Last week I reached another milestone in my early retirement journey. I called the MegaCorp HR Service Center – for the first time in years – and started the enrollment process for retiree benefits. In 2021, I will turn 55 and become eligible to start tapping into the retirement benefits that I accrued over the course of my career.
I worked at this MegaCorp for 24 years – the great majority of my career. That may not seem like long enough to accrue a significant retiree benefit, but it is. I took a ‘Rule of 70’ retirement package at age 46 which made me fully vested in health insurance credits and a fantastic defined-benefit pension plan.
The good news is that everything seems to be in order. Until I called, I was half worried that I might have been forgotten in some MegaCorp bureaucratic mistake since it had been so many years since I had connected with them. Fear not, they had me in their system – still under my old employee number – and scheduled to receive my benefits packet soon. My 55th birthday will be in April, so my wife & I can jump to their health insurance plan starting on May 1, 2021.
It was strangely comforting to chat with the MegaCorp HR representative on the phone. When you walk away from corporate life, you feel like you have gone rogue from the structure you have belonged to for decades. You are suddenly detached from the organization that helped take care of you by organizing your insurance and investment plans. It was just a phone call, but after almost 5 years it felt like I was coming ‘in from the cold’.
The challenge will be to decide which benefits I want to tap into immediately and which ones I’ll defer into the future. Medical & dental insurance is our most immediate need I have since we’ve been paying 100% on our own for 5 years and 1 heart attack. Between now and Medicare Eligibility – which is still 10 years away – I will be able to buy health insurance at MegaCorp rates with a MegaCorp subsidy.
Yes, it was just a simple phone call … but also a milestone I’ve had in my plan for a long time!
Do you have retiree insurance & pension benefits from past employers? How signiifcant are they to your FIRE plan?
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