Redefining Income Planning

It seems much longer than 8 years ago when income riders within Fixed Indexed Annuities (FIAs) provided guarantees never offered. Historical income value roll up rates that were as high as 8% are now being outperformed by uncapped strategies. To me, its amazing to see how the evolution of income planning has redefined itself, especially in under a decade. Today, more financial professionals are redirecting retirement funds into FIAs that provide increasing income streams, as well as uncapped strategies, for life. Depending on when you plan to retire will determine which increasing income strategy may be best equipped to meet your needs. This is why it is important to work with a professional who specialization lies within income planning solutions.

The days of FIA annual point to point strategies that can only provide a return of 3.0% are well behind us, and good riddance. Through many of today’s specialized indexed strategies, policy owners within a FIA can now participate in 90% + of the market upside (within a predetermined indexed strategy) with absolutely zero downside. This means that you can never lose your principle or earned interest moving forward, regardless of how the market performs. As this past recession has shown, principle protection in down markets is key to making your retirement a reality. These recent uncapped strategies are causing more financial professionals to redirect client funds into guarantees absent in a turbulent market. Depending on what your individual circumstances (retirement time-line) are will depend on which strategy may best suit your needs.

Income payouts within FIAs can illustrate much higher than ever before. Income Account Values (non cash values) used to determine income payouts can participate up to 250% of a selected index return while in deferral. Additionally, annual income payouts can increase by up to 150% of the same selected index. For example, one particular FIA that has a 6% annual return (of a selected index) would result in an income payout increase of 9%, never to decrease! Furthermore, each year the selected index increases in value the income will continue to increase by 150% respectively. Within a couple of these strategies I have seen income payouts potentially double within a 15 year period, while continuing to increase for life! These are income payouts that have never been seen before, specifically designed to protect retirees from absent pensions and a bankrupted social security system.

So how did this evolution happen? Simple. Over the last several years analysts have learned to maximize the upside potential within specified indexes, while protecting the profitability of the issuing company. Because of the extreme market fluctuations we have seen since 2008 (the most volatility since the Great Depression) statisticians and actuaries have been able to capitalize on market profit points, passing on the gains to the policy owner.

Where the evolution of income planning ends up remains to be seen. I can tell you from personal experience that today’s potential income payouts and uncapped strategies were never contemplated 8 years ago. FIAs today are replacing fears of inflation and market downturns with comfort and predictability. Now, finally, retirement can be planned with a higher quality of life than ever before!

How to Become Your Own Banker

Here are four ways Universal Life policies can be beneficial:

Life Insurance Policies Build Cash Value

Cash value, unlike the death benefit, is one you can use while you’re alive to borrow against or to reduce premiums down the road. The cash value of a Universal Life policy accumulates at a tax advantage basis, which means the money you withdraw is not taxed until the amount you withdraw exceeds your bases (the amount you have already paid in.)

Replaces Your Savings Account

For the reason above, you can build up a nest egg for retirement. Policyholders should allow their policy to grow before tapping into the cash value for retirement income.

Lower Interest Rates than a Bank

Life insurance companies often offer cash-value loans at interest rates lower than a traditional bank loan. Of course, you’re not obligated to pay back the loan since you’re essentially borrowing your own money. However, it is important to note that any money you borrow, plus interest, will be deducted from the death benefit when you die.

Annual Dividends

Another tax advantage of this type of policy is the payment of dividends by many insurers. Dividends are generally taxed as gains. In the case of life insurance however, the IRS treats dividends as a return of premium and they are not taxable. While dividends are not guaranteed, some companies have paid them every single year for over 160 years. You can use your dividends in a variety of ways-you can take them in cash, leave them to accumulate interest, or use them to increase your policy’s face amount or death benefit.

Although Universal Life insurance is not considered to be an investment, there are certainly more benefits than using traditional banking methods and can become a part of your assets plan.

What are the benefits of universal life insurance?

Universal life insurance provides an additional level of flexibility over term or whole life insurance because you are able to adjust your insurance premium payments.

Additionally, any growth in your policy’s cash value is tax-deferred. This means you won’t have to worry about paying taxes on the growth until the time of withdrawal. At the same time, your policy has a minimum guaranteed rate of interest, meaning your cash value’s growth will never drop below a certain level. This way, you will have peace of mind knowing that funds will always be there if you need them.

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Your Social Security

Understanding your Social Security benefits for retirement is often the key to survival for many of us. But, about 70% of us lock in benefits at their lowest amount when 62 years old. Many are still working at this time which creates an unnecessary conflict with your benefits.

The so called “full retirement” age is 66 if born from 1943 to 1954. This gradually increases to 67 if born in 1960 or later. If you take benefits before full retirement and are still working you can trigger a special penalty.

If you take benefits before full retirement (62-65), the government will deduct $1 for each $2 you earn above $15,720 (for 2015). If you earn just $25,000 that year, the deduction is 1/2 of $9,280 or $4,640 that is withheld from your benefit check.

When you reach full retirement age, the government deducts $1 for every $3 above $41,880 (for 2015)–a much higher limit. So, you could earn up to that limit without losing any benefits at all–a much better scenario. Many of us will work part-time to keep things interesting and to supplement our incomes, so you want to set yourself up for the best outcome.

In addition to this, you must be aware of your tax obligations. You will pay taxes on your social security if you total income is more than $25,000 if single. However, if you file a joint return, you will be taxed on anything over $32,000. So, two single people living together have a higher tax threshold than those married. This has commonly been referred to as the marriage penalty and the main reason elders prefer to cohabit instead.

So, based on the above info from social security, the best outcome here is to simply wait until your are 66 or 67 years old to start and stay married or don’t remarry. Let me add that there is a second reason to not remarry. Remember, you can take half of your spouse’s social security at 62 (without any loss to that spouse) and then start your full benefits at 70 when they are higher. You have to have been married at least 10 years to qualify.

In case this sounds a bit confusing at first, please see my other article that spells it out in more detail. In it I provide 6 reasons to take social security at 62 and 6 reasons to take it a 70 years old. When I decided to start my social security at 62, it was because I fit into one of the 6 reasons provided. I certainly encourage you to spend a little time to understand this before you have to decide. The last thing you want to hear you left money on the table when you actually qualified for it. Please see my other blog article When to Start Social Security.

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