Will pension distributions be based on my age or my wife’s?

Q. I have a retirement account at the company where I worked before I retired. My wife is a 100% beneficiary and is a year older than me. Will the required minimum distributions start based on my age or my wife’s age?

– Retired

A. Congratulations on your retirement.

The rules governing Required Minimum Distributions (RMDs) have changed in recent years, but they had nothing to do with your specific question.

The age at which you must begin withdrawing RMDs from your workplace retirement account is not based on the age of your beneficiary, said Howard Hook, a certified financial planner and certified public accountant at EKS Associates in Princeton.

Instead, it’s based on two factors — your age and whether you’re still working at the company, Hook said.

“If you’re 72, you must start receiving pension plan distributions at work, unless you’re still working there and don’t own more than 5% of the business,” he said. “If this is the case, you can postpone taking the RMD until you stop working in the company.”

However, your wife’s age is important in calculating the amount of RMD, Hook said.

“Because your wife is a year older than you, the RMD calculation is based on a life expectancy factor which you can look up on the Uniform Lifespan Chart,” he said. “You would use the joint life expectancy table if she was more than 10 years younger than you.”

These two tables can be found in the Appendix of IRS Publication 590-B at www.irs.gov

For inherited IRAs, a spouse can treat the inherited IRA as their own and use the Uniform Lifespan Table, or if they remarry a spouse more than 10 years younger, they can use the joint life expectancy chart, Hook said.

Send your questions to Ask@NJMoneyHelp.com.

Karin Price Mueller writes the Bamboos column for NJ Advance Media and is the founder of NJMoneyHelp.com. Follow NJMoneyHelp on Twitter @NJMoneyHelp. To find NJMoneyHelp on Facebook. Register for NJMoneyHelp.comit is weekly e-newsletter.

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