Retirement Considerations

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(This article appeared in the September/October 2005 issue of The American Postal Worker magazine)

Doug Holbrook, Director

Are you considering retirement? If so, please review and consider 10 of the most commonly made retirement mistakes:

Retiring on the spur of the moment because of a difficult assignment or personality clash on the job. Many APWU members will recall how postal workers jumped at the offer of early retirement in 1992, only to realize later that it was not necessarily the wisest decision.

Failing to thoroughly discuss retirement plans with your spouse. Anyone who has ever “forgotten” to discuss something merely trivial with their spouse should know better than to make this mistake.

Retiring “from” something without having something better to do. Retirement may sound good to you from time to time. But it’s harder to un-retire than to retire, so before you retire, make plans for what you will be doing after you retire.

Expecting to live comfortably on your annuity without having first made realistic calculations of how much money it will take to maintain the standard of living you now have or hope to have during a long retirement. There are any number of services — many of them free — that can help you forecast your post-career finances.

Failing to stay abreast of developments and changes in federal retirement entitlement and trends. Be sure to visit the “Links” we provide in the left-hand column of this Retirees Department web pages. You don’t want to make the further mistake of:

  • Basing retirement decision on the advice of friends rather than consulting with the experts;
  • Retiring without reviewing all the options, and the pros and cons of each option;
  • Making major financial decisions, such as selling your house, without being fully prepared to “relocate your lifestyle” to a new set of cultural, social, and economic realities;
  • Believing that your active, productive life is over just because you are retiring; and 
  • Failing to review all your service and entitlements to be sure that you get proper credit. One mistake postal workers often make is to believe that the estimate they receive from the Postal Service offers an accurate accounting of your annuity.

We hope that those of you considering retirement will continue your membership with the American Postal Workers Union by becoming active members of the Retirees Department. If you seek additional information, please call the toll-free number 877-APWU-NOW (877- 279-8669).

Six Decades Later: A Bronze Star

William H. Smith, a member of the Michigan Postal Workers Union State Retirees Chapter, will never forget his role in the Battle of the Bulge. But he was surprised to learn, nearly 60 years after the battle ended, that he should have been among those receiving a Bronze Star for his efforts.

Smith, a Lansing resident and past president of APWU’s Central Michigan Area Local, was wounded by shrapnel during the combat in Belgium and soon thereafter received a Purple Heart for his knee injury. In 2004, a fellow member of the 87th Division of Gen. George Patton’s Third Army was performing historical research and learned that Corp. Smith had earned two more medals: The Bronze Star and a Combat Infantryman Badge.

The veteran and historian contacted the office of Sen. Carl Levin (D-MI), who as senior Democrat on the Armed Services Committee gives out a few medals each year during Congressional recesses.

Sen. Levin presented the medals personally. Although he knew they were coming, Smith again was in for a surprise: He had expected that his awards would arrive by the U.S.Mail.

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