(These thoughts are purely the blunt, no nonsense personal opinions of the author about financial fairness and discrimination and are not intended to provide personal or financial advice – financialfairnessforsingles.ca).

Comment from blog author:  this blog post includes two articles regarding the effects that low income can have on young individuals and low income persons.  While it is entirely appropriate to provide government assistance to parents with children, more attention needs to be paid to singles and millennials particularly after they leave home and before marriage.

Shocking statistics show that in one of the richest provinces (Alberta) there were in January 2014, 33,000 Alberta Income Support program (excluding AISH) recipients of all ages.  Alberta Income Support program in January, 2017, had 54,374 recipients and in January, 2018, 57,003 recipients.  Makeup of claimants in 2017 and 2018 include individuals 69%, lone-parent families 24%, couples with children 5%, and couples alone 3%.  Totals do not say how many are turned away and do not include those who on verge of poverty.


UNPREDICTABLE EMPLOYMENT MAY BE BAD FOR BRAIN HEALTH by Lisa Rapaport, October10, 2019 (unpredictable-income)

(Reuters Health) – Young adults who don’t earn the same amount of money from year to year, or who weather substantial pay cuts, do worse on brain health assessments in midlife compared to those with steady income, a recent study suggests.

Researchers collected income data over two decades for 3,287 adults, starting in 1990 when they were 23 to 35 years old. They assessed income volatility based on how much earnings rose or fell from one year to the next, and also tallied how many times participants’ income dropped by at least 25%.

People who experienced greater income volatility and more pay cuts had worse scores for processing speed and executive functioning in cognitive tests in 2010. Brain scans that year also showed reduced connective white matter and worse structural integrity for people who experienced more income volatility and pay cuts.

“Overall, income volatility and unfavorable socioeconomic conditions may increase exposure to several risk factors of poor brain health,” said Adina Zeki Al Hazzouri, a researcher at the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University in New York City.

“Individuals who experience important income fluctuations may be more at risk for cardiovascular risk factors, depression or perceived stress, which are in turn associated with poor cognitive health,” Zeki Al Hazzouri said by email. “In addition, they may have lower access to high-quality healthcare, which may result in worse management of these risk factors, and potentiate their impact on brain health.”

Changes in cognitive test scores and brain scans didn’t appear to differ when researchers only looked at participants with the most education.

Almost half of the participants, 1,780 people, didn’t have any income drops of 25% or more during the study period. People in this group had average annual income of US$39,681.

Another 1,108 people experienced one major income decline during the study period, and this group had average annual income of US$32,253. And 399 individuals with average annual income of US$33,326 experienced two or more substantial income reductions.

Having multiple income drops appeared worse for brain health than having a single large drop during the study period.

The study wasn’t designed to prove whether earnings volatility directly impacts brain health.

However, economic struggles have been associated with unhealthy habits like smoking, drinking and inactivity that could in turn contribute to worse brain health, poor cognitive function and dementia, the study team writes in Neurology.

“It’s well established that lower socioeconomic status is linked with poorer health,” said Dr. Joel Salinas, an associate professor of neurology at Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston who wrote an editorial accompanying the study.

“Factors like income volatility are especially significant when a recession looms,” Salinas said by email. “Times of individual and societal instability can have tremendous and enduring consequences – far beyond the economic, extending into the long term potential for entire communities to thrive.  SOURCE: https://bit.ly/35pNssA and https://bit.ly/2IERiV4 Neurology, online October 2, 2019.

FINANCIAL AND MENTAL HEALTH PRESSURES MOUNT ON STUDENTS by Joel Schlesinger (copied from written format, unable to find link)

It is supposed to be a time of learning, leading to a brighter future: a good career that contributes to society’s betterment while enriching their own lives.

Yet many Alberta post-secondary students are struggling to keep up with the costs of education and living.

And it’s affecting their mental health.

That’s the key message from student leaders at three of the largest post-secondary institutions in the province who were asked what are the biggest challenges facing students today.

And all indicated rising costs and mental health top the list.

“Not every student faces the same challenges, but there are very common threads that tie together their experience,” says Jessica Revington, president of the University of Calgary Students’ Union.

“Overall, I would say the costs of education and a lack of support are two big buckets many challenges fall into.”

Indeed, the difficulty paying for rising tuition, managing debt-loads and the growing cost of living are wearing on students, who are increasingly seeking support.

“Right now  there are challenges in connecting students to these supports,” Revington says.  “So while we may be talking about stress, we’re not providing supports for students to help them manage it in healthy ways.”

These challenges are echoed by the University of Alberta Students’ Union president Akanksha Bhatnagar.

“Research has shown a lot of the alarming rates of depression, anxiety and loneliness,” she says.

Another concern is sexual violence on campus, she adds.  “It’s hard to paint a completely picture of sexual violence, but we know that incidence of on-campus sexual violence is a top concern for students.”

The same holds true with other troubling issues including suicide, food bank use and even homelessness.

“At  the University of Alberta, student homelessness and food insecurity disproportionately impacts certain demographics on campuses such as LGBTQ2S+ and international students,” she says.

“Our campus food bank has seen a huge increase in clients, and we all believe our students shouldn’t have to worry about where their next meal is going to come from, or having a safe place to go home to at night.”

It’s not just university students who are under stress.  Those attending polytechnic and colleges in the province are also experiencing mental health challenges.

“Post-secondary education is a huge change in the lives for lots of students,” says Ryan Morstad, president of the SAIT Students’ Association.  “You may go to school in a new city; you have less structure with your classes; you’re meeting new friends, and you have to manage yourself and your budget.”

All  those can be in and of themselves stressful.  Then add in the fact that incidence of onset of mental illness is highest among 18- to 25-year olds,and it’s  easy to see why students might struggle without adequate support, he says.

Of course, managing costs of education are fuel to this fire.

“It’s just a whole bunch of things that are hitting you at the same time,” Morstad adds.

That just doesn’t include tuition.  It’s textbook costs, too – a top concern for SAIT students.  Indeed, American data suggest textbook costs increased by more than 800 per cent between 1978 and 2013.

“We find that students – if they buy all the textbooks for their courses – spend about $1,000 per semester”

What’s more, a recent study called the Hungry for Knowledge written by Meal Exchange, a national charity addressing food insecurity, found 50 per cent of surveyed students reported going without buying healthy food to pay for textbooks among other expenses.

“This is not something people like to talk about,”: Bhatnagar says, adding that the struggle students face isn’t an isolated problem.  “Students are having the same issues no matter what university or college they attend.”

(This blog is of a general nature about financial discrimination of individuals/singles.  It is not intended to provide personal or financial advice).





These thoughts are purely the blunt, no nonsense personal opinions of the author and are not intended to be used as personal or financial advice.

(On searching internet a few days ago this article was found – ‘Four ways single seniors lose out’ by Ted Rechtshaffen, Financial Post October 13, 2012. While the intentions of the article are great, the assumptions and categorization of singles is false.)

In his October 13, 2012 article Ted Rechtshaffen (four-ways-single-seniors-lose-out) talks about four ways that single seniors financially lose out. Portions of the article are outlined in part here (full article is available online):

Rechtshaffen states:

“Being part of a couple in old age has so many tax advantages that losing a spouse through divorce or death can be very costly. Given the fact that so many more single seniors are female, this unfairness is almost an added tax on women. Becoming single in old age could cost you tens of thousands of dollars through no fault of your own. The current tax and pension system in Canada is significantly tilted to benefit couples over singles once you are age 65 or more….

Here are four ways that single seniors lose out:

1. There is no one to split income with. Since the rules changed to allow for income splitting of almost all income for those aged 65 or older, it has meaningfully lowered tax rates for some…If you are single, you are stuck with the higher tax bill.

2. CPP (Canadian Pension Plan) haircut… If one passes away, the government doesn’t pay out more than the maximum for CPP to the surviving spouse. They will top up someone’s CPP if it is below the maximum, but in this case, they simply lose out almost $12,000 a year.

3. RSP/RIF (Retirement Savings Plan/Retirement Income Fund) gets folded into one account. This becomes important as you get older and a larger amount of money is withdrawn by a single person each year — and taxed on income…her tax bill will be much larger… than the combined tax bill the year before, even though they have essentially the same assets, and roughly the same income is withdrawn.

4. Old Age Security (OAS). The married couple with $50,000 of income each, both qualify for full Old Age Security —… If the husband passes away, you lose his OAS, about $6,500. On top of that, in the example in #3, the wife now has a minimum RIF income…and combined with CPP and any other income, she is now getting OAS clawed back.

The clawback starts at $69,562, and the OAS declines by 15¢ for every $1 of income beyond $69,562. If we assume that the widow now has an income of $80,000, her OAS will be cut to $414.50 a month or another $1,500 annual hit simply because she is now single. In total, almost $8,000 of Old Age Security has now disappeared. As you can see, a couple’s net after-tax income can drop as much as $25,000 after one becomes single.

On the other side, there is no question that expenses will decline being one person instead of two, but the expenses don’t drop in half. We usually see a decline of about 15% to 30%, because items like housing and utilities usually don’t change much, and many other expenses only see small declines.

In one analysis our company did comparing the ultimate estate size of a couple who both pass away at age 90, as compared to one where one of them passes away at age 70 and the other lives to 90, the estate size was over $500,000 larger when both lived to age 90 – even with higher expenses.

So the question becomes, what can you do about this?

I have three suggestions:

1. Write a letter to your MP along with this article, and demand that the tax system be made more fair for single seniors. You may also want to send a letter to Status of Women Minister…as this issue clearly affects women more than men.

2. Look at having permanent life insurance on both members of a couple to compensate for the gaps. Many people have life insurance that they drop after a certain age. The life insurance option certainly isn’t a necessity, but can be a solution that provides a better return on investment than many alternatives and covers off this gap well. If you have sufficient wealth that you will be leaving a meaningful estate anyway, this usually will grow the overall estate value as compared to not having the insurance — and not hurt your standard of living in any way.

3. Consider a common law relationship for tax purposes. I am only half joking. If two single seniors get together and write a pre-nuptial agreement to protect assets in the case of a separation or death, you can both benefit from the tax savings.

Ultimately, the status quo is simply unfair to single seniors, and that needs to change.”

Ted Rechtshaffen is president and wealth advisor at TriDelta Financial, a boutique wealth management and planning firm. www.tridelta.ca

The first thing that is so wrong with this article is the definition of single versus married/partnered in marital status. The senior persons mentioned in this article are not single. According to Statistics Canada definitions, they are widowed or divorced/separated (after age 65). Persons who are true and ever singles have none of the financial benefits/losses mentioned in this article. And if persons are divorced/separated, especially at an early stage of their marriage, they also do not have many of the benefits/losses mentioned here. (The earlier the divorce/separation in life, the greater is the loss of benefits that married/coupled persons enjoy).

  1. Being part of a couple in old age has so many tax advantages…How true!
  2. The current tax and pension system in Canada is significantly tilted to benefit couples over singles once you are age 65 or more….This statement is not completely true. The system is even more unfair for singles who are true (‘ever’) singles, not widows. Singles who are true singles have been excluded from the discussion.
  3. Benefits – Article correctly states that pension splitting, CPP, RSP/RIF and OAS are benefits to married people because the couple receives these benefits times two and is able to pension split, but widowed persons have less of these benefits. To this, true singles and early divorced/separated persons ask the question, “so what”? If widowed persons are now so called ‘single’ they should have to live same standard of living, not better than, true singles and early divorced/separated persons.
  4. Losses – Losses are correctly stated, however, true (‘ever’) singles and early divorced/separated persons have a hard time understanding why this is a hardship. Widowers are now ‘single’ so why can’t they live the same lifestyle as true singles and early divorced/separated persons?
  5. Higher tax bill – Why is this a problem? Widowed persons are now on more equal playing field to true single and early divorced/separated persons.
  6. Clawback – Again why is this a problem? True singles and early divorced/separated persons enjoy none of these benefits. Also, many true (ever) singles and early divorced/separated Canadian persons do not have the luxury of a $70,000 income.

Estate size $500,000 less
Just more proof that married/coupled persons want it all and want more, more and more from the time of marriage until the death of their spouse/partner and even after the death of their spouse/partner.  In article ‘The Added Price of Single Life?’ by Bella Depaulo (belladepaulo) talks about a A British study that showed  true singles lose equivalent of $380,000 USA over a lifetime to married persons, so what is the problem with losing $500,000? Another good article is ‘The high price of being single in America’ theatlantic.com.

The article then goes on to make these enlightening points:

“There is no question that expenses will decline being one person instead of two, but the expenses don’t drop in half. We usually see a decline of about 15% to 30%, because items like housing and utilities usually don’t change much, and many other expenses only see small declines“.

It would be exceedingly wonderful if government, businesses, society and families (married/partnered) would recognize this fact for true singles and early divorced/separated persons instead of telling them “it must be their lifestyle” that is making them poor. Fifteen to 30 percent decline? Wow, singles would love these percentages to also be used for them especially since 60 to 70% income of married or partnered persons is often used (i.e. MoneySense articles). If only true singles and early divorced persons could say they should have the same benefits as widowed persons, that is, 70 to 85% income of married or partnered persons.

Unfair to single seniors?  The  most unfairness is to true singles and divorced/separated persons, not widows.

Regarding the suggestions that are made:

  1. “Write your MP and demand that tax system be made more fair for single seniors”. The article refers only to married/coupled and divorced/separated seniors after the age of 65. It dis criminates by exclusion against true singles and early divorced/separated persons.
  • “Look at having permanent life insurance on both members of a couple to compensate for the gaps”. This is a great idea. The author of this blog has long thought this would be a solution to providing benefits to survivors once spouses have died and they would actually be paying for those benefits through premiums. At the present time, survivors are getting marital manna benefits, but then are asking for more as this article suggests. They are also getting survivors benefits from pension plans and paying very little for these benefits. An example is a pension plan where only $100 is deducted each month from living spouse for pension benefits in the thousand dollar range. Deduction of $100 per month or $1200 per year does not pay for survivor pension that is two-thirds of full pension of the spouse. Life insurance plans at present time do not extend to 90 years of age without excessive premiums. To stop all the marital manna benefits that survivors get, life insurance plans need to be extended to 90 years of age, and spouses need to pay premiums for entire life. Another critical thinking, outside the box idea is to eliminate marital manna benefits and make permanent term life insurance plans compulsory, just like house and car insurance, so that married/coupled persons would actually pay for the benefits they receive. This methodology would allow true singles and early divorced/separated persons to be on more level financial playing field to married/coupled persons since generally true singles do not need life insurance. A longer term for collecting premiums should help to offset the costs of the premiums that will be paid out. Permanent life insurance would ease burden that married/partnered benefits place on government programs. There also would then be more monies to bring government programs for true singles and early divorced/separated persons to have same standard of living as married/coupled and widowed persons.
  • Consider a common law relationship for tax purposes. He says he is only half kidding. Really? According to Canada Revenue Agency rules this is not legal. Ever singles and divorced/separated persons cannot just shack up with someone for tax purposes. More true singles and early divorced/separated persons would be doing this if they could.

Lessons learned

  1. Writers who wish to write about the financial affairs of singles should use correct definitions for singles. The persons in this article were not true singles. In other words, correctly identify who your audience is.
  2. Writers of financial institutions who wish to write about the financial affair of singles should include all singles in their discussions. To do anything less is discriminatory and disrespectful to singles who truly are single.
  3. By all means vote and contact your Members of Parliament, but insist that true singles and early divorced/separated persons (senior and otherwise) be included in financial discussions and formulas equal to and at the same level as widows and middle class families. (Seventy to 85% income of married/coupled persons would be wonderful).

The blog posted here is of a general nature about financial discrimination of individuals/singles. It is not intended to provide personal or financial advice.

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