What Counts As Income In Retirement? Exploring Your Options

by | Mar 29, 2023

Retirement is an exciting milestone that every working adult eagerly looks forward to. While the idea of no longer having to wake up and go to work each day can be liberating, it also presents unique financial challenges as you transition away from a paycheck.

Undoubtedly, one of the biggest questions on many retirees’ minds is how they will maintain or even increase their income throughout retirement. In this blog post, we will explore all possible sources of income in retirement savings, how to create a retirement portfolio income, and much more. You can effectively plan for your future and ensure you have enough money to live comfortably when it comes time to hang up your hat at your job.

Required Minimum Distribution (RMD)

The Required Minimum Distribution (RMD) is the amount that must be withdrawn and distributed annually from a retirement plan, such as an IRA or 401(k), to satisfy IRS regulations. This mandatory withdrawal of funds is necessary for retired individuals over 70 ½ years old.

The RMD is an important source to generate income during retirement. It can provide a steady flow of funds to supplement other retirement income sources, including pensions, Social Security Administration benefits, annuity income, or investments.

Retirement Income

It is essential to ascertain whether the money received from these retirement income sources is taxable, such as Social Security benefits, annuities, retirement or profit-sharing plans, insurance contracts, and IRAs. Some may be fully taxable, while others may only be partially subject to taxes. Therefore, retirees need to understand the taxation implications of their retirement accounts and even consult a tax professional to plan properly for their financial future.


A tax-exempt exchange of funds is referred to as a rollover, which involves pulling resources from one certified retirement annual income account, such as an employer’s pension plan or traditional IRA, and transferring them into another approved retirement program within two months.

This process allows taxpayers to move their money from one account to another without paying taxes or penalties. In addition to facilitating investment diversification, rollovers can consolidate fixed-income investments from multiple accounts into a single retirement vehicle.

Simplified Method

This simplified method of calculating the tax-free portion of each pension or annuity payment is an easy approach. It allows you to determine how much of your pension or income is exempt from taxation.

This method divides the total amount received in a given period by the number of payments made during that period, then subtract any after-tax contributions previously deducted. The tax-free portion can be part of your annual retirement income without additional taxes.

Retirement Annuities

An annuity is an insurance product that gives the purchaser a reliable, steady income. Individuals can choose between immediate or deferred options when considering a retirement annuity. Immediate annuities are far more popular among older adults since they begin producing payments within thirty days of purchase.

This brief time frame makes it incredibly convenient and beneficial for those who need regular income in retirement. An annuity may be the right choice if you want to invest your money and receive regular payments.

There are two types of annuities – immediate and deferred. With an immediate annuity, you pay one lump sum upfront in exchange for fixed monthly payments that begin immediately after purchase.

Alternatively, with a deferred annuity, your principal can grow and accumulate earnings over time before making periodic payments later.

Typically, those approaching retirement will take the money accumulated from their years of work to purchase an immediate annuity. An array of different types of annuities are available on the market; It is advisable to thoroughly investigate these options before deciding which one to buy.

Social Security

For many, Social Security will be an essential and considerable source of retirement income. Unlike most methods for obtaining retirement income, Social Security benefits are regularly adjusted gross income to counter the effects of inflation.

This adjustment helps ensure that recipients can continue to maintain their living standards once they reach retirement age. One of the most important decisions you will make concerning Social Security is when to apply for your benefits.

You can take reduced benefits at 62 years of age or wait until you are eligible to receive your full benefits, depending on the year you were born. Alternatively, you may postpone your first payment to qualify for a larger amount over time.

Many financial experts strongly advise that people should only take out retirement benefits once they receive the full amount. It is also recommended to delay taking out benefits for as long as possible, provided that it is feasible for individuals to do so.

Defined Benefit Plans

If you have a defined benefit pension, it is important to understand exactly how much pension income you will receive before retirement. This income is generally calculated based on your length of service with your employer, the salary you earned there, and the age at which you ceased working for them. Knowing this information beforehand can help ensure you are adequately prepared for retirement.

As you near retirement, it is wise to speak with your employer’s human resources office to clarify any pension eligibility questions you may have. This department should also remain a helpful resource after you retire, providing guidance and assistance when necessary. Therefore, contact with this office before and after your retirement date is important.

Defined Contribution Plans

If you have a defined contribution plan, your employer may contribute to the plan either directly or by allowing you to make contributions. However, this type of pension does not guarantee any specific income when you retire: the amount of income you receive depends on how much money has been contributed and how it has been invested over time.

Therefore, unlike with a defined benefit pension, where an employer makes certain promises regarding retirement income levels, there is no assurance that one can generate sufficient funds from a defined contribution scheme to live comfortably after one stops working. Instead, that amount depends on how much money was invested, where it was, and how long you’ve been in the plan.

Home Equity

If you have managed to own your home outright or have capital gains a substantial amount of equity in it, multiple strategies can be used to create a retirement income from it. Selling your house is one option, and another popular course of action is to take out a reverse mortgage.

Reverse mortgages are especially beneficial for those who want to stay in the comfort and familiarity of their current residence but require additional funds during their retirement years.

Now That You Understand What Counts As Income In Retirement

In conclusion, retirement planning income can be one of the most important financial decisions you will make. With careful consideration and organization, you can ensure you have enough income to live comfortably in retirement. What counts as income in retirement? It includes pensions, Social Security benefits, annuities, and other assets such as rental properties.

Additionally, when creating a retirement plan, you must examine all the available options. Defined Contribution Plans play an important role in a secure retirement by allowing people to save and invest their money so that it can grow over time. With this plan, retirees have increased control and flexibility over their plans, which can be tailored to their needs.

Take action today and start by exploring your options for what counts as income in retirement and taking advantage of Defined Contribution Plans to help ensure a secure future tomorrow.


  • Scott Hall

    Scott realized about 5 years ago that he was woefully behind on retirement savings and needed to catch up. He began writing about it on Assets.net

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