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7 Steps to Take Now to Catch Up on Retirement Savings

Another option is applying for coverage through the Affordable Care Act, which offers a range of plans, including for those still unemployed.

Make catch-up contributions. If you’re 50 or older, the Internal Revenue Service gives you a little savings plum: You can save as much as an extra $6,500 annually in your defined contribution plans (which include 401(k)s, 403(b)s and 457s). If you have a SIMPLE (Savings Incentive Match Plan for Employees) individual retirement account or SIMPLE 401(k), the catch-up contribution is $3,000 annually; it’s $1,000 for a Roth I.R.A.

Automate your savings. If you’re working and offered a 401(k) with automatic payroll withdrawals, you can simply increase your contribution. Want to save even more? Many plans allow you to boost your 401(k) savings when you get a raise. Let’s say you’re 50 or older and save the maximum annual amount — $26,000. That’s $19,500 plus a $6,500 catch-up contribution. Also take your employer’s matching contribution, if it’s offered. This is the low-hanging fruit of retirement savings that most financial planners recommend — again, if you have access to it.

Adjust your portfolio. Just socking more money into a bank money-market account won’t help you catch up much at all. After all, the S&P 500 index is up a stunning amount: more than 40 percent this year. Yields on money markets are awful — the top rate nationally was 0.60 percent, according to Bankrate.com. The best way to achieve your goals is to invest in no-load mutual or exchange-traded funds, preferably with an annual expense ratio below 0.30 percent.

Most mutual fund companies offer dividend growth and income mutual and exchange-traded funds. Also avoid the trap in thinking that money in the bank is safe money. If it’s not beating inflation, which is currently running at an annual rate of just under 3 percent, you’re losing purchasing power. “Don’t keep too much money in a bank account,” Ms. Price warned. “You’re getting paid very little to keep it there.”

Retire later. If you’re able, one simple strategy is to retire after the “normal” age for Social Security benefits, which is 66 for most Americans. That will give you more time to save. Social Security will even pay you more each month if you wait until 70 to collect benefits. A “delayed retirement credit” will raise your retirement payments 8 percent annually every year you wait from age 66 until taking benefits at age 70 for those born in 1943 and later.

Set up your own plan. Small-business owners or those who are self-employed can set up their own plans, from Simplified Employee Pension I.R.A.s to 401(k)s. Ms. Price suggests those over 50 consider a Roth 401(k), if your employer offers it. While contributions are taxed, withdrawals are not. “You’re taxed on money going in, not on gains,” she said. “If you can’t afford to pay taxes on withdrawals later, this is a good idea.”

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Stimulus Payments for Many Low-Income Americans Are Still Being Processed. Here’s Why.

Tens of millions of lower-income Americans are still waiting for their stimulus checks, but there’s been some progress toward getting them paid.

People who receive benefits from Social Security, Supplemental Security Income, the Railroad Retirement Board and Veterans Affairs — while also not having to file tax returns because they don’t meet the income thresholds — have faced delays because the Internal Revenue Service didn’t have the proper payment files to process their stimulus checks.

Now the I.R.S. has all of the necessary files in hand, but it’s still not clear how long it will take for payments to be processed. The I.R.S. did not immediately comment on Friday.

Democratic leaders from the House Ways and Means Committee and other congressional subcommittees had sent a letter to the Social Security Administration and the I.R.S. on Monday, urging the quick transmission of the files. By Wednesday, the lawmakers’ request became an ultimatum: They demanded that the files for 30 million unpaid beneficiaries be sent by Thursday.

statement from the Ways and Means committee. (Veterans Affairs said it delivered its files on Tuesday; the Railroad Retirement Board delivered its files on Monday.)

The Social Security Administration notified congressional leaders that it had transmitted the necessary data to the I.R.S. at 8:48 a.m. Thursday.

Members of the committee blamed the delay on the Social Security Administration’s commissioner, Andrew Saul, who was appointed by President Trump. But the agencysaid it had been unable to act immediately because Congress hadn’t directly given it the money to do the work.

AARP also sent letters to both the Social Security Administration and I.R.S. on Thursday, urging them both to provide clear information on when beneficiaries could expect their payments.

Many federal beneficiaries who filed 2019 or 2020 returns — or who used the tool for non-filers on the I.R.S. website to update their information — have already received their payments.

So far, the I.R.S. has delivered roughly 127 million payments in two batches, totaling $325 billion.

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