Congratulations you are closing in on your target retirement date! While the bulk of your retirement prep work and heavy lifting should be completed by the time you’re still a couple of years from retirement, there’s still a few boxes you’ll want to check off before finally saying adios to the workforce. Let’s go through them.
1. Social Security Decision
You should decide when to collect Social Security benefits. The earliest age is 62. Unless you’re retiring early and need the benefits to help cover expenses like health insurance, it’s advantageous to wait. At 62, your benefits would be reduced by 25% or more. You won’t collect 100% of your benefits until you’re 66 or 67, depending on what year you were born. When you wait to collect, keep in mind that benefits increase by 8 percent/per year up until you’re age 70.
2. Get Your Finances Simplified
Do you have multiple brokerage accounts, savings accounts, checking accounts, 401(k)s, IRAs, and other retirement savings accounts? Perhaps, you’ve lost track of an account?
First, simplifying and consolidating your various small financial accounts into a larger one will make it easier for your heirs to step into control if you had a medical emergency, needed long-term care, or passed away.
Second, you can reduce paperwork, possibly save some cash, and better keep track of your set income to expenses ratio by having everything neatly confined. For example, aggregation with a single provider can offer some economies of scale like cheaper expense ratios.
Lastly, if you’ve lost track of an account, then you’re missing a piece of your financial pie that could make a big change in how retirement tastes. missingmoney.org and unclaimed.org are good places to start tracking lost and unclaimed funds.
3. Give Your Portfolio A Health Checkup
Ideally, your portfolio at this point should be moderate-risk. If the stock market is causing you any worry, then talk to a Financial Advisor and be sure you are set up to protect your retirement.
4. Make A Plan With HR
Schedule a time to speak with your company’s human resources department about your retirement. Topics you’ll want to ask about include:
• Are unused vacation days paid upon retirement?
• Is receiving profit-sharing payouts, bonuses, 401(k) match, or any other income aspect impacted by your planned retirement date?
• If retiring before Medicare-age, what retiree health benefits are offered?
• If a 401(k) is left as-is verses rolling it over into an IRA, can distributions still be taken? How? Is there a fee?
• If a pension is available, what are the options for payout?
One note on lump-sum pensions to keep in mind is that extending your retirement may not increase your pension. Lump-sum pensions are calculated based on interest rates. The higher the interest rate, the lower the pension. Extending your retirement when interest rates are rising can actually result in your pension going down, not up.
5. Study Medicare Closely
Medicare is a difficult beast to navigate, and the sales pitches you get from supplement insurers only adds to the confusion. So, you’ll want to start studying now, understanding how it works, what coverage gaps exist for you, and what you need verses don’t need in supplements. Here are some highlights you’ll want to consider:
• Upon turning 65, Social Security beneficiaries are automatically enrolled in Medicare parts A (hospital care) & B (doctor and outpatient visits.) If you’re delaying your SS payment, then it’s up to you to enroll on your own.
• If delaying your SS claim and still covered by your employer’s health plan, then you’ll likely find it beneficial to go ahead and sign up for part A at age 65 since there’s usually not a premium.
• You may want to opt out of part B since it charges you a monthly premium for service.
You may also want to opt out of part D, which covers prescriptions. The caveat here is your employer’s offered insurance being as good as what Medicare offers. If not, and you select to opt out, then you’ll face penalties when you sign up in the future.
• To ensure you’re not left without coverage, plan to sign up for part B around six weeks prior to retirement. You have eight months after leaving your job to sign up for part B without penalty.
• Be deciding if you want Medicare Advantage. This is basically a combination of parts B & D with a supplemental medigap plan to cover the copayments, deductibles, and other traditional healthcare costs that Medicare doesn’t include. These plans provide private insurer medical and drug coverage within a network, meaning you’ll need to carefully research your plan options and determine if your preferred health care providers are in the offered network of a plan.
The finish line is just around the corner, but now isn’t the time to slack just yet. You’ll want to make sure these important boxes are checked so that you can retire in peace and confident you’ve worked all these years to afford. Contact us to discuss your plan.