Whether you are counting the days to retirement or you are decades away, planning ahead is essential to your financial independence. Your LAGERS benefit is a building block for your fiscal success. Having a good understanding of the benefits available to you now and in the future will enhance your security and peace of mind. If you are considering making financial planning one of your resolutions for the new year, here are three ways anyone can include LAGERS as part of the discussion.
1. Read Your Annual Member Statement
LAGERS mails a statement to all actively-employed members in the Spring of each year that provides great information to help your planning. First, the statement provides an estimate of the benefit you have earned as of the end of the calendar year. Next, you will see the projected benefit you could earn if you stay with your employer until your earliest normal retirement age. If you are already retirement age, the statement will let you know you are currently eligible for benefits and will project your payment amounts out a little further. The annual statement is a great reminder of how your benefit grows each year and is a vital tool for your planning.
2. Create Custom Benefit Estimates Online
While the annual statement is a great tool to assist in your financial planning, it may not provide you with the exact information you want. Maybe you want to work past your full retirement age or retire early. Using the myLAGERS online benefit estimator, you can run as many retirement scenarios as you like to create a custom plan just for you. The online estimator allows you to adjust retirement ages, salary, and employment end dates so you can see how your LAGERS income changes as the variables change. Having a good idea of what you will receive from LAGERS during retirement will help you plan for the other income sources you will need to live the retirement lifestyle you want.
3. Learn About Benefits Available to You Before Retirement
While LAGERS focuses primarily on providing a secure retirement for our members, there may be benefits available to you before you reach retirement age. Some of the most valuable benefits LAGERS offers (that we hope you will never have to use) are disability and survivor benefits. These benefits may be paid to you or your loved one(s) should something happen to you before you retire. While I can't cover everything you should know about these benefits here, please take some time to learn more about how they work. LAGERS also offers a pre-retirement lump sum payout and refund of your contributions should you leave employment prior to retirement age.
It is a great idea to pause at least once a year to take a look at your current financial picture and do a little planning for future. As a LAGERS member, your employer provides you with access to a defined benefit pension plan that is very rare in the private sector. Because of this access, don't forget to include LAGERS in your financial planning. Whether you are 35 or 55, LAGERS is here to serve you and help secure your fiscal future!