Retirement Planning "Toolkit" Outlines Optimal Strategies


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Baby Boomers are beginning to retire, and that means huge shifts coming to the American economy. The exodus of older workers from the labor market could ease employment troubles for younger workers looking to break into their field, but the millions of workers set to retire over the next decades could also mean big costs for companies and the U.S. as pension systems pay out and the government picks up the slack for those who haven't retired responsibly.

Seeing the coming wave of retirees, the U.S. government has released a retirement "toolkit" meant to help prospective retirees cover their expenses after they cease working. The U.S. Department of Labor, U.S. Social Security Administration, and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services threw together the document to help aging workers wade through the convoluted rules and regulations surrounding their retirement funds.

The main portion of the document is aimed at those over 50. The toolkit provides a timeline showing when certain retirement events can take place without incurring penalties.

The timeline shows that at age 50 workers can begin making "catch-up" contributions to their pension plans. Six months before age 60 employees can begin to withdraw funds from their individual plans without penalties. Age 62 is the earliest age at which workers can draw on their Social Security benefits, though drawing that early will cause monthly benefits to be significantly reduced. Medicare and Medicare Part D are available for workers and retirees starting at age 65. Age 70 is, more or less, the deadline for being retired. At that age most retirement savings plans require at least minimum withdrawals or else charge penalty fees.

For workers who can't even think of retiring yet, the toolkit still has a few suggestions. The document warns workers not to touch their personal retirement savings plans until at least six months before they turn 60, lest they pay tax penalties and lose interest. It also advises that waiting until after full retirement age (66 for those born between 1943 and 1954, 67 for those born between 1955 and 1959) to pull Social Security benefits can increase monthly benefits by around eight percent for every year waited.

Image via the U.S. Department of Labor