In this issue:
Confidently navigating changes near retirement
Finding a new way forward requires emotional fortitude as well as financial support
No matter how organized you are, things don’t always go as planned when preparing for retirement. The truth is most people have to retire earlier than they had envisioned due to an unexpected health event. While the physical cost of a new or worsening health issue in or near retirement is hard to ignore, the emotional cost – sometimes equally impactful – may fly under your radar. It’s natural to feel a sense of apprehension and not have all the answers right away.
The good news is finding a clear path forward for you and your loved ones is closer than you think. And you know someone who likely has guided others in similar situations: your advisor.
TIME TO PIVOT?
New or existing health impairments and disabilities are almost always accompanied by a variety of physical, emotional and financial costs – which too change over time. It’s vital to acknowledge these three costs to remain confident in your vision for retirement.
For example, changes to your physical health may mean that your close family members have to become caregivers and that your home environment has to adapt to accommodate mobility aids. More frequent healthcare visits coupled with a more limited ability to do the activities you once enjoyed can take a toll on your mental well-being and sense of purpose. It’s not uncommon for physical and mobility changes to bring emotional challenges for everyone affected.
In addition to physical and emotional challenges come a range of (sometimes unforeseen) financial costs. Medical services, mobility aids, prescription drugs and health insurance are all expenses that should be estimated for when rethinking retirement plans with your health requirements in mind.
While recalculating the financial costs of your retirement you should also note that, depending on the type of health condition and when you file for retirement benefits, you may qualify for disability benefits – otherwise known as Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI). Your advisor can help you parse the details.
One fact to note is that you cannot collect both retirement benefits and SSDI from the Social Security Administration. If you filed, or plan to file, for early retirement benefits and then make the switch to SSDI and your disability application is approved, you should receive a higher benefit and a retroactive payment. However, it may not necessarily be your full retirement benefit.
There are multiple factors that affect the calculation when switching from retirement to disability benefits. Retirement benefits are based on your 35 highest-earning years, but, if you’re disabled and have spent less time in work, your SSDI benefits are determined by your inflation-adjusted earnings from age 21 until the year your disability started.
If you filed for retirement benefits early, you may be able to switch to SSDI or receive a backdated payment, provided:
- You became disabled before you reached full retirement age (66 or 67 years old)
- You can prove your disability or health condition began before you took early retirement, i.e., evidence of a medical diagnosis from a doctor
- You learned that an existing condition qualified you for a higher disability benefit after filing for Social Security benefits
The advantage of determining your eligibility for SSDI is that you may qualify to receive a higher amount to help you pay for health- or disability-related costs once you’re no longer working. For support in making the best decision, speak to your advisor.
Retirement isn’t a one-off event. It’s an ever-evolving process with many layers and lots of moving parts. Grant yourself time to figure things out and remember that you can always adjust your direction again if needed.
- Get in touch with your advisor to discuss the financial options available as you begin retired life.
- Lay the groundwork on your plan of action by revisiting your goals to best decide what changes to make to your retirement plan.
- Avoid making hasty decisions and, if you’re eligible, consider the implications of switching from retirement benefits to disability benefits on your savings and long-term retirement plans.
Seven RMD strategies during market turbulence
As an investor, you’re obligated by the IRS to take required minimum distributions (RMDs) from most retirement accounts to avoid indefinitely deferring tax liabilities. But, if timing isn’t favorable, a quick market downturn at the start of the year can make taking RMDs stressful.
- If this is your first RMD, you can delay. Usually, RMDs must be taken by December 31; however, your first RMD can be delayed until April 1 the following year. Flexibility around timing may be favorable if market conditions improve before you withdraw, but it’s also crucial to think through any tax implications of delaying.
- If you’re still working, you might be able to delay. After you’ve reached the relevant RMD age, you may have the option to defer taking the RMD from your current employer’s retirement account. The IRS typically allows your first RMD from a current employer’s retirement plan to be taken by April 1 the year after you retire, however a company retirement plan has to allow for this exception, so check with the plan administrator.
- Different types of accounts have different rules of play. Withdrawing from one or more IRAs works differently than 401(k) plans. Your financial advisor can help you identify where you have flexibility to withdraw and where you don’t.
- If available, use cash. Otherwise, sell with purpose.
To satisfy the RMD, simply request cash out of your account rather than sell investments at reduced values. Alternatively, discuss with your financial advisor which assets, including stocks and bonds, make most sense to sell to satisfy the RMD.
- QCDs are an option if you have charitable intentions.
If you have a cause close to your heart, you can make a qualified charitable distribution (QCD). This approach allows you to donate up to $100,000 to charity from your IRA and have it count toward your RMD, which should help come tax time.
- If income isn’t the priority, you can consider an in-kind. Like QCDs, an in-kind distribution is another option if you don’t require cash flow. While this strategy doesn’t avoid taxes, it can help reduce transaction costs by transferring securities in your IRA to your after-tax brokerage account. Bear in mind that an in-kind IRA distribution will reset the cost basis of your holding.
- Reinvesting your RMD into an after-tax brokerage account could be advantageous when the markets eventually start to recover.
Everyone’s situation is unique, which means no one RMD strategy amid volatility will work for all. Think through each with the help of a knowledgeable advisor and your tax professional.
RMDs are generally subject to federal income tax and may be subject to state taxes. Raymond James does not provide tax advice. Please discuss these matters with your tax professional.
Sources: raymondjames.com/commentary-and-insights; IRS RMD FAQ
Sharing something of significance
Create a legacy that passes on so much more than money
Everyone leaves behind a unique legacy. For some, it’s meaningful to pass down something tangible – an item or heirloom. For other people, donating to a worthy organization is what matters most. Regardless of your priorities, sharing your life’s passions with your loved ones is one of the finest ways to create a legacy that lives on.
With a little bit of thought and planning, you can embed your life’s passions and interests into a legacy that will be remembered for generations to come.
IGNITING THAT SPARK OF CONNECTION
Our lives are complex and multilayered. Connect the dots with those you cherish by sharing the many aspects that make up you – your professional life, creative side, civic contributions, values and family history.
Passing on a meaningful legacy improves your family ties across generations. Your children and grandchildren undoubtedly want to feel a spark of connection with you and your life experiences, so take the opportunity today to share your interests with those close to you. In telling the story behind your passions, you can leave a true sense of yourself that allows your family to better value and understand you.
YOUR LEGACY STARTS TODAY
Imparting your passions requires some thought and planning. But, starting today, you can leave your mark.
Your passions may run the gamut – doubles tennis, skiing, fine art, jewelry collecting, repairing antique cars and so on. Involve your family in the daily activities, the quiet moments where you explain how a tool works or why you enjoy a hard-fought match even if you don’t win. Consistently sharing your pastimes with your family can positively influence how they think about you. Your loved ones will come to appreciate your pursuits as they experience your excitement and passion. This may even leave them with a lasting desire to follow in your footsteps.
Talking about what matters to you most likely comes naturally because it’s incorporated into your everyday life. Continue telling people about the things that bring you true fulfillment, but also consider writing about them and why they’re important to you. A memoir or written record can be kept, stored and passed down through the generations.
To pass down your interests in a way that celebrates your life, it will take thoughtfulness, creativity and organization. The investment will be worth it to ensure your legacy is so much more than the things you’ll leave behind. You have the power to leave people with warm memories and a glimpse into your life’s true spirit.
- Share your passions, interests and stories with those closest to you.
- Consider the most important parts of your legacy and who you’d like to share them with.
- Speak with your financial advisor about how to gift assets that align with your legacy.