Retirement and Active Adult Living
For many, the first thought when envisioning retirement is living in a warm climate; therefore, Illinois easily can be over looked as a favorable state in which to retire due to its bitter winter months. With that said, Chicago still was ranked 74 on the 100 Best Places to Retire for 2012 according to Topretirements.com. Beyond the weather, the area has many elements that can attract seniors, including access to excellent health care, educational facilities, plenty of park space and availability to enjoy numerous arts and leisure activities. That’s not all—economic reasons include supporting a diverse workforce and a current dip in housing prices. All combined, it’s a compelling package for many adults 55 and over.

Thanks to a retiree population in Chicago of around 280,000, the area is able to offer an array of activities, events, services and residential amenities that are tailored specifically to meet the needs of active adults as well as retirees. This is important as studies are finding that today’s over 65 population are healthy and active individuals who may be interested in working, going to school and volunteering as well as enjoying free time—all of which and more is available in the Chicagoland region.

With the advancing age of the Baby Boomer generation transitioning into their retirement years, medical cost and housing options are becoming of increasingly greater importance. The significance of senior populations can be found in the numbers. In 2010, it was estimated by the Federal Interagency Forum on Aging-Related Statistics that 13 percent of the population were 65 and older. The forum projects that by 2030 the percent of those 65 and older will rise to 20 percent. Along with the climb of the amount of seniors is the rise of health care costs. The good news is that most of the current generation that is transitioning into their golden years has enjoyed increased prosperity, more than any previous generation, and there are many resources and programs designed for the success of senior living. It is also important to keep in mind that when it is time for retirement, those happiest are those who planned for it the best. This chapter will help weigh housing options, assist in selecting a community type and inform you about activities and resources.

RETIREMENT LIVING, SENIOR-LIVING COMMUNITIES AND INDEPENDENT-LIVING COMMUNITIES
These are all places for seniors to retire where they can continue to live independently without having to worry about a home or its upkeep. These places provide a safe and comfortable setting as well as an opportunity to make new friends in the same age range who share the same interests.

After making the decision to live in a retirement community, how do you select the right one that meets your needs? First ask your friends or your doctor for recommendations. In addition, consult this relocation guide, the local Yellow Pages or the Internet by searching under “retirement communities” or “active adult communities.”

Living options may be apartments, townhouses or rooms requiring little or no maintenance. Experts suggest that whichever type of housing is preferred, it’s important to see available apartments. If they have don’t have availability or do not have the type of unit requested, find out about getting on the waiting list and determine the length of the expected wait. When visiting and interviewing at retirement communities, shop around. Make several visits at different times.

Services offered can vary depending on the type and cost of the facility. At many, seniors are responsible for their own finances, transportation, meals and health care. Plus, recreational activities usually are offered, maid service may be provided, some meals may be provided in a common room and the facility may offer transportation to physicians or shopping. People interested in this type of facility should be healthy, able to communicate with independent health-care professionals without the help of on-site staff and must desire an active community environment.

It’s important that a community under consideration be close to your services, such as doctor’s offices, It’s important that a community under consideration be close to your services, such as doctors’ offices, hospitals, grocery stores and favorite shopping places. Identify what amenities are important to you, such as an on-site beauty shop, golf-course membership, transportation for doctors appointments, shopping, cultural events, church and social outings. Review the community’s activity calendar to see what it offers and ask the marketing or activity director about programs. Don’t hesitate to ask the residents how long they have lived at the facility and whether they like it and find out from the managing directors how long they have been in operation and who owns them. Inquire about the quality of the food and the staff. These are all very good questions to ask.

Due to the wide array of choices available in Chicagoland, retirement communities are very competitive, which is a plus for consumers because they can shop around to ensure that the right facility matches their lifestyle.

RETIREE TAX EXEMPTIONS

Illinois offers a generous income-tax exclusion for a variety of retirement income, including distributions from public and private pensions, IRAs, 401(k)s and the federally taxed portion of Social Security benefits. There is no inheritance tax in Illinois, but an estate tax applies to properties valued at $2 million or more. When it comes to property taxes for seniors, several exclusive homestead exemptions exist that are tied to age and income including the following:
  • Disabled Persons’ Homestead Exemption—This exemption provides a $2,000 reduction in a property’s equalized assessed value to a qualifying property owned by a person with disabilities. An application must be filed annually for this exemption.
  • Disabled Veterans’ Homestead Exemption—This exemption may be up to $70,000 of the assessed value for certain types of housing owned and used by a disabled veteran or his or her unmarried surviving spouse. The Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs determines the eligibility for this exemption, which must be reestablished annually.
  • Senior Citizens Assessment Freeze Homestead Exemption—This exemption allows seniors who have a total household income of less than $55,000 and meet certain other qualifications to elect to maintain the equalized assessed value (EAV) of their homes at the base year EAV, thereby preventing any increase in that value due to inflation.
  • Senior Citizens Homestead Exemption—This exemption allows a $4,000 reduction in the EAV of the property that a person 65 years of age or older is obligated to pay taxes on, an owned-and-occupied or leased-and-occupied residence.
  • Senior Citizens Real Estate Tax Deferral Program—This exemption allows people age 65 or older, who have a total household income of less than $50,000 and meet certain other qualifications, to defer all or part of their real estate taxes and special assessments.
SOURCE: Kiplinger

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