Remember pensions? Back in 1975, 85 percent of private-sector workers covered in a workplace retirement plan had one. Now it's closer to 30 percent. Unless you're in the public sector, your workplace retirement options are probably limited to a company 401(k)-type plan, which lays the responsibility for retirement squarely on you.
Remember to go to the AARP home page every day for tips on keeping healthy and sharp, and great deals.
That's a trend that has retirement experts worried. "The 401(k) alone was never really meant to be a complete pension plan for clients," says Dan Keady, director of financial planning for the financial-services organization TIAA-CREF. "Most people also had a defined benefit plan."
The solution, experts say, is to build a "personal pension" with a portion of your assets. To encourage people to do just that, the federal government recently proposed a host of regulatory changes to help Americans convert 401(k) assets into monthly checks.
These rules should make it easier to use part of your 401(k) stash to buy a longevity policy, a relatively new kind of annuity that kicks in at an advanced age. You could buy the annuity at retirement but agree to defer payouts until — and only if — you reach 80 or 85.
Why would you kiss your cash good-bye for 20 years — and maybe forever? Retirement experts tout longevity policies because they're an effective defense against the risk of outliving your money.
Security later in late
For buyers, they can be a potent planning tool. You know your living expenses will be covered if you hit 85, which translates into peace of mind — and greater freedom to spend now.
But perhaps the biggest attraction of longevity policies is cost: They are far cheaper than their better-known cousin, the single premium income annuity (SPIA). Both are sold by insurance companies, but an SPIA is an immediate annuity — you turn over a wad of cash and start getting payments right away.
Longevity policies are a deferred annuity; they're less expensive because you're giving up control of your money for years, and you won't get a penny back if you pass away prematurely. MetLife says a 65-year-old man who wants $1,500 in monthly income could buy an SPIA for $272,000; a deferred longevity policy that pays the same amount starting at age 85 would cost just $52,000.
Longevity policies have been available for years for individual buyers, but they haven't been popular. One obstacle: Current tax laws make it difficult to set aside a portion of a 401(k) for an annuity.
Under the rules, people must begin withdrawing a specified amount from their accounts (called a required minimum distribution, or RMD) after they turn 70 1/2. The proposed changes exempt the annuity purchase from RMDs, which should make an annuity more attractive for people who want to minimize their withdrawals.