Retirement Income Planning - Pt 1

Retirement Income Planning—A Guide for Women

By Karen A. Miller, CFP®, CFPA


If you’re like most people, you’ve spent far more time saving for retirement than actually planning for living in it. But regardless of how far away your retirement may or may not be, it’s critical to create a plan for generating retirement income.


There are actually many pieces of the retirement income pie—it’s typically a 3-legged stool that includes savings, social security and any pension or retirement plan assets. And, while there are a number of things for any woman to consider, there may be extra considerations for divorced and widowed women. In this first installment of our retirement income series, we’ll review some of the things all women need to consider when planning for retirement income.


Social Security

Social Security wasn’t designed to replace income, but to help supplement other retirement assets. You can find out what your own benefits might be by visiting Here are some other things you should know:


General guidelines

Divorced women


Typically, you can claim as early as age 62, though doing so will reduce your benefits for the rest of your life.


You can also let your benefit grow beyond your full retirement age (visit to find out your FRA)—growing your benefit by an additional 8% per year through age 70.


You may be able to claim your individual benefit or a spousal benefit. Depending on when you were born, you may be able to choose for yourself or Social Security may select the larger benefit for you.


May be able to claim spousal benefits if you were married for at least 10 years and have not remarried (even if your spouse has remarried)


Assuming your spousal benefit would be larger than your own, you may be able to claim as early as age 62

Can claim survivor benefits as early as age 60


Depending on when you were born, you may be able to claim survivor benefits and then delay claiming your own benefit in order to let it grow



It’s also worth noting that you can work while claiming Social Security, but doing so can impact your benefits and your taxes. There may be other considerations and you should consult your tax advisor for more information.




401(k) and IRAs

Retirement assets are generally available to you at age 59 ½ without a penalty. With tax-deferred accounts, however, you will be subject to ordinary income taxes when you withdraw them. You do not have to withdraw these assets until you reach age 70 ½.




Whether you have a pension, your spouse has a pension, your ex has a pension that is part of your divorce agreement, or even if your deceased spouse had a pension, there are things you need to know before you begin collecting it:

  • Payout decisions made at the time of retirement can impact the payouts forever, even after death. So, make sure you understand the payout definitions completely before you make your choices.
  • Typically, you can begin collecting these benefits at age 65, but some plans may enable you to begin collecting benefits as early as age 55.
  • The rules regarding divorced spouses and pensions vary widely from state to state and from retirement plan to retirement plan. Some city, state, county and town retirement plans won’t pay benefits to former spouses.
  • Consult your lawyer for more information.



Divorce and estate planning attorneys can provide more comprehensive legal information and Gasber Financial can help you with your retirement income plans.


In our next installment, we’ll discuss some of the costs you need to consider and mistakes to avoid as you make your retirement income plans.