5 best Web sites for retirement planning

Consumer Reports News: April 06, 2009 02:23 PM

These probably won’t make anybody’s list of the most fun sites on the Web, but if you’re thinking about retirement, you could find many of your questions answered on them.

1. ssa.gov The Social Security Administration’s Web site explains how to apply for benefits and helps you calculate how much you’re likely to receive, based on whether you start collecting as early as age 62, as late as age 70, or somewhere in between.

2. irs.gov Head here for information on federal taxes, including the rules on IRA contributions and withdrawals. For state taxes (especially if you're contemplating a move), try the Web site of the state’s tax or revenue department.

3. pbgc.gov The Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC) insures many traditional, defined-benefit plan pensions, up to certain limits. Its Web site provides general information on the topic, plus specifics on pension plans that have been terminated by employers and taken over by the agency. The PBGC doesn’t cover defined-contribution plans, such as 401(k)s. Those are under the oversight of, but not insured by, the Employee Benefits Security Administration, part of the U.S. Department of Labor.

4. medicarerights.org The Medicare Rights Center is a nonprofit advocacy organization, and this site provides a consumer-friendly guide to the program's benefits, which you may be eligible for at age 65. The official government site is Medicare.gov.

5. elderhostel.org Retirees don’t live by money or government entitlements alone, of course. Elderhostel is the granddaddy (and/or grandmommy) of organizations sponsoring educational travel experiences for retirees and other older adults. Even if you never take an Elderhostel course or trip, this site can start you fantasizing about all the things you want to see and do. —Greg Daugherty

Greg writes the “Retirement Guy” column each month in the Consumer Reports Money Adviser newsletter.

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