Ghouls and goblins will be knocking on your door this week asking for sugary sweets. Horror films will be played on a continuous loop on cable television channels, teenagers will be sneaking toilet tissue and eggs from their parents’ houses. But maybe most terrifying of all, many LAGERS members will be preparing for retirement at the end of the year! Oh, the horror!
A little dramatic, I know, but retirement is a truly terrifying new chapter in life. I have seen the fear first-hand in hundreds of wide-eyed, soon to be retired, LAGERS members at seminars over the years. The fear is real. But it doesn’t have to be so frightening. LAGERS provides several resources to help keep the retirement boogey man away from your door.
Almost 1,000 people attend LAGERS pre-retirement seminars each year. Nine out of ten folks that attend these seminars rate them as ‘Excellent’ and, more importantly, 99% say that they believe they have received adequate information to make informed decisions about their LAGERS retirement. LAGERS staff conducts about 20 of these seminars each year across the state. We offer full-day, afternoon, and evening meetings to accommodate anyone’s schedule. In addition to the regional seminars, we also conduct several smaller seminars where we travel to a participating employer and speak with that employee group. Pre-retirement seminars are the best way to ensure you have all the information you need to make a sound decision about your LAGERS benefits.
LAGERS has benefit specialists on staff who are experts in all areas of LAGERS retirement. Stop by our office (appointments are preferred) or conduct a counseling session over the phone. We would love to walk you through the payment options, application process, and anything else related to LAGERS retirement!
A benefit estimate is a document that shows your estimated retirement benefits based on a retirement date of your choosing. This is different than your annual LAGERS statement because an estimate shows all of the payment options that are available to you. It is also more accurate as it is based on your most recent information. You can get a benefit estimate by contacting our office, or you can generate as many as you want online using the myLAGERS web portal.
These estimates are extremely beneficial in retirement planning. But you would be surprised how many people retire without ever requesting one. “When I started at LAGERS 14 years ago, I was blown away by how many people retired without ever getting a benefit estimate from us!” said Tami Jaegers, LAGERS’ Assistant Director. “Now, that has changed dramatically. About 9,000 estimates were calculated in the last 12 months. Staff did 4,400 and members did 4,600 online using myLAGERS. So members ran more estimates than LAGERS staff! That is great!” Great, yes, but there is still plenty of room for improvement. LAGERS still sees far too many members retire who are seeing their benefit amount for the first time about two weeks before they walk away from work. Now that is scary!
The online myLAGERS web portal has been mentioned throughout this blog, and for good reason. It is a great tool for retirement planning. If you haven’t enrolled in myLAGERS yet, stop reading this blog and do so right now! While the greatest feature (IMHO) is the benefit estimator, you can also change your beneficiaries, address, view annual statements, estimate service purchases, apply for benefits, and more. And no need to worry about the security of this portal. LAGERS hires a third party company each year to evaluate the security of our system. This past year, LAGERS received the highest score possible for security of our system. Your information is protected and secure with us.
For members who are still decades away from retirement, the annual statement is a great way to help keep your retirement planning on track. After all, your LAGERS benefit is not going to be enough to fully fund your retirement. So the annual statement helps you know what your base monthly income will be so you can save additional funds for retirement appropriately. It is also a wonderful annual reminder to do a little retirement planning check-up on yourself.
With these resources available, what is there to be afraid of? We will help you every step of the way. So go ahead and curl up with some popcorn and leftover Halloween candy and change the channel to a thriller on TV. The LAGERS retirement process is one less thing to be frightened about.