Retiring In 2022: New Research Finds The Ideal Withdrawal Rate, And It's Not 4%


Whether you’re a retiree ready to enjoy your golden years or a young professional planning for retirement, you’ve likely heard of the 4% rule.

This personal finance maxim dictates that in order to make savings last throughout retirement in a 30-year time frame, the retiree should withdraw less than 4% of their invested savings on a yearly basis.

Related: How much do I need to retire?

The rule actually sets the ideal “safe withdrawal rate.” Dictating that 4% should be the amount withdrawn in the first year, and that sum should remain the cap for the rest of the retirement period, adjusted for inflation.

Yet the recommended rate actually varies from year to year, according to present valuations.

Looking at the last 89 years, a portfolio consisting of 50% stocks and 50% bonds has ideal withdrawal rates that ranged from 3.7% for the worst 30-year period to 6% for the best.

When valuations are high, the rate drops, because retirees can expect lower returns in the following years. For those retiring in 2021, which became the peak of the last bull market, the ideal rate was set at around 3.3%.

The Ideal Withdrawal Rate For Retiring In 2022

According to a report issued by Morningstar this week, the bear market has pushed the rate back to levels more akin to the popular 4% rule.

The report, called “The State of Retirement Income: 2022,” looks at how higher bond yields, lower equity valuations, and inflation affect starting safe withdrawal rates.

Related: How To Invest For Retirement

“For retirees who seek a fixed real withdrawal from their portfolio in retirement, a starting withdrawal rate of 3.8% is safe in Morningstar’s model over a 30-year time horizon,” wrote Christine Benz, director of personal finance and retirement planning at Morningstar, along with co-authors Jeffrey Ptak and John Rekenthaler.

The report also notes that those who are newly retired and are willing to skip inflation adjustments in any year after incurring portfolio losses can withdraw 4.4% to start and still have a 90% chance of not running out of funds during a 30-year period.

The current rate would give those starting retirement in 2022 with $1 million, the ability to withdraw $38,000 a year or $3,166 a month.

Yet the rate is not universal.

Retirees with shorter time horizons, like 10 or 15 years, can allow themselves higher withdrawal rates. The same thing goes for those with more equity-heavy portfolios.

Different strategies, set around dynamic withdrawals, can allow 30-year retirees to extract more in specific years, factoring in both portfolio performance and spending. For instance, a dynamic strategy dubbed “the guardrails system” does a better job of balancing higher withdrawals alongside cash-flow-volatility considerations, according to the authors.

The method “aims to incorporate some variability based on market performance, but sets an upper boundary on how much comes out in good markets and a lower boundary around withdrawals in down markets.”

However, many retirees often prefer a fixed rate that can allow them to plan ahead with consistent spending and offers more peace of mind.

A fixed rate also allows prospective retirees to calculate how much money they would need to save and invest in order to retire comfortably.

In order to calculate a safe withdrawal rate, three variables need to be taken into account: the asset allocation of the portfolio, the market environment that prevails over a retiree’s drawdown period, and the length of the drawdown period. 

Benzinga offers plenty of resources for folks looking at retirement options.

Photo: Courtesy of Shutterstock.


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