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7 Tips for People About to Retire

If you are planning to retire soon, here are 7 things you need to consider before you take the plunge:

Are you fully vested in your retirement benefits? Many employers require that you become fully vested before you receive the full amount the employer has contributed as a match to your retirement account. Be sure you understand the rules; staying until you are fully vested could add a lot to your retirement security.

Decide when to claim Social Security. You can now access your personal Social Security statements online, so get your statement and run the various payout scenarios if you claim soon versus waiting a few years. Married couples that work full-time may find it to their advantage to claim for the higher earning spouse so the lesser earning spouse can also get half that benefit. Then, when the lesser earning spouse turns 70, he or she will be able to claim their own full benefits at a higher rate.

Sign up for Medicare when eligible. You are eligible to sign up for Medicare three months before the month you turn 65; the enrollment period ends three months after your 65th birthday. If you don't sign up during the enrollment period, your monthly premiums for Medicare Part B will increase by 10% for each 12-month period you were eligible but did not enroll. If you are still on an employer's plan, you must sign up within eight months of leaving your job.

Reassess investment portfolio. When you retire, you generally want to shift your investment strategy from increasing your wealth to preserving it. You should speak with a financial advisor about this. Make sure your financial advisor is a fiduciary.

Plan for spending. Make a plan on how you will convert your retirement savings into an income stream that will pay the bills. You don't want to take out too much in early retirement and you need to plan for taxes as well.

Take your RMD. You are required to take a minimum distribution from your 401(k) or traditional IRA after you turn 70 ½. If you don't, there is a severe penalty - up to half of what you should have withdrawn.

Ease into retirement. An abrupt shift from a full working life to a full-time life of leisure can be unsettling for many retirees. Consider taking on part-time work or volunteering to maintain important social connections.

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