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Welfare

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The CRR researchers created a model using household survey data from 2016 that showed 65-year-old single men who had 401(k) savings had a median account value of $106,000 and were eligible for an annual Social Security benefit around $15,400. Women with 401(k) savings had a median account value of $110,000 and were eligible for an annual Social Security payout of around $14,500.

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New research gives important guidance on how to stretch your retirement dollars the furthest: In your 60s, lean on a “bridge” of withdrawals from your 401(k) and don’t start claiming Social Security until you turn 70.

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Unless you have a pre-existing condition that suggests a shorter-than-average life expectancy, waiting for that higher payout will more than pay off assuming you live into your mid-80s. (For the record, if you make it to 65, the odds are that you will indeed live at least that long.)

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If you register at the Social Security website you can get an estimate of your Social Security benefits if you were to claim at 62, at your full retirement age or at age 70. Then you can decide if you want to withdraw your FRA amount (or less) from your 401(k) so you wait to claim Social Security as long as possible.

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Saving for retirement is a common investment goal, and certain accounts — like 401(k)s and IRAs — are set up specifically for that purpose. Often the holder will pay some sort of penalty if they withdraw funds too early or for a reason other than retirement.

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