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early retirement

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.

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.

When Rolling Over a 401(k) to an IRA Isn’t a No-Brainer

Oftentimes when folks are considering leaving employment, the decision to rollover 401(k) to an IRA is a no-brainer.  After all, why would you leave your retirement funds at the mercy of the constricted, expensive investment choices and other restrictions of your old company’s 401(k) administrator, when you can be free to invest in any (well, most any) investment you choose, keeping costs down, and completely within your own control in an IRA? Well, for some folks this decision isn’t the straightforward choice that it seems to be, for the very important reason of access to the funds before reaching age 59½ (see this article for more info about The Post-55 Exception to the 10% Penalty for Withdrawals from 401(k)).  Since only within a 401(k) (or other employer-sponsored plans) can you take advantage of this early withdrawal exception, it might be in your best interests to think about your rollover choice […]

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 […]

Exceptions to the 10% Early Withdrawal Penalty from IRAs and 401(k)s

When you take money out of your IRA or 401(k) plan (or other qualified retirement plan, such as a 403(b) plan), if you’re under age 59½ in most cases your withdrawal will be subject to a penalty of 10%, in addition to any taxes owed on the distribution.  There are many exceptions to this rule though, and the exceptions are not the same for all types of plans.  IRAs have one set of rules, and 401(k)s have another set of rules. The exceptions are always related to the purpose for which the money was withdrawn.  The exact same dollars withdrawn do not have to be used for the excepted purpose, just that the excepted expense was incurred. IRA Exceptions It is important to know that all distributions from your traditional IRA are subject to ordinary income tax, but some distributions are not subject to the early withdrawal penalty.  The list […]

How Financial Advisers Get Paid

  As you begin your search for a financial professional it’s going to be important to know how the particular professional you choose will get paid. It will also be important to ask questions not only in regards to their compensation, but who actually pays the adviser.  There are generally three ways in which financial advisers and planners get paid. Commission:  An adviser that’s paid on commission generally gets paid based on the underlying product they sell. Commission rates vary depending on the product sold – anywhere from 5% to 50%. Term Life insurance for example, will have roughly a 40% commission rate on the annual premium for the first year. Whole Life insurance is generally 50% the first year. The difference being Term Life may have an annual premium of $1,000 where Whole Life may have an annual premium of $5,000. It can be difficult to be objective when an adviser can make $2,500 versus $400 […]

What is Meant by Half Years of Age?

If you’ve paid much attention to the rules around retirement plans (IRAs, 401(k)s, and others), you’ve probably noticed that there are a couple of rules that refer to ages that include “½”.  So what does this mean?? Well, quite literally, this means 6 months after you reach a certain age.  The two primary ages with “½” included are 59½ and 70½.  So, to be age 59½, means that you reached your 59th birthday six months prior to that date.  Likewise, to be age 70½ means that you reached age 70 six months prior to that date. These two ages are for different purposes and are (naturally) treated differently. Age 59½ The rule using age 59½ is for one of the exceptions to the penalty for early withdrawals from your IRA or 401(k) plan: once you’ve reached that age (and not before that age) you can take withdrawals from your IRA […]

Facts About the 72t Early Distribution

Image by wallygrom via Flickr In case you don’t know what a 72t distribution is, this is shorthand for the Internal Revenue Code Section 72 part t, and the most popular provision of this code section is known as a Series of Substantially Equal  Periodic Payments – SOSEPP for short. Enough about the code section already.  What is this thing?  A SOSEPP is a method by which you can access your IRA funds prior to age 59½.  In order to take advantage of this rule, you determine the amount of the annual distribution from your IRA (this is done in a prescribed manner, more on this in a bit) and then begin taking the distributions.  Once you start the SOSEPP, you have to keep it going for the longer of five years or until you reach age 59½. Methods of Distribution There are three ways that you can determine the […]

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 […]

The Post-55 Exception to the 10% Penalty for Withdrawals from 401(k)

Image via Wikipedia Most of the time, when taking a distribution from a 401(k) or other Qualified Retirement Plan (QRP) prior to age 59½, there generally is a 10% penalty that applies.  That is, unless one of the exceptions applies – hardship primarily, although there are others. If you happen to be over age 55 when you leave employment, there is another exception that applies.  Any distribution that you take from the QRP, as long as you were at least 55 years of age when you left employment, will not be subjected to the 10% penalty, only ordinary income tax. This provision only applies to QRPs, not to IRAs.  So if you’re leaving employment at or after age 55 but before reaching 59½, it can be in your best interest to not rollover your QRP to an IRA, at least until after you reach 59½.  Even if you don’t need […]

How PIA Relates to Your Benefit

Image by petit1ze via Flickr If you’ve been looking into your Social Security projected benefits for long, you’ve probably run across the term Primary Insurance Amount, or PIA.  Click on the link to see how the PIA is calculated if you need more background information on the PIA. What’s important to know is that the PIA is essentially the amount of your retirement benefit if you file for it exactly on your Full Retirement Age (FRA) month.  But hardly anyone files for retirement benefits in exactly the month that you reach FRA.  If you file for your retirement benefit before or after FRA, even by a month, there is a difference between your PIA what your benefit will be. Before FRA If you file for benefits before the month when you reach FRA, there are two factors that apply to your benefit, reducing it from the PIA amount.  The reason […]