Retirement Reality: Let’s Raise the Mandatory Distribution Age

So why should we continue to force them to start withdrawing retirement assets by age 70 ½?

Push The Limit Higher

Retirement savings are part of a bargain with the government. You get a tax deduction and tax free growth in a qualified retirement account, but the government does want to collect some tax eventually. That’s why they want to make sure you start taking taxable withdrawals at some point.

But does it make sense for people to be working, ready, willing and able to pay more into the retirement system yet forced to withdraw assets at the same time? The simple adjustment of pushing out the mandatory withdrawal age to 75 ½ would acknowledge retirement reality. It would also have several knock-on benefits that could help take the edge off the retirement crisis. In fact, working longer can mean:

  • More time to pay into personal retirement accounts,
  • More cash flowing into Social Security and Medicare,
  • A shorter retirement to fund,
  • Potentially extending exposure to professional management and market growth by keeping assets in retirement accounts and 401(k) plans.

Raising the mandatory withdrawal age would not limit anyone’s choice as long as 59 ½ remains the age when individuals can begin making withdrawals without paying an early withdrawal penalty.  It would, however, send a clear signal that retirement has changed and that today’s workers have more time to ramp up for retirement than they perhaps believed.  It’s a simple step that could have a sizable impact.

Chip Castille, Managing Director, is head of BlackRock’s US & Canada Defined Contribution Group. You can find more of his posts here.