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A Bean Counter’s Take on Retirement


A new series of reports from the Society of Actuaries can help you navigate some of the biggest and most difficult decisions in planning for retirement.

The 11 reports, the product of two years of work by the society’s Committee on Post-Retirement Needs and Risks, are designed for individuals who are within about 10 years of retirement and those in the first decade of life beyond the office, says Anna Rappaport, chairwoman of the committee.

“There are so many decisions people have to make today about retirement, and they don’t necessarily know what all the questions are,” Ms. Rappaport says. “We hope these reports will help people – and financial advisers – focus on the right questions and make better decisions.”

The Society of Actuaries, based in Schaumburg, Ill., is an educational and research organization that focuses primarily on the measurement and management of risk. Here’s a sampling of what you can find among the group’s new reports, which are grouped under the heading, “Managing Retirement Decisions”:

“Big Question: When Should I Retire?” This 11-page paper walks you through the key variables and questions to consider when setting a retirement date – and offers examples, with dollar figures, about the potential impact of delaying retirement.

“When Retirement Comes Too Soon” As many people are discovering, job loss, illness, disability and other factors can mean that you’re forced to retire before you’re ready. This paper looks at issues to consider that, ideally, will “increase the odds of making a smooth transition.”

“Deciding When to Claim Social Security” It’s among the most important – and baffling – decisions for many would-be retirees: trying to pinpoint when to collect, and how to maximize, Social Security benefits. This 10-page report highlights the basics for individuals, couples and surviving spouses – and points you to some additional and valuable resources.

“Designing a Monthly Paycheck for Retirement” Saving money for later life is fairly straightforward; tapping your nest egg so that it lasts as long as you do is the hard part. This paper looks at the basics of withdrawing funds from savings, as well as financial products that produce income, like annuities and longevity insurance.

“Women Take the Wheel: Destination Retirement” A look at the unique financial challenges that women face in later life and how to approach these hurdles.


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About Encore

  • Encore examines the changing nature of retirement, from new rules and guidelines for financial security to the shifting identities and priorities of today’s retirees. The blog also explores news that affects retirement, from the Wall Street Journal Digital Network and around the web. Lead bloggers are reporter Catey Hill and senior editor Jeremy Olshan. Other contributors include The Wall Street Journal’s retirement columnists Glenn Ruffenach and Anne Tergesen; the Director for the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College, Alicia Munnell; and the Director of Research for Pinnacle Advisory Group, Michael Kitces, CFP.