Social Security benefits provide the foundation that most Americans will rely on in retirement, and decisions related to the claiming of benefits can have a profound impact on retirement income and overall quality of life. Despite the heavy reliance on Social Security- it provides over 90% of the retirement income for one in three recipients-less than 5% of seniors avail themselves to strategies designed to maximize their benefits. Continue reading
Young investors are often told to embrace risk in their portfolios. The ups and downs of the markets are an ally in the pursuit of long-term growth, and losses only matter when they’re realized. Rarely is this common and often correct advice applied to investors that are nearing retirement. But indeed it should. Not because sixty is the new forty, but because investment allocation decisions should be based on when the invested funds will be needed, not on how old you happen to be. Continue reading
Retirement planning involves a delicate balance between adequately planning for a long retirement and maximizing the enjoyment of the money you’ve worked hard to accumulate. In most cases, a retirement that lasts 35 years will require far more financial resources than will one that lasts 20 or 25 years. What is more, the final years of retirement may be the most expensive, as costs associated with chronic or end-of- life care come due. Advances in medical technology have extended life expectancy for many, but certainly not all, demographics. Longevity is a critical consideration of retirement planning, but so too is recognizing that living to an advanced age demands more retirement savings or a lower lifetime income, and whether this is justified based on your current health, lifestyle and family history. Continue reading
The Roth IRA has become a popular planning tool since it was established by the Taxpayer Relief Act of 1997. Originally envisioned as a way for Americans of more modest means to efficiently transfer wealth to the next generation, the Roth IRA offers a number of potential advantages over a Traditional IRA that are particularly attractive to those that are more affluent. While there are many variables to consider when determining which type of IRA is best suited to an individual’s needs, the removal of income limits on Roth IRA conversions has made this tool available to wealthier individuals that would otherwise not qualify to make a Roth IRA contribution because of income-based restrictions. Continue reading
Ask a financial planner whether to save for retirement using a Traditional IRA or a Roth IRA and you may receive an unsatisfying answer: it depends. While the Roth IRA is a much-loved planning tool, whether it’s the best option for you will depend on several factors, but math is not one of them. Continue reading
The end of the year is quickly approaching and it goes without saying that most of us are starved for time. December may be a hectic month, but it is also a great time to get your financial house in order before the New Year. Here are some quick and easy year-end financial fixes that will help you start 2017 off right.
Retirement planning is a topic that is often addressed in a strictly numerical context. A certain amount of assets must be accumulated and these assets are then turned into income that, hopefully, will last through the remainder of your lifetime. Sound familiar? While this can be a useful framework for conceptual purposes, it fails to address many of the non-financial intricacies, human emotions and behaviors that can have a huge impact on retirement readiness.
In our most recent blog post, we discussed the import role that Social Security benefits play in the retirement income plan of most Americans, and provided a framework for understanding the various types of benefits. While sometimes dismissed as inconsequential, Social Security benefits provide a critical source of guaranteed income for most retirees. To wit, Social Security benefits comprise over fifty percent of the retirement income for two-thirds of current retirees and, critically, allow many seniors to live independently. In this blog post, we review how Social Security benefits are taxed and provide guidance on how and when to claim benefits. We encourage readers to review our previous blog post, A Primer on Social Security Benefits, as it provides important information that will aid in your understanding of the strategies outlined below. You can find that blog entry by clicking here.
To begin, an understanding of Social Security retirement benefits requires reviewing a few common terms that are key to making informed claiming decisions.
Social Security benefits represent an important, but often overlooked, component of retirement income planning. As a source of guaranteed income that cannot be liquidated, it is not often thought of as an asset. In fact, it is the single largest financial asset for many retirees, providing benefits for approximately nine in ten individuals age sixty-five and older and covering ninety-six percent of working-age adults.
Aging gracefully is a nearly universal goal. Continuing to enjoy life, having a low risk of disease or disability, and maintaining a high level of physical activity and mental acuity are the hallmarks of successful aging. The process of aging, however, impacts people differently, and leaves a significant portion of older adults vulnerable to deteriorating physical or mental health, rendering some unable to continue to manage their personal and financial affairs. In some unfortunate cases, this can lead to elder abuse. While unpleasant to contemplate, one-third of those age sixty five or older suffer some degree of frailty and these risks increase with age. The good news is that many of the risks associated with aging can be addressed with good planning.