Social Security was originally introduced in 1935 in the aftermath of the Great Depression. It was intended to provide a safety net of income to retired and disabled workers and their families. Social Security is a mandatory plan, requiring most wage earners to contribute a percentage of their yearly income to support the program. In return, they, their spouses and sometimes their dependents are eligible for retirement, disability and survivorship benefits.
There is a wide variety of tax-advantaged ways for individuals to save for retirement. Because of their income tax benefits and because IRAs are so easily established, they have become one of the most often used retirement savings vehicles available today. Recent tax laws, however, have created three very unique types of IRAs the Traditional IRA, the Non-Deductible IRA and the newer Roth IRA.
When planning your retirement, it is important to remember that money, more than any other factor, will dictate most of your retirement decisions. Your level of financial preparedness for your retirement years will determine when you retire, what type of lifestyle you and your family will enjoy during retirement, and what might be left as a legacy to your heirs.
If you have existing retirement assets in a traditional IRA, you may want to consider converting those assets to a Roth IRA. Possible benefits of converting include tax-free distributions at retirement, no required minimum distributions at age 70 ½, and leaving income tax-free assets to your heirs in the event of your death.
In years past, it was often realistic for retirees to base the majority of their retirement income on Social Security benefits and traditional employer sponsored pension benefits.
Unfortunately, Social Security retirement benefits have gradually been reduced in real terms, and the age one needs to attain in order to qualify for retirement benefits has been increasing steadily. iven current retirement trends, these retirement benefits will continue to be more and more difficult for the government to fund.
In order to plan realistically for the future you need to have a clear understanding of what money you need when you retire. This will include the cost of living and special activities you will have. It is estimated that you will need to replace 60% to 80% of your pre-retirement earnings in order to keep the standard of living you have had thus far.
Most qualified retirement plans offer significant tax benefits for those willing to follow a few IRS specified rules. The government wants to make these plans (401(k)s, Keoghs, SEPs and traditional IRAs) available for specific needs, and has established tax law to help eliminate potential abuses of these tax advantaged investment alternatives.