Retirement timing scenario examples - middle

At the risk of oversharing. I’m considering retiring early in 15 months at 61 (early '25). I’ve run all the numbers and have put the assumptions below and a scenario table below that. There’s been some big retirement numbers bandied about on here recently - congratulations - and a lot of early-vs-late SS timing. I wanted to provide an example of the “hopefully good enough” tier as an alternative.

  • former company pension at $29.3K/yr starting in '25.
  • DW is 65 1/2 this January, now on Medicare (std + Part D + a supplement) so will start her SS (65% OF mine) in Feb - $22.5K year
  • Portfolio of $750K, 98% in TIRAs
  • Planned annual expenses of $90K including a mild amount of travel
  • Still have a mortage (speaking of Ramsey ;-), total payment & escrows for prop taxes & insurance is $24K/yr.
  • Used Fidelity’s retirement income planner (very good, extensive), and downloaded the detailed data table into a SS to derive their inflation and return factors and model out 3+ scenarios. Also used firesim calc & the model on REHP for comparison.

Table of calculated results for 3 30-year scenarios for starting MY SS.

Fidelity’s “Significantly below average market return”
SS start timing tot 30y income tot port wds end port value result
WD at 62 2.9m 520K 1.8M highest wd total but never more than 2% rate
WD 62, wait +1y pension 3m 454K 1.85M 1st yr wdrate is 8+%, after that <1.5%
67 3.2m 385K 1.8M lowest wd needs. $250K more income total than 62.
70 3.4m 428K 1.5M middle wd $, minimal starting at 70, but: wd rate starts 5.5%, ramps up to 8% by 69

I plan to work part-time/consult about 1/2 year up here to supplement for a few more years, but summers off.The pension makes all the difference. “Shocks” not modeled. I’m still working full time but my new salary just covers my expenses and my savings rate including match will only build up 2 months of expense coverage in those 15-16 months, so what’s the point…

Seems doable. I’m more comfortable with 1 or 2; the high wd rates in my 60s if I delay to 70 feel too risky.

Fidelity’s inflation rate expectation was between 2.6 - 2.8% annually.

Constructive comments welcome.

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Shocks happen. That does not mean we need to plan on them, but we need to have a handle on their impact. One example. We made decisions to stop working in October 2007. Last paycheck was dated April 30, 2008.

Personally my feeling is the next decade will have more than its share of financial changes. Today compared to long term averages we have higher inflation, increasing debt, slower GDP growth and most bothersome a refusal to compromise in Congress.

I don’t see any way the government spending and taxes will not increase. Here is Georgia the governor has stopped gasoline taxes which were used to repair roads. Our air traffic control system is actually using 1950s radio tube technology instead of GPS.

Fidelity’s inflation expectation is reasonable but annual inflation will not be uniform. The currently increasing federal debt suggests to me inflation in 2033 is going to be less than the next 10 years. If my inflation expectations happen the value of COLAs and risks of fixed pensions will both increase significantly.

Health can be a wrench in any plan.

You do not say your expected ages at death. I am 82 and have a better than 10% actuarial expectancy of reaching age 96. My wife has good genes and we expect her to live beyond 100.


Open Social Security is a good social security planning calculator. Check the box about special situations to customize, and play with mortality assumptions if that’s your thing.

I don’t see any specific mention of taxes in your scenarios. How are you accounting for those?

Your income appears to be mostly consulting/work, pension, SS and pre-tax retirement withdrawals, which are all taxed mostly at ordinary income rates. Since your plan to retire coincides with the expiration of the TCJA, you will likely have some changes to your taxes in retirement, which is why not seeing that you’ve specifically tried to account for that is a bit concerning.



Thanks AJ. It certainly does make a difference. After a couple hours wrestling with sheets IFS:

  • std deduction of 29200 for MFJ also indexed to inflation (e2.5%)
  • tax brackets indexed to inflation
  • did NOT reduce the SS benefit depending on the income level. Is that calculation: ssbenefit *.85 * tax rate for AGI? (I didn’t understand how to put SS “on top of the stack” vs “at the bottom of the stack”).

Bottom line, this models a significant 30 year impact of taxes, although I still wouldn’t be up to a 4% withdrawal rate on the portfolio until age 77. I’ll take a look at the inflation-adjusted pension next.

SS start timing tot 30y income tot port wds end port value result
WD at 62 3m 1.03M 1M highest wd total, almost doubled after taxes

Yeah, that’s one of things that’s going to change in 2026 (right after you retire), if TCJA provisions are allowed to expire by Congress. It will revert to a standard deduction that’s about half, and add back in exemptions. If, before the TCJA, you used to itemize, you may very well be able to itemize again, especially since you still have a mortgage. I will note that the $10k SALT limit on deducting local taxes is one of the parts of the TCJA that slated to expire, although there has been an attempt in Congress to make SALT permanent.

Using the TCJA rules on standard deduction for your forecast may be slightly more conservative, especially if you think you will be able to itemize. But as it gets closer to your retirement and the expiration of the TCJA, you should be paying attention to any changes that are being proposed, and understand if you need to adjust your forecast.

Did you change the tax brackets to the prior rates of 10%, 15%, 25%, 28%, etc. beginning in 2026? Yes, they will still be indexed to inflation, but the rates will change. In this case, leaving the TCJA brackets in place for your forecast is less conservative, so I would suggest that you do make this change.



Consider deferring Social Security and working down IRA balance to avoid RMDs that can become onerous after age 72. Use low income years to do Roth conversions. RMDs can contribute to IRMAs that can sharply increase your Medicare premiums (by thousands per year).