The University Record, February 18, 1997

It pays to plan ahead for retirement

From the Benefits Office

As the February cold and ice drag on, you may begin to dream about golf clubs, warm sand and the free time to do some of the things you have put aside for a number of years.

The desire to begin a new life as a retired person can be an idea that grows gradually or comes suddenly to U-M faculty and staff. Either way, it requires some careful planning and thought to be sure that you will have sufficient income, that benefits costs and coverages are in place, and that this new way of living will be as pleasurable as you wish it to be.

If you are beginning to think seriously about retirement, you will want to consider the six planning resources below. The Benefits Office encourages employees to complete all six before finalizing retirement plans. In fact, these steps would be most helpful to your planning if you complete them as much as five years before your planned retirement date. However, whether you are five years, three years, one year or even six months from retirement, or have already retired, these steps could still be valuable.

1. Request a Retirement Planning Kit from the Benefits Office, 763-1214. The kit contains information to help you think about and plan what you need to do to prepare for retirement.

2. Request pre-retirement illustrations from the TIAA-CREF Telephone Counseling Center, 1-800-842-2776. You may want to request a new illustration when major changes occur in your earnings. Illustrations include information on payout options.

3. Request an updated Social Security Earnings and Benefits Statement. Call Social Security, 1-800-772-1213, to request Form 7004-SM, or request it via the Internet at http://www.ssa.gov.

4. Attend the Human Resources Development "Planning for Retirement" series. These four classes cover Social Security, the U-M retirement plan, how to decide if you are ready to retire, and much more. The series is free to U-M employees but it is necessary to register. The next series begins June 2. If you are not yet comfortable with discussing your plans with your department, you may take vacation time to attend the classes. Call 764-7410.

5. Schedule a retirement counseling session at the Benefits Office. For basic retirement questions, call a benefits retirement counselor at 763-1214. For more detailed discussion, schedule an appointment with a retirement counselor to explore your options. The session is confidential, which may be important to you if you are not yet ready to announce your plans. There is a separate final benefits checkout 30 days before you retire that covers Social Security, Medicare, TIAA-CREF, and retirement health care benefits.

6. Schedule retirement counseling sessions with local offices of TIAA-CREF and/or Fidelity to discuss your income options. Call TIAA at 1-800-842-2044, and Fidelity at 1-800-457-2926.