2% per year, which equals a 36% increase if OAS is deferred to age 70. Partial OAS benefits may be available in certain situations. Let’s paint a couple scenarios:

Let’s assume you’ve lived in Canada less than 40 years and you are currently residing in Canada. As long as you are 65 years or older, a legal resident of Canada or Canadian citizen and have dwelled in Canada at least 10 years since the age of 18, you are eligible for a prorated benefit.

To take a step further, we’ll assume the same aforementioned scenario with a twist. Instead of currently residing in Canada, you are now living in the U.S. These circumstances dictate  you must have resided in Canada for a minimum of 20 years since the age of 18 in order to receive a partial benefit.

If neither of these examples apply to you, there may still be an opportunity to collect on the benefit if the country in which you currently reside, has a social security agreement with Canada.

One final noteworthy item on OAS; if one were to reside in Canada at the time of OAS payment, the individual may be subject to OAS claw-back stipulations should income surpass certain thresholds. On the other hand, if OAS payments are made to a resident of the U.S., the claw-back provisions are eliminated, and the benefit is paid.

Canada Pension Plan (CPP)

Unlike Old Age Security, CPP is based upon your pension contributions through your employment record, subject to certain maximums. As long as you’ve made at least one contribution to the plan, you are entitled to receive a benefit. The benefit is available at 65, or one can opt for a reduced benefit as early as age 60 (reduced by 7.2% annually) or a delayed benefit as late as age 70 (increased by 8.4% annually). In addition, the CPP benefit is not subject to any claw-backs.

How then do these benefits tie in with the Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP)?

Understanding the Windfall Elimination Provision

Under Title II of the Social Security Act, the Windfall Elimination Provision was born. It authorized the Social Security Administration to reduce an individuals Social Security benefit in the event the benefactor was also receiving a foreign pension (i.e. CPP). To understand the “why” behind WEP its important to comprehend how the SS benefit is calculated, specifically the Primary Insurance Amount (PIA).

A worker’s PIA is based off their average monthly earnings separated into three amounts. These values are then multiplied utilizing three distinct factors. Here’s an example:

For a worker who turns 62 in 2018, the first $895 of average monthly earnings is multiplied by 90%; earnings between $895 and $5,397 by 32%; and the balance by 15%. The sum of these three amounts coincides with the PIA which is either increased or decreased depending on when a worker decides to draw SS, before or after their full retirement age (FRA). This is how the monthly payment is determined.

Social security was meant to replace part of an individual’s pre-retirement earnings. With the previous calculation in mind, one can seamlessly deduce that workers with lower average monthly earnings have a higher percentage of their pre-retirement earnings replaced via Social Security than those with higher average monthly earnings. For example, a 62 year old worker with average earnings per month of $3,000 could receive a benefit at FRA of $1,479 (49 percent of their pre-retirement earnings) increased by cost of living adjustments. For a worker with $8,000 of average earnings per month, the benefit starting at FRA could be $2,636 (32 percent of their pre-retirement earnings)  plus cost of living adjustments.

For those individuals whose primary job wasn’t covered by Social Security, yet had their benefits calculated as if they were a long term, low-wage worker they would end up receiving a benefit that would cover a higher percentage of their earnings, plus a pension from a job for which they didn’t pay Social Security taxes. This is true for the worker that spent time working for an employer in Canada, earning CPP credits.

As such, the calculation for a worker’s Social Security benefit needs to account for the CPP payment under the Windfall Elimination Provision. The 90% factor on the first $895 of monthly average earnings (when estimating PIA), could be reduced depending on the number of years of U.S. earnings history. The WEP is eliminated once a worker has 30 or more years of substantial earnings in the U.S.

In Summary: Although a worker’s Social Security is potentially reduced by CPP, the good news is that OAS does not factor into the WEP calculation. Whether the WEP impacts your Social Security depends on the uniqueness of one’s individual circumstances. Furthermore, the analysis of your particulars should be carried out by a cross border planner. For more information contact Cardinal Point.

Understanding the Canada-U.S. Totalization Agreement

Many Canadians and Americans face the reality of a career that spans both north and south of the 49th parallel. Amidst an era of globalization, it is common for promotions to propel opportunities across either side of the border. On the other hand, others are faced with the fallout of a company restructuring, triggering the need to accept an offer aligned with new business realities. The net result can lead to some confusion on how an individual’s history of employment can be quantified, relative to the necessary requirements to qualify for each country’s pension plan. Specifically, how are my Canada Pension Plan (CPP), Canadian Old Age Security (OAS) and U.S. Social Security (SS) affected by my work experience in both Canada and the U.S.? What if I don’t meet the minimum eligibility criteria to qualify for these pensions?

Let’s re-examine the eligibility requirements for these three pension plans. CPP and SS are based upon one’s earnings record. The difference is that the SS minimum criteria for eligibility, requires ten years of service as opposed to CPP, which mandates a single payment into the pension in order to become eligible. OAS criteria follows a different qualification path. Rather, it is based upon residency rules vs. work history. In particular, the amount of time one has resided in Canada since the age of 18. A full OAS benefit is paid once the individual has amassed 40 years of Canadian residency since the age of 18. That said, a partial benefit can be paid when the applicant has a minimum of 10 years of Canadian residency (assuming Canadian residence when payments are made) or 20 years of Canadian residency (assuming U.S. residence when payments commence). For more specific details on CPP, OAS and SS, please visit: Cross Border Retirement Income: Canada Pension Plan, Canadian Old Age Security, U.S. Social Security and the Windfall Elimination Provision. The question thus remains, what if I do not meet these eligibility requirements?

This concern marked a call to action and on Aug. 1st, 1984, the birth of the Canada-U.S. Totalization Agreement came to be. There was a subsequent amendment on Oct. 1st, 1997. The manifestation of this Agreement allows an individual to “totalize” their history spent North/South of the border to qualify for U.S. Social Security and/or Canadian Old Age Security. The tallying of cross border residence/work history in tandem, allows the individual to potentially meet their eligibility requirements that would not have otherwise been met if both the U.S and Canadian history stood in isolation from one another. It’s imperative to recognize that although the Agreement tackles the pension (OAS or SS) qualification hurdle, it does not enhance the resulting benefit in question. In other words, your U.S. Social Security benefit will be based upon U.S. work history and Canadian Old Age Security will be centered on the duration of Canadian residence beyond age 18. Let’s look under the hood at a couple of examples.

Mr. Smith, a Canadian citizen and U.S. green card holder, decides to retire in 2019. His career culminates under the following circumstances: thirty years working in Ontario for GM Canada and six years earning gainful employment under GM U.S. in Detroit. Mr. Smith decides to return to his roots north of the border. For simplicity sake, lets assume he has spent forty years in Canada beyond the age of 18 by the time he reaches 65. In this case, he qualifies for a full OAS benefit, a CPP benefit based upon his Canadian earnings record but he does not meet the minimum years of service south of the border to qualify for U.S Social Security. In steps the Canada-U.S. Totalization Agreement allowing Mr. Smith to leverage his CPP credits to make up the 4-year deficit in order to meet SS qualifications. Even though Mr. Smith now qualifies, his SS benefit will be based upon his six-year earnings record vs. the ten-year minimum requirement. Had the “Agreement” not been assembled, Mr. Smith would not have been able to receive any SS benefit.

Let’s turn our attention to how the “Agreement” can play out in a scenario north of the border and continue to call upon Mr. Smith. In this scenario the circumstances are as follows: Mr. Smith is a U.S. citizen and Canadian permanent resident. He has spent all but five years living south of the border and plans to continue Canadian residency north of the border on a go forward basis. As such, Mr. Smith has not met the ten-year minimum residency requirement to receive a partial OAS benefit. In this scenario, the “Agreement” triggers the ability to pull U.S. residence history to bring total residency to the minimum OAS requirement for partial OAS benefits. However, it does not boost the OAS benefit to a higher sum, rather, it simply allows Mr. Smith to qualify to receive an OAS benefit based upon the five years he has resided in Canada since the age of 18. Like the previous example, had the “Agreement” not been made, Mr. Smith would not have been able to breach the qualifications for OAS eligibility.

With this backdrop in mind, how does one apply the “Agreement” to claim their own pension benefits?

The pension plans of Canada and the U.S. communicate with each other quite well. As such, if you live in the U.S. and your desire is to apply for U.S. or Canadian benefits you can visit or write any U.S. Social Security office; or you can apply for Canadian benefits (OAS or CPP) by completing the application form CDN-USA 1 at any U.S. Social Security Office.

If you live in Canada and hope to apply for U.S. benefits simply visit or write to any U.S. Social Security office located near the border.

So where do you find yourself? Are you caught in the middle of this border issue? You are not alone in your quest to comprehend a path forward. With regulations and agreements constantly in flux, its important to examine your options through the lens of current cross border “Agreements”. To find out more, contact Cardinal Point.

How Relevant are Press Releases for Digital Marketing & PR Strategy?

I was appalled to know that how a big chunk of people think Press Release as an old-fashioned strategy. I know many people who got a chance to hit their position under the spotlight by using Press Release. If somebody believes in Press Release being an out of trend thing, then they better get their trend alerts on time. With introduction of modern press release firms like NewswireNEXT press release marketing has become one of the crucial aspects of digital Marketing.

From creating content and going through different levels of editing, revising, reviewing and finally publishing it on an online media platform, Press Release actively takes part in giving it an outline, a stronghold and enough exposure to reach the targeted audience. Press Release also serves as a filter and allows only that material to publish and make its way through the audience that is approved by all stakeholders on board.

In this world, if we give a quick review to all the multimedia channels and other digital platforms, then the content marketers and public relations professionals raise questions over the importance of the press release. They find it better to give their cards to other promoting strategies instead of a press release. Brands and authorities still ponder over the notions that whether they should give up on the press release or hold onto it.

A challenge made possible in history:

In Pennsylvania, back in 1906, a train wreck in Atlantic City claimed 53 lives. Ivy Lee, who managed public communication for his client, needed to make some contacts with media persons before matters got out of hand. At that time, first, ever press release was made by Lee. He announced to all the emerging newspaper’s and reporters to witness and gather facts about the scene. At that time, people only wanted to know what exactly happened and how will they overcome the loss. They didn’t want stories, but facts. This Press Release became the first brick cemented for the company’s promoting strategy. With time, as communication became better through other efficient sources, the importance of press release faded. To make press release successful, it is compulsory to not only publish the content but also help it reach its targeted customers.

Huge investments are being made:

Press Release has a lot of importance in the world of software and media marketing. Unfortunately, some digital marketers have yet to explore this strategy. Last year, purchase of PR was finalized is $841 Million. This shows that how valuable press release is. This is a loud and clear message to all those companies and brands who underestimate this strategic plan. The press release is triumphant in making it stand out in the software world. Attachments, assets, resources are some important things which accompany press release so that its value can shoot.

Press release differs from news stories:

Press release and news stories are two different things. Don’t mix them up. A press release states only facts and figures. They talk about professionalism and expertise concerning brand’s voice. For example, suppose a brand releases a new product in the market. Now, a press release will mention its both positive and negative aspects. They enlighten the readers with every minor detail.

Press Release was, is and will remain one of the strongest strategies to promote content in the digital world.

Because Key Customers Matter the Most

Near the end of the year is kind of hectic time for those working in sales or marketing field. Some are still busy with campaigns and strategies for holiday season hoping it would be good enough to cover the target sales. It is also time to review and do evaluation the performance throughout the year. Don’t forget that there will be new challenges for next year and what you need may be changing the perspective.

For many years, sales and marketing field has been driven by sales leads. Marketing department focuses on the right strategies to create sales leads and the sales department are doing whatever it takes to turn leads into sales. Lead-based approach has become a dogma in business world for as long as we know. But the world is changing and so is the business world. Account-based marketing would be much better approach to meet today’s and future’s business environment. Rather than focusing on individual leads, this new approach focusing to compile all leads from one company in a single account. Kapta brings this approach into a higher level through its Account-Based Customer Success. This is a new platform combining two powerful approaches: Account-based Marketing and Customer Success.

Kapta as the leading enterprise key account management platform is built based on the idea that trusted relationship between account managers and customers is the key of optimum sales. This platform comes with powerful features to combine account-based leads management with customer relationship management. This platform allows account managers and key customers to create joint success plan. Account manager will get real time update to track and review how the commitments are delivered to key customers. In this highly competitive business environment, maintaining key customers’ loyalty is highly crucial and this platform, will help you do the work efficiently.

The Right Ways to Use Social Media to Promote Your Business

It is a common knowledge now that social media is one of the most effective ways to put your business on the map. Unfortunately, since everybody else is currently doing the same thing, you are going to be left behind if you use social media in the wrong way. Thankfully, you don’t have to manage your social media alone since there are many digital marketing services that offer excellent social media packages. They will help you utilize social media in the best ways possible so that you can earn the benefits.

Use a Platform Where Your Targeted Customers Are

People are basically living in the internet nowadays. So, it is no wonder if there are so many social media available nowadays. The good news is, you don’t have to use all of them because it is just going to be a waste of time. Do some researches first to find where your target customer and those are where you should promote your business.

Make Sure the Message Is Heard by the Right Person

Posting in social media is very easy. But if the content is wrong, it won’t be enough to convince the public to choose you over other businesses. Besides, even though you have chosen platforms that are used by your target customers, it is still not a guarantee that they will read what you post.

This is where social media packages will play its role. Every platform will have different ways to reach your target customers and this is the challenging part. You need to make sure that your posts and advertisements will be read by people who are willing to take action about it. This way, you will not waste your money for social media advertisement that doesn’t work. Besides, since it is highly possible that you will need to manage more than one account to reach more customers, don’t be afraid to get help from professionals who really know what they are doing.

Benefits Of Trademark Registration In India

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In the Indian Union, trademark (brand name) rights arise through use as a trademark. There is no legal requirement to register a trademark. However, there are multiple benefits to having a trademark registered with the Indian Trade Marks Registry (TMR).

Trademark registration is perhaps the most important piece of a company’s intellectual property protection program. Without trademark registration, a company relies solely upon common law rights in the geographic area in which it uses the trademark. Most significantly, without registration, a latecomer may register a mark identical or similar to the company’s mark. This registration by another user may block the expansion of the company’s use of its trademark in other areas or may block the company’s later attempt to register its trademark. That’s definitely a hard pill to swallow for the company which could have averted these problems with early registration. If the company had registered it prior to the other user, the TMR would have denied the other’s same or confusingly similar trademark. In addition, the company would always have rights superior to the latecomer, and would not be blocked in its expansion plans.

In addition to the above, trademark registration benefits include:

o Trademark registration provides constructive notice of the registration, and defeats a claim that an infringer did not know that the company’s trademark was registered;

o Trademark registration establishes jurisdiction to file a trademark infringement action at plaintiff’s place of business;

o Trademark registration may be the basis for awarding damages;

o Trademark registration establishes the presumptive right of the trademark owner to use the trademark throughout the country;

o The presumptive right can become incontestable with use of the mark within five years and one month;

o Other companies that conduct a trademark search prior to adopting a trademark would most likely NOT adopt a mark closely the same or similar to the company’s trademark;

o A registration on the Trademarks Register can be the basis for the seizure of counterfeit or infringing merchandise; and

o For those companies that wish to expand internationally, the date of registration may be used as the priority date in other countries, if they are a member of an international treaty, such as the Paris Convention.