Calculating Social Security Benefits are a function
of three primary factors.
How Many Years Have You Worked?
The Social Security Administration uses 35 years of earning history
▶ If you worked more than 35 years – it uses the highest 35 years of salary
▶ If you worked less than 35 years – it still uses 35 years of salary (the years you didn’t work count as $0) This rule impacts far more women than men.
Why? Many women took significant time away from work to raise one or more of their children.
It’s back to school time! This means it’s time for school supplies and additional expenses. Are you considering using your IRA to pay that large tuition bill? The rules can be complicated. Here are 10 things you will want to know about using your IRA for educational expenses.
1. Typically, if you take a taxable distribution from your IRA before you reach age 59 ½, you are subject to a 10% early distribution penalty. The exception to the penalty allows you to take a penalty-free distribution from your IRA if you use the funds for qualified higher education expenses.
IRA owners often want to invest in assets other than the usual stocks, bonds, cash, and mutual funds. The tax code does allow for IRAs to invest in most anything except for collectibles, life insurance, and S-corporation stock. So what do those “other assets” make your IRA worth?
If you invest $1,000 in a publicly traded stock it’s simple to determine the value of the investment at any time. You can look it up on your computer, smart phone, or tablet. But investing in real estate, promissory notes, a start-up business, a master limited partnership, an LLC, or any other investment option, it’s not easy to determine its investment value. Typically, the IRA custodian carries the investment on its books as the amount you originally invested. The value doesn’t change from year to year.
➤ Contributions for Retirement Planning: If you are working, have an employer plan available, and there is an employer match, make sure you are contributing enough to the plan to reach that maximum match level. Don’t forget to make your own IRA or Roth IRA contributions as well. Your participation in the employer plan has no effect on your ability to make those contributions. It could, however, affect the deductibility of your IRA contributions.
➤ Roth IRA Planning: You really want to contribute to a Roth IRA, but (and it’s a big BUT) you exceed the income limits to qualify. You can utilize a strategy called the Back-Door Roth IRA to move funds into a Roth IRA, where they can grow tax-free into retirement.
Don’t forget about Roth conversions for yourself. You can use a strategy called “filling the brackets.” You convert smaller amounts each year to keep yourself from going into a higher tax bracket. When it comes time to do the tax return, maybe some numbers have changed and you converted too much. No problem! You have until October 15 to recharacterize all or part of your Roth conversion. You “undo” it and do not owe income tax on the amount you recharacterize.