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September/October 2019

Changing Your Retirement Start Date

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As you near retirement, you’ll need to make some financial decisions that will affect the rest of your life. We say will because even inaction is a decision. Foremost among these decisions is when you begin drawing retirement income, from Social Security and a Health Savings Account to an IRA and 401(k) plan. Everyone’s situation is different, but the following diverse scenarios may ring a bell with you.

Medical Before Retirement
Need money for medical care before you begin retirement? If you have a high deductible health plan with an accompanying Health Savings Account, tap the account for tax-free qualified withdrawals.

Withdrawals Before Retirement
It’s easy to think about taking money from an IRA or other retirement plan once you reach age 59 1/2, when there are no penalties for early withdrawals.* But if you’re still working and contributing to one, consider taking a loan instead (if available), and only as a last resort. Retirement funds are meant for retirement.

Healthy and Wealthy
If you’re healthy and you have a guaranteed pension from which to draw, consider delaying Social Security payments past normal retirement age, as well as pushing off IRA* or 401(k) plan* withdrawals until they must begin at age 70 1/2.

Healthy, Not Wealthy
If you’re healthy, like your job and are short of your retirement financial goals, why not keep working? You can reduce or delay retirement withdrawals and, if you have an employer retirement plan, continue putting money away while you continue to work.

Down Year
Taxes on your retirement income are a wild card depending on the whims of lawmakers and your state laws. But if you meet qualifications and your income is down, you might convert a portion of a tax-deferred IRA or 401(k) to a Roth IRA.** You’ll pay taxes on the converted amount, but qualified distributions are tax-free.

*Distributions from traditional IRAs and employer-sponsored retirement plans are taxed as ordinary income and, if taken prior to reaching age 59 1/2, may be subject to an additional 10% IRS tax penalty.

**To qualify for tax-free and penalty-free withdrawals of earnings, a Roth IRA must be in place for at least five tax years, and the distribution generally must take place after age 59 1/2, with few exceptions.


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