Key milestones on the road to retirement
Planning for retirement means considering multiple variables, but one factor is especially important (if a bit obvious) – age. Age determines both how much money retirees will receive from their accounts and government programs, as well as how many, if any, early withdrawal penalties they will incur by virtue of different types of retirement accounts. This makes it vital to bear in mind several age-related milestones when developing a retirement plan.
Investing early means more time to enjoy potential benefits. The earlier employees begin saving, the better chance of maximizing investment returns through compound interest. Roth and 401(k) accounts, with $6,000 and $19,000 limits as of 2019, respectively, are both strong, popular choices, with the tax structure of Roth accounts offering special benefits to younger investors, who pay taxes on lower-earning years of their working life while reaping the rewards of tax-free investment.
Workers 50 and up who invest in a Roth or 401(k) plan can make additional contributions from that time until retirement – $6,000 per year for 401(k)s in 2019; $1,000 per year for Roth IRAs – that allow for larger tax deductions as retirement approaches, as well as a chance to further grow their accounts. Investors in their 50s have two additional milestones to keep in mind: starting at age 55, employees can withdraw from their most recent 401(k) account without penalties if they leave that job, while age 59-and-a-half means rollovers from 401(k) to IRA can now be withdrawn without adverse effect (though they do require income tax payments with each withdrawal).
Employees entering their 60s are reaching the period traditionally associated with retirement. This means the introduction of Social Security benefits, which are available to people beginning at age 62. But, while potentially enticing, receiving payments any time before full retirement age means receiving a reduced amount, especially for those who remain in the workforce and exceed the $17,640-per-year earnings limit. Full retirement age is 67 years old for workers born during or after 1960, which means younger generations must reach this age to enjoy full Social Security benefits – they can also increase their payments by 8 percent per year by waiting until age 70 to receive them.
Eclipsing the age 70-and-a-half threshold means an end to tax deductions if contributing to an IRA account. Instead, forced annual withdrawals from 401(k) and traditional IRA accounts for retirees come into play on April 1 of the following year after that birthday, not to mention serious penalties – up to 50 percent of the required amount – for non-withdrawal. Subsequent years require withdrawal of funds by December 31. It is advisable to stay on top of these important deadlines, as missing or postponing the initial withdrawal means potentially having to do so twice, with negative tax ramifications. 401(k) withdrawal provisions can be postponed if a worker decides to continue working for a company as a non-owner, while Roth IRAs avoid these requirements entirely.
Knowledge is power when planning for retirement. This means taking available information and using it to develop a coherent, thoughtful plan. These age thresholds should be considered by anyone creating a retirement strategy to avoid penalties and maximize benefits.
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