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Retirement Planning Blog

on 13 November, 2019

2020 irs contributions limits retirement plans

It's here. The IRS has posted the new income and contribution limits for all types of retirement plans and accounts for 2020. The IRS also covered income and contribution limits for different medical savings accounts.

Many of the income thresholds and contribution limits were raised. Meanwhile, a few stayed the same or changed very little.

Millions of Americans save and accumulate money for retirement using IRAs and qualified plans (or non-qualified plans for highly compensated and key employees). And every year, the IRS updates the income thresholds and contribution limits for a wide variety of retirement and medical savings accounts. This is done to keep pace with inflation.

The changes to contribution limits for retirement plans and other accounts in 2020 are listed as follows:

2020 irs contributions limits retirement plans image 1

Defined-benefit plans will also see change in 2020. The limit for defined-benefit plan annual benefits rises from $225,000 in 2019 to $230,000 in 2020.

And what about the income limit for the Saver's Credit (also known as the Retirement Savings Contributions Credit)? The credit for low-income and moderate-income workers is $65,000 for married couples filing jointly, up from $64,000.

For heads of household it is set at $48,750, up from $48,000. And for singles and married individuals filing separately, it's now $32,500, up from $32,000.

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on 16 October, 2019

retirement healthcare costs estimate

The high cost of healthcare looms as a major factor for retirees to deal with after they stop working. But a recent online survey revealed that things may actually be even worse than what retirees are predicting.

Sponsored by Nationwide Life Insurance Company, the survey was conducted from March through April of 2019. The 1,462 people who were polled were at least 50 years old. This group was a mix of pre-retirees, current retirees, and folks who had been retired for at least 10 years. An additional 516 caregivers were also polled.

The findings? Most of the retirees greatly underestimated their retirement healthcare costs. The majority predicted they would need to spend roughly $7,000 a year on healthcare in retirement. Nationwide estimated the real cost would be closer to $10,739 for the average retiree.

The insurer's health cost estimate was based on the Summary of National Health Expenditures, with reported spending data from the 1960s to 2017.

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on 08 November, 2019

retirement red zone pic

When a football team gets the ball inside the opposing team’s 20-yard line, they are considered to be in the “red zone." There it's more likely that they will score.

If you are within ten years of retirement (either before or after), then you are in what many financial professionals consider to be the “retirement red zone.” Famously coined by Prudential, the retirement red zone is a crucial stage for your long-term lifestyle.

Why? Because how your retirement portfolio behaves during this period can substantially affect your standard of living during your golden years.

Just as it's critical that a football team can come away with points from the red zone, it's also imperative that you manage your assets well during this critical period.

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on 10 October, 2019

more predictable income certainty as pensions disappear

Once a corporate giant, General Electric Corporation has found itself in a downward spiral in recent years. The former staple of American business has been working to clear some substantial debt off its books.

One of the company’s latest big moves? To reduce debt by freezing its employee pension assets. This means that benefits will not continue to accrue for its employees, even though they continue to work there.

But while this is obviously better than pension termination, where the pension plan is simply dissolved, it marks the latest casualty in the pension landscape in corporate America.

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on 06 November, 2019

safe money solutions

As you gear up for retirement, you may have heard of “safe money solutions.” Are they right for you? It’s an important question, especially since retirement planning is more difficult than it's ever been in history.

Past generations could count on company pensions that would pay them every month without fail until they died. But the disappearance of these pensions, coupled with the increase in longevity for retirees, has left many people with more questions than answers.

While Social Security will cover at least some of their expenses, most retirees will have to rely on income from their own investments and savings to make up the difference.

However, what many call a bewildering amount of financial choices in today’s market can leave people feeling frustrated.

According to the Investment Company Institute, nearly 120,000 regulated investment funds are available to retirement savers today. And what about other options? There are more annuities than hedge funds available, which doesn’t even begin to cover the universe of countless other instruments that can be tapped for retirement goals.

All that being said, what if you are looking for some choices that help guard your money and maximize income for retirement? Safe money solutions might be worth a look. And what are they? Generally speaking, a safe money solution:

  • Provides some protection for your principal.
  • Might pay out retirement income with higher confidence than, say, an equity position might give.
  • Offer some growth potential with a guaranteed interest rate or other interest-earning opportunities.

Fixed-type annuities, bonds, and Treasuries are among the asset types that can be called “safe money solutions.” But among all of these, annuities are the only instrument capable of paying out a guaranteed income stream for life.

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on 02 October, 2019

updates to tsp withdrawal options

The TSP Modernization Act has finally arrived. With it comes a host of new rules designed to give plan participants more freedom with taking distributions from their TSP accounts.

The new provisions have greatly expanded the withdrawal options that are available to TSP retirement savers under various circumstances. These provisions came into effect on September 15, 2019.

TSP investors haven’t wasted any time in taking advantage of these new rules. There about 5,000 distribution requests in the hopper at the moment.

It’s not clear whether the avalanche of new requests is a show of accumulated demand or just that participants are willing to explore the new rules. But the number of requests is likely to continue at this rate for the foreseeable future.

The act has given the Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board until November of 2019 to make the necessary changes in order to facilitate the new rules.

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on 30 October, 2019

social security full retirement age

As you gear up for crucial retirement decisions such as Social Security, you may have heard of “full retirement age.” The Social Security Administration refers to full retirement age as "normal" retirement age. This is the age at which you will receive 100% of your monthly retirement benefit.

But full retirement age isn’t the same for everyone. For those born before 1943, this is age 65. For those born after that year, full retirement age can range from 66 to 67 years old.

This matters for eligible recipients because choosing when they begin receiving benefits is one of the most important retirement decisions that they might make. Making the right choice can make a difference of tens, or even hundreds of thousands of dollars, in the lifetime benefits they are paid.

You can start taking Social Security benefits once you turn 62, but your benefit will be permanently reduced by 30% or more. You will have to wait until you reach your full retirement age to get your full benefit.

And if you delay collecting benefits until after your full retirement age? Then you can increase the amount you receive by about 8% per year until age 70. Waiting to take your benefits at 70 will increase your monthly benefit about one-third more than your regular full benefit.

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on 25 September, 2019

social security benefits cola 2020

While the exact details are still under wraps, Social Security recipients will be pleased to know that their benefits will be receiving a boost in 2020.

Every October, the Social Security Administration releases information regarding Cost-of-Living Adjustments to benefits. This year is no exception. On October 10th, the SSA will be releasing official details regarding the Cost-of-Living Adjustment that applies to 2020 Social Security payouts.

Expect an Social Security Benefits Boost of 1.6%

According to The Senior Citizen League, a nonpartisan group focused on senior issues, Social Security recipients will likely receive a 1.6% boost to their payouts, starting in 2020.

The league tracks data relating to how the SSA calculates its Cost-of-Living Adjustments. It bases their estimate on quarterly movements in the consumer price index for urban wage earners and clerical workers (CPI-W).

Mary Johnson, TSCL's Social Security policy analyst, mentions that this increase will be smaller than prior raises. She said that it “would raise an average retiree benefit by about $23.40 per month, a big drop from the $40.90 that people with that level of benefits received this year."

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on 22 October, 2019

social security benefits cola 2020

On October 10, the Social Security Administration officially released the amount of their cost-of-living adjustment for 2020. Almost 70 million Americans will see their Social Security benefits rise by 1.6% next year.

While this raise is less than the 2.8% cost-of-living-adjustment for 2019, it’s still higher than the 1.4% average COLA that participants have received over the past decade. The Senior Citizens League was also spot on with its projection for Social Security next year.

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on 18 September, 2019

retirement tax planning

When it comes to taxes, you can be sure that Uncle Sam will want his share. Retirement tax planning can help you make the most of your money. Tax-wise strategies let you maximize your income and keep more of what you have accumulated over a lifetime of hard work.  

But while Uncle Sam’s tax collections are a certainty, what is less than clear for millions of retirees is their own tax bills. Many don’t know whether they are paying too much in taxes or not – and how, in turn, that affects their retirement income streams.

Fortunately, there are several ways that you can reduce your tax bill after you stop working through the proper use of annuities and IRAs.

The order in which you withdraw your assets can also substantially impact the amount of tax that you will have to pay. Studies have shown that a properly-structured withdrawal schedule can extend the life of an investment portfolio by as many as 6 years in some cases.

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