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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4 thoughts on “Ringing Up MegaCorp”
Congrats, Chief! I nicknamed my 55th birthday: “Double Nickel.” Now, that’s so far in my rearview mirror that I barely remember it! Enjoy. Meanwhile, advertising had no such plush retirement pension and health benefits (as in: Zero). So all those planning and funding issues were on my shoulders. Fortunately, I acquired excellent advisers decades ago, to help me navigate post-working years without institutional support (other than government programs we were all required to fund).
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‘Double Nickel’ – I like that. Like the old speed limit. I should come up with some ‘Double Nickel’ / 55-themed activities for the year! I know the MegaCorp pension is good, not sure about the health insurance. Our old friend Bob A. said it wasn’t as good as he hoped.
Mr. Firebug and friends,
I was a teacher, but did not start that gig til 1990 and was thus NEVER eligible for Rule of 90 retirement benefits, shut down for anyone hired after 1989. Was able (meaning forced) to participate in a program that put some money in a state Health Care Savings Plan when I left. Unfortunately, I cannot access it until any/all other resources (currently on my working wife’s insurance plan) are gone. Was also able (again, meaning ‘forced’) to participate in State of MN TRA – Teacher’s Retirement Association, a defined-benefit thing. Unfortunately, my short career and early retirement mean that TRA will never be a big benefit. Not that I’m complaining about any of the above — I walked away at age 51 thanks to following FIRE principles. Also helped many of my teacher friends get on board with 403b’s and Roth IRA’s.
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There’s probably a good article to be written about the benefit of staying in one place most of your career. If you start too late (as you did) or jump around (as many others do), you won’t generate enough longevity in employer retirement programs. Of course, the experts say staying in one place is impossible in today’s job market. I guess that’s why ‘Rule of XX’ and defined-benefit pensions are a thing of the past. I guess your independent diligence as a saver is e best approach!