Tips for Retirees: Planning for a Single Retirement

Authored By: Community Financial Credit Union on 12/21/2021

Saving for retirement involves a lot of planning, calculations, and research for every adult. And while you may think retirement would be easier for unmarried individuals, who don’t have to plan for two, the process can still be complicated. Considering that the U.S. Census states that around half of Americans are reaching retirement without a spouse, it’s necessary that we make sure those single retirees are given the same tools to succeed. Thankfully, there are special strategies for retirement savings that can be helpful for those that retire single. 

Here’s what you need to know:

Create your own support system

One of the greatest challenges of retiring alone is not having a built-in support system through a spouse and/or children. To combat feelings of loneliness, it’s a good idea to build your own support system of close friends and extended family. Finding a group of people in your area that can join you for fun outings or errands is a wonderful way to combat feelings of loneliness, should they arise. Many cities also have local retirement clubs or groups that are specifically designed to allow retirees a place to relax and meet new people. 

Identity your most trusted friend

Whether you retire alone or with others, it’s important to figure out who your emergency contact will be in case of an accident. Without someone appointed to make decisions on your behalf during a crisis, you could end up with your closest living relative making medical decisions for you without your consent—regardless of your relationship, or lack thereof, with them. 

Once you’ve chosen your trusted contact, draw up a medical power-of-attorney and save their contact information in your phone under “ICE” or “In Case of Emergency.” This will allow medical professionals to easily find them should the need arise. 

Get creative about your housing options

When looking for a place to retire, there are loads of options to consider. Do you want to move abroad to a country with a low cost of living? How about splitting a house or apartment with a few close friends so you can share living expenses? Have you looked at retirement communities in your area with senior-friendly amenities and walkable shopping? Retiring alone can offer even more opportunities for housing options than those retiring as a couple.

Consider long-term care insurance

Did you know that most adults turning age 65 will need long-term care at some point in their lives? Unfortunately, this kind of long-term care can end up being incredibly expensive. As a single retiree, you’ll likely feel more secure knowing you have coverage for a long-term care facility or at-home care should the need arise. A long-term care policy may not be cheap, but may be worth the security it brings you.

Know your Social Security claiming options

If you have never been married, or have never had a marriage that lasted 10 years or more, your Social Security claiming options are simple. You are likely best waiting until age 70 to claim Social Security benefits and income. However, if you do claim your benefits before reaching full retirement age, and you continue working, make sure your income does not exceed the Social Security earnings limit at the time, or you may end up owing money.

If you have a previous marriage that lasted 10 years or longer, you may be able to claim a spousal benefit based on your ex’s earnings record and switch over to your own benefit amount when you reach full retirement age. If your spouse has passed, you may be eligible for a widow/widower benefit based on your late partner’s earnings record. Be sure to review your options carefully before making your choice.

A single retirement may look a bit different than a retirement shared with a life partner, but by planning ahead and following the tips outlined above, these can be the best years of your life!

Your Turn:  Are you planning for a single retirement? Share your best tips and ideas with us in the comments.

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