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Shows & Panels
How's your escape planning going?
Friday - 2/7/2014, 2:00am EST
A third of the federal workforce is eligible to retire, and after the last few years — pay freezes, furloughs and shutdowns — some people are champing at the bit. For many it's not whether to retire, but rather when and how.
Thursday's column "Retire or Expire" asked readers if they had any thoughts on the subject. Bam! Short answer, yes. Lots of them. So this is going to be a wisdom-of-the-crowd two-parter. Starting with:
I know employees in each category. One loves what he does and has over 40 years of service.Two will die at their desk because they refuse to give half their retirement to their ex-wives. Some have nothing else to do — maybe they are 'institutionalized?'
A few others are just not aware of the many choices they have to pick that magic date. I fell into that category — although I have been doing my homework. FERS people are unaware of the supplement they can get until Social Security kicks in at age 62 (at least for now). Many got a promotion recently and want the high-three, so they can get a few extra dollars per month when they retire. (Is it worth your sanity?) You also don't need 100 percent of your last salary in retirement. There are a lot of payroll deductions that won't be taken from your retirement check.
We are told to start planning your retirement five years ahead of when you plan to go. I think people need to look into it way before then. They might be surprised at the options. — IRS in Utah
Love your columns. I'm in my eighth year of federal employment after retiring from 27 years of state employment (Michigan). With my military service time, I'm eligible to retire. However, I have no plans for retirement at this time due to the uncertain economic future. I lived through the "stagflation" of the late '70s and early '80s at the beginning of my career. It appears that the stage is now set for a repeat of that era. Although we have money in our TSP and 401(k) accounts, we realize all too well how quickly that could evaporate in a burst of hyperinflation. I'm hanging around, like it or not, until administrations change and the economic future stabilizes or is on a track to stabilize. — Virginian
Just celebrated by 30th year of federal service. I will turn 62 in the beginning of April and will retire at the end of April. Am I financially ready? Probably not. But, my children are grown, my house is paid off and there are many, many young people who need this job more than I do. I think it is foolish for people who really don't need to work to work just for something to do. Really, how much money do you need? If you get satisfaction from working or helping others, then volunteer your time and/or your talents. Come what may, I am looking forward to my retirement. I will miss my co-workers and keeping up with all the news going on in so many lives, but it's time to pull over into the slow lane and take the time to see what is out there that I have been missing while traveling in the fast lane. — Glenda
Here's how one fed tallied up the pros and cons:
After 33+ years enjoying my work in the Judiciary, I am making plans to retire at 71 years of age. As a manager, my salary has been topped out for three years. I loved my job and its challenges enough to stay on through the process of six to seven long-term staff retirements and the bringing on a completely new staff and ensuring they have been trained for the future of the department. I was very surprised to get the 1 percent pay increase in last week's check — I was omitted from a similar type of increase several years ago. The mission and the work continued on. I am leaving because I deserve to enjoy my retirement years, I earned them.
Negatives: As an "essential" employee, the two-hour rides in to Capitol Hill daily from Viriginia and another one-hour ride home, often in inclement weather, are contributing factors. Having lived through several "bosses" over those years, I've finally decided that I can't wait for the current one to complete action on a staff issue that has been outstanding since mid-October 2013, it has deteriorated to the point where stress implications on my health are also factors. My previous boss had affairs and drank on-the-job, I reported same while others looked the other way. My first boss was a fine leader and a wonderful person whom I learned much from.
Positives: My TSP hit over $500,000 in the last few months so my long-term planning has paid off. Other pensions I earned (since 1958) will also supplement my CSRS pension. I do believe I am one of the "lucky" ones. Luck involved early planning decisions for the day I would retire. I am leaving a well-trained staff to continue the work of my branch of government. I learned so very much over those 33 years and I also earned a graduate level degree while working full-time. I've encouraged every staffer to take advantage of all learning opportunities and have provided them opportunities in many areas, including on-site and off-site training. They will continue to serve the mission we are each tasked with.
I plan to retire April 1, 2014. — Fed-up Fed
Someone in the office asked me just the other day when am I'm going to retire. Got 34+ years and age!
So I thought about it and provided the following response, that being, "either when my wife retires or when my wife dies". As of now, and based on the Social Security retirement age, I figure I got about six more years until she retires, or less if she dies.
The reason for this is simple. If I retire now and my wife still works, then I have the dreaded "Honey Do" list. I'm an accountant, not an electrician, not a plumber, not a carpenter, etc. (And no, I'm not going to do tax returns!) So why stay at home and do these things when I can go to the office and do the job I really enjoy. However, when she retires, then she can do her own "Honey Do" list and I can sit back and enjoy life." — M.U.
Mike, originally I planned to work for the federal government for 50 years (2037) that would put me in my 70s. However, work is not as fun as it once was. Most of the old timers are either retired or working from home so the esprit de corp is gone. Of course, I don't have enough money saved. My new goal may be to be the last one to turn out the lights which may come soon. Many of my co-workers are within three years of their target dates. — Eric in Alabama
Finally, this short-but-sweet message from a reader.
I am eligible to retire on Feb. 21 and I am going on Feb. 22! I have worked 33 years for the IRS and the heavy workload has gotten to the point that I just can't leave fast enough. I have lived below my means to be able to retire with no debt and am looking forward to three weeks in Florida going to the Daytona 500 and the beach. I am not going to be one of these workers who keeps on working when I don't have to. See ya at the races! — Anonymous
I have two retirement plans. Plan "A" is win Lotto. Plan "B" is dying in my cubical. I prefer plan "A" but at least I have a backup plan. — Frustrated at the IRS
NEARLY USELESS FACTOID
Compiled by Jack Moore
Astronauts on the International Space Station can see 16 sunrises and sunsets every day.
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