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5 foolish retirement mistakes

By Jennie L. Phipps ·
Sunday, April 1, 2012
Posted: 9 am ET

Just in time for April Fools' Day, here are five foolish retirement planning mistakes that lots of people make.

  1. Believing in Santa Claus, the tooth fairy and investment returns that are too good to be true. Just this week, the Texas State Securities Board reported that a shyster who bilked $7 million out of elderly investors will get 15 years in jail while his victims will get bupkis.
  2. Thinking that since grandma died at 65, you will too. According to data released by the U.S. Census Bureau this January, average life expectancy is 78.7 years, But that's the average. In his book on aging, "Rethinking Aging: Growing Old and Living Well in an Overtreated Society," longevity expert Nortin Hadler writes, "I now consider American death before 85 to be 'premature.'" If you aren't planning on longevity, you're inadvertently planning to run out of money.
  3. Holding your nose and jumping into the retirement pool without testing the water. A study by Wells Fargo determined that 72 percent of people older than 55 aren't sure how much they will be able to spend in retirement or where the money they'll need will come from. Here's hoping retiring swimmers' pools of assets are deep and wide.
  4. Planning to work until you drop. The Bureau of Labor Statistics says people who lose their jobs when they are 65 or older and go job hunting have only a 23 percent chance of being hired. Those would be OK odds at the track, but they aren't so good if you can't afford to lose.
  5. Telling your spouse you're calling it quits. About one-quarter of divorces are between people age 50 and older. Consider that under the best of circumstances, you'll only get to keep 50 percent of what you both have, including retirement assets and property. Counseling and making nice is a lot cheaper.

Have a terrific April.

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Ronile Valenza
April 02, 2012 at 8:22 pm


As a general rule, early survivors benefits based on your age will give you about the same total Social Security survivors benefits over your lifetime, but in smaller amounts to take into account the longer period you will receive them.

You can receive widows or widowers benefits based on your age at any time between age 60 and your full retirement age as a survivor. However, if you start at an earlier age, your survivors benefits are reduced a fraction of a percent for each month before your full retirement age.

If you receive widow's or widower's benefits, and you will qualify for a retirement benefit that's more than your survivors benefit, you can switch to your own retirement benefit as early as age 62. The rules are complicated and vary depending on your situation, so talk to a Social Security representative about the options available to you.

April 02, 2012 at 7:30 pm

Interesting that everyone is pushing retirement at 70. With life expectancy at 78.7 years, that means you would NEVER catch up to the amount you would collect if you started at 62. It is not like you stop collecting at 70, if you retire at 62 rates. You still collect your pension and 8 years of COLA. I did my calculation and I would break even at 81. Now I worked in statistics all my life and 81 beats 78.7 every single time. All of the above is especially true if you have multiple retirement sources like I do....

Sarah B. Williams
April 02, 2012 at 5:23 am

Could you please explain how a widow can begin drawing her late husband's SS as young as age 60? He was also on SSDI. I've talked to SS and if I draw at age 60 I will be penalized for drawing early, where as, if I wait to 66 I can draw a widow's portion. I would really like to know and so would alot of other people. I was told that I would never be able to draw his full amount and if I can't let me guess who gets the rest and what happens to my SS since I can't draw it if I draw my late husbands. I would really like to know how I can draw my late husband's SS. It's really unfair, he worked 40 years or better, so he has enough years in.Any info you could send my way would be greatly appreciated. I do enjoy reading these articles on Yahoo. They are very helpful some times. Thank You and hve a nice day.