At the end of 2019, President Trump signed a federal spending package that included the Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Enhancement (SECURE) Act. A provision in this legislation effectively eliminated the “stretch IRA,” an estate-planning strategy that allowed an IRA to continue benefiting from tax-deferred growth, potentially for decades. Most nonspouse beneficiaries, including children and grandchildren, can no longer “stretch” distributions over their lifetimes.
In early 2020, 61% of U.S. workers surveyed said that retirement planning makes them feel stressed.1 Investor confidence was continually tested as the year wore on, and it’s likely that this percentage rose — perhaps even substantially. If you find yourself among those feeling stressed heading into the new year, these tips may help you focus and enhance your retirement savings strategy in 2021.
Many people intend to retire in the place they call home, where they have established families and friendships. But for others, the end of a career brings the freedom to choose a new lifestyle in a different part of the country — or the opportunity to preserve more wealth and protect it from taxes.
In 2020, 74% of workers said they expected to work for pay after retiring from their regular jobs, but only 27% of retirees said they had actually done so. This large gap between expectation and reality has been fairly consistent in surveys over the past 20 years, and there is no reason to expect it will change.
As the number of COVID-19 cases began to skyrocket in March 2020, Congress passed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. The legislation may make it easier for Americans to access money in their retirement plans, temporarily waiving the 10% early-withdrawal penalty and increasing the amount they could borrow. Understanding these new guidelines and the other rules for loans and early withdrawals may help you determine if they are appropriate options during a financial crisis. (Remember that tapping retirement savings now could risk your financial situation in the future.)
Retirement confidence is significantly lower among those who say their employment status has negatively changed or anticipate it to negatively change within the next six months because of the Covid-19 pandemic.
An ongoing study of IRA accounts has consistently found that women, on average, have lower retirement savings balances than men (see chart). Though there may be multiple reasons for this disparity, the most fundamental are the wage gap between men and women and the fact that women are more likely than men to take time off to care for children and other family members.1
At any age, health care is a priority. But when you retire, you should probably focus more on health care than ever before. That’s why it’s particularly important for women to factor in the cost of health care, including long-term care, as part of their retirement plan.
Each year for its Retirement Confidence Survey, the Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI) surveys 1,000 workers and 1,000 retirees to assess how confident they are in their ability to afford a comfortable retirement. Once again, in 2019, retirees expressed stronger confidence than workers:
Almost 100 million Americans, representing about 44% of U.S. households, owned mutual funds in 2018. Saving for retirement was the primary goal for 73% of investors; other goals included saving for college or a house, building an emergency fund, or providing current income.