7 Replies Latest reply on Apr 21, 2012 2:12 PM by Osca

    Involuntary Retirement

    Michigander

      Is there any interest in discussion among those of us who have been involuntarily retired -- terminated as part of an institution-wide reduction in force due to falling enrollment or other fiscal issues in the current economy?

      I got the ax first thing in the morning on April 15, 2010, along with 20% of the staff at my institution.  Everything was done in a pretty corporate way including packing my office under supervision and being immediately escorted out of the building without the opportunity to say goodbye to anyone.  Fortunately, it was 3 weeks before my 62nd birthday, so I signed up for Social Security retirement benefits and am also eligible to receive unemployment compensation.  Compared to my next door neighbor who lost his IT job in the private sector at around the same time, I got a pretty decent severance package as well.  Thus, finances aren't an immediate issue.  My financial advisor says that due to my TIAA-CREF and other investments and savings, I should have a decent retirement.  However, since this was an unplanned shock, I'm dealing with predictable depression issues.  I'm applying for jobs but I'm realistic about the dismal job market for a 62-year-old in the dismal economy in SE Michigan (Detroit).

      So, I need to get my mind around being retired, what that means, and what I'm going to be doing with the rest of my life.  How are others handling it?

        • Re: Involuntary Retirement
          jdebbies

          After about 35 years at the same company/agency, my husband was terminated in pretty much the same way as you.  He's eligible for unemployment and has both TIAA-CREF and another, better retirement plan, so we'll be okay financially.  But, he's still dealing with the depression issue, and it's been over a year since he got his pink slip.  Luckily, there are a lot of other people--neighbors and friends--who are in the same boat, so it could be worse.  But, he never used to hang around in his robe most of the day! 

          I also lost my job around the same time as he did, so we hang out together, mostly.

           

           

            • Re: Involuntary Retirement
              JerryD
              At age 50 minus a couple of months, I was let go at a national lab with close to 15 years there. I thought that I had done some pretty impressive things while there. I found out that I missed getting health insurance paid for at retirement by 4 months or so. I spent the next year in outplacement - what an ugly place.

              I got a bit down for a while and spent the next 11 years looking for jobs, changing careers, doing nothing, doing temp jobs like national student testing and census and finally "deciding" to retire. The process isn't fun. I even had a couple of years where my salary was quite a bit higher than the job I left. But the uncertainty and difficulties wear on you. Anybody over 40-45 is looking at a hard process to reach some resolution. The faster that you can do it, the better you will be.

              One needs to get past the hurt, anger, fear and other negative emotions and start concentrating on the things and people that you have. If money is driving your fear, you may even be amazed at how little one needs to get by in a surprisingly good fashion, even if it is zero income for a long period. You need to start getting involved in managing what you have and making decisions that were easy to avoid when things were "good". Smart decisions like moving out of the right place for jobs to the right place for retirement need to be faced. Disciplined money management is a must. Getting control of your retirement plan is essential.

              I have always had a good grasp of money, planning and budgeting. If you do too, use those skills to provide a well thought out analysis of the long-term to reinsert more control and comfort into your life. It is surprising how such an analysis can bring you back to a better feeling for where you are and where you can go from here.




            • Re: Involuntary Retirement
              Sharon

              I totally understand the depression of job loss.

              Same thing happened to me, after 20 years and the school is now out of business. But when they "retired" me at age 62 I was devistated. I'd planned to work till I was 70. Financially OK, I collected unemployment for 2 years, and next year will sign up for Soc. Security.

              I did work for the Census and am substituting, but the energy and excitment for life I used to have is gone.

              Now my husband is also out of work and his entire field has just about disappeared. With all the downsizing and overseas jobs taking what used to be USA jobs, the future doesn't look good for the USA. I'm just grateful my children have jobs.

              Makes you seriously think about leaving the country and live someplace cheap.

                • Re: Involuntary Retirement
                  Sounds very similar to what happened to me.  I "retired" in 09 and have been collecting Unemployment and temping every since.  I'd like to hold off on Social Security for another three years but may have to start soon. Actually part of me wants to work forever only because I seem to be doing more when I work- money issues and low esteem. I'm looking to restart my retirement by reducing my overhead but am still seaching for the tools- the info is out there.
                • Re: Involuntary Retirement
                  Michigander
                  I disappeared from this discussion for a while because I went back to work.  It was part-time, but it was surprisingly exhausting.  Now I'm in a different part-time job (in academia) where I'm a much better fit.  Up until last month I was able to get by financially with a combination of severance package, unemployment compensation, part-time income, and Social Security retirement.  Last month was the first time I actually started withdrawing any retirement savings to live on.  My domestic partner is on disability, so finances are tight.  We've done about all of the downsizing of finances that we can and are getting by.
                   
                  The depression comes and goes but is much better, and with assurances from our financial advisor my financial panic is over.  So now it's just the process of getting accustomed to being retired.  In addition to the part-time job which I enjoy and gives me social contact outside of the house, I've joined a low cost fitness club and begun to start to work on all of the projects that I'd saved up for the someday when I would retire.  I've also realized that there's no need to be in a rush to complete them, so I'm having fun searching the shelves at my local public library branch for murder mysteries to read.
                   
                  If the finances were better I could spend my time traveling, going to concerts and plays, and so forth.  But I'm finding other interesting things to do.  I never thought I'd really want to do yard work, but when I don't have to kill myself to fit it in anymore, I've learned to enjoy it.  Walking the dog brings a surprising amount of pleasure.  I never used to enjoy shopping -- it was always just something to get over with as quickly as possible.  But I've learned to shop for clothes as much as possible at resale shops and to have fun checking out four or five of them from time to time looking for gems.  [I'm being treated to a week-long Caribbean cruise next month, and I had an amazing amount of fun building a wardrobe of "cruise wear" bought entirely at resale shops for $1.80 per shirt and $2.80 per pair of shorts.]
                   
                  So I'm adjusting.
                   
                    • Re: Involuntary Retirement
                      JerryD
                      I too was "involuntarily retired" or more accurately just got darn tired of looking for new jobs as the last in, oldest, etc. got cut again. Finally just said: "I am retired". One thing the lean times did do was taught us how to budget and get by on less although we were never extravagant.
                       
                      One of the big changes was to move out of the high tax area in the Chicago suburbs to a state that we never thought would be in our plans. We had spent years going there or close by to visit kids and grandkids. It's a beautiful place and we can't believe what kind of house and real estate taxes we could get when we walked away from the "expensive", job-oriented location.
                       
                      One thing that we (me especially) would never have considered is volunteering at an arts center in the nearby college town (we live within10 miles literally in the country). We have been able to see many top quality shows that would have cost considerable dollars and thus probably not something we would do. As a very nice benefit since we are not social butterflies we have met some great and talented mostly retired folks from far and wide.
                       
                       
                      • Re: Involuntary Retirement
                        Osca
                        I too was involuntarily retired - right before Christmas.  I was shocked as were my colleagues.  I though I was in a pretty recession-proof position as a quality/compliance specialist.  But lo and behold I became the 10% in my administrative division.  At first I thought the timing pretty much sucked but it actually provided a bit of a relief and buffer as nothing happens during the holidays so I could pretty much just let go and deal with the sadness, anger and grieving. 
                        I applied for unemployment which has resulted in nada but I have been able to do things I wouldn't have been able to before and once I was able to let go of the "career" issue and realized I no longer really needed to continue that for my ego and could simply get a job of interest that paid reasonably well to supplement SS and retirement funds I have been able to refocus my search, enjoy my "time off" a little more, straighten out finances and get my life in order to move into the next stage.  One definitely needs to get beyond the grieving and anger - if that isn't happening then it is crucial to get outside help and is worth the time and money (most likely available at a reduced cost with most counselors).
                        To be clear I am fortunate in that I am 64 and have some options that others being laid off do not have.  On the down side it hasn't been that long since I divorced and I don't have any secondary support for the future and got zero financially out of the divorce and since I work in human services my income has never been high.  However, that also means that I have always had to  pinch pennies so nothing is new there--just need to watch even more closely.  I've had to make some concessions to be proactive in my future and it has meant that my dream of being able to finance international travel will be curtailed but I am much more relaxed, sleep better and am liking it!  I'm healthy, active, have many interests, can volunteer more, kick back and enjoy relaxed mornings...I'm happy.