Your retirement age, in case you are interested, is between 65 and 67, depending on the year you were born. So says a host of government agencies.
That does not mean that the government will force you to put down your pen and pick up a fishing rod when you hit that age. It just means that it is the key age when your friendly government will force you to make a whole lot of important decisions with little or no education about the ramifications.
Such as ad valorem tax. This little tax can mean the cost of owning your homestead steadily increases each year, which can cause a huge problem for people on fixed incomes. You should have already filed for a homestead exemption on your home. What you may not know is that a person who has to move into a long-term care facility is allowed to keep a homestead exemption no matter how long their stay in the facility and regardless of their medical condition, as long as that person “intends” to return home.
School Tax Exemption
In addition to the homestead exemption, a person who is at least 65 years old is entitled to an exemption from taxation by a school district of $10,000. While we are talking about school taxes, the amount cannot increase after the homeowner hits age 65.
Home Tax Deferral
Another nice benefit: If an elderly Texan owns a home free of a mortgage, that person cannot be forced out of his or her home because of a failure to pay any property taxes owing to any jurisdiction. This is called a tax deferral. The taxes aren’t forgiven, but payment is delayed.
How do you get all of these benefits? You have to request them.
Social Security Benefits
Next is the whole Social Security payment thing. You can draw Social Security benefits once you hit 62, but the longer you wait to draw them the greater monthly payment you will receive. However, and this is a big one, you should not delay benefits after you hit 70 because there is no increase for benefits after that age, and no penalty for working.
Medicare Part A and B
Let’s move on to Medicare. If you worked at least 10 years (the government refers to it as 40 quarters), then you are eligible for Part A of Medicare when you turn age 65. There are no additional premiums to start Part A. So sign up.
Medicare Part B, though, requires monthly premiums. This gets a bit tricky. If you do not sign up for Part B when you are first eligible for Medicare, then you may be hit with a penalty that lasts forever. Plus, when you need Part B, you may not be able to immediately get it. After the initial period, you may have to wait until the next general enrollment period to sign up.
On all of these programs, you may be entitled to more or different benefits as a spouse, a disabled person, a veteran or a widow.
So start researching now. Your government has projected that if you are a man, you will live until age 84, and if a woman, until age 86. That means the decisions you make when you hit your retirement age will haunt you for a very long time.
Virginia Hammerle is a Texas attorney whose practice includes estate planning, guardianship and probate. Sign up for her newsletter at firstname.lastname@example.org. Contact Hammerle Finley Law Firm to schedule a consultation at hammerle.com.
This column does not constitute legal advice.