Skip to main content

Planning for Retirement? These Numbers Really Matter

Planning for Retirement? These Numbers Really Matter

Age may be "nothing but a number," but when it comes to retirement planning some of those numbers are very important. Here are a few age milestones that it pays to be aware of, whether you are already retired, or charting your retirement course.

When you turn 59 ½,
you usually can
withdraw money from
your personal
tax-deferred plans,
such as IRAs and
annuities, and
from your
savings plans.

When you turn 50: You can sock more money away toward retirement in 401(k), 403(b), IRA and other retirement savings plans. These "catch-up" contributions can help you make up for lost time, if you find yourself behind in your retirement savings, or if you want to power up your savings down the home stretch. Check here for IRS contribution limits for traditional and Roth IRAs and employer-sponsored retirement plans.

When you turn 55: If you leave or lose your job in the year you turn 55, you might be able to withdraw money from a tax-deferred savings plan without paying a 10-percent tax penalty. That can happen as long as you qualify for one of the exceptions listed in the federal tax code. At 55 you also may be eligible to receive pension benefits from some employer plans, if you've accumulated enough years of service at your company.

When you turn 59 ½: You usually can withdraw money without owing a 10-percent tax penalty from your personal tax-deferred plans, such as IRAs and annuities, and from your employer-sponsored savings plans like a 401(k) provided you've retired or left your job.

When you turn 60: You can receive reduced Social Security benefits if you are a widow or widower, though it is often in your best financial interest to wait, if you can.

When you turn 62: You may be eligible for full pension benefits from your employer, depending on the plan. And, if you choose, you can begin to receive reduced Social Security benefits. "Reduced" means you'll receive 20 to 30 percent less each month than if you wait until you reach your full retirement age—and your spouse's benefit may be reduced even more. The Social Security Administration (SSA) offers helpful information on when to start receiving retirement benefits.

When you turn 65: You can receive full pension benefits from most employers. And you normally qualify for Medicare benefits. For Social Security, 65 used to be the age at which people were eligible to receive full Social Security benefits. However, if you were born after 1937, your eligibility depends on the year of your birth. The age at which widows or widowers become eligible to claim full survivor benefits similarly used to be 65. But now, if you were born after January 2, 1940, your eligibility depends on the year of your birth.

When you turn 67: If you were born in 1960 or later, 67 is the earliest age at which you can claim full Social Security benefits.

When you turn 70: You should begin to collect your full Social Security benefits, if you haven't already. There is no additional benefit increase after you reach age 70, even if you continue to delay taking benefits.

When you turn 72: IRS rules mandate that you take your first required minimum distribution, or RMD, by April 1 of the year following the calendar year in which you reach 72 years of age. For each subsequent year after you begin taking RMDs, you must withdraw your distributions by December 31. The amounts you withdraw typically count as taxable income unless you already paid taxes on your contributions. You must make withdrawals from your traditional IRAs, but not from Roth IRAs. You also must begin withdrawing funds from employer-sponsored retirement plans, such as a 401k, unless you're still working.