Social Security: Is Your Age a Retirement Numbers Game?

In order to enjoy your retirement you should have a good idea of how much money will be needed each year to fund your desired lifestyle. To help ensure that lifestyle, you will need to set aside enough money to supplement known sources of retirement income, such as a company pension and Social Security. Finally, it is important to be aware of how your age can affect your retirement decision-making. Here are some important age milestones to consider:

Age 55.If you take an early retirement, quit, or are otherwise terminated from employment, you can generally withdraw money from 401(k), 403(b), and profit-sharing plans without being subject to a 10% Federal income tax penalty for early withdrawals. As specified in IRS Publication 575, the following apply: you must reach age 55 by December 31 of the year you leave the workforce; money must be distributed to you from your employer’s plan and cannot be transferred to an Individual Retirement Account (IRA); early withdrawals are subject to the plan’s provisions; and only money from your last employer’s plan qualifies (not funds from previous employers). You may take early distributions from a traditional IRA without penalty, provided you receive “substantially equal periodic payments.” Since certain rules govern this provision, be sure to consult a qualified tax professional.

Age 59½. Generally, you can withdraw money from traditional IRAs and qualified retirement plans after the age of 59½ without being subject to the 10% penalty tax, if plan-specific qualifications are met. Ordinary income tax will be due if your contributions were tax deductible. No income tax or penalty will apply to distributions from a Roth IRA, provided you have reached age 59½ and have owned the account for at least five years.

Age 60. Widows and widowers are eligible for Social Security benefits. For the most up-to-date information, visit the Social Security Administration’s website at www.ssa.gov.

Age 62. Some companies may allow retirement at 62 with full pension plan benefits. This is also the earliest age for receiving regular Social Security benefits, but the benefit amount is permanently lower than its potential maximum.

Ages 62–64 (or full retirement age). For those who are working and collecting Social Security benefits while under full retirement age—the age at which an individual is eligible to receive full Social Security benefits—the earnings threshold is $16,920 for 2017. There is a $1 loss (a “give-back”) in benefits for every $2 earned above that amount. In addition, a portion of benefits may be taxed as income (based on a complex formula that includes wages and tax-exempt income).

Age 65. Many company pension plans provide full benefits at this age. However, the age may vary by company plan. Medicare eligibility also generally begins at age 65.

Ages 65–67 (or the year in which full retirement age is attained). Traditionally, full retirement age was 65. However, for those born between 1938 and 1959, full retirement age is rising incrementally, and for those born in 1960 and later, the age for receiving full benefits is 67. The lower earnings threshold amount above still applies for years prior to full retirement age, and a second earnings threshold rule applies for the year in which full retirement age is attained. For those who are working and receiving Social Security benefits, there is a benefit loss of $1 for every $3 over $44,880 in 2017 earned in months prior to attainment. Once full retirement age is attained, the earnings threshold no longer applies, and a portion of benefits may be taxed as income (based on a complex formula that includes wages and tax-exempt income).

Age 70½. The required minimum distributions from a traditional qualified retirement plan must generally begin by April 1st of the calendar year following the year in which you reach age 70½. (Note: Roth IRAs are not subject to the age 70½ mandatory distribution rules.)

As with all tax planning matters, be sure to consult with a qualified tax professional to help ensure your plans are consistent with your goals and objectives.

 

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