Health and Financial Milestones for Age 50 and Beyond
This age-by-age breakdown will help you know when to schedule health screenings, how to build up your savings, and prepare to live your best life during retirement.
Saving for retirement is a lifelong process, but as you get closer to retiring, the pressure to save and make the most out of your nest egg increases. As you invest in your financial future, it’s crucial to invest in your health, too, so you can live long — and well — during retirement. These key retirement financial milestones and health screening tips for your 50s, 60s, and 70s can help you do just that.
Health and financial milestones in your 50s
Generally speaking, by the time you reach your 50s, you should have six times the amount of your annual salary saved for retirement. If that seems daunting, don’t worry.
“If you’re in your 50s or 60s and still working, you still have time to save,” says Judith Corprew, Executive Vice President – Chief Compliance and Risk Officer at Patriot Bank, N.A.
If you’re a little behind plan, Corprew suggests honing your skills at stretching your dollars so you can save more. She suggests adopting habits like making your lunch daily instead of buying it at work to cut back on daily expenses.
“Learning to save money will also allow you to stretch your savings in retirement,” Corprew says. “Saving and thrifty habits will allow you to enjoy the golden years.”
50 years old
Financial responsibilities like purchasing a house or raising children may have put a strain on your retirement savings in your 30s and 40s. This makes your 50s a great time to make up for lost time. At age 50, most retirement savings plans will allow you to make catch-up contributions to your Traditional or Roth IRA, 401(k), or 403(b).
Short-term care insurance
Two common retirement planning mistakes are not planning for the unexpected and not buying the right insurance at the right time. While many people don’t consider purchasing short-term care insurance until later in life, age 50 is a good time to start shopping around. If you suffer an unexpected illness or injury that requires a short stay of 12 months or less somewhere other than a hospital, Medicare and most health insurance won’t cover all the costs. That means, if you need care in a nursing home, assisted living facility, adult daycare, or hospice, you could face considerable out-of-pocket costs.
Adult vaccines generally begin to be introduced at age 50. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends the shingles vaccine via a two-dose series at 50 and 60 years old. Worth noting: The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved a new shingles vaccine, Shingrix, in 2018 that’s almost twice as effective at preventing the virus-caused rash (also known as herpes zoster) as the previous one.
Colon cancer screening
If you haven’t started already (the American Cancer Society suggests 45 as the initial colonoscopy age), it’s time to begin colorectal health screenings. While colonoscopies are the most common colon cancer exams, stool tests and virtual colonoscopies are now available, too. Talk to your doctor about the best option based on your health history, and he or she will place you on the appropriate colorectal health screening schedule.
Prostate cancer screening
Medical associations and cancer societies disagree on when and if men should have prostate cancer screenings later in life. Those who are against it say prostate cancer in older men grows so slowly that it’s unnecessary to put men through testing. But the majority agree that you should start discussing your family history and risks with your doctor at age 50 and decide together whether screenings are necessary for you.
If you’re age 50 or older and are at high risk of contracting Hepatitis A or B, you should be vaccinated. Risks of Hepatitis A infection include traveling to countries where Hepatitis A is common, having close contact with an infected person, or using recreational drugs. Hepatitis B risks include having a job that exposes you to human blood or other bodily fluids, sharing anything from a needle to a toothbrush with an infected person, being on kidney dialysis, traveling to countries where Hepatitis B is common, or having HIV.
55 years old
During the year in which you turn 55, you’re allowed to increase your contributions to your Health Savings Account (HSA) through your employer. If you leave your place of employment during the year you turn 55 or after, you may be allowed to withdraw from qualified plans, such as 401(k) or 403(b), without an additional tax penalty.
59 1/2 years old
This is a key retirement financial milestone. You can now access most retirement accounts, such as IRAs, 401(k)s, and 403(b)s, without a 10 percent additional tax penalty. And if you’re still working, you may be able to diversify by rolling funds from qualified plans to an IRA.
Health and financial milestones in your 60s
One of your financial milestones by age 60 should be accumulating at least eight times your annual salary for retirement. You may also want to consider hiring a financial advisor for seniors to guide you through key decisions, like determining when to start claiming benefits and what health insurance coverage to buy before and after Medicare.
60 years old
If you have lost your spouse, you become eligible at age 60 to collect Social Security survivor’s benefits if your spouse was eligible and you haven’t remarried before your 60th birthday. If you collect survivor’s benefits prior to your full retirement age, they will be reduced, but they won’t impact your individual benefits. You can switch to your benefit at age 62 if it’s higher. Any benefits collected before age 65 are subject to an earnings limit, so any earned income may reduce benefits.
62 years old
Social Security eligibility
The month following your 62nd birthday, you become eligible to collect Social Security individual or spousal benefits. The individual benefit will be about 30 percent less than the full retirement benefit, and it will be subject to the earnings limit, so earned income may reduce benefits.
Health insurance before Medicare
You won’t be eligible for Medicare until the month during which you turn 65, so you’ll need to continue on your employer-sponsored health plan or search for alternative insurance if you’ve retired.
If you’re a pre-Medicare retiree, you should look closely at your employer plan or Affordable Care Act (ACA) plan to make sure the coverage is meeting your needs. If it isn’t, you can consider supplemental coverage, such as Hospital Indemnity and Dental, Vision, and Hearing insurance. These supplements will minimize coverage gaps and withdrawals from your retirement savings to cover expenses.
The bad news: By 65 to 74 years old, one in four adults already has a diagnosable hearing disability. The good news: Most of these are treatable. So start early with hearing tests at age 60 (or earlier if you notice you’re struggling to hear conversations, the TV, live performances, and more).
65 years old
You become eligible for Medicare during the month of your 65th birthday. If you haven’t been collecting Social Security benefits since age 62, you should apply for Medicare Part A three months in advance of your 65th birthday to avoid a gap in your health insurance coverage. If you don’t plan to continue using your employer-sponsored health plan, you should also apply for Medicare Part B. If you choose to use a Medicare Advantage plan instead of original Medicare, you’ll also want to purchase it at this time.
Medicare Part A covers hospital expenses, and Part B is basic health insurance that covers medically necessary services and preventative care. Neither covers everything, so you’ll want to consider Medicare Supplement insurance to cover potentially expensive out-of-pocket costs, like coinsurance, copayments, and deductibles. You’ll need to buy two separate Medicare Supplement policies if you and your spouse need coverage because a Medicare Supplement policy only covers one person.
Medicare Supplement insurance is not the same as Medicare Advantage, which provides a different avenue to get Medicare Part A and B benefits. You can’t use a Medicare Supplement policy and Medicare Advantage plan at the same time. But you can supplement your Medicare Advantage coverage with Hospital Indemnity and Dental, Vision, and Hearing insurance.
Risk for catching pneumonia, a severe infection of the lungs, has been found to be more common for those over age 65 because of lower immune system strength and higher risk for other conditions, such as heart disease, that can increase severity. As a result, the CDC has added the pneumonia vaccine to the adult vaccine schedule at 65 years old.
Worldwide, one in three women and one in five men older than age 50 will experience osteoporotic fractures. To catch any potential bone break risks early, annual bone density health screenings are recommended from age 65.
Age-related eye disease screening
The American Academy of Ophthalmology recommends having screenings for age-related eye diseases every 1 to 2 years if you are 65 years of age or older. Age-related eye diseases include glaucoma, cataracts, diabetic retinopathy, and macular degeneration.
66-67 years old
Full retirement age
Also known as “normal retirement age,” full retirement age is no longer 65 years old for everyone. The 1983 Social Security Amendments raised the full retirement age for people born in 1938 or after, and it’s been adjusted periodically since. For example, if you were born between 1943 and 1959, your retirement age is 66, and if you were born in 1960 or later, your retirement age is 67. Refer to the Social Security Administration’s Retirement Age Calculator to find out when you qualify for full retirement.
Unfortunately, one financial milestone no one wants to think about but is very necessary is estate planning. It not only designates your wishes, but it alleviates financial stress on your loved ones after you’re gone. Our Ultimate Estate Planning Guide and checklist will walk you through each step — from gathering necessary documents to learning the best time to buy Final Expense or Preneed Funeral insurance.
Health and financial milestones in your 70s
70 1/2 years old
The year when you turn 70 1/2 is referred to as the “first distribution year” and required minimum distributions (RMDs) must begin if you haven’t started collecting them at age 62 or your full retirement age. Visit the IRS’s RMD page to learn about specific requirements for all types of accounts.
71 and beyond
Life expectancies are much longer than in the past, but healthcare prices are rising. It’s important in your 70s to maintain the savings you’ve acquired and abate extra expenses to stretch your retirement funding. Focus on eliminating debts, such as mortgage and credit cards, and evaluate the levels of risk in your investment portfolios. If you haven’t already, research Long-Term Care insurance options.
Monitor blood pressure, cholesterol, eye sight, dental health, and weight
While certain health screenings, such as colonoscopies, mammograms, and pap smears, no longer need to be performed routinely in your 70s if previous results have been normal, it’s crucial to continue to monitor your overall health to prevent disease, maintain safe driving and walking conditions, and avoid expensive issues, like root canals. Visit your doctor for an annual physical and health screenings, such as blood pressure, cholesterol, and weight. Keep up with twice-a-year dental cleanings and ask your optometrist how often you should schedule exams.
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