Commentary by Adam Cmejla
It used to be that living to 75 amounted to a nice long life and Social Security often was supplemented by a pension. How different things are today.
The good news is that life expectancy for U.S. women – as measured by the Centers for Disease Control – is now 81.1 years. The Social Security administration estimates that the average 65-year-old woman today will live to be 86.
Are you prepared for a 20-year retirement? How about a 30- or 40-year retirement? Don’t laugh, it could happen: the Social Security administration predicts that about 25 percent of today’s 65-year-olds will live past 90, with approximately 10 percent living to be older than 95.
The following are some strategies to consider:
Plan your investing
Many people retire with a random collection of investments and no real strategy. Some are big on “chasing the return” – assuming risk they really shouldn’t in pursuit of a high return. Others are very risk-averse, so fearful of what stocks might do that they stay out of the market entirely.
In the current low interest rate environment, that represents an easy way to fall behind and lose purchasing power to inflation.
Find a middle ground
When you are in your 50s, you have less time to make back any big investment losses than you once did. Protecting what you have is a priority. At the same time, the possibility of a 15-, 20-, or even 30- or 40-year retirement means you have to keep a foot, if not both feet, in some kind of growth investing. Your initial retirement nest egg has to keep growing.
Look at long-term care coverage
Medicare is no substitute for long-term care insurance; it only pays for 100 days of nursing home care, and only if you get skilled care and enter a nursing home right after a hospital stay of three or more days. Long-term care coverage can provide a huge financial relief if and when the need arises.
Claim Social Security carefully
If your career and health permit, delaying Social Security is a wise move. If you wait until retirement age to claim your benefits, you could receive 30 to 40 percent larger social security payments as a result.
Married women can look at spousal claiming strategies such as the “file and suspend” approach and claiming spousal benefits first. This may help to maximize the Social Security benefits you and your spouse received.
Above all, retire with a plan and stick to that plan.
Adam Cmejla is president of Integrated Planning & Wealth Management, a comprehensive financial services firm located in Carmel providing retirement planning strategies to individuals at or nearing retirement. He can be reached at 853-6777 or firstname.lastname@example.org.