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LIUNA Retirement Planning

When will you retire? Next year? In five years? Too far away to even think about? Retirement planning should begin early in your career rather than a few months before retirement. Doing so increases the chances that you will be able to support yourself and your family comfortably. Yet as important as retirement is, too many people wait too close to retirement to begin planning for that day, other than maybe picking a target age.

As with most major life decisions, it is always better to begin planning sooner rather than later. In fact it is never too soon to begin some of the most basic steps of retirement preparation. Planning will help you ensure that your target date is realistic based on your needs and financial resources. It will also put you in a better position to deal with a sudden change in work status, such as disability or unexpected job loss. Even if you are close to retirement or possibly even there now, some of the suggestions and information within this website should help you. It’s never too early and never to late to get your records in order.

No matter where you are in this process, start first by gathering the information that you need that will help you plan for your retirement. Following is a list of documents and information that you should retrieve and keep in files.

Your pension and/or annuity plan booklet
Source: Your pension fund administrator

  • Look for: Description of benefit formula, age limits, early retirement, joint survivor coverage, and other terms found within your summary plan description (SPD.)

Your health plan booklet
Source: Your health fund administrator

  • Look for: Any reference to provisions for retiree coverage. Some plans include coverage but they vary greatly in terms, benefits and cost to the retiree.

Social Security and Medicare Information
Source: Social Security Administration

  • Look for: Information about eligibility, coverage, benefits, and how to apply for benefits. Also personal Social Security statements.  

Other retirement income source documents like 401K plans, IRAs, stocks and savings account statements.
Source: Investment companies or banks

  • Retirement savings plans (IRAs and 401k plans) have specific rules and limitations regarding access to the funds. Your other savings and investments will also influence your retirement planning.

Spousal resources

  • If you are married, collect all the same information for your spouse.

Community resources where you plan to retire
Sources: State health and insurance agencies; AARP; Social Security Administration

  • Note: Some states have special programs to assist low income retirees with prescription drugs. They also have information about Medicaid, Medigap and long-term care policies.

At a minimum, collect this information and keep clearly marked in one accessible place. Update the files regularly as they are all subject to change over time. Most important, start to understand how these funds and benefits work so that you will have a clearer picture of what you will have access to upon retirement.