Key milestone ages as you near and start retirement

March 03, 2023

Your age affects how much you can contribute to your retirement accounts and when you can withdraw from them without penalty.

When retirement is on the horizon, you may think most of your hard work and careful planning is behind you. But to make the most of your retirement plans, there are still some important things you’ll need to consider now and into the future.

Factor these age-based milestones into your retirement planning to help make the most of your retirement income.


Age 50: Take advantage of catch-up contributions

After age 50, current maximum annual contributions increase by $1,000 for an IRA and $7,500 for a 401(k) or 403(b). These are commonly called catch-up contributions and can make a meaningful difference in your retirement income.


Age 55: Potential for penalty-free withdrawals from 401(k)

Per the IRS Rule of 55, you may be able to withdraw funds from your current employer-sponsored 401(k) or 403(b) plans without incurring a 10% penalty if you’ve left your job in or after the year you turn 55 and your employer’s plan supports this rule (regular income taxes still apply).

This rule does not apply to IRAs, or if you roll your 401(k) or 403(b) into an individual IRA.


Age 59½: Penalty-free withdrawals from IRA

When you’re first allowed to withdraw funds from a traditional IRA or workplace retirement plan without incurring penalties. However, distributions of before tax contributions and earnings may be subject to income taxes.


Ages 55 & 59½: Consider waiting on withdrawals

Determine if you need the money now, or if you can wait. If you need the money, assess the potential tax impact. Which accounts you draw from first will have a different impact on your tax situation.

At 55 or older, some employers will allow current employees “in-service distributions” to rollover their 401(k) or 403(b) to an IRA penalty-free; check with yours.


Age 60: Spousal Social Security benefits may be available

If your spouse or ex-spouse (to whom you were married for at least 10 years, not remarrying until after turning 60) has died, age 60 is the first year you can collect a Social Security survivor benefit.


Age 62: Eligible for Social Security benefits

The first year you qualify to collect Social Security retirement benefits. However, collecting your benefit this early will result in a lower monthly benefit than if you waited until full retirement age. Also, if you continue to work, one dollar of benefits is withheld for every $2 earned above $21,240 (in 2023) until you reach full retirement age.


Age 65: Eligible for Medicare

Medicare eligibility begins. If you are collecting Social Security benefits, you are automatically enrolled in Medicare Part A. Otherwise, you have a seven-month period around your 65th birthday month to enroll. Consider whether you want any additional Medicare coverage during this period as well.


Ages 66, 67: Full retirement age for Social Security

Full retirement age depending on your birth year.

  • 1943-1954: Full Social Security benefits eligibility begins at 66.
  • 1955 through 1959: Eligibility ranges from age 66 to 67.
  • 1960 or later: Full retirement age is 67. Social Security benefits won’t be reduced at this point, but you can get a higher payout by waiting a few more years.


Age 70: No additional benefit to wait taking Social Security payments

At this point there is no additional advantage in delaying collecting Social Security retirement benefits. Benefits received at age 70 can be up to 32% higher than benefits at your full retirement age.


Age 73: Required minimum distributions from 401(k)s and traditional IRAs

You are required to take minimum distributions (RMDs) from workplace retirement plans (unless you are still working for that employer and your employer’s plan allows you to delay) and traditional IRAs by April 1 of the year after you turn 73. Required minimums are determined with tables from the IRS and must be calculated each year.


Throughout retirement

Continue to manage your investments, savings and insurance. Work with a financial professional to update your financial plan as necessary.


Next steps to consider

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