Thursday, September 13, 2012

Working 'Til You Drop Dead

This is so nice.

... Jack VanDerhei, research director at the Employee Benefits Research Institute, says some studies have suggested that by working to age 70 — five years past the traditional retirement age of 65 — nearly 80 percent of pre-retirees, including lower-income Americans, could have adequate retirement income.

But such models, he said, don’t fully take into account changes in the retirement system, such as the shift away from pension plans and toward 401(k) accounts, or the potential for a catastrophic health event that would require a stay in a nursing home. ...

I understand the impulse to ignore retirement issues when young. When I was in my twenties, and some old animator started rattling on about "the pension plan," I looked at him as though he was a little bit addled.

That was in the middle 1970s, when there were actually a whole lot of defined benefit pension plans (the old "monthly check after you hang it up" type of pension) out in the workplace. Now, in the amazing 21st century, there are a whole lot less. (And still I get animation artists who tell me: "Nah. Not interested in the 401(k). There's no match.")

Here's the problem: No matter who's the President in 2013 ... or 2017 ... or 2021, Medicare and Social Security are likely to be less generous than now. The Motion Picture Industry Pension Plans will probably be around but -- even if you have a lot of years in them -- the things won't be showering you with cash. (After twenty years of work, the Defined Benefit Plan will be roughly equivalent to current Social Security payments, though the Individual Account Plan will give you a nice, one-time infusion of money.)

The trick is, people need to get hep to these realities now, not when they're forty-seven years old and waking up to the fact that they have minimal retirement savings. If you can't find a way to live below your means and tuck away money month by month, you might be looking at a future as a Wal-Mart greeter during your sunset years.

(And even that might be a problem. There are, after all, only so many Wal-Marts to go around.)


Chris Sobieniak said...

Thanks for reminding me why I may never retire!

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