Navigating the New Retirement Landscape: Social Security, Medicaid, and Financial Planning for a Secure Future
With prices and inflation rising as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, disruptions in global supply chains, and the war in Ukraine, more retirees than ever before are returning to work. Some might find their retired life unappealing, while others feel their expertise can still be shared. The majority of retirees, however, are returning because they simply cannot make ends meet. As the cost of healthcare, housing, and basic necessities rise, many find that their savings or monthly income are insufficient to support their daily costs. This does, however, raise questions about Social Security and Medicaid. Those of full retirement age might be eligible for Social Security and Medicaid benefits, depending on a variety of financial and health-related factors, but those who return to work do run the risk of having their benefits reduced or taken away depending on their income and any private coverage they receive from a place of employment. Planning for Social Security and Medicaid are important factors to consider when drawing up a retirement plan, as qualification for benefits can be tricky to determine and acceptance into either program is not guaranteed. Financial planning, including asset protection and estate planning, are also important when considering retirement, as planning ahead with realistic goals in mind will help avoid future financial hardship or the feeling that one is a burden to their family. Consulting with an experienced elder planning attorney will help inform one’s planning, such as an appropriate retirement age or monthly saving’s goals.
Social Security and Medicaid
Upon reaching full retirement age, currently calculated as between 65 and 67, qualified retirees are eligible for Social Security retirement benefits without any deductions based on current earnings. Similarly, qualified retirees of full retirement age are eligible for Medicaid benefits based on income methodologies employed by the supplemental security income program of the Social Security Administration. Qualified individuals may begin collecting social security and Medicaid benefits before full retirement age, although coverage will likely be reduced unless their qualification is not dependent on age. Social security and Medicaid provide, among other things, health coverage, disability insurance, and assistance with the cost of prescription drugs. One can begin receiving partial social security benefits before their full retirement age, but their partial benefits will be reduced based on the Social Security annual earnings limit, currently set at $21,240. These reductions continue until the month before a person reaches full retirement age.
Returning to work after retiring is a tricky prospect because this may affect one’s qualification for partial or full social security and Medicaid benefits. Income is a key factor when determining the coverage and benefits a retiree is eligible for from both Social Security and Medicaid. While social security benefits are not deducted for current income about full retirement age, the benefits are aimed at those of lower income or without any stable income stream. In the case of Medicaid, yearly household income is a key factor in determining one’s eligibility, so any income above thresholds for eligibility set by Medicaid may result in one having some or all of their coverage taken away. Going back to work after retirement, especially for those above their calculated full retirement receiving social security or Medicaid benefits, is not a prudent financial plan, even if a job provides better health coverage.
Financial and Estate Planning for Later Life
Medical emergencies, long-term treatment costs, and prescription drug costs are, among other physical considerations, a reality for most retirees. There is also the simple fact that retirees will, for the most part, still be paying their bills for housing, groceries, and electronics, among other things. Even with help from family, and the benefits and coverage provided by social security and Medicaid, retirees will increasingly find themselves with bills they cannot afford to pay. Planning for retirement, therefore, is a key aspect of ensuring that one’s later years are spent comfortably and without the stresses of potentially having to return to work or becoming a burden on family.
Planning for things such as Medicaid coverage are best done before one reaches their full retirement age. Protecting one's assets and creating an estate plan will also be of great help when determining a plan for retirement, as an experienced estate planning and asset protection lawyer will help one to ensure they have a steady income for retirement and still qualify for Medicaid coverage. Social security and Medicaid are tools to help you in your later life, but comprehensive estate plans are important to ensure that you have a plan for emergencies.
You have worked your entire life to ensure that your later years are spent enjoyably and that you can leave a financial legacy to your family, so ensure that you engage in retirement planning as soon as possible. To speak with New York’s most experienced elder planning attorney, please call the Trust and Estate Planning Law Office at (718) 333-2395.