Your 65th birthday is considered a milestone for several reasons. Not only was it once considered standard retirement age (alas, those days are no more), but it’s the year you can start cashing in on all those senior discounts.
Turning 65 isn’t entirely pleasant — there are definitely some medical conditions and things happening to your body you’ll want to be aware of. But as long as you prepare properly, you’ll be able to handle whatever comes your way. These are 12 of the things you need to do as soon as you turn 65 years young.
1. Familiarize yourself with Medicare …
For most people, turning 65 means you’re eligible for Original Medicare, Part A and Part B. You can also choose to enroll in Medicare Part C, or Medicare Advantage. If you aren’t retiring, you’ll need to visit the Social Security website and manually sign up for it yourself.
Next: Medicare can be complicated.
… and don’t be afraid to ask for help
Being new to Medicare can be a bit overwhelming, especially when you learn you could see a gap in medical coverage or face a fine. The Medicare website offers some helpful information, but if you’re still confused, talk to your current insurance agent or employer to help you find someone that can better assist you.
Next: Is retirement in the cards?
2. Decide if you’ll retire or keep working
You probably know the answer to this long before your 65th birthday. Still, if you’re still working when you turn 65, you need to go over all your financial information and assets and figure out where you stand. After all, just because you’re eligible for retirement doesn’t mean you’re truly ready — you should determine if you can live a comfortable life. Also, you might be in great shape and still genuinely enjoy your job.
Next: If you are returning, you’ll want to take this next step.
3. Learn the term ‘Medigap’
Medigap supplemental insurance policies are sold by private insurance companies to fill some of the gaps in expenses that standard Medicare won’t cover. If you’ll no longer have employee-sponsored healthcare, you’ll definitely want to look into getting one.
Next: The insurance information seems never-ending.
4. Consider getting a long-term care insurance policy
A private long-term care insurance policy will help you pay for any assisted living care needs you’ll require in the future. They can be expensive, and admittedly, they’re a gamble — but age 65 is usually the last time you can get a policy for a somewhat affordable rate.
Next: It’s time to claim those Social Security benefits.
5. Plan your social security benefits claim
Age 66 is now considered Social Security’s “full retirement age,” meaning the age when you can claim your full retirement benefits without penalty. Some start to claim reduced benefits at age 62, while others wait until after full retirement age (up to age 70) to claim higher benefits.
Next: Start planning for the future now.
6. Get your legal documents in order …
While most 65-year-olds have many years left to live, an illness or an accident could make decision-making more difficult. Get your wishes in order regarding healthcare, ongoing finances, and your estate. The first step is to think about your choices and get all of your medical and personal files organized.
Next: Assemble your legal team.
7. … and get a will and a power of attorney if you don’t have them already
Having a legal will will ensure your final wishes are met and protect your assets. A power of attorney is helpful for finances, and a living will — also called an advance medical directive — will legally enforce your healthcare choices.
Next: Don’t forget about your HSA.
8. Make HSA changes
If you have a high-deductible health insurance policy, you’ll need to stop making HSA contributions when you enroll in Medicare. On the first day of the month you turn 65 and enroll in Medicare, you lose your eligibility to contribute to an HSA. You can keep contributing to an HSA after 65 if you don’t enroll in Medicare Part A or Part B.
Next: This is an important step to take if you’re still working.
9. Maximize your catch-up contributions
If you’re over the age of 50, you can contribute an extra annual $1,000 to IRAs and an extra $6,000 to 401(k)s, according to Kiplinger. If you’re still working, this is a good thing to do for an extra cushion when you do retire.
Next: Take stock of your health.
10. Get a complete physical
Regardless of age, most people don’t get complete physical examinations as often as they should. Visit your doctor and make sure you’re caught up on routine screenings and exams so you can enjoy life for years to come.
Next: This isn’t pleasant, but it’s necessary.
11. Have a conversation with your loved ones about your end of life wishe
As we’ve mentioned, turning 65 is far from a death sentence — in fact, our human life span is longer than ever. But talking to your spouse and children about your end of life and funeral wishes now could save them a lot of extra heartache later. Have the difficult conversation and move on.
Next: This is the fun part of turning 65.
12. Cash in on all those perks
Here’s one thing to be very excited about: 65 is the age of the senior discount. From cheaper restaurant entrees to travel deals, you’ll be amazed by what companies offer in order to earn your business. If you don’t see anything listed, ask.
Next: Don’t be afraid to dream big.
Extra credit: Dust off that bucket list
Whether you’re still working full-time or not, turning 65 will force you to slow down in some ways simply because your body and mind are changing. This is a great time to make a bucket list and think about what you want the next decade or two of your life to look like.
Next: This is good financial advice.
If at all possible, hold off on social security for a few years
Most Americans start collecting social security as soon as they can. And while this is fine if you don’t have a choice, if you can, holding off for a few years will allow you a bigger payout later. If you have other sources of income and can wait, you should.
Next: Once the legalities have all been handled, all that’s left to do is enjoy life.
Enjoy every moment
Having a milestone birthday like 65 comes with a hefty checklist, but it’s also a great time to slow down and enjoy every moment, especially when you retire. Reflect on your accomplishments and make it a point to live to the fullest, whatever that means for you.
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