How To Retire Comfortably in South Carolina

Shawn Plummer

CEO, The Annuity Expert

How much do I need to retire? This guide will provide you a clear path to retiring comfortably in South Carolina, living on a guaranteed fixed income stream for the rest of a retiree’s life. You will learn how to:

This retirement income planning guide is ideal for

  • South Carolinians who don’t want to spend less money when they retire, but maintain or improve their current lifestyles.
  • Retirees know they’ll have to budget their savings and are looking for the best way to invest for income.
  • Those who want to simplify their income problem by expecting a paycheck each month as if they are still working.
  • Consumers wanting more income than a CD but want the guarantees that come along with them.

The key to a comfortable retirement is laying a foundation for a fixed income to pay for essential monthly expenses as if you still were employed. Any investments outside the desired monthly paycheck are secondary.

The goal is to achieve your desired fixed income with the least amount of money possible, leaving the remainder of your retirement savings for vacations, luxuries, investments, and emergencies.

To retire comfortably in the state of South Carolina starting today, you will need to have saved at least $85,000.

Here’s how we came to this amount.

The Cost To Retire in South Carolina

To better understand how much it costs in South Carolina, one must understand the statistics.

Cost Of Living

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the median monthly cost for rent or mortgage in 2019 is

  • Mortgage: $1,246
  • Rent: $894

The estimated monthly expenses for a couple in Charleston are $2,049.14.

The inflation rate is currently at 1.6% for the past years in the Southeast region of the United States.

Is Retirement Income Taxable in South Carolina?

  • Federal Taxes: Between 12% and 24% on average.
  • State Taxes: Between 0% and 7%.

The Cost of Healthcare

The cost of Medicare starts at $148.50 a month and can reach up to $504.90 per month.

The Cost of Long-Term Care

In 2020, the average cost of care per year in the state of South Carolina was

  • Homemaker Services: $48,917
  • Home Health Aide: $50,336
  • Adult Day Care: $15,470
  • Assisted Living Facility: $47,850
  • Nursing Home Semi-Private Room: $87,578
  • Nursing Home Private Room: $94,327

Funeral Costs

In South Carolina, the average cost of a traditional funeral is $7,353.

South Carolina State Tax Guide for Retirees

  • Up to $10,000 of most retirement income types is exempt for people age 65 or older.
  • For those under age 65, the maximum state tax exemption is $3,000.
  • Retirees ages 65 and older can tax deduct $15,000 from all taxable income ($30,000 as joint filers).
  • Retirees ages 65 and older can tax deduct $30,000 from military retirement plans. Under 65 is $17,500. The $10,000 retirement income exclusion does not apply to military retirement pay that has been excluded from taxable compensation. The exemption may be claimed by both spouses.
  • The statewide sales tax ranges from 6% to 7.47%.
  • Social Security benefits are not taxed by the state of South Carolina.
  • No estate or inheritance tax for Alabama retirees.
  • The state’s homestead exemption allows homeowners 65 and older to exempt the first $50,000 of a property’s fair market value from local property taxes. As of July 15 of the year in which the exemption is taken, you must have been at least 65 years old and a legal resident of South Carolina for one year to be eligible.

How Do We Generate a Guaranteed Income?

To create a fixed income, one must utilize a few retirement tools to create a guaranteed lifetime income. These tools are:

  • Social Security Income: The average SSI paycheck in 2021 is $1,543 a month (per person).
  • Roth IRA Annuity: Provide a monthly paycheck for life, tax-free. Retirement income increases up to 24%.
  • Non-Qualified Annuity: Provides a monthly paycheck for life; only the interest earned is taxed.

By utilizing these three income sources, a retiree could collect a monthly paycheck for life and reduce their tax bill, leaving more money for savings to pay for long-term care costs in the future.

What if I don’t have a Roth Annuity or Non-Qualified Annuity?

If you’re nearing retirement, you might not have these options for your income planning.

Don’t fret.

You can rollover a 401(k) or transfer an IRA to an annuity, just like the other two retirement plans. However, you will be taxed on the total income amount versus none or a portion of your income from the Roth or Nonqualified annuity.

Solving For Fixed Income

Based on the estimated monthly expenses, housing, and Medicare, a household (2 people) would need to generate the following per month to pay for the essentials.

  • Total Monthly Expenses with a Mortgage: $3,443.64 a month
  • Total Monthly Expenses With Rent: $3,091.64 a month

You will need a few sources of income coming in monthly to pay for these costs:

  • Social Security Income: A couple together would bring in an average of $3,086 per month.
  • Level Income Annuity: $85,000 in retirement savings would generate the additional $357.00 a month for life.
  • Increasing Income Annuity: $97,000 in retirement savings, would generate the additional $357.00 a month for life and increase overtime to help with inflation.

Note* The annuity premium amounts can be lower depending on age and the amount of time deferring in the annuity before starting the income stream. Basically, the longer you wait to begin the guaranteed lifetime income, the less money will be required to generate the desired income amount upfront.

You can find your South Carolina Social Security Administration office here.

How To Pay for Long-Term Care in South Carolina

Above, we mentioned the median costs of long-term care services and facilities in South Carolina are costly. A long-term care annuity will offset these costs in the future. Let’s see how much retirement savings would pay for these services and costs.

Purchasing a Long-Term Care annuity with a portion of your retirement savings could offset these costs very quickly. Most LTC annuities, double or triple your investment to pay for these costs, are tax-free, freeing up more of your retirement savings and fixed income that generally would pay for these expenses.

  • Nursing Home (Private Room): $188,654 (Preferred) and $282,981 (Standard)
  • Home Healthcare: $100,672 (Preferred) and $151,008 (Standard)
  • Assisted Living: $95,700 (Preferred) and $143,550 (Standard)

How to Pay for a Funeral in South Carolina

The average cost of a funeral in South Carolina is $7,353. Burial Insurance (final expense) can offset these costs. A burial insurance policy can cost as little as $48.85 a month for a $10,000 benefit at age 62. You can reduce that cost and get a $25,000 benefit by purchasing a 20-year term life insurance policy for as little as $27.27 a month.

How To Start Retiring Comfortably

  1. Calculate your essential monthly expenses.
  2. Subtract those expenses from your Social Security income.
  3. Request a quote for the remaining amount.
  4. Pick out your annuity and apply.
  5. Start the income at your targeted retirement age.
  6. Live comfortably.

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Shawn Plummer

CEO, The Annuity Expert

I’m a licensed financial professional focusing on annuities and insurance for more than a decade. My former role was training financial advisors, including for a Fortune Global 500 insurance company. I’ve been featured in Time Magazine, Yahoo! Finance, MSN, SmartAsset, Entrepreneur, Bloomberg, The Simple Dollar, U.S. News and World Report, and Women’s Health Magazine.

The Annuity Expert is an online insurance agency servicing consumers across the United States. My goal is to help you take the guesswork out of retirement planning or find the best insurance coverage at the cheapest rates for you. 

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