In a shaky market, it helps to have a steady stream of guaranteed income to help cover your essential costs. For most retirees, Social Security can provide some of this income stream—for a single person, the average Social Security payment is about $1,400 a month.
To make the most of your benefit, be sure to choose the right claiming strategy, says Steve Vernon, author of "Retirement Game-Changers" and a research scholar at the Stanford Center on Longevity. Each year you wait to file, your payment increases until maxing out at age 70. (To find out your benefit at different ages, go to mySocialSecurity.gov.)
If you want more guaranteed income, consider using a slice of your retirement savings to buy a single premium immediate annuity, says Vernon. With this type of annuity, you put down a lump sum and receive a monthly payment for the rest of your life. You can get estimates of payouts for different amounts at immediateannuities.com.
Before making this move, however, it may be helpful to consult a fee-only certified financial planner, who can assess your retirement income strategy. Some planners will provide a one-time review for a flat fee. (For tips on choosing a financial planner, see our stories here and here.) “Having an expert in your corner, especially in a down market, can be big help,” says Pfau.