Veterans Day Retirement Tips
NEW YORK ( MainStreet) Retirement planning for the 22 million military veterans and 1.4 million active service members has its own nuances.
Veterans and active service members have different benefits, lifetime earnings patterns and other issues to consider compared with civilians.
Many veterans enter second careers after their military one ends. Vets need to manage both their military pensions and maximize their retirement savings through an employer-sponsored retirement plan or IRA, said Larry Rosenthal, an independent financial advisor with ING Financial Services based in Washington, D.C.
Veterans should seek advice from a financial advisor to help manage their increased cash flow, establish a plan to pay for their children's college education or retire any existing debt, he said.
"Upon exiting the military, they have to learn to maximize their new benefits," he said. "They often have the mentality of the military taking care of their needs. Now they have to figure out things for themselves. It is a whole new world to them. They usually adjust very quickly."
Some veterans have additional income generated from their rental homes, which can double their income and creates additional opportunity for investments.
One option is to build their reserves, rollover their military retirement into an IRA and maximize the matching programs a new employer may offer in their 401(k) plan, Rosenthal said.
Financial advisors suggest that spouses of active members who are serving overseas should be engaged in the planning process as well. This step ensures that finances and retirement planning are not neglected while the service member is away from home.
Life insurance is a crucial aspect to retirement planning, especially to protect and grow a spouse's retirement security, Rosenthal said.
"They want to make sure their family is taken care of in case something happens to them," he said.
When developing a plan, veterans should consider the impact that taxes will have on their retirement income since their taxes will likely increase in the future, said David Alemian, a retirement planner, radio talk show host and video columnist.
He recommends that veterans start a tax-free retirement plan that has a savings vehicle and an investment grade life insurance policy with critical and chronic illness riders.
"Later on the retirement income from the life insurance policy will be tax-free so that higher taxes in the future won't affect you," said Alemian. "The critical and chronic illness riders can be used to provide a disability and long-term care coverage."
Veterans who are starting their own business after their military career ends should fund a traditional IRA on a consistent basis, said Charles Weinrich, a private financial advisor and licensed insurance agent for SunTrust Investment Services.
"If the veteran qualifies, a Roth IRA provides the most tax advantages over the long-term," he said. "A Roth IRA allows you to withdraw money in retirement without owing any additional taxes on your IRA contributions or your account earnings. Since a Roth IRA has no required minimum distribution, your money can continue to grow tax-free."