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Bad and good ways to bridge the social security income gap

Consider alternative ways to bridge the income gap

Consider alternative ways to bridge the income gap while you delay taking Social Security. Photo Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto / zimmytws

Conventional wisdom says waiting to take Social Security as long as possible pays off handsomely.

Trouble is, what if you can’t really afford to wait?

Some turn to reverse mortgages to bridge the income gap so they can delay taking Social Security. A reverse mortgage is a loan that lets you tap the equity in your home, and delays repayment of the loan until you die, sell or move out of the home.

But reverse mortgages may not be the best choice for bridging the Social Security income gap.

In fact, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau recently released a report cautioning folks to think twice before they turn to relief from a reverse mortgage. The bureau determined that because of the costs and risks associated with a reverse mortgage, it isn’t the best tool for tiding you over until you want to claim your Social Security benefits.

Consider alternatives.

  • Tap assets

“Lean on your investment portfolio while delaying Social Security, especially if you have a taxable account to withdraw from,” says Paul Ruedi, CEO of Ruedi Wealth Management in Champaign, Illinois.

  • Downsize

“It is challenging for older adults to think about change, however, there may be a time to move from the family home, and realize the money from the sale to live in a less expensive setting in order to pay for retirement,” says Rochelle Odesser, vice president of Madison Planning in White Plains.

  • Be flexible

Reduce your income needs during the gap. “You’ll have to cut back on your lifestyle in order to make your reduced income match your needs,” says Alexis Hongamen, founder of FederalRetirementAdvice.com.

Or if you can’t fathom cutting back, work an extra year or work part-time during the gap. Says Hongamen, “This in effect replaces the Social Security income you would be trying to fill in for.”

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