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early retirement

How PIA Relates to Your Benefit

How can you determine what your Social Security benefit may be if you’re not filing at your FRA? You have your PIA, but now what?

The Protective Filing Statement

Do you know how to use a protective filing statement to your advantage? It can be useful if you aren’t sure when to file for benefits.

Best and Worst States for Retirement Finances

Where you live in retirement can make a big difference. Learn which are the best and worst states to retire to. You may be surprised!

Can I Retire Early?

Many individuals at some point in their life and career wonder if they can retire early. First, retiring early is relative to the individual. That is, retiring early for one person may mean retiring at age 55. To another, it may mean retiring at age 30. When teaching, I’ll ask my students what the “retirement age” is. Answers range from 65 to 70. Inevitably, I will get asked the question, “How much money do you need to retire?” And the answer is the crux of this article. Whether an individual wants to retire can be based on several factors such as money saved, age, job satisfaction, and health. For example, an individual may never want to “retire” if they love their job, or if they find fulfilment and purpose while at work. For some individuals, the choice to retire isn’t a choice. They must continue to work to cover expenses, […]

Public Safety Employee Retirement Plan Withdrawal at Age 50

There is a special exception to the retirement plan early withdrawal rules for a public safety employee, who may start withdrawals as early as age 50.

Early Withdrawal of an IRA – 72t Exceptions

If you have done much studying about IRAs and 401k plans, you probably know that there are several exceptions in the Internal Revenue Code that allow an early withdrawal from your IRA or 401k plan without the 10% penalty being imposed. The section of the IRC that deals with quite a few of these exceptions is called Section 72t (referred to as 72t for short), and there are several subsections in this piece of the Code. Each subsection, listed below, has specific circumstances that must be met in order to provide exception to the 10% penalty. Clicking on the link for each subsection will provide you with additional details about that exception. §72(t)(2)(A)(i) – age 59½ – this is the standard age allowing for penalty-free withdrawals from your IRA or 401k. In some cases there is an exception allowing for penalty-free withdrawals from a 401k at or after age 55; and […]

Ready, Set, Go! When To Start A Pension Payout?

The question comes up often: I’m ready to retire at age 55, and I can begin collecting my pension right away. Should I? The amount of the pension increases to almost double if I wait to start collecting at age 62, and two-and-a-half times if I wait until age 65. What’s the best way to do this? Obviously, there are a lot of factors that will go into the answer to such a question, so right off, it’s hard to say for sure, but here are the basics of making this decision: These types of pensions are based on the employer’s assumption about your life expectancy. If you live to exactly the expected age, the cost to the employer will be roughly the same no matter which option you choose. You just need to do the math – bigger payments later are made for (expected) fewer years. It goes without […]

Unintended Result From Obamacare?

One of the primary tenets of the Affordable Care Act legislation (Obamacare) is guaranteed healthcare insurance for all Americans.  This insurance is expected to have lower premium rates than individually-purchased healthcare insurance policies – although the jury is still out on exactly what those rates will be.  When the Health Insurance Marketplaces begin operation next month we’ll learn more about how this new health insurance delivery will be priced, compared with employer-provided health insurance or individually-purchased policies. If the rates are dramatically lower than the individually-purchased policy, an unintended result may occur: early retirement for many. (For more on this phenomenon, see “Obamacare could encourage more early retirements from baby boomers”.) Think about it – everyone knows at least one successful self-employed individual, and probably several, whose spouse works in a position with a large local employer (around here it’s likely the state, or a hospital or insurance company) – solely […]

Who Will Be The Biggest Benefactors of Obamacare?

According to data cited in a recent WSJ article (The Health-Care Overhaul: What You Need to Know), there is a specific demographic that should benefit the most from the up-coming institution of the Affordable Care Act’s changes to the healthcare system.  If you’re wondering why this writing seems a bit smug, it’s because I’m one of these projected benefactors: folks between age 50 and 64. Why is this group deemed the most likely to benefit? It has to do with some current realities about our nation’s health and the way that the (current and proposed) health insurance marketplace works.  First of all, folks in this age group who are not covered by an employer plan, or are not covered by Medicaid, must find insurance in the private marketplace. And the reality is that folks who’ve seen half a century of life or more are typically in poorer health than younger […]

Earnings Tests Apply to Spousal and Survivor Social Security Benefits As Well

If you’re receiving Spousal or Survivor Social Security benefits and you’re under Full Retirement Age, you need to know that any earnings that you have can have an impact on the benefits that you’re receiving.  These are the same limits that apply to regular retirement Social Security benefits, and they apply in the same manner. For 2013, if you will not reach Full Retirement Age during this calendar year, the earnings limit is $15,120, or $1,260 per month.  For every $2 over that limit that you earn for the year, your Social Security benefit will be reduced by $1.  For example, if you earned $20,000 for the year, you are over the limit by $4,880, and you’ll lose $2,440 of your benefit. If you will reach Full Retirement Age in 2013, the earnings limit is $40,080, or $3,340 per month – and the treatment is different.  In this case, for […]

How is the Social Security Survivor Benefit Calculated?

This is one of those very complicated and difficult to understand areas of the Social Security universe, but it’s very important to know what amount of benefits a surviving spouse will be eligible for upon the passing of his or her spouse. There are different rules that apply, depending upon whether or not the late spouse was already receiving benefits based on his or her own record, as well as the age of the surviving spouse when he or she begins receiving survivor benefits. We’ll look at the easy one first: when the late or decedent spouse was not already receiving benefits based on his or her own record. When The Decedent Spouse Was Not Receiving Benefits In the case where the late spouse had not already begun to receive benefits based upon his or her own record, there are three factors that you need to take into account:  the […]

Why It Can Be So Important to Delay Social Security Benefits

It seems like every time I write an article about Social Security benefits that includes a recommendation to delay benefits, I get a lot of responses from well-meaning folks who disagree, sometimes vehemently, with the conclusions. There are several points of view that I see in the responses, all believing that you should start taking benefits as soon as you’re eligible: you never know how long you’re going to live; Social Security is going broke, we all know it; IT’S MINE, DADGUMMIT, THEY OWE IT TO ME; and it’s all part of a huge conspiracy; among other reasons too numerous to mention. Believe me, I have no reason to recommend that people do something that isn’t in their best interests.  As a financial planner, my job is to help folks do things that are in their best financial interests all the time.  Sometimes those things that I recommend run counter […]

When to File For Social Security Benefits

Image via Wikipedia All future Social Security recipients face this question at some point:  When should I file for benefits? As you are likely aware, age 62 is the earliest that you can file for benefits.  By filing at this age, you will begin receiving your benefit at a reduced amount – perhaps as much as 30% reduced. Waiting to file until your Full Retirement Age (FRA) will allow you to receive the full benefit amount, without reductions.  You could also wait until age 70 to file for benefits, which would result in an overall increase to your monthly benefit amount, by as much as 32% in some cases.  Granted, you will have foregone several years’ worth of payments if you wait to file at some age later than 62, but on average, it all works out about the same (with a few exceptions). The way that these reductions and […]

Age Adjustments for Social Security

Image via Wikipedia With all the talk about how Social Security is running out of money (or will be), one of the topics that often comes up is the age limits for benefits.  As you’re aware, the Full Retirement Age (FRA) has been adjusted upward from the original age 65, gradually to age 67 for folks who were born in 1960 or later.  This upward adjustment was put into place with the 1983 amendments, ostensibly to reduce impact on the system. With that adjustment in place, and the resulting benefit that the system has received from making that change, you might wonder why some of the other age limits have not been changed.  Specifically, why has the early retirement age remained at 62, and the upper limit (maximum benefit age) has also remained set at 70? I don’t have any definitive information to back this up, but I think there […]