Q: Under current law, at what age can you begin receiving Social Security benefits?

A: The earliest age at which you can begin receiving Social Security benefits is 62. However, you will receive a reduced benefit if you retire before your full retirement age.

Q: What are some big mistakes that people make concerning their retirement?

A: Not contributing to an IRA, a 401(k), or both is probably the single biggest mistake that is made. 45% of current retirees utilize their personal savings for retirement income; 62% of current workers anticipate personal savings to play a role during retirement.*

Q: What is the maximum contribution to IRAs (both regular and Roth) and 401(k) plans in 2013?

A: If you are age 49 or younger, the maximum contribution is $5,500 for both regular and Roth IRAs, and $18,000 for a 401(k) plan. If you are age 50 or more, the maximum contribution is $6,500 for both regular and Roth IRAs, and $24,000 for a 401(k) plan.

Q: Are distributions (payouts) taxed on regular IRAs, Roth IRAs, and 401(k)s?

A: The short answer is that if you got a tax break on the contribution, you will pay taxes on the subsequent distribution. Contributions to regular IRAs and 401(k)s are generally made with pre-tax dollars (pre-tax contributions reduce your taxable income for the year in which they are made), so distributions are taxed. Roth IRA contributions, however, are made with after-tax dollars, so distributions are generally not taxed.

Q: At what age can you generally begin taking distributions from an IRA or 401(k)?

A: You can begin taking distributions from your regular IRA, Roth IRA, or 401(k) plan at age 59 ½.

Q: Can you roll your 401(k) over into an IRA?

A: Yes. You can move 401(k) balances into a “rollover” IRA account without penalty. This option enables you to keep your money tax deferred, and can potentially increase your investment options, as IRAs are self-directed and 401(k) plans have investment options that are decided by the plan administrator.

Q: How can I begin saving for retirement?

A: Little changes can make huge differences. For instance, have a regular coffee ($1.75) instead of a latte ($3.50) every morning before work. Invest the savings each month ($1.75 X 22 workdays = $38.50), and you could end up with quite a hill of beans!

*Source: Employee Benefit Research Institute, 2012 Retirement Confidence Survey.

©2013 Morningstar, Inc.retire