Retirement is a significant milestone that marks the end of one chapter and the beginning of another. There’s the excitement of travel plans, pursuing hobbies, and planning a less structured and more leisurely life.
To make the transition from active employment to retirement a smooth process, there are some important things to think about. Taking a holistic approach and preparing in advance goes a long way toward making your retirement experience stress-free.
Here is a checklist of five key things to consider before retiring:
Knowing what your income will be in retirement is an important piece of your retirement planning. Planning for fixed monthly and annual costs, as well as for inflation, can help you enjoy the fruits of your labor. To learn what your estimated Social Security income will be, visit the Social Security Administration website or call 1-800-772-1213.
If you have a 401k or other pension or investment account, you may also wish to speak with a financial advisor who can review your finances and confirm your income.
Your health care
You are eligible to enroll in Medicare beginning at age 65. If you are retiring before age 65, you will want to check with your company to see if they offer retiree insurance plans. You can also check with your health care provider to see which plans they accept.
If you have worked past the age of 65 and have been on your employer’s health plan, retirement will be a time to transition to Medicare. About four to six months prior to retirement, you may want to consider attending a Medicare seminar to learn about your coverage options. Knowing your options and expenses will help you to stick to your budget. If you have a Health Savings Account (HSA), it is recommended you speak to your tax preparer prior to enrolling in Medicare.
Before enrolling in Medicare and looking at specific plans, it’s also a good idea to check with your employer to see if they offer any retiree benefits or insurance coverage in retirement.
Advance care planning
Advance care planning can be crucial in planning your health care wishes. It offers the opportunity to clarify your medical decisions in advance in the event you become unable to make decisions about your health care on your own. An advance health care plan goes beyond a single directive, such as a "do not resuscitate" order, and may also include a health care power of attorney and a living will. It covers an inclusive plan of action that can grow and change with your needs.
Knowing that your wishes are documented can offer peace of mind and be a comfort to your loved ones in the event a medical issue arises.
Update your estate plan
Planning for retirement can be a great time to review and update wills and trusts and ensure your beneficiaries are current. This is especially important if you have married, divorced, had children or adopted children during your working life. It can also be a great time to check your estate’s charitable bequests and contributions.
Social connections and activities
In retirement, it’s easy to lose the focus that work provides and the social connections that come along with having colleagues. Planning for this change is key, and community involvement and other activities can help you maintain social relationships.
“Many people are unaware that the greatest predictor of premature death when a person retires —second only to smoking — is social isolation,” says Dr. Daniel Hoefer, chief medical officer of Outpatient Palliative Medicine at Sharp HealthCare. “The vast majority of people need purpose and engagement to stay healthy. Social isolation has a worse prognosis than high blood pressure or obesity.”
Retirement can be the end of our official work duties, but for many, it can also be the beginning of a rich social life and sometimes a second career of volunteerism. Maintaining social ties and friendships is a key element of a happy retirement, and activities such as golf, tennis or pickle ball can help keep relationships active.
Retiring from the workforce can be a chance to reconnect with your greatest passions and enjoy more freedom to do what you want with your time. Whether retirement is right around the corner, or if you’ve still got a few years before you consider the possibility, it’s a good idea to start planning. A key part to achieving a satisfying and fulfilling retirement is based on setting yourself up for a stress-free transition.
Sharp offers comprehensive Medicare seminars and webinars that share information on Medicare and how it works, as well as your coverage options. You can also schedule a Medicare Consultation to discuss your individual Medicare questions.