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Easing the Transition to Retirement
by Theresa Kennedy, Intern, Employee Communications

Every year, on average, more than 1,000 employees retire from NYC Transit/MABSTOA. For some, the prospect is exciting, while for others it feels more like a beginning of the end. Fears of the unknown, of shutting down a career and concerns of how to make ends meet can lead to many a sleepless night. Fortunately, there are ways to ease those fears and get yourself ready. After 25 or 30 years of working for someone else, it should be possible to sit back and enjoy what you have worked so hard for.

Gene Brackett, a former senior director in Human Resources (HR) who retired two years ago, is one of the lucky ones. "No transition for me, I loved it from the moment it began," he says, though he admits to slight worries before he left about filling his time. Fortunately for him, he has many interests he is now focused on, led by photography. "Make sure you are not stagnant after you retire," he stresses. "The wonderful thing about retirement is, you are more in control than at any other time in your life. Future retirees need to have something other than their jobs to define who they are."

Financial Concerns

"Retirees are nervous. They are entering a new phase in their lives so this is natural," says HR Pension Manager Maxicene Young-Fisher. "We can help ease the pressure, starting with figuring out their retirement income. The steps of retirement are relatively painless. Their biggest concern is, ‘Am I going to be able to maintain my lifestyle?’ Once that concern is put to rest, it is pretty much smooth sailing."

Young-Fisher urges employees to consult one or more of these helpful sources, anywhere from 90 days to a year or more before retirement:

  • Annual Employee Benefits’ pension seminars for each Tier of employees, at 130 Livingston Plaza or NYCERS headquarters at 335 Adams Street. Notices are sent to eligible employees.

  • Estimated Benefits Statement, mailed yearly to employees who meet retirement eligibility.

  • Retirement specialists at NYCERS’ new office, 340 Jay Street mezzanine level, 347-643-3000; or visit Employee Benefits at 370 Jay Street, Room 623.

  • The Civil Service Retired Employees Association. 267 Broadway, 5th floor, 212-233-7541; offers pension counseling, tax assistance and insurance for active and retired state/city employees for $20 membership.

  • The unions.

Union Help

Most unions are geared to help. For example, OSA (Organization of Staff Analysts) has an active Retirees Club that offers programs for recent and not so recent retirees. Annual seminars and monthly meetings are just two of the ways that OSA helps members make the transition into retirement. The club requires an $18 membership fee.

Says OSA Executive Director Sheila Gorsky: "Our seminars cover financial, social and other aspects of retirement, getting members in the mode for what’s ahead and how to plan. We help them look at all their options. Many think they won’t have enough money, and usually they find it isn’t that different from when they were working," she advises. "I haven’t found anyone yet who regretted it."

"Anxiety about retirement is more a fear of the unknown than anything else," concludes Young-Fisher. "I’ve had retired clerical employees, who were not looking at big pension pay-out, who later told me they’re managing fine and they’re loving every minute of it. Some even say, ‘I should have retired earlier'."