What Qualifies Someone as a Senior Citizen?

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The status of “senior citizen” can seem hard to define.

The term senior citizen is commonly used in the United States.

For some, this term is decades away from applying to them.

For others, it is closer than they realize.

Still others may be considered senior citizens and be blissfully ignorant of this fact.

According to a recent US News and World Report article titled “When Do You Become a Senior Citizen?,” there are a few objective indicators for determining whether you qualify as a senior citizen.

The term senior citizen is hard to define.
There is no universal agreement on who qualifies as a senior citizen.

What are they?

Eligibility for Senior Benefits.

Two well-known senior benefits are Medicare and Social Security.

The qualification age for Medicare is 65.

You can apply for Social Security benefits as early as age 62 and as late as age 70.

AARP membership eligibility is age 50 or older.

Some retailers and restaurants have benefits for those age 55 or older.

If you qualify for any of these benefits, you may be a senior citizen.

Spending Retirement Savings.

You saved for retirement while you were working.

You placed money into a 401(k) or traditional IRA.

There is a minimum age requirement to be able to make withdrawals from these accounts without receiving a penalty.

Taking withdrawals before age 59½ will trigger a 10 percent penalty.

Perhaps you can consider yourself a senior citizen when this penalty is no longer applicable.

There is another age to consider when it comes to retirement accounts.

When you reach age 72, you must begin taking required minimum distributions from your accounts.

You may prefer to reach this age before you consider yourself a senior citizen.

Entering Retirement.

People retire at different ages.

Even so, retirement is a significant milestone as you transition from working every day to exploring the freedom of hobbies, travel, or family time.

Others may consider retirement as the moment you embrace your status as a senior citizen.

Increasing Health Issues.

Aging often comes with ailments.

Hypertension, arthritis, and hearing loss are reminders that you are no longer in your physical prime.

Simply feeling the need to go to bed earlier can make you feel older.

Whether you consider yourself a senior citizen based on milestones reached or the number of prescriptions you need, you can embrace this new life stage as another adventure.

[Personally, I think a “senior citizen” is anyone who happens to be at least 10 years my senior at any given time.]

I actually like the way famed baseball pitcher Satchel Paige looked at age: “How old would you be if you didn’t know how old you are?”

Now, that is something to ponder.

Reference: US News and World Report (Jan. 27, 2021) “When Do You Become a Senior Citizen?”

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