Your Early Retirement Package



It is very necessary to plan for your future retirement early on. But sometimes, with different kinds of offers around, navigating through it can seem like a task. You may find yourself being forced into that situation which could be detrimental if you don\’t know how to handle it. Thrive goes over three main things and what to do about them if you are getting an early retirement package offer. They cover topics like healthcare decisions, pension decisions, severance package, lump sum, and even going further with Affordable Care Act. Learn about real-life scenarios and some insights so you can see the importance of educating yourself first when it comes to planning for your retirement.

Listen to the podcast here:

Your Early Retirement Package

David, Karen and Bret all joining us with a great show and lineup.

We are excited about the weather. I love the summertime. We were out with our daughter visiting University of Pittsburgh, it was raining one day, 80 degrees the next day, cold the next day, and hopefully we get some stability in that.

Bret, welcome. How are you doing?

I\’m doing awesome.

Karen is here with us as well. Hello to you, how are you doing?

I am fantastic. It seems we were discussing how excited we were that we had kids graduating, and then David said we went to look at another university.

What’s the dynamic between your daughter and university?

We have a one-year break in between and back on the rollercoaster of college tuition and all those extra fees they\’d like to throw in there.

No doubt about that. I know that’s times five but all good.

We\’ve been planning and that\’s what we do for a living. We have noticed a dramatic uptick in is people that are coming in and visiting us about early retirement packages. We\’re going to talk about three main things and what to do about them if you are getting an offer about early retirement packages. Some people are getting early retirement offers, and then some people are getting early retirement offers that “they can\’t refuse.”

One is somewhat voluntary to take and then one is a little bit of the employer coercing people to take and unfortunately, it\’s happening. Even though the economy\’s growing. Economics is good and unemployment is low. There is this movement to move out people that are too expensive for a company so they come up with these packages. We\’re seeing a lot of people with a ton of questions about, “What do I do?” There\’s a number of different areas that they have to take into consideration about making those decisions.



Are the answers limited for the individual that must accept the early retirement?

It\’s not that they\’re limited, but they have to be navigated correctly. There\’s one time to take a social security pension decision and pension decision, they\’ve got to think about it. Bret and Karen are going to bring up some things that we\’ll talk about. Maybe our audience is not going through it, but someone they know is going to get some type of a package that they are offered. If you come in on a Monday morning and you hear from management that there\’s going to be a meeting and we\’re going to be offering 200 packages to employees, you know it’s a downsizing strategy that that company is going through and you\’re not going to have much choice. If you try to fight them on it and not take them up on what\’s being offered, navigating that success, we can have some consequences.

Bret, the key phrase in David\’s opening is that, “You have to navigate it correctly.” If you don\’t have a choice, you don\’t have a choice, so you\’re going to make a decision to do something different.

You’re being “voluntold.” You don\’t even have a choice and a decision. It\’s reading between the lines like, “If I accept this package, what is it going to look like? If I don\’t, you roll the dice and what happens?” They may say, “You\’re gone.” 180 days later and you have nothing to show for it. It\’s about putting those puzzle pieces together when we\’re offered that “severance package” and say, “Is this my last hurrah?” or “Do I need to go back to work? How does unemployment work?” We\’re going to chat about all those different things.

Karen, how important is it for the spouse to be engaged in the conversation, the husband or the wife, depending on the scenario?

They should both be involved in that decision. You can only make a pension decision one time. Once you make that decision, it’s going to affect both of you. The same thing with social security, you don\’t want to make the wrong decision because it\’s going to affect you in the long-run. I can\’t tell you how many times we meet with people and from the time they make their first appointment with us to the time they come in, it happens in weeks. They are offered a package and they have to make this decision. They were supposed to meet us at a workshop and then come and make this appointment. It wasn\’t in their plans but it does happen.

David, when the decision is made or when the package is offered, the decision needs to be made quickly. That would support the need to get yourself educated.

The other thing we have to take into consideration is that sometimes, it\’s unexpected. Humans are creatures of habit, we like stability and routine. We don\’t like to get thrown that curveball. When that curveball gets thrown, a lot of times emotion ends up kicking in. When people try to make decisions based emotionally, oftentimes they make the wrong decision. A perfect example is pensions. A lot of times people make a pension decision by looking at the sheet of paper and they offer four options. Whichever ones sitting are at the top of the page, because it\’s offering the most amount of money and they\’re thinking, “I\’m not going to be working, I guess that\’s the right one to pick,” oftentimes that\’s absolutely not the one to pick. You only get that decision one time, so it is crucial. You want to have as much education, knowledge, and facts as you possibly can to make the choice at that point.

That\’s what we have tried to do on this radio program. The number one priority is to educate and advocate for the audience.

We\’re creatures of habit and all of a sudden, we\’re thrown that curveball. It\’s like, “What do we do next?” This is about seeking out the professional help and putting all those pieces together because, “Do I need to go back to work? Don\’t I need to go back to work? How is healthcare going to work?” Sometimes it\’s the last hurrah and sometimes it\’s, “I need to go plan for that next job.”

[bctt tweet=\”Humans are creatures of habit. We like stability and routine. We don’t like to get thrown that curveball.\” username=\”\”]

What does the framework quickly set the stage for us? What does it like in terms of bullet points or the top three or the top five areas that you can zero in on?

These critical decisions are going to get brought up. One, we\’re going to have to make some healthcare decisions depending on age. If you\’re at Medicare, if you\’re not at Medicare. Sometimes that\’s the make or break. We\’ll talk about COBRA in that topic as well because a lot of times that\’s the default and it\’s not necessary. We\’re going to enlighten people. The second thing is the pension decision. If there\’s a pension that is offered, that\’s going to be important because that\’s got longevity detention. If somebody is fortunate enough to receive it, that brings longevity income into the equation.

We have a 401(k). Do we keep it there? Do we roll it over? What are the reasons we keep? What are the reasons we stay? Don\’t stay and tax consequences related to that. We\’re going to talk about why, whether it\’s us or somebody else, you should work with an independent financial advisor to do the analysis, give you the information, and prepare you for those decisions. How important will it be that as you exit that company and you\’re about to sign off, that you\’ve consulted with an independent financial advisor? This may not be popular, but what\’s popular isn\’t always right. There\’s a lot of news out there and we\’ve got people in our business that are not doing things right. Wells Fargo is a huge financial advisory company inside of a bank and they\’ve been fined a billion dollars.



A new lawsuit has been brought up by the Department of Labor where they are moving people out of very low-cost structure retirement plans into high commission plans. I would caution people to be very careful of who you decide to work with when you do this type of planning. Make sure somebody is independent and also ask them if they\’re a fiduciary. That means that they are legally bound to make the best decision, not just something suitable for you because that can cause high charges in your retirement accounts.

When you see that reference to Wells Fargo, as an individual sometimes you think it\’s too big to affect you or perhaps if you\’re engaged with them, you are being affected.

Just because they\’re big and a name brand doesn\’t mean they\’re doing the right things. Let’s talk about what happens if I get that voluntold or I\’m getting that severance package. The first thing that we need to be concerned with is health care. Whether you\’re working for a small company or these are some of the companies that David, Karen, and I have met with people from. You Got Aetna, Pfizer, Merck, Teva, Verizon, Pico, Urban Outfitters and Johnson & Johnson. There are some of the companies that we have met with employees that they have been offered packages and no two packages look alike. The first thing that we need to dig into is that health insurance piece. Most of us, in our mind, when we think about retirement, it\’s always 66, 67. When we talk about Medicare, we’re eligible at the age of 65, which is all good if we\’re past that age where we don\’t have to be necessarily concerned about, but what happens if I\’m 58, 62, 61?

You\’re getting a package at 58 years old, seven years out from Medicare.

When you look at that and you\’ve got to bridge the gap. A lot of times what you see in that severance package, “We\’re going to give you possibly some compensation but also healthcare for the first eighteen months” and then it\’s, “What we do after that? Some will carry us all the way until the age of 65 then we have to talk about things like Cobra, meaning once that health insurance stops, we have the ability to stay on that COBRA plan for up to eighteen months after that “package is done.” We need to understand the cost that\’s associated with that.

Before we jump to COBRA and discuss the costs, understand it\’s not routine that most packages that are being offered by employers is going to give you eighteen months of free coverage and then kick into COBRA. Karen and I sat down with a client who\’s in a pharmaceutical company. She\’s 67 years old and she was offered her package. The package was one month of severance, one month of healthcare. Not all packages are alike. Somebody who gets offered a package that does have eighteen months goes, “I can delay my decision making for eighteen months,” and that\’s not necessarily true.

The other thing that we need to consider is the Affordable Care Act. When that came out years ago, it got a lot of bad rep associated with that, but we\’re able to help clients navigate. We chatted about that on the last program a little bit as well. When we look at the Affordable Care Act and being able to get insurance, meaning health insurance for you and/or your spouse, it\’s 100% depending upon income. If we\’re offered that package, what\’s that plan going to look like in terms of the subsidy that I\’m entitled to through the Affordable Care Act? Those are the things that we need to navigate.

[bctt tweet=\”What’s popular isn’t always right.\” username=\”\”]

Sometimes with a severance package, we talk about unemployment. I\’m going to go get on unemployment series once my severance package has done. When you get unemployment, it\’s income, so it\’s going to affect potentially what my health care benefits look like. Those can vary greatly. If someone showing only $30,000 on a tax return versus $50,000 versus $70,000, it doesn\’t sound like a lot. Paying $3,500 for two individuals at $70,000 to $80,000, we\’re paying essentially nothing at $25,000 to $30,000. It\’s all about putting those puzzle pieces together to ensure that we\’re not paying too much from a healthcare perspective.

Is it fair to say that most individuals don’t know what they\’re supposed to be paying?

Yes, people don\’t know when things trigger other events. The thing about this process, if you\’re getting a forced retirement or a package offer, you’ve got to know what the sequencing is. Karen, I know you had somebody come in where their advisor gave them advice about their unemployment versus all of that, how did that work and what were the consequences? She was laid off and she was with another advisory firm before she came with us and she asked them, “I\’m supposed to take on employment, when should I apply for unemployment?” Her severance package included about ten months of salary, so she was still getting paid. They couldn\’t seem to find the answer to give her until she came to see us. She already made the wrong decision. She started taking unemployment at the same time she was getting her severance pay, so that negated her unemployment. It was wiped out.

She made that decision on her own.

She did but she was asking for advice and not getting clarity on what she should do. Be careful who you take advice from, number one. When Bret is talking about the health insurance and all, it\’s a little scary and you\’re already in a stressed situation. We’re here to help you and that\’s what we do for our clients. We have clients that maybe this situation\’s going to happen, but let\’s prepare for it. We\’ve seen what Karen talked about numerous times because this isn’t the first time. Somebody who\’s in between 60 and 65 years old, they probably haven\’t gone through, “What do you mean go to the exchange and get insurance coverage? I don\’t know how to do that.” We walk people through that process. This client of Karen\’s that ended up taking unemployment and severance at the same time not only negated but disqualified her from the unemployment. She eliminated her subsidy when she went to go to the exchange to buy the insurance because all that income showed up.

[bctt tweet=\”Decisions and circumstances are as individual as the next person you have a conversation with.\” username=\”\”]

Here\’s another perfect example. We had a client who got her severance. She was going to have her compensation plus her health care. She was a free agent. We sat down, chatted, and looked at everything. I said, “We\’re going to take unemployment in 2019.” She\’s like, “What are you talking about?” I was like, “We need to navigate this healthcare piece. If you take unemployment, which is going to be another $13,000, it\’s going to show up on a tax return this year. It\’s going to cost us an extra $400 or $500 a month because we\’re going to have all that extra income.” When we can take it and have a fresh year in 2019, not have too much income there and all of a sudden, we get that subsidy.

These examples illustrate why it’s important to find a good, qualified independent advisor who understands retirement income planning. If people call us at 800-516-5861, they can schedule a complimentary consultation. They can go to and schedule that online. For anybody in the audience who has received the package or an offer to retire or forced retirement or know somebody, they should take us up on our complimentary offer.

Two examples and I\’m floored by both of them and what the potential ramifications are by making the wrong decision A lot of questions still out there with healthcare. I can\’t encourage the audience more that if you have a question, it\’s okay to call. It\’s not going to cost you anything to get an answer, please educate yourself.



For those of you that may be eligible for a pension, there are some big decisions to make. I talk about it a lot of times during our workshop is we need to ensure that we\’re making the most rational decision possible when we talk about social security and pensions, not the most emotional decision. These decisions are going to stick with us for forever. There are so many times when we sit down with people and we talk about pensions. I always take that number at the very top of the sheet, which is the Single Life Pension, which means when you pass away, your pension passes away with yourself.

Pensions are becoming infrequent, we\’re not definitely seeing them as often as we used to. I would say the bigger the company, the more likely that we\’ll have some of that dialogue regarding a pension. “Do I take a lump sum pension?” “Do I take that payment that\’s going to give me the greatest amount of money to me on a monthly basis?” “Do I need to include any survivorship for my spouse or not?” Big decisions. When we talk about social security being the foundation of retirement income, if you are fortunate enough to have a pension, a lot of times that pension becomes the foundation of any retirement plan that\’s out there.

We chat about the pension and that topic that comes up with regarding a lump sum. A lot of pension plans that we come across have the ability to take a lump sum portion. It\’s a tax-free rollover when you do that into an IRA, there are no taxes involved in that process. We have that money that we have the ability to manage on our own or if you work with a financial advisor. One big thing that needs to go into that decision making is called the Kline-Miller Multiemployer Pension Reform Act of 2014.

When people hear the word pension, it\’s an old-school thing. If you\’re fortunate enough to have a pension, it means you\’ve been in a company that\’s done that type of program for a while. It\’s automatically assumed that if you have a pension, it\’s guaranteed and they do have a thing out there called the Pension Guarantee Fund. The fact that you have to have a quasi-governmental fund out there to support them, tells you that there are some issues sometimes.

In 2014, most laws got enacted that we are, that are not favorable to the consumer. This multiemployer pension reform that came out and said, cutting it down to a quick summary, “If your pension fund is underfunded by a certain percentage, that employer or the management of that pension has to either reduce your pension payment or possibly even eliminate it.” That is scary for somebody who\’s put in 20, 30 or 40 years to get that pension. That\’s federal state and corporate. We know that most pensions are underfunded dramatically. The three of us here at Thrive have gotten very schooled, very educated about how pensions work. We have the employee-specific type of software that can give us guidance on how underfunded a particular pension is and we can help you in that decision making.

[bctt tweet=\”Be careful who you take advice from.\” username=\”\”]

One of the things people think is, “One of my pensions, it\’s guaranteed, it\’s going to give me a certain amount of income on a monthly basis.” The question becomes, “If I do roll that pension over in a lump sum, I gained control, but can I perform at least as well as that pension would be?” If you go through that Thrive Retirement Roadmap Review, we can share solutions with you that can give you a good amount of confidence that you would be able to replace the income that pension was generating. We want as much fixed, almost guaranteed income that you can get on a monthly basis as you enter retirement. Once you\’re there and you no longer have a job now we\’re working on that “fixed income situation” and that social security, a pension, or whatever your retirement assets are going to provide.

Can you imagine getting to the end of supposed pension and then finding out that it\’s gone?

Sometimes people think this is promotion or hearsay or whatever it is. All you’ve got to do is pick up the newspaper or Google it and you will see many mainstay company\’s name brands that have discontinued their pensions, have reduced pension payments. We know it was Cleveland in Ohio, the fire department pension, the pension benefits, not just for people who were about to enter their pension payments, but people who have been receiving pension payments had them reduced. You\’ve got to be careful when it comes to pensions. Decision making is very critical.

That’s something we take into account for our clients when we do the review is a stress analysis on your retirement and we take that into consideration. What happens if your payment is reduced? What happens if it goes away? What happens if I was presented a package? When it comes to that pension, if you’re planning to retire, you have time to think about all these things. You’re taking the time methodically, slowing down, making sure you make the most educated decision. If you’re presented a package today and need to make that decision by next Monday, you make the wrong decision.

The encouragement is part of that Thrive Retirement Roadmap Review or whether you\’re working, is that take the time to sit down with somebody to make the most educated decision possible when it comes to a pension. Here\’s an example. I met a client who already had a pension and they\’re going to have two social security checks. She was being presented with a package, she came in and was getting ready to go take that 100% Survivorship. I was commending her on that. This is what happened when we sat down and went through their needs. Everyone’s situation is different. I ended up with two social security checks about $5,000 and another $3,000 from a pension check.

Their need on a monthly basis was about $5,500, so they were covering all their needs. I said, “Do we need another $3,000 a month check?” Everyone needs another $3,000 check but “What happens with that money when we get it as a pension?” “I\’m going to pay taxes on it,” “Could it affect my health care?” “What am I going to do with it after I get all that extra money?” We made the decision together, “Let\’s roll that $600 and $2,000 check from my pension.” That was my lump sum offer to my IRA, so now I have control of it. Meaning if I pass away tomorrow, my kids get that money, it\’s not kept in the pension fund.

A lot of times, pension decisions get made. If you pick a single life pension because it\’s the highest payment to you and you pass away early, even if you pass away late and you\’re survived by your spouse, there is no longer cashflow for that person. If you picked a pension payment and tragically passed away, wife passed away, husband passed away in addition, that pension is gone. There is no beneficiary and no residual impact on the family. A lot of times by picking the rollover option, you end up gaining much greater control and protecting beneficiaries and legacy.

It’s unbelievable to me that a decision could be made from ignorance. We don\’t know the answer.

That same client states $150,000 in assets besides beyond that pension. They were income rich, asset poor, they had no liquidity, they had $150,000. As long as they could budget everything for the rest of their lives, life would be okay. What happens if, “I\’m healthy during my 50s and my 60s. I want to travel more and I want access to my money. I don’t necessarily care how much more income that\’s going to give me in my 80s. I want to be able to enjoy it while I have my health.” Putting those pieces together, creating more liquidity, and understanding that\’s all part of that Thrive Retirement Roadmap Review, “I have a plan for my income distribution, my investments, taxation, healthcare and legacy.” Figure out where all those can be put it in. When I get a severance package, all of a sudden, things are going through my mind, “I need to make a decision. I need to make it fast.” Take a deep breath, pick up the phone, please call a professional and understand all the options.

[bctt tweet=\”It’s one thing to have a plan; it’s another to understand the plan.\” username=\”\”]

It’s one thing to have a plan, it\’s another to understand the plan.

Sometimes people like eating the sausage, but they don\’t want to know it\’s made. Abdicating all of that activity and that education, people want a pat on the back and say, “Everything\’s going to be okay as long as we do it this way.” We can give them that peace of mind.

Do you think there\’s some reluctance sometimes where people have a fear of learning the truth?

We call it the Ostrich Theory. People sometimes like to stick their head in the sand and hope the problem goes away or they don’t know the problem. We went through healthcare, we\’re now on pensions, and later lump sum or monthly. You can see there\’s a lot of decision making there. I\’m hoping that this show is presenting enough information for people to feel comfortable to seek out what they don\’t know. We\’ll answer some questions you have if you think it needs to go into a deeper conversation, which most times, it does. It\’s complimentary. This is a very important decision to make when you\’re in this situation.

Another problem or thought that will arise if you get these little packages, they give you your offer and say your decision. You have the 401(k) with your current employer or a 403(B), whatever the situation might be, “What do I do? What\’s my best option?” We can guide you through that, maybe rolling it over but, “What do I do with that? After I roll it over, how do I invest my money? What\’s the best way to do it?” Make sure you do a rollover and don\’t take your money out. There are many different consequences to the decisions that you make.



There are questions out there. I got a text from my college roommate during the last show. He texted me at the very end and his question was this, “My IRA is my main retirement vehicle. I have a 401(k) with my current employer, which allows me to roll over to an IRA one time a year. Would your guys at Thrive Financial Services recommend taking advantage of this roll over?”

We can\’t say yes for sure. We need to meet you and talk to you, but we can give a general channel idea. The answer\’s going to be typically yes. This is a touchy subject when you\’re talking about 401(k). David kick things off, talking about what\’s going on in the news out there with Wells Fargo and we talked about the word fiduciary. It\’s a big deal for us is when you\’re talking about these decisions, integrity all of a sudden becomes a big deal. If I\’m in a 401(k) plan where my fees are nonexistent, and an advisor wants to charge me 1.5%, 2% to manage that money, something’s wrong with that. It may make more sense to keep that in that 401(k) plan.

In pulling that money out, which is what we see makes the most sense, your options become infinity. When my money\’s in a 401(k) plan, my options are what they are. Maybe it\’s ten, twenty, 30, 60 different choices that are out there. You can be a lot more creative, you have access to a lot more options. That\’s to me the biggest thing that we find in pulling money out of a 401(k). We find maybe 3% to 5% of the time. It makes sense to keep the money there. We find people that have a stable value fund that\’s earned earning 3% guaranteed, that\’s like a pink Unicorn, it doesn\’t exist out there a lot of times. That\’s the biggest thing when you\’re chatting about these 401(k) questions into your college roommate, it would be, “Let\’s go roll that money out.”

Depending on age, it’s going to determine whether you can legally allow rolling money out of a plan. It’s another reason why you may want to keep your money and from a loan standpoint. Those are the biggest things that we see out there. We’ve got to be conscious of fees, high and low. What are the flexibility or the options that are in my plan and are you going to end up needing a loan? A lot of times people enter in their 50s and 60s, things look a little bit different, things are well. Sometimes they do need access to have that money where I can\’t take a loan from an IRA. I could possibly take a loan from my 401(k).

If I\’ve learned one thing, it is the decisions and the circumstances are as individual as the next person you have a conversation with or the next person who\’s going to call.

I get fired up when I do some of these workshops and what fires me up is the topic of the education. A lot of our audience, people that we meet in our practice on a weekly basis, especially people who we classify as what we call “self-directed,” they\’re running their own financial plans. A lot of people are going to these resources, so much information out there. I\’ll give you a couple of examples, people go out for this information and they base their decisions on this generic information. It caused more harm than good.

[bctt tweet=\”By being creative, you provide yourself access to a lot more options.\” username=\”\”]

In January 2018, did this whole article on this concept called the 4% Rule. The rule being the ideal withdrawal rate out of your retirement assets so that your retirement assets will last at least 30 years of retirement. It\’s like that number that I can count on as my stress number. In February of 2018 came out with another article that said the exact opposite, that the 4% rule is the worst it\’s ever been created, don\’t count on it, don\’t use it. A lot of people are going to make their decisions based on what they hear on the radio or what they see on television or what they hear or what they read on the internet or newspapers.

Every circumstance is unique, and you can\’t base a decision on this generic resource information that\’s out there. It can be very damaging. When it comes to 401(k) or 403(b), and now you\’ve been offered a package, you have the opportunity to roll over. We’ve got to go through a flowchart of things to see if it makes sense. Some of the positives of why to make that rollover decision and move that money into either an advisor-driven or a self-directed IRA, much greater flexibility.

Most plans that are sponsored by employers have a limited amount of options of what you can invest in. When it comes to investing, one of the wisest things is proper diversification. If you\’re limited to a certain amount of investment options, different types of mutual funds, very rarely do you see ETFs, then you\’ve narrowed your flexibility to have the worldview of your oyster as far as decisions go. Moving to a self-directed IRA or an advisor directed IRA, you at least have a limitless amount of options. That’s one, flexibility.



Number two is control. Sometimes these 401(k) or 403(b) plans put rules on what you can do and what you can\’t do. There may be times that you need money and they may not have a loan offering, they may not allow you access. We were talking about age driven is certain funds and the majority of bigger Fortune 1000 companies offer what\’s called a Non-Hardship In-service Withdraw option. That means if you have obtained the age of at least 59 and a half, you are able to roll out your assets, move them out of your 401(k) into self-director or advisor directed plan, but still keep your 401(k) active.

As an example, your college roommate is asking, “Should I do it?” On the surface, we need more information but it looks like if he\’s achieved the age of 59 and a half and then being your college roommate, I assume he hasn\’t. He may be limited even though they\’re offering, he may not actually qualify for that, we\’d have to take a look at it. That\’s part of the control, flexibility control fees. There was a report that we saw on 60 Minutes. They said the average fees inside of a 401(k) was like a little over 3%, which people don\’t know. When you start to look what\’s transparent and what\’s not transparent, the average fees that are in 401(k) is about 3%. Before you even get started, you’ve got to perform at least 3% to break even. People don\’t know that yet.

Thanks for tuning into the Thrive Retirement Roadmap, presented by Thrive Financial Services. Call 805-165-861 or go to The importance of getting educated, applying and understanding your circumstances is what I take from the product, there’s so much to take.

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