Countdown to Retirement
Four to Five Years to Go
This is the point when you start building the knowledge base for a successful retirement. You should begin pulling all the pieces of information together to support the many decisions you will be making along the way. Start a file. Keep it handy. Start discussions with your life partner. Record all important numbers (insurance policies, investment and savings accounts). Record the location of wills and other papers and place this record in a separate secure location. Inform your partner and/or beneficiaries where these records are kept. Pick a target date (4-6 weeks out, procrastination is not good) to give primary consideration to the following list.
It must be emphasized again that this document is only a guide and has no official standing. Official sources of information include the Social Security Administration for details on Medicare and Social Security availability, PERA regarding their programs, your DCP provider for those investments, the CSU Human Resource Benefits Office for guidance with the university’s programs and to assist in integrating options, and your individual tax and financial advisors.
- Pick one or two tentative retirement dates. These can be changed later if conditions warrant, but at least this will get you started with the planning process.
- With your family, think through your desired post-retirement life style and its derivative financial needs. Are there potential major events or other circumstances that could impact your retirement plans? Will retirement include moving away, a change of housing, major purchases of recreation assets (a motor home, cabin or yacht perhaps)? Consider major purchases and your desired monthly income as separate although related choices.
- Check your potential eligibility for the chosen date. Will you be eligible for Medicare, Social Security, or PERA benefits? Will you actually be eligible to retire from CSU? The Board of Governors has a binding definition of eligibility for retirement which can be found at: http://www.hrs.colostate.edu/university-retirees/definition.html
- Start early discussions with financial planners. Identify savings gaps. Refresh your memory of investment options. Talk through the types of adjustments you may want to make in the focus and content of your retirement fund portfolio as the big day approaches and thereafter. Make a plan for reducing your total debt before retiring.
- Attend a Financial Planning and Retirement Fair offered each Spring by Human Resources.
- If PERA eligible, consider purchasing additional years of service credit.
- If PERA eligible, attend a PERA Benefit Information Meeting to ask general questions about the retirement process. Review the PERA brochures on taxes, health care, and Social Security. These are available on line or by contacting PERA.
- Gather and organize data from all assets: other pension plans, investments, insurance policies, liquefiable assets, etc.
- Consult with the Social Security Administration about qualifying for Social Security by using income from sources such as consulting.
- For your various sources of retirement income, get current estimates of likely amounts:
- PERA, information and calculators available at http://www.copera.org/
- DCP providers, schedule a personal appointment with provider?s agent
- Social Security, available through http://www.ssa.gov/ or mail in Form SSA-7004.
Note: Social Security payments may be greatly reduced if one is also receiving PERA or DCP benefits.
- Several items become timely considerations for many of us at this point in life.
- Consider obtaining adequate long-term care insurance if you do not already have some. This is basically an economic calculation, to be made with the advice of professionals.
- Maximize tax deferred contributions to supplemental retirement accounts.
- Many people approach retirement without a currently relevant will. Do you have one?
- Consider special purpose life insurance policies, e.g., mortgage retirement, endowing a gift, establishing a trust for a person or a cause, etc.
Three Years to Go
- Review progress and/or status of all items in the list above. Adjust as needed.
- Attend additional retirement planning seminars as needed to remain up-to-date.
- If under PERA, consider completing purchasing service credits at this time.
One Year to Go
- Firm up your expected retirement date.
- Get another set of estimates of likely retirement benefits. You are now close enough to the date that these will likely be fairly exact.
- Review the Four to Five Year list above and your estimated income/expenses again to verify that you are still on course.
- Attend CSU’s Financial Planning and Retirement Fair once more for new information.
- Inform your department of your planned retirement date. Apply for a Transitional Appointment if you and your department have agreed on that. It may be a good idea to develop a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with your department and college covering specifics of your future relationship including, as appropriate: when and what classes you will teach, semesters absent, office space, laboratories and amenities provided, etc.
- Explore post-retirement medical benefit and life insurance options. Insurance and medical coverages and their costs can and most likely will change significantly upon retiring. Most retirees combine benefits from more than one source. Check with Social Security regarding Medicare eligibility and benefits. Check with PERA if eligible. To continue life insurance under PERA you must sign up before retirement. To qualify for PERACare you must do so within 30 days of retirement. Check with the CSU Benefits Office for university sponsored benefits. Make a plan that provides your desired coverage immediately upon retirement, after Medicare kicks in if eligible, and after age 70 when certain insurance coverage options expire.
Four to Six Months to Go
- Begin discussions with your department regarding any form of desired continuing affiliation other than a Transitional appointment. This would include office space requests.
- Initiate, through your department chair, a request for Emeritus status, if eligible.
Three Months to Go
- If you have not already done so, it is now imperative that you inform your department of your intended retirement date.
- PERA retirees, contact PERA for retirement estimate and packet. Allow 4-6 weeks for a response.
- If you are planning to start drawing Social Security benefits upon retirement, the local Social Security Administration office needs at least three months to process your application. You will need to provide three documents: your original birth certificate, last year’s W-2 tax form, and your current paycheck record.
- If you (and/or your spouse) are at least age 65, you must enroll in Medicare A & B. This, too, is accomplished through your local Social Security office.
- Contact the HR Benefits Office to schedule an appointment for a retirement planning discussion.
- Settle and close all on-campus accounts. Return library materials. Decide what to do with your personal research materials collections. Morgan Library does not accept gifts of books, journals, or other materials except those that might enhance its unique holdings in Special Collections and Archives. The Library still welcomes gifts of books which are written by CSU faculty if they do not duplicate what the Library already owns.
- Decide how you want to handle mail and email. Inform your administrative assistant and departmental administrators. Send change of address or discontinuance notices to academic and professional groups, publishers, trade publications, and others.
At or After Retirement
- If you change mailing or email addresses, let Human Resources know as soon as possible.
- Contact ACNS for information about email and internet access.
- Obtain a CSU picture ID if yours is outdated.