One of the most commonly-asked question to estate planning attorneys is “How much money do I need to retire?” The two questions underlying that question: how long will I live, and do I have enough money? If your health is good and your health habits are good, you may live longer than your parents, although there are no guarantees. If you live frugally, you will need less money than if you enjoy an expensive lifestyle. Based on a survey of recently retired readers, Consumer Reports estimates that 85 percent of income from your last year of work is about right.
While few of us ever feel that we have enough money for retirement, strategies to help ensure that your nest egg lives longer than you do are addressed in The Boston Globe article, “Can you afford to live to 100?”
Delay claiming Social Security. This is the least costly way to add to your income later in life. For example, those born in 1949 are now reaching “full retirement age.” They are able to earn a benefit that’s 8% higher each year they delay, up to age 70. At the minimum, you should wait to claim until your full retirement age, which ranges from 66 (for people born from 1943 to 1954) to 67 (for people born in 1960 and later).
Buy an Annuity. Consumer Reports’ surveys of retired readers show that having a pension as a guaranteed income correlates with satisfaction in retirement. With these becoming less available, insurers are providing annuities, which have pension-like, lifetime income. If you have a small nest egg, the less you’ll want to devote to an annuity, as this effectively locks up your savings. A 65-year-old could cover all spending after age 85 by earmarking 10-15% of his or her current assets toward purchasing a longevity annuity.
What about Long-Term Care Insurance? The average cost of nursing home care in a semiprivate room is about $80,300 per year. Although 44% of men and 58% of women currently age 65 will need nursing home care at some point, those stays will average less than a year for men and less than 18 months for women. Most of the care is provided at home or another community setting. Half of nursing home and retirement care expenses are typically covered by either Medicare or Medicaid. Nonetheless, in assisted living facilities, where stays are around 22 months and the cost is about $43,200 annually, they might not accept Medicaid. You’ll need long-term-care insurance to fill the gap.
Don’t Forget Medicaid. If you believe you may require long-term care, either in your home or in a care facility, you should see where you stand as far as Medicaid. An experienced elder law attorney may be able to help you legally transfer certain assets before you submit your application.
Reference: Boston Globe (September 11, 2015) “Can you afford to live to 100?”