By Betty Berry, Tuesday, December 14, 2010  Q: A year or so ago I attended a festive shopping event at the Senior Concerns Thrift Shop and Boutique in Thousand Oaks. Is a similar event planned for this holiday season?

A: I am glad to hear you enjoyed that special shopping event, but there are no plans to offer it again this year.

Don’t be too disappointed, however, because the shop is still open Mondays through Saturdays and has wonderful merchandise for holiday shoppers. Great bargains are available, and you’ll likely find just the right gift for someone on your holiday list.

The shop is offering two spectacular sales this month. Throughout December, green-tag clothing and Christmas merchandise are 60 percent off, and Saturday, everything in the store will be 60 percent off. Why shop retail when you can find bargains like these?

You can get more for your dollar, support a local charity and help the environment by recycling. That’s three for the price of one — hard to beat.

The shop is in the Under One Roof Building, 80 E. Hillcrest Drive (across from Office Depot). Hours are 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays through Fridays and noon to 4:30 p.m. Saturdays.

Proceeds from the store help support Senior Concerns’ programs that enrich the lives of seniors, their families and caregivers.

Q: Last year the government did not require us to take a distribution from our retirement accounts. Will that be true again this year or is the requirement back in place?

A: Last year, as part of the overall stimulus package, a law was passed that suspended for 2009 the requirement that you take a minimum distribution from your retirement account.

This year, everything returns to normal. You must begin taking distributions at age 70 1/2 or the IRS will impose stiff penalties.

If you will turn 70 1/2 by Dec. 31, you have until April 1 to begin taking your Required Minimum Distribution (RDM) from your retirement account.

This will meet your 2010 distribution requirement. However, once distributions begin you must take them by Dec. 31 each year. That means you will need to take your next RMD by Dec. 31, 2011, regardless of when your 2010 RDM was taken.

RMD rules apply to the traditional IRA, rollover IRA, simple IRA, SEP IRA, 403(b) plan and certain employer-sponsored retirement plans such as 401(k) plans.

Roth IRAs are not subject to distribution requirements until after the IRA owner’s death. If you are not sure, check with the holder of your retirement account to determine what action you need to take and when.

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There are 16 days remaining in the annual open enrollment period for Medicare. If you plan to change your healthcare insurance coverage or Medicare Part D prescription plan, this is the time to do it. Annual open enrollment will run through Dec. 31. The coverage you are enrolled in on Dec. 31 will be the coverage you have for 2011. If you have questions or need assistance, contact the Health Insurance Counseling Advocacy Program at 800-434-0222.

— Betty Berry is a senior advocate for Senior Concerns. The advocates are at the Goebel Senior Adult Center, 1385 E. Janss Road, Thousand Oaks, CA 91362; phone 495-6250 or e-mail (please include your telephone number). You are invited to submit questions on senior issues.

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