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If you’re anything like the folks in churches I work with, you know the upheaval of the last few years has led to more people rethinking retirement.
And sure, some decide to put it off. But I’ve also run into people who are looking to retire sooner — some as soon as next year.
If you’re in that position, I thought it might be helpful to share a little on what I know about pre-retirement considerations.
For those of you thinking about retiring in a year, you can take steps to help determine if you’re where you need to be to pull it off.
One big step is to assess your financial situation, and remember, healthcare is likely to be one of your biggest expenses in retirement.
You’ll also want to visualize how you will spend your time in retirement.
What will you do with the hours that once made up a workday?
Looking at finances, consider when to start taking Social Security.
You can start taking it at 62, but it will be less than what you’ll get if you wait until your full retirement age.
And remember, full retirement age is no longer 65 for Social Security.
It’s somewhere between 66 and 67, depending on when you were born.
To apply for Social Security, visit ssa.gov or drop by your local Social Security office.
If you delay taking Social Security after the full retirement age, your benefit will increase 8% every year, until age 70.
If you’ll be getting a pension benefit from the Board of Pensions, that, too, increases when initiation is delayed between 65 (normal retirement age for the Defined Benefit Pension Plan) and 70.
You can start receiving your pension at 55, but your benefit will be reduced.
Use the pension estimator on Benefits Connect to see what your benefit will be at certain ages.
At 59½, you can begin taking withdrawals, penalty-free, from employer-sponsored 401(k)s and 403(b)(9)s, like the Retirement Savings Plan of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) (RSP), and pretax IRA accounts.
At 72, if you are no longer actively employed, you must start taking the required minimum distributions from those accounts.
If you are a participant in the RSP, Fidelity has a host of resources to help you with retirement planning.
Generally, you’ll qualify for Medicare at 65, and can enroll anytime between three months before your 65th birthday and three months after.
If you’re not retiring and have an employer plan or coverage through your significant other, it’s usually advisable to enroll in Medicare Part A; for most folks, there is no cost.
Then, waive Part B coverage.
The waiver spares you from being penalized if you sign up after eligibility age and there is generally no benefit for paying the monthly Part B premium ($170.10 in 2022) while you have employer-sponsored coverage.
If you won’t be receiving coverage elsewhere, do sign up for Medicare Part B, for which you will pay.
Also, enroll in a Medicare Advantage or supplement plan for things not covered by Part B.
If you’re retiring before you’re Medicare-eligible, and you’re a Benefits Plan member, you may be eligible for medical continuation coverage through the Board.
The Board’s Planning to Retire booklet, also available to anyone, might be helpful as well. It’s directed at Benefits Plan members but has some good general information.
All these retirement basics are important to think about.
But there’s more groundwork to be done.
Smooth transitions into retirement don’t just happen.
Consider where you are now.
You have a familiar routine that’s kept you organized as a working adult, and it’s comfortable.
What will you be letting go of when you retire and what will you hold onto?
Doing the hard work of reflecting on the implications for our sense of identity and how we will find meaning and purpose — as well as ensuring that we’ve carefully considered our financial resources and plans for healthcare — are essential components of planning for the retirement journey.
Members of the Benefits Plan of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) have access to educational resources for retirement planning through Board University, which provides e-learnings, webinars, and seminars focused on planning for and transitioning into retirement, including some specifically designed for ministers.
Retirement Conversations uses online resources to launch live conversations with other plan members and their families who are facing this big transition.
In November, the Board of Pensions’ Education team will present the THRIVE seminar at Columbia Theological Seminary. THRIVE — short for Thinking Retirement: Identity, Vocation, and Economics — takes a holistic approach to retirement planning.
The seminar is designed for members of the Benefits Plan of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) within ten years of retirement, their spouses, and surviving spouses.
Retirement can be a time of new focus and renewed energy. As we try different experiences, a new identity can take hold.
Enjoy the journey!
Clark Simmons is a Senior Church Consultant at The Board of Pensions of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) for the southeastern United States. He is also an elder at Decatur Presbyterian Church and has participated at every level of church life. This blog is intended for educational and informational purposes only. You should consult your financial adviser if you need advice about your specific retirement options.