The answer to this question will be different for everyone. Factors, both financial and personal, to consider when deciding when to retire include:
- Your desire to continue working. You may want to continue working in the Church, change ministries, or volunteer.
- Your plans for retirement. Understand what your retirement expenses will be, from living expenses to your “when I retire” dreams.
The standard of living you want to have. Do you have enough savings? Will you have enough income? In addition to your retirement savings and/or pension benefit, consider your Social Security benefits and other assets to decide if you are financially ready to retire.
- — The age at which you begin to draw Social Security will impact your benefit, so be sure to consider the advantages and disadvantages of starting your benefit at different ages.
For many of us, retirement can last 20 or more years, so it’s important to start planning as early as possible. Some steps to take are:
- Set realistic financial goals for retirement. You should try to replace 100% of your pre-retirement salary at the time you retire. Use the Clergy PlanAhead for Retirement Calculator or the Lay PlanAhead for Retirement Calculator to see if your retirement savings, pension benefits and Social Security will be enough. If not, will delaying your retirement raise your potential income in retirement?
- Think about where you would like to live in retirement and research costs.
- Assess your savings, including retirement savings and other pension plans in which you or your spouse may be vested, as well as other potential sources of retirement income.
- Make a budget. While some of your costs may go down in retirement, you could have an increase the first few years for travel or other discretionary expenses. Understanding what your expenses will be can help you as you make decisions regarding survivor’s benefits for your pension plan, savings plan withdrawal options, and when to begin drawing your Social Security benefit.
- Review your Group Life Insurance benefits and calculate the amount of life insurance you need. Any group life insurance provided by an employer will likely be reduced or eliminated when you retire.
- Review your pension benefits. At the time of retirement, you will need to decide if you will reduce your benefit in order to provide your spouse or other beneficiary a benefit should you pre-decease them.
- Review your Social Security information.
- Review your medical insurance needs and options.
Items to consider as you approach retirement age:
- Request your Medicare card from Social Security three months before your 65th birthday.
- Discuss with Medicare whether you need to sign up for Part B.
- Decide when to take Social Security benefits.
- Consider opportunities to earn income after retirement, but remember that Social Security limits post-retirement earnings. If you work for the Church after retirement, also remember that the Clergy Pension Plan and the Lay DB Plan may limit earnings and/or the type of work that you may do.
- Continue using the Internal Revenue Service's housing exclusion if you are clergy.
- Call the Church Pension Fund 3-6 months before your planned retirement date to discuss your benefits and your options.