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April 26, 2013

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PAGE 4B HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, APRIL 26, 2013 Don't l00,t these myths rain on your retirement party by the National Academy of Social Insurance, for a 65-year-old married couple, there's a 48 percent chance that one spouse will live to age 90. To help stretch your money, consider incorporat- ing immediate and deferred annuities into your plan- ning. Created to provide guaranteed, lifelong income in retirement, they can also offer guaranteed growth while you're saving for it, Gipson explains. A long retirement extends your exposure to one of financial planning's most subtle enemies: inflation. As you invest, it's important to seek a mix of assets that guard against the declining value of the dollar and that is in line with your risk tolerance and goals. Myth 2: You should get out of stocks when you retire (BPT)--Do you dream of the day you can retire, but aren't sure how to get there? You're not alone. Many people find it easier to avoid reality when it comes to planning for retirement. "That can lead to big mistakes in their retire- ment income planning," says Zachary Gipson, vice president of retiremant and wealth planning at USAA. Here's a look. at five common myths that could derail your expectations for inco .me when you retire. Myth 1: You won't be around long enough to go through your money The reality: Life expectan- cies are at record highs in the United States, so it's im- portant to acknowledge that you or a family member may spend as many years in re- tirement as you did working. According to a 2010 report The reality: Stocks can help provide the long-term growth you need to make your assets last longer since your retirement could span several decades. You've probably heard you should reduce your investment risk as you age. But with traditional pensions being replaced by 401(k) plans, you're wholly responsible for making as- set allocation decisions. As Gipson puts it, "Everyone now has to be a pension fund manager with their own money, and most people just aren't equipped to do that." Gipson agrees with the notion of dampening port- folio risk at retirement, but that doesn't mean getting rid of stocks entirely. Rather, regularly reviewing, and if necessary, rebalancing your portfolio based on your risk tolerance can lock in gains from strong-performing asset classes and allow you to buy those that underper- form at cheaper prices. Myth 3: You can just keep working The reality: Counting on being able to work as long as you want is dangerous, Gipson says. Employers are feeling pressure to cut costs, and with high unemploy- ment, finding work is always a challenge. A disability also could force you to stop work- ing prematurely. Many people think they can simply work longer if they don't have enough money to retire. According to a recent survey by the Employee Benefit Research Institute, 74percent of work- ers plan to work at least part time during their retire- ment years, and Schaffer notes working in retirement has become a necessity for many. Good planning doesn't rely on good fortune. Rather, your plan should both keep you from having to work the rest of your life and deal with the conseqtiences of unexpected surprises that prevent you from earning a paycheck. Myth 4: An inheritance will bail you out The reality: You may be hoping for an inheritance as a potential retirement boost. But hope is not a strategy, and counting on an inheritance can create big problems if it doesn't come through. Many people who expect to inherit money never do so, Gipson says. And even for those who do inherit money, it's often too little or comes too late to make a difference in their retire- ment planning, he adds. The safer thing to do is to treat an inheritance as an unexpected bonus rather than relying on it. Myth 5: Your taxes will be lower in retirement. The reality: Big govern- ment deficits make future tax increases much more likely. Also, taking money out of retirement accounts, such as traditional IRAs and 401(k)s, creates taxable in- come that can push you into higher tax brackets. One suggestion Gipson offers is to consider con- verting part of your eligible retirement assets to a Roth IRA. By doing so, you'll pay taxes now, but you'll create a tax-free pool of money to tap in retirement. Diversi- fying with both Roth and traditional IRAs is a possible way to handle future tax uncertainty. Activist overcomes cerebral palsy to find sense of belonging By Sandee Brawarsky New York Jewish Week As a child, Harilyn Rousso faced a lot of staring and pointing and stupid questions. Because of her cerebral palsy, she walked, moved, held her body and talked in different ways than most people. Yet throughout her early life, she denied that she was disabled and never spoke about it. Perhaps, she says now, she just didn't have the words. At 66, she's now an activ- ist on behalf of people with disabilities, and she's also a writer, painter, educator, psy- chotherapist and social worker who embraces her own disabil- ity. She has come to see being disabled as a positive source of identity and community. One of many events that trig- gered her shift in attitude was discrimination at work: After training at a psychotherapy institute for about a year in the late 1970s, she was asked to leave because some of the staff thought that a person with her disability couldn't be a good therapist. Furious, she began to understand that many of the problems she faced were not caused by the disability, but rather were about prejudice. As she writes in her extraor- dinary memoir, "Don't Call Me Inspirational: A Disabled Feminist Talks Back" (Temple University Press), she began exploring her disability iden- tityjustas the disability move- ment was gaining strength, influenced by the civil rights and women's movements. Memoirs succeed when they provide readers with a gut feel- ing of what the author's life is like, and Rousso indeed opens the door to her world. The book is structured as a series of short pieces rather than a continuous narrative; in her words, it is more of a collage than a self-portrait. She writes with intelligence, passion, humor and spunk. Rousso goes back to the story of her birth, told over and over again in her youth: How she was in a hurry to be born, and how the nurses tried to keep her mother from giving birth before the doctor arrived. At age 3, Rousso was diagnosed with cereb'ai palsy, due to a lack ofoxygenat birth. Her unusual first name was made up to honor her maternal grandfather Harry. Her moth- er Evelyn was Ashkenazi from the Lower East Side, her father David was Sephardic, born in Monastir in what is now Mace- donia. When her parents first met, each family "was totally convinced that the other was not really Jewish" and opposed the marriage. So theyoung couple got married in secret and had a celebratory wedding At tEf#--,Y ASTHMA A55OC ATE, ()F CENIRAt ft(;)|It)A Treatfng patients In Central Florida tot over 25 Years Treating Allergic Diseases of the Ears, Nose & Throat Our physicians ate Board Certled Allergy, Asthma & immunology & Board Certified Pediatrics Winter Park 407-678-4040 Altamonte Springs 407-331-6244 later on. Her mother learned to cook Sephardic dishes and soon became the leader of the women in traditional dance at family celebrations. With her large personality she took care of many in the extended clan, but she was always con- sidered other, known as "the Yiddisha." Rousso grew up in Queens and then Hewlett Bay Park, Long Island, where her family moved in order to be close to the Sephardic Temple. Her fa- ther served as president of the congregation; her motherwas Sisterhood president. David Rousso, who came to the U.S. as a 13-year-old, ultimately achieved much success in the garment industry. He taught Harilyn fo ride a bicycle even though he never learned himself. She hadn't intended to write a memoir. After her mother's death, she found that she wanted to remember Evelyn as the feistywomanwho continu- ally pushed open doors of op- portunity for her, rather than" the angry woman she became in the illness of old age. Rousso signed up for a writing class to explore her own feelings, and her mother began to emerge. Her classmates loved Evelyn and wanted to hear more, and she found the process healing. She then realized that writing was a good method to explore feelings about her- self and her own life As she explains, "I had done work on issues of being a disabled woman through activism, I began organizations. But there were issues about myself that I hadn't grappled with, like how I felt about my body, why I'm surprised when I look in the mirror; I had a level of discomfort about myself that was inconsistent with my ac- tivist beliefs and philosophy." So she kept writing, not clear where it was going. The best kind of writing, she says, is writing for discovery. Her mother pushed her from a young age to be inde- pendent, even while advocat- ing for her every need. She insisted that her daughter attend an out-of-town college and also that she learn to drive. When their family doc- tor counseled against driving lessons, noting that he'd be afraid to be on the road with Harilyn, her mother sug- gested that he take the train. Now when Harilyn drives, as she writes, ',My mother is always there, calming me in stalled traffic, beckoning me to undertake outrageous adventures, and warning me against' the temptation to be a passenger in my life." When she got to Brandeis University in the 1960s, she left the "hideous shoes, black, with Steven Rosenberg, M.D. Carlos M. Jacinto, M.D. Harleen Anderson, M.D. Orlando 407-370-3705 Viera 407-678-4040 laces, high on the ankle like my grandmother wore in the old country" meant to support her "crooked feet" atthe back of her closet and wore san- dals instead. The experience was at first lonely and chal- lenging, but she made some close friends and eventually felt as though she belonged. She studied economics and excelled, and nurtured her desire to help others. After graduating, she never moved back home again. Rousso has lived in the same Greenwich Village walk- up apartment for 36 years, on a leafy street lined with centuries-old townhouses. When I arrive at her building for an intervie w , the buzzer on the front door is broker, so she climbs down the four flights of steps to letme in. Upstairs, her desk looks out on a great urban scene of stately buildings and sky. A ya'hrtzeit candle burns in memory 9f her father. The previous Shabbat, she had been back to the Sephardic Temple to say Kaddish. Several of her autobio- graphical paintings are dis- played, includinl a portrait of her distinguished-looking father and other canvases relating to disability. Her colors are strong; one features a younger version of herself behind bars, recalling a doc- tor who told her parents that she had a hole in her head and should be institutionalized. An angular self-portrait that hints at the author's beauty is featured on the book jacket. She took up painting in her 40s when, she says, she had a desire to do something non- verbal. "Words are always very important, but I wanted to do " something more tactile, to get out of my head." She says that painting has been awonderful way to discover herself. In the memoir, she writes with candor of being part of a mixed couple, meaning that her longtime boyfriend is not disabled. She also writes of her pioneering days creating and running the Networking Project for Disabled Women and Girls, when she trav- eled extensively around the country. She doesn't avoid confrontation when she writes of some prevailing attitudes. Still, barely a day goes by when she doesn't face stares and comments or people who are "a little bit too nice and patronizing," although it happens much less frequently that it did in her early years. "I never question why I have a disability,, she says. "I have never seen it as a negative part of my life; it's just part of who I am. I don't blame God. I never wondered, Why me? It's just what it is. It has given me awareness and opened me in ways I would not have been otherwise," she says. She sees her imperfect body movements as signs of life, not limits. "My message i s that people with disabilities can have full and satisfying lives," not by overcoming disability but by incorporating it to live in ways that are meaningful." She adds, "The experience of disability is an important teacher. It doesn't mean that there aren't limitations. You need to figure out adaptive strategies." She insists that she's not inspirational. She w'rites, "My feet are too large for starters--size 12, huge for a woman," and goes on to talk about how ordinary she is, worrying about the rent, eat- ing too mqch chocolate and dreaming of the day when shoe stores carry her size. When people call her an inspiration, she is irked. "It's not because they know me and see me so that I can inspire them," she says. "It's more that the image of disability is so negative that anyone who gets out of the house and does anything is seen as inspira- tional. I wouldn't mind being called inspirational when it's grounded in something real." Sandee Brawarsky is the book critic at The New York Jewish Week, from which this article was reprinted by permission.