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Retirement Reform….turns into reality check.

October 28, 2012

This past week Michigan Public School Employees had a decision to make regarding their retirement benefits.  It was fairly complex with numerous variables based on when they were hired, family needs, service credit, health care options, etc.  The Office of Retirement Services (ORS) has done a nice job of trying to make it as clear as possible, but in the end we had to make a choice on the plan we want to have when we retire.  The process of deciding was challenging. Frankly, a lot of it comes down to exactly how long you expect to live…. which is not something I typically spend a lot of time contemplating.

The ORS website has a calculator that allows you to plug in years of service, years of purchased service credit, earnings, beneficiary options, and the type of retirement plan you are on…. and it tells you what your benefits would be based on your intended retirement date.  It is a very nice tool to help make your decision.  With that said, it caused me to think about my career.  You see, I still think of myself as being at the start of my career.  I have been in education, working for Saline Area Schools for 18 years, but only 5 as the superintendent.  I feel like I am just now starting to figure out this job.  Now, the calculator tells me I can “retire” in less than 10 years… which doesn’t seem like a long time anymore.  (For the record, with 4 children under 15 years old actual retirement is likely much further away.)

I guess this is part of growing older.  I just didn’t expect retirement reform to be the prompt that caused me to reflect on my career and the aging process.  I suppose I should have known something had changed when the newly hired employees this year looked to me like they could still be in high school.

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