Choosing a retirement date is a big decision. Thinking about it in steps and narrowing down your options can help you make this important decision.
Determine when you become eligible to collect your PERA benefit
Your age and your service credit determine your retirement eligibility. When your age and your service credit intersect in a box on your appropriate highest average salary table, you are eligible to retire with a PERA benefit.
Watch this short video to learn more about how to find when you become eligible:
Keep in mind that the longer you work, the larger your benefit amount becomes. Or, you have the option to stop working and wait until you are older to apply for retirement, which will also increase your benefit amount.
Project when your income will exceed your expenses
Understanding your income sources and expected expenses can help you determine when you’ll be financially ready to retire.
First, compile a list of all of your different income sources in retirement:
- Do you or a partner have additional retirement savings, in a 401(k), 403(b), 457 or IRA?
- Are you expecting income from another pension or from Social Security?
- If you have a partner who is employed, do they plan to continue working? For how long?
- Are you or a partner planning to work at all in retirement?
Next, take into account that while you will owe taxes on your PERA benefit, the following won’t be coming out of your retirement income:
- Medicare tax
- PERA contributions
- Contributions you’ve been making to a 401(k) or 457 Plan account
Finally, consider how retirement might change your expenses. Some expenses will go down: You might spend less on clothes and gas when you no longer need to go in to work. Large expenses, like a home mortgage, might soon be paid off. Some expenses might go up: For instance, you are likely to spend more on health care after you retire. And although you may be eligible for an annual increase in retirement, it may not keep up with inflation, meaning the purchasing power of your PERA benefit may decline over the course of your retirement.
Think about how your lifestyle will change and how you want to spend your time
Retirement is a major life change, and many retirees find it challenging to fill their time in meaningful ways. Leaving the workforce can lead to decreases in social opportunities and the transition from saving to spending might feel strange. Planning ahead for how you’ll spend your time can help you clarify when you should retire, and better adjust to your new lifestyle in retirement.
Contact PERA to learn more
Once you’ve determined that you are ready to retire, PERA is here to help explain the details. Visit our Ready to Retire page to learn more about steps you’ll need to take or sign up for a retirement webinar with PERA experts to get your questions answered personally.