4 Questions to Ask Yourself as You Plan for Retirement

The Social Security Administration recently published an excellent article to give you more information to help plan your retirement. It is published in its entirety below. For additional information, visit the SSA website.

Deciding when to start receiving your retirement benefits from Social Security is a decision that only you can make, and you should make that decision with as much information as possible. There are a lot of important questions to answer.

Should you claim benefits earlier and get a smaller monthly payment for more years? Or should you wait and get a bigger monthly amount over a shorter period?

There are no right or wrong answers, but we encourage you to consider these four important questions as you plan for your financially secure retirement:

How much money will I need to live comfortably in retirement?

Anticipate what your expenses will be in retirement, including things like mortgage payments or rent, utilities, healthcare insurance and related costs, food, personal care, car payments and maintenance, entertainment, hobbies, travel, and credit card or other debt. Also, consider whether you’ll need to provide for your spouse, children, or grandchildren.

What will my monthly Social Security retirement benefit be?

The average monthly Social Security benefit for a retired worker in 2018 is $1,404 (up from $1,377 in 2017). The average monthly Social Security benefit for a disabled worker in 2018 is $1,197 (up from $1,173 in 2017). As a reminder, eligibility for retirement benefits still requires 40 credits (usually about 10 years of work). The Social Security Act details how the annual Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) is calculated. You can read more about the COLA on our website. The best way to get an estimate of your retirement benefit is with a my Social Securityaccount. Get yours today.

Will I have other income to supplement my Social Security benefits?

Secure your financial future with a retirement portfolio that includes savings, investments, and possibly a pension plan. If you’re willing and able, you may choose to increase your income by working past retirement age. Social Security replaces a percentage of a worker’s pre-retirement income based on your lifetime earnings. The amount of your average wages that Social Security retirement benefits replaces varies depending on your earnings and when you choose to start benefits. If you start benefits at age 67, this percentage ranges from as much as 75 percent for very low earners, to about 40 percent for medium earners, to about 27 percent for high earners. If you start benefits after age 67, these percentages would be higher. If you start benefits earlier, these percentages would be lower. Most financial advisers say you will need about 70 percent of pre-retirement income to live comfortably in retirement, including your Social Security benefits, investments, and other savings.

How long do I expect my retirement to last?

Anticipate the length of your retirement, keeping in mind that many American workers will live much longer than the “average” retiree. Consider your health, family longevity, and lifestyle. Your Social Security retirement benefits will provide continuous income for as long as you live, protecting you even if your other sources of income run out. Discover your life expectancy with our online calculator.

No one can predict the future perfectly, but careful planning and preparation will help you to make a well-informed decision about when to start receiving your Social Security benefits.

If you’ve contributed enough to the Social Security system through FICA payroll taxes, you can receive your full retirement benefit at age 66 or 67 depending on when you were born. You may also claim it sooner, starting at age 62, at a permanently reduced rate. Or you may wait until after your full retirement age, increasing your benefit amount by up to 8 percent per full year to age 70.

Social Security is with you through life’s journey, and we’re here to help you prepare for a financially secure future for you and your family. We invite you to use our online retirement planners.

Get Ready for Taxes: Save for Retirement Now, Get a Tax Credit Later; Saver’s Credit Helps Low-, Moderate-Income Workers

The Internal Revenue Service reminds low- and moderate-income workers to plan now to earn a credit on their 2017 tax return. A special tax break can help people with modest incomes save for retirement. It’s called the Saver’s Credit and it could mean up to a 50 percent credit for the first $2,000 a taxpayer contributes to a retirement plan.

Also known as the Retirement Savings Contributions Credit, the Saver’s Credit helps offset part of the amount workers voluntarily contribute to a traditional or Roth IRA, a 401(k) or 403 (b) plan, and similar workplace retirement programs.

Taxpayers with an IRA have until April 17, 2018, (the due date of their 2017 tax return) to contribute to the plan and still have it qualify for 2017. However, contributions (elective deferrals) to an employer-sponsored plan must be made by the end of the year to qualify for the credit. Employees who are unable to set aside money for this year may want to schedule their 2018 contributions soon so their employer can begin withholding in January.

The Saver’s Credit can be claimed by:

    • Married couples filing jointly with incomes up to $62,000 in 2017 or $63,000 in 2018
    • Heads of Household with incomes up to $46,500 in 2017 or $47,250 for 2018
    • Singles and married individuals filing separately with incomes up to $31,000 in 2017 or $31,500 in 2018

To qualify for the credit, a person must be:

    • Age 18 or older
    • Not a full-time student
    • Not claimed as a dependent on another person’s tax return

Like other tax credits, the Saver’s Credit can increase a taxpayer’s refund or reduce the amount of tax owed. Though the maximum Saver’s Credit is $1,000 ($2,000 for married couples), the IRS cautioned that it is often much less and may be zero for some taxpayers.

The amount of the credit is based on filing status, income, overall tax liability and the amount contributed to a qualifying retirement plan. It may also be impacted by other credits and deductions or reduced by any recent distributions from a retirement plan.

To claim the Saver’s Credit, taxpayers must complete Form 8880and attach it to their tax return. Form 8880 cannot be used withForm 1040EZ.

In tax year 2015, the most recent year for which complete figures are available, Saver’s Credits totaling nearly $1.4 billion were claimed on more than 8.1 million individual income tax returns.

The Saver’s Credit can also add to other tax benefits available to people who contribute to their retirement; for example, most workers can also deduct contributions to a traditional IRA.

Improve Your Retirement with a my Social Security Account

September was National Self-Improvement Month, but it’s always a good time to focus on your health and wellness. While you do that, make sure your retirement is healthy, too, by opening a secure, personal, my Social Security account.

Registering only takes a few minutes at www.socialsecurity.gov/myaccount. You’ll be asked some basic questions to verify your identity. Then you’ll choose a user name and password. Pretty soon you’ll be registered and have full access to many of our services.

At Social Security, our highest priority is protecting the privacy and security of the personal information we maintain on you and almost every American so you can rest assured that doing business online with us is both safe and secure.

Once you establish an account, you’ll have access to a wealth of information that will improve your chances of a successful retirement. You’ll be able to verify your earnings history, get an estimate of your future benefit amount at retirement, and get an estimate of your benefits should you become disabled.

With your my Social Security account you can view and print your Statement whenever you like.

You can also improve your experience of receiving retirement benefits by establishing a my Social Security account to manage your benefits. You can set up your Direct Deposit within minutes by going to my Social Security and signing up for an account. Then, go to the My Profile tab and follow the instructions on the screen. Once you establish a mySocial Security account, you’ll be able to change your address or update your direct deposit, print a benefit verification letter, get a replacement Medicare card and a replacement SSA-1099 or SSA-1042S statement.

Once you’ve established your my Social Security account, you’ll want to check out our redesigned website. We’ve done some self-improvement of our own based on your suggestions, and we’ve made all of our services available from the home page. We’ve also made our website easier to navigate and more accessible on mobile devices such as tablets and smart phones.

Why not join the nearly 36 million who have improved their chances at a good retirement by establishing an account on my Social Security at www.socialsecurity.gov/myaccount.

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Easy ways for millennials to prepare for retirement

Millennials are in the best position for planning, investing, and saving for your retirement; growing that nest egg as large as it can be. The sooner you start, the more money you will have.

There are two easy ways to prepare for retirement at a young age and both involve Social Security- you know, that thing that Baby Boomers say won’t be there when you retire!

Start a my Social Security account. Having a personal and secure account is easy, but better yet, it empowers you. You can access the services you need in the convenience of your own home without traveling to a local office and waiting in a long line. To view your social security statement, go to www.socialsecurity.gov/myaccount.

As you can see, many of our resources are available online and my Social Security is one of the best places to access vital information about your retirement. We are constantly adding new features to make your experience with us faster and more convenient. You can even replace a lost or stolen Social Security card in certain states.

Did you know that a 20-year-old worker has a 1-in-4 chance of becoming disabled before reaching full retirement age? Social Security will be there for you if you become disabled and cannot work. Accessing your online account can also help you determine your estimated future disability benefits, so why wait. Get started!