LYNCHBURG, Tenn. — While it’s advisable to have some retirement monies put aside to help pay for your golden years, according to a new study, retirees in Moore and Coffee counties who plan to rely mostly on Social Security income in 2016 will be among those getting the best bang for their buck in the state.
The New York financial technology company SmartAsset recently released the findings of its second annual study analyzing Social Security income, cost of living data and taxes across all U.S. counties to determine where people are getting the most mileage out of their Social Security benefits.
In Tennessee, Social Security goes farthest in East Tennessee’s Loudon County, where the cost of living is estimated at $18,125 and annual Social Security income averages $21,089. Not only do those in Loudon County get the most mileage out of their benefits in the state, they also rank fourth nationwide.
But there’s no need to move east. With a cost of living estimated at $17,226 and an annual Social Security income of $19,468, Moore County ranked third in the state for benefit mileage.
Coffee County also fared well statewide, cracking the top 10 this year, up from last year’s rank of 55.
In Coffee County, the cost of living is estimated at $16,780 while Social Security income averages $17,516, landing the county in the eighth spot.
To arrive at these rankings, SmartAsset looked at the average Social Security income for each county, then calculated and subtracted the taxes a typical retiree would pay on that income based on state-specific Social Security tax rules to arrive at a net income figure.
In Tennessee, Social Security income is not taxed.
Then SmartAsset calculated how far that net income would go in every county to cover the basic necessities, subtracting the county-level cost of typical living expenses from each county’s net Social Security income.
The data used was collected from the 2014 U.S. Census Bureau, state government websites, Kiplinger and the MIT Living Wage Calculator.
In order of ranking, the top 10 Tennessee counties were Loudon, Cumberland, Moore, Obion, Humphreys, Houston, McMinn, Coffee, Sequatchie and Jackson.
Antrim County, Mich., topped the list nationwide with a cost of living estimate of $16,542 and $20,302 in untaxed Social Security income.
Social Security payouts are determined by averaging an individual’s highest-earning 35 years of wages and indexing them for inflation.
According to SmartAsset figures, the average annual cost of living nationwide is $18,088 and the average individual Social Security payout is $16,979.
SmartAsset is a financial technology company that provides transparent, automated and accurate advice on personal finance decisions concerning home-buying, retirement-planning and life insurance needs.
Access the company’s free, interactive tools online at <https://smartasset.com>.
—By KELLY LAPCZYNSKI, The Tullahoma News