Monthly Social Security payments differ substantially depending on when you start receiving benefits.

The Social Security program allows you to start receiving benefits as soon as you reach age 62. The question is, should you?

Monthly payments differ substantially depending on when you start receiving benefits. The longer you wait (up to age 70), the larger each monthly check will be. The sooner you start receiving benefits, the smaller the check.

From the Social Security Administration’s point of view, it’s simple: if a person lives to the average life expectancy, the person will eventually receive roughly the same amount in lifetime benefits, no matter when they choose to start receiving them. In actual practice, it’s not quite that straightforward, but the principle holds.

The key phrase is “if the person lives to average life expectancy.” If a person exceeds the average life expectancy and has opted to wait to receive benefits, they will start to accumulate more from Social Security.

The chart shows how Social Security benefits accumulate for individuals who started to receive at ages 62, 67, and 70. The person who started to receive benefits at age 62 would accumulate $384,451 by the age of 85. Conversely, the person who started to receive benefits at age 70 would accumulate $454,019 by the age of 85. The example assumes a retirement benefit of $1,907 at age 67. It does not assume COLA.

Source: Social Security Administration, 2024

There is no single “right” answer to the question of when to start benefits. Many base their decision on family considerations, economic circumstances, and personal preferences.

If you have a spouse, the decision about when to start benefits gets more complicated – particularly if one person’s earnings are considerably higher than the other’s. The timing of spousal benefits should be factored into your decision.

When considering at what age to start Social Security benefits, it may be a good idea to review all the assets you have gathered for retirement. Some may want the money sooner based on how assets are positioned, while others may benefit by waiting. So, as you near a decision point, it may be best to consider all your options before moving forward.

The content is developed from sources believed to be providing accurate information. The information in this material is not intended as tax or legal advice. It may not be used for the purpose of avoiding any federal tax penalties. Please consult legal or tax professionals for specific information regarding your individual situation. This material was developed and produced by FMG Suite to provide information on a topic that may be of interest. FMG Suite is not affiliated with the named broker-dealer, state- or SEC-registered investment advisory firm. The opinions expressed and material provided are for general information, and should not be considered a solicitation for the purchase or sale of any security. Copyright FMG Suite.

Whether you have life insurance through your work or are retired it pays to know the truth about life insurance coverage.

The content is developed from sources believed to be providing accurate information. The information in this material is not intended as tax or legal advice. It may not be used for the purpose of avoiding any federal tax penalties. Please consult legal or tax professionals for specific information regarding your individual situation. This material was developed and produced by FMG Suite to provide information on a topic that may be of interest. FMG Suite is not affiliated with the named broker-dealer, state- or SEC-registered investment advisory firm. The opinions expressed and material provided are for general information, and should not be considered a solicitation for the purchase or sale of any security. Copyright FMG Suite.

(Updated 2024)

Without a solid approach, health care expenses may add up quickly and potentially alter your spending.

In a 2022 survey, 35% of all workers reported they were either “not too” or “not at all” confident that they would have enough money to pay for their medical expenses in retirement. Regardless of your confidence, however, being aware of potential healthcare costs during retirement may allow you to understand what you can pay for and what you can’t.1

Health-Care Breakdown

In a 2023 survey, 37% of all workers reported they were either “not too” or “not at all” confident that they would have enough money to pay for their medical expenses in retirement. Regardless of your confidence, however, being aware of potential healthcare costs during retirement may allow you to understand what you can pay for and what you can’t.1

A retired household faces three types of healthcare expenses.

  1. The premiums for Medicare Part B (which covers physician and outpatient services) and Part D (which covers drug-related expenses). Typically, Part B and Part D are taken out of a person’s Social Security check before it is mailed, so the premium cost is often overlooked by retirement-minded individuals.
  2. Copayments related to Medicare-covered services that are not paid by Medicare Supplement Insurance plans (also known as “Medigap”) or other health insurance.
  3. Costs associated with dental care, eyeglasses, and hearing aids – which are typically not covered by Medicare or other insurance programs.

It All Adds Up

According to one study, the average 65-year-old couple can expect to need $315,000 saved to cover healthcare expenses in retirement.2

Should you expect to pay this amount? Possibly. Seeing the results of one study may help you make some critical decisions when creating a strategy for retirement. Without a solid approach, healthcare expenses may add up quickly and alter your retirement spending.

Prepared for the Future?

Workers were asked how much they have saved and invested for retirement – excluding their residence and defined benefit plans.

Source: EBRI.org, 2023
  1. EBRI.org, 2023
  2. Investopedia.com, October 23, 2023
The content is developed from sources believed to be providing accurate information. The information in this material is not intended as tax or legal advice. It may not be used for the purpose of avoiding any federal tax penalties. Please consult legal or tax professionals for specific information regarding your individual situation. This material was developed and produced by FMG Suite to provide information on a topic that may be of interest. FMG Suite is not affiliated with the named broker-dealer, state- or SEC-registered investment advisory firm. The opinions expressed and material provided are for general information, and should not be considered a solicitation for the purchase or sale of any security. Copyright FMG Suite.

Looking forward to retirement? It’s critical to understand the difference between immediate and deferred annuities.

Despite not being as well known as some other retirement tools, annuities account for 6% of all assets earmarked for retirement. With about $2.6 trillion in assets, annuities hold more funds than Roth IRAs.1

An annuity is a contract with an insurance company. In exchange for a premium or a series of premiums, the insurance company agrees to make regular payments to the contract holder. The funds held in an annuity contract accumulate tax deferred.

For individuals interested in accumulating retirement assets, annuities can be attractive because they are not subject to contribution limits, unlike most other tax-deferred vehicles. In other words, retirement-minded individuals can set aside as much money as they would like into an annuity.

Two Phases

Annuity contracts pass through two distinct phases: accumulation and payout. During the accumulation phase, the funds accumulate until the annuity contract reaches its payout date. At that time, the total will either be paid out as a lump sum or as a series of payments over a period that can stretch as long as the account holder’s life.

The funds attributed to the initial premium will not be taxed, but any earnings on those funds will be taxed as regular income.

Immediate Annuity

As its name implies, an immediate annuity is structured to provide current income. After paying the initial premium, an individual receives regular income, which can be deferred up to twelve months. The funds remaining in the contract accumulate on a tax-deferred basis. And only that portion of each payment attributable to interest is subject to taxes; the rest is treated as a return of principal.

This article is for informational purposes only and is not a replacement for real-life advice, so make sure to consult your tax, legal, and accounting professionals before modifying your tax strategy.

Deferred Annuity

It is also possible to purchase an annuity contract that defers payout until a specific date in the future. The premiums you pay to a deferred annuity accumulate and earn interest during the accumulation phase. The annuity holder determines the amount of payments and when the payouts begin, which is usually in retirement. With a deferred annuity, the earnings credited to your contract are taxed when they are withdrawn.

Annuities have contract limitations, fees, and charges, including account and administrative fees, underlying investment management fees, mortality and expense fees, and charges for optional benefits. Most annuities have surrender fees that are usually highest if you take out the money in the initial years of the annuity contract. Withdrawals and income payments are taxed as ordinary income. If a withdrawal is made prior to age 59½, a 10% federal income tax penalty may apply (unless an exception applies). The guarantees of an annuity contract depend on the issuing company’s claims-paying ability. Annuities are not guaranteed by the FDIC or any other government agency.

Variable annuities are sold by prospectus, which contains detailed information about investment objectives and risks, as well as charges and expenses. You are encouraged to read the prospectus carefully before you invest or send money to buy a variable annuity contract. The prospectus is available from the insurance company or from your financial professional. Variable annuity subaccounts will fluctuate in value based on market conditions and may be worth more or less than the original amount invested if the annuity is surrendered.

For retirement-minded investors, annuities have some attractive features that may be worth exploring. Annuities also have certain limitations and expenses that need to be considered before committing to a contract.

  1. ICI.org, 2022

The content is developed from sources believed to be providing accurate information. The information in this material is not intended as tax or legal advice. It may not be used for the purpose of avoiding any federal tax penalties. Please consult legal or tax professionals for specific information regarding your individual situation. This material was developed and produced by FMG Suite to provide information on a topic that may be of interest. FMG Suite is not affiliated with the named broker-dealer, state- or SEC-registered investment advisory firm. The opinions expressed and material provided are for general information, and should not be considered a solicitation for the purchase or sale of any security. Copyright FMG Suite.

Many Americans are operating their personal finances with only the barest minimum of knowledge.

Imagine driving a car without a basic understanding of the rules of the road or even how to operate it. Scary thought.

Here’s another scary circumstance – one that is all too real. Many Americans are making financial decisions with minimal financial knowledge of investing, budgeting, and credit. The TIAA Institute conducted a survey on U.S. financial literacy, asking 28 basic questions about retirement savings, debt management, budgeting, and other financial matters. The average respondent answered only about half of the questions correctly.1

Another recent survey conducted by the Census Bureau found that almost 40% of Americans say that it has been somewhat or very difficult to pay for usual household expenses in the last seven days.2

It has been said that knowledge is power, and if that’s true, then too many Americans lack the power to control their financial futures. Financial success rarely happens by accident; it is typically the outcome of a journey that starts with education.

One of the obstacles to greater financial literacy is the so-called “Lake Wobegon effect.” In other words, we all consider ourselves above average, and based on that belief, it only follows that our financial understanding is above average. Unfortunately, this assumption has a flaw: it may discourage us from learning as much as we need in order to continue adapting to an ever-changing financial landscape.

The more informed we are, the more informed our financial decisions may become. Fortunately, we can consult a wide range of resources in pursuit of greater financial knowledge.

If you are committed to increasing your financial literacy, think about turning to financial professionals with your questions or visit a U.S. Treasury-sponsored website created for that very purpose.3

  1. TIAAInstitute.org, 2022

  2. Census.gov, 2023

  3. MyMoney.gov, 2023

The content is developed from sources believed to be providing accurate information. The information in this material is not intended as tax or legal advice. It may not be used for the purpose of avoiding any federal tax penalties. Please consult legal or tax professionals for specific information regarding your individual situation. This material was developed and produced by FMG Suite to provide information on a topic that may be of interest. FMG Suite is not affiliated with the named broker-dealer, state- or SEC-registered investment advisory firm. The opinions expressed and material provided are for general information, and should not be considered a solicitation for the purchase or sale of any security. Copyright FMG Suite.

For many, retirement includes contributing their time and talents to an organization in need.

“This generation got no destination to hold…
We are volunteers of America”
“Volunteers” by Jefferson Airplane

Those of a certain age will recall these Jefferson Airplane lyrics as a call to action, though for a different period and place. Even with the passage of time and through a lifetime of changes, the desire of baby boomers to make an impact on the world has not diminished.

Retirement is no longer about the hammock or unending hours of golf. It is a period of rejuvenation, second chances, and renewed growth. For many, this new phase includes contributing their time and talents to an organization in need.

Before You Start

An important first step is to engage in honest self-assessment. Inventory your skill set and interests. This will help identify what sort of volunteering opportunities are the best match for you.

Determine the commitment you are willing to make. Is this something that you want to devote 5-10 hours a week to, or are you willing to commit to more time? Is this something you want to do locally, around the nation, or even the globe? Will this volunteering be done individually, as a couple, or as a group?

Survey the Waters

There are plenty of resources to get a good view of the opportunities that exist. One place to start is by asking friends, family, and colleagues. Another option is to use one or more of the many tools created to help identify volunteering ideas that may deserve your consideration. For instance, the AmeriCorps website is one such tool run by the federal government. You may also want to take a look at the VolunteerMatch website.

Another approach may be to pick charities that you support and check out their volunteer opportunities. Don’t be afraid to call them since some opportunities may not be advertised.
If you do choose to volunteer during retirement, you may find that you will receive as much as you give.

The content is developed from sources believed to be providing accurate information. The information in this material is not intended as tax or legal advice. It may not be used for the purpose of avoiding any federal tax penalties. Please consult legal or tax professionals for specific information regarding your individual situation. This material was developed and produced by FMG Suite to provide information on a topic that may be of interest. FMG Suite is not affiliated with the named broker-dealer, state- or SEC-registered investment advisory firm. The opinions expressed and material provided are for general information, and should not be considered a solicitation for the purchase or sale of any security. Copyright FMG Suite.
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