Getting SECURE: Part 1

Personal Money Planning |

By Gary Silverman, CFP®

I’m not sure what you did the first days of 2020, but I spent both New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day running (literally) around Allen, Texas. Altogether it was 32.4 miles. It was cold. It was wet. But the medal for completing it was awesome. Remind me not to do that again.

I tend not to get surprised a lot. But I do get surprised. This time the Senate did it to me. Believe it or not, they actually passed a bill. I guess it gave them something to do while the House was pontificating on impeachment.

The bill in question was the Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Enhancement Act. I’m guessing that even the drafters have a hard time remembering the title, which is why they, I, and pretty much everyone else, calls it the SECURE Act.

This is a significant piece of legislation. It will take me a few weeks to cover the basics on how it affects you. You should be particularly interested if:

  • You have an IRA

  • You might inherit an IRA

  • You are or plan to earn income past age 70-1/2

  • You own a business and want to set up a retirement plan

  • You are a long-term part-time worker

  • You have a 529 plan and student debt.

The Act itself is well over 100 pages of Congress-speak. What I will present is what I’ve gleaned from it and what seems to be the consensus of other financial commentators on the subject. Realize that it will be a while before we know all the ins and outs of the Act since it is a framework that the IRS needs to flesh out with its interpretation. Even then the IRS interpretation is open to interpretation by all the tax preparers. And then the tax courts will get involved to settle any differences.

In other words, I’ll be giving it my best guess. I will not be able to cover every possible situation nor every nuance of the law. The SECURE Act has 29 major changes in it. So, as usual, contact your financial, tax, and legal advisors to better understand how any of this affects you.

For individuals, here is a summary of the big changes (with details coming in future articles):

  • The “stretch” across your lifetime of Required Minimum Distributions (RMDs) from an inherited IRA is now shortened to a maximum of 10 years.

  • IRA RMD starting date will change from 70-1/2 years old to 72 years old.

  • You will now be able to contribute to a Traditional IRA past age 70-1/2 (you already were allowed to contribute to a Roth IRA).

  • If you are a part-time worker with at least 500 hours for three years you will be eligible for your employer’s 401(k) plan (but not for a while).

  • 529 Plans can now pay for apprenticeship programs and be used to pay student loans.

We will start digging into the details next week.

Gary Silverman, CFP® is the founder of Personal Money Planning, LLC, a Wichita Falls retirement planning and investment management firm and author of Real World Investing (available at Contact him at