Larriva-WEBAs you approach retirement, conventional wisdom is to spend down taxable assets and delay IRA & 401k withdrawals until the Required Minimum Distributions (RMDs) begin at age 72. This can be an effective strategy. Yet, in many situations, it may be better to start early IRA withdrawals.

Counter-Intuitive Advice and Early IRA Withdrawals

When does this counter-intuitive strategy make the most sense? It’s relative to your marginal income tax-brackets over a seven- to 10-year period.

For example, a married couple both age 62 can earn up to combined income $106,150 (gross) before the $25,100 standard deduction and still be in only the 12 percent marginal federal tax bracket. If they have $800,000 in IRA/401ks, they can withdrawal some of that money and still be in a low marginal bracket.

If that couple waits until age 72, those retirement assets with 7 percent growth may double to about $1.6 million, and RMDs would start at $62,800 per year. That RMD income along with $57,000 per year for Social Security would put them in a 25 percent marginal tax bracket in the future. (See table.)

Another trap is related to future Medicare premiums (Part B), which typically begin at age 65. The more income you have in retirement, the more you will pay in Medicare premiums. If your adjusted gross income plus municipal bond interest is more than $176,000 for a married couple, then monthly Medicare can increase from about $148 monthly per person up to $505. Paying attention to the nuances in Medicare rules could save a couple up to $8,500 per year.

early IRA withdrawalsDetermining the best time for retirement distributions can be complicated. It’s smart to come up with a plan before you hand in your resignation. Your Perspective advisor will crunch the numbers and help you create the optimal strategy.