Money Monday - Personal Finance FAQ
In my role as a Personal Finance Educator, I get some good questions to answer. Here are some of the ones from last week that I think are valuable to share.
1. After death of an ex- spouse, does Social Security benefits continue?
Payments from Social Security will stop upon death. However you may be eligible for divorced survivor benefits. But rather than getting a check based on half of what your ex-spouse was getting, your payment will be based on the entire check your ex was getting.
- The payment is reduced if you started benefits before your own full retirement age
- The marriage needs to last a minimum of 10 years
- Divorced spousal benefits end if the person remarries, but divorced survivor benefits can continue if the survivor remarries after reaching age 60
2. What is the median amount that Americans(ages 55 -64) have in their retirement account?
104,000 according to a 2015 Government Accountability Office (GAO) study. This is the median(not the average) ; so half have under 104,000 and one half have over. This is very discouraging to stay the least. Getting educated in personal finance is part of the solution to this problem; as many Americans are only semi-illterate when it comes to managing their money
3. Is there a way to avoid paying taxes on IRA withdrawals due to the minimum distribution requirement by contributing more to charity?
Yes with the following caveats
- You can donate your distribution to charity. Individuals age 70 1/2 or older can avoid paying income tax on IRA withdrawals of up to $100,000 per year .
- You must directly transfer to a qualified charitty(as defined by IRS) . This IRA charitable contribution will also satisfy the minimum distribution requirement..
- If you follow the IRS rules you will not owe income tax on the distribution
- The distribution must be made directly from the trustee of the IRA to a charitable organization. You cannot withdraw the money yourself and then donate it to charity. If you do , you will pay taxes on the distribution.
- Contributions from 401(k)s and 403(b)s are not eligible for this tax break. A work around would be to roll the funds to an IRA and then make a contribution directly to a charity.
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