While you may be thinking about retirement for a long time, with visions of tropical beaches or grand trips overseas, when the date starts to get closer, it’s time for some real analysis and planning, says limaohio.com’s recent article “What to consider when starting retirement.”
Start with a realistic assessment of your healthcare needs. At age 65, most people are eligible for Medicare. There are many different parts of Medicare, identified by letters, that are optional add-ons to expand coverage to serve more like the health insurance you have while working. Medicare is not directly charged to individuals, but the parts in which Medicare participants opt into, do require out of pocket payments.
Next, prepare a budget and cash-flow plan that reflects your current cash-flow situation and compare that to your expected cash-flow situation upon retirement. During retirement, income comes from several sources: part-time work, Social Security, distributions from retirement plans and earnings from investments or returns from investments.
As you get closer to retirement age, you can secure an estimate of your benefits from the Social Security Administration. This can be done by going to the government agency’s website and creating a “my Social Security” account, by calling the local office or sending a letter via mail. Note that the estimates are only estimates. Don’t depend on those being the final numbers.
Social Security benefits are based on the number of years you have worked and the amount of money that was contributed to Social Security over a lifetime. Many people mistakenly think that Social Security is a government-managed retirement system, where there is a relationship between what gets paid and what is distributed. However, Social Security’s process of determining benefits is based on a formula.
Based on your birthdate, Social Security calculates the age at which you can receive the program’s maximum benefit. If you take benefits before that date, then the monthly amount will be smaller over your lifetime. The longer you can delay taking benefits after your Full Retirement Age (FRA), the larger the monthly payment will be.
Retirement accounts, like 401(k)s and IRAs, allow for withdrawals without penalty after age 59 ½. Unless the account is a Roth IRA, any amounts withdrawn will be subject to taxes. At age 70 ½, account owners are required to withdraw a certain amount from IRAs and 401(k)s, known as Required Minimum Distributions (RMDs).
All this information needs to be considered to plan for retirement, especially with the prospect of needing long-term care, including nursing home or in-home care. This usually involves planning to someday become eligible for Medicaid (Medi-Cal in California), if needed.
Whether or not those grand vacations are part of your retirement, knowing what you have and creating a plan for how to use it should result in greater confidence regarding your financial future. Just don’t forget the estate planning component.
When you are preparing for retirement, it’s also a good time to make sure that your estate plan is in place. Think of your estate plan as the framework supporting your financial plan and addressing how you want things handled should you become incapacitated or when you die. An estate plan that has not been reviewed in three or four years may only need a few tweaks, or it may need a complete overhaul. Speak with your estate planning attorney to make sure you’ve covered all of your retirement bases.
Reference: limaohio.com (Aug. 31, 2019) “What to consider when starting retirement.”