Retirees’ Retirement Asset Withdrawal Rate: Will Your Money Last?

For many years the investment advisory community has proposed that if retirees withdrew their retirement assets at the rate of 4% annually there is a high probability that assets would last to normal life expectancy.

The 4% “rule” is not a one-size-fits-all solution, and there are several variables to consider, but it could at least provide a starting point to be adjusted based on individual circumstances.

This starting point is based on actuarial tables and thousands of return-based scenarios. The rule determined that a 65-year-old retiree withdrawing at the rate of 4% annually (inflation adjusted) had a high likelihood of not outliving their retirement assets based on current life expectancy, assuming no portfolio changes.

However, in previous generations, retirees could live off of bond portfolios that yielded 4% to 5%. Currently, 10-year bond yields are closer to 1.5%, producing potential negative returns after inflation. As we begin 2022, we see annual inflation is close to 7% for 2021. As a result, it becomes appropriate to review these basic assumptions.

Based on Morningstar’s research, the projected starting safe withdrawal rate for the next 30 years is 2.7% for assets in a cash account. The highest safe withdrawal rate is 3.3% for portfolios with 40% to 60% in stocks. But even so, if you retire soon, this fixed withdrawal rate is not definite, as there is much uncertainty about inflation and potential market volatility.

Any current projection should assume potential variability in income from year to year. One approach worthy of consideration, and that can lead to a higher rate, gives retirees an opportunity to increase the subsequent year’s withdrawal when the portfolio has done better than projected and to reduce withdrawals when underperforming.

Certainly, this is a difficult time to project long-range withdrawal rates and the current bond market is not as reliable as in the past. However, the S&P 500 in 2021 did end up at 26.9%, which virtually no one projected.

Bottom line…don’t simply assume the “old law” of 4% withdrawal rates going forward. Assess your retirement income needs and adjust as appropriate going forward. Consider current portfolio alterations, acknowledge fixed vs. discretionary expenses, and be flexible but diligent in your retirement planning. You may want to seek professional advice if you are close to retirement. An error in planning, at this stage, can be more costly than this potentially transitory inflation and bond yield environment.

If you are not near retirement…. save more so you can withstand future unexpected financial events and plan for a wonderful retirement experience.

Representatives offer products and services using the following business names: Summit Group of Virginia LLP – insurance and financial services | Ameritas Investment Company, LLC (AIC), Member FINRA/SIPC – securities and investments | The Ascent Group, LLC – investment advisory services. AIC is not affiliated with Summit Group of Virginia LLP, The Ascent Group, LLC, or any other entity mentioned herein. Products and services are limited to residents of states where the representatives are registered. This is not an offer of securities in any jurisdiction, nor is it specifically directed to a resident of any jurisdiction. As with any security, request a prospectus from your representative. Read it carefully before you invest or send money. A representative will contact you to provide requested information. Representatives of AIC do not provide tax or legal advice. Please consult your tax advisor or attorney regarding your situation.

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