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5 steps to take before you quit

By Jennie L. Phipps ·
Monday, August 18, 2014
Posted: 5 pm ET

It's not unusual for people nearing retirement to have no retirement savings. In a report released Monday,  26 percent of people 50 to 64 years old and 14 percent of people age 65 and older had no retirement savings at all -- none, nada.

If you're in that boat and looking forward to retiring soon anyway, you're not alone. About one in five married couples (22 percent) and nearly half of unmarried people (47 percent) rely on Social Security for 90 percent or more of their income.

5 things to do now to prepare for retirement

Get dental care. It is especially hard to get help paying for dental care -- including dentures -- after you retire. Medicare doesn't pay for any kind of routine dental care, though some Medicare Advantage plans do include limited dental insurance. If you have dental insurance before you retire, that's the time to get your teeth into as good a shape as possible. If you are poor enough to qualify for Medicaid in addition to Medicare, some states will offer you dental benefits. Otherwise, dental schools where students get practice working on your teeth at reduced rates might be your best best., a national nonprofit, will point you toward private and government low- and no-cost dental services.

Take care of your eyes. Same story. If you have vision insurance from your employer, use it before you lose it because Medicare doesn't include much vision care. It may pay for an eye exam annually if you have diabetes, glaucoma or macular degeneration.

Apply for a mortgage while you still qualify. You may have great credit, but once you stop receiving a regular paycheck it can be very difficult to persuade a mortgage banker to lend you money, especially if you are depending on consulting or a part-time job for income. That makes the pre-retirement months the best time to get financing for a retirement home.

Make sure you are getting what you deserve. Take stock of your company retirement accounts from current and former employers. Find out when and how you might qualify for any pensions. Call former employers' human resources departments. If the companies are no longer in business, try the Pension Benefit Guarantee Corp., which guarantees private pensions. It offers instructions for tracking down missing pensions.

Take Social Security seriously. Get help analyzing how to maximize what you're entitled to receive. You can get help online or see if your neighborhood senior center provides expert assistance.

Here's why it's so important to make the most of Social Security benefits.

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William McCollum
August 20, 2014 at 2:13 pm

I think we can add a new definition to the old one.
Old: a conservative is a liberal who just got mugged.
New: A liberal is a conservative who just retired.

Marc W
August 20, 2014 at 1:07 pm

No, Suzanne. Medical care is the biggest financial threat for retirees. BTW - the government also "imposes" a military, roads, snowplows, police, fire, etc. etc. etc. If paying taxes and living under government regulations is such a bother maybe you could consider moving somewhere else.

August 20, 2014 at 10:16 am

I am retired and I have a very comfortable retirement in all respects now at age 72.
I am proud as an American with 2 immigrant children and 1 immigrant grand child to pay my USA Taxes !!! We are lucky to be on this side of the border (north and south) and to live in this great country. Our taxes are nasty some times ,but elsewhere they are higher or lower and here we are in the middle and get a lot for our money! I am lived all over the world, had business in many countries.

I hope taxes increase a little so that we can have more rapid transit , safe bridges and so on and of course that creates a lot of jobs and ultimately lowers my taxes.

suzanne lloyd
August 20, 2014 at 5:41 am

The biggest threat to retirement is the taxes and regulations the government imposes on us and it is beyond our control, you can budget all you want and when these expenses are thrown your way on a fixed income where does it come from?

August 20, 2014 at 12:36 am

retirment tips