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How to Take Responsibility for Your Retirement

The IRS offers you the following tips to help you take responsibility for your retirement:

Set a Goal - "I think I can save $25 a paycheck." It's easy to procrastinate so set up a "painless" payroll deduction for saving. It doesn't matter if the money goes into a 401(k) plan, an IRA or into a plain, old-fashioned savings account, just start saving. You can start with a small amount and increase it whenever your circumstances allow - like when you get a raise, your car payments end or you get a bonus. Pay yourself now, you'll thank yourself later.

Open an IRA - IRAs are easy to get, easy to contribute to and easy to save with. Most Americans can set up an IRA - whether it's a traditional IRA or a Roth IRA - and save on taxes. Find out more about IRAs from your bank or financial institution.

Learn about Your Employer's Retirement Plan - If you're covered under your employer's retirement plan, your employer is required to give you a plain language explanation of the plan called a "summary plan description." It describes your rights under the retirement plan. To get a summary plan description, ask the plan administrator or your employer.

Review Your Individual Benefit Statement - Your individual benefit statement shows your total plan benefits and the amount that is vested, or fully owned by you. To get an individual benefit statement, ask your plan administrator or employer.

Sign Up for 401(k) Contributions - If you're covered under a 401(k) plan, you can designate the amount of money you want taken out of your salary and contributed to your 401(k) account. The elective deferral limit is $17,500 in 2014 ($18,000 in 2015; $23,000 in 2014 and $24,000 in 2015 if you're age 50 or older).

Take Your Required Minimum Distributions - If you're 70-1/2, you're generally required to receive a minimum amount from your qualified retirement plan or IRA by year-end.

Estimate Your Social Security Benefits - The Social Security Administration offers a calculator to help you estimate your future Social Security benefits. For more information, go to www.ssa.gov.

Learn about Your Spouse's Retirement Plan - Many retirement plans provide benefits for spouses. For example, your spouse's plan may provide that you'll receive an annuity unless you consent to distribution in another form. Before signing, read and understand any waiver or consent forms for your spouse's retirement plan distributions.

Page Last Reviewed or Updated: 23-Oct-2014