perks for aging

“It’s paradoxical that the idea of living a long life appeals to everyone, but the idea of getting old doesn’t appeal to anyone”—Andy Rooney 

As anyone who knew the wry and curmudgeonly Rooney (who died in 2011 at age 92) would likely testify, getting older definitely didn’t make him appreciably perkier. But even he might have conceded that advancing years brought with them certain perks. Ten financial ones are expertly outlined by Emily Brandon (senior editor for Retirement at U.S. News) in an article for that outlines how to “take advantage of these money-saving benefits of aging.” Here are several ideas excerpted from her superb piece:

“Senior discounts. If you’re willing to admit your age, you may be able to get a discount on your next restaurant meal or retail purchase. Many museums, movie theaters and entertainment venues will provide reduced admission prices to people who are above a certain age. AARP negotiates discounts for members, who can join as early as age 50, often allowing you to start using senior discounts at a younger age. Discounts are sometimes available on necessities such as groceries and clothing. Not all senior discounts are publicized and are sometimes given only to those who request them and show proof of age.

“Tax deductions for seniors. People age 65 and older are eligible for several extra tax deductions. The standard deduction is $7,850 for individuals age 65 and older in 2016, $1,550 more than younger taxpayers. The standard deduction is also $1,250 more for each spouse who is age 65 or older, or $15,100 if both spouses were born before Jan. 2, 1951. If you are above a specific age and sometimes below a certain income level, you might also qualify for property or school tax deferrals or exemptions.

“Relaxed tax filing requirements. People 65 and older can bring in $1,550 more (or $1,250 more per spouse age 65 and older if filing jointly) than younger people before they are required to file a tax return. Seniors can have a gross income of up to $11,850 as individuals or $23,100 as part of a couple where both members are 65 or older before they are required to file a tax return.

“Bigger retirement account limits. Workers age 50 and older can defer paying income tax on as much as $24,000 that they contribute to a 401(k) plan, $6,000 more than younger workers. The IRA contribution limit is also $1,000 higher for workers 50 and older, or $6,500 in 2016. The catch is that you are typically required to withdraw money from traditional retirement accounts and pay the resulting tax bill after age 70 1/2. However, retirees age 70 1/2 and older can avoid paying income tax on any amount up to $100,000 that they transfer directly from an IRA to a qualifying charity.

“Social Security payments. You can sign up for reduced Social Security payments as early as age 62 or claim the full amount you have earned at your full retirement age of 66 or 67, depending on your birth year. If you delay claiming your payments past your full retirement age up until age 70, you will earn delayed retirement credits that will further boost your monthly benefit.

“Affordable health insurance. Retirees don’t need to worry about finding a job that provides health coverage or the sometimes high out-of-pocket costs of health insurance plans purchased through state health insurance exchanges. Once you turn age 65, you can sign up for Medicare. Most retirees don’t pay anything for their Part A hospital insurance. The premium for Medicare Part B, which covers doctor’s visits and medical services, is $104.90 per month for most retirees in 2016 (although some beneficiaries pay more), which can be deducted from your Social Security check so you won’t get a bill. Retirees can fill in some of the co-payments and deductibles by purchasing a supplemental plan and get their prescription drugs covered through Medicare Part D.

“Senior services. Many communities provide low-cost taxi or van services to help seniors citizens get to doctor appointments or do grocery shipping. Some cities even provide free or discounted public transportation to people above a certain age. Senior centers might provide low-cost meals, affordable classes and entertainment and an opportunity to socialize with other seniors. Your local library or community center might also have events specifically for older residents”.