It's not unusual for people nearing retirement to have no retirement savings. In a report Bankrate.com 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. ToothWisdom.org, 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.