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Early retirees may need alternative withdrawal strategies

By Hook Law Center

When withdrawing funds from individual retirement accounts, Roth IRAs and other such accounts, retirees may encounter inconveniences, taxes and penalties. However, proper planning may reduce or even eliminate such costs. There are techniques that retirees should use to withdraw funds from their tax-sheltered retirement accounts prior to reaching the age of 59 ½.

You can withdraw your contributions to Roth IRAs anytime for any reason without being subject to tax or penalty, irrespective of your age. The IRS permits holders of traditional IRAs to label withdrawals as “contributions” until all contributions have been resolved. Upon withdrawal of the contribution part of the account, you can then remove the earnings portion. But if you have not yet reached age 59 ½, the earnings could be taxed as income and you may have to pay a 10 percent penalty.

It could be an expensive error for the retiree to roll over a work-related retirement plan to an IRA if you need the funds before reaching age 59 ½. If you are age 55 or older and you have stopped working, you can withdraw money from your 401(k) or 403(b) account without being subject to the 10 percent penalty that would usually apply to withdrawals from an IRA owned by an individual under age 59 ½.

You can also remove funds from a 457 plan from a government or nonprofit employer without being subject to a ten percent penalty. If you withdraw funds from a work-related retirement plan, they will be taxed as ordinary income. But since early retirees will have less income, their tax bill will be smaller.

If you must withdraw funds from your IRA to pay for living expenses before reaching age 59½, you should determine whether you have any qualifying expenses that can be set against the IRA withdrawals to avoid the ten percent penalty. Such costs could include considerable out-of-pocket medical bills, higher education expenses or health insurance premiums if you are unemployed.

Furthermore, IRA holders under age 59 ½ can make withdrawals from the account without incurring a penalty if the withdrawals are similar in amount and comply with a certain schedule. These are referred to as substantially equal periodic payments (SEPP). Under the SEPP program, once the payments have started, they must continue for five years or until you attain the age of 59 ½, whichever is second. However, if the requisite amounts and timing of the SEPP accounts are not met exactly, all withdrawals may be subject to the ten percent penalty retroactively.

Posted on Wednesday, February 24th, 2016. Filed under Estate Planning, Long-Term Care, Public Benefits.

How to deal with an early retirement that was not planned

By Hook Law Center

Although most people plan to work until they reach their full retirement age of 66, or 67 if you were born after 1942, some workers find themselves without work at an age when it is challenging to find another job, and at a time when they anticipated earning their maximum salary. Others are compelled to leave the workforce due to illness or family obligations as a caregiver.

According to experts, approximately 45 percent of people retire sooner than they planned. It is smart to have a contingency plan for early retirement.

It may not be feasible to secure a job that pays well, particularly for those in industries that largely depend on contractors. Even though it is illegal for employers to practice age discrimination, several older workers have difficulty finding work. If you are forced to retire early, your best option may be to find new work, even if it is not in your chosen field, and even if the compensation does not approach the amount you are accustomed to earning. Alternatively, you may find it more reasonable to reduce your expenses. Or you may decide to do both.

Another cost-effective measure is to avoid using your Social Security early, even if that means withdrawing funds from your retirement savings. If you claim social security at age 62, your monthly benefit will be 25 percent less than it would have been if you had delayed your retirement until you attained the full retirement age of 66 or 67. And if you wait to retire until you are age 70, you will receive another 32 percent.

Some options to consider if you must retire early are to accept a position that pays a lower salary, work part-time or become a consultant, reduce expenses, apply for unemployment benefits, seek health insurance on the Affordable Care Act exchange, have your college-age children decrease their expenses and consult a financial adviser.

You may also wish to conduct research of Social Security to make certain that you are collecting the maximum possible amount, continue to network professionally and pursue hobbies that make you happy.

Posted on Wednesday, February 10th, 2016. Filed under Estate Planning, Public Benefits.
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