Working for 45 years is a big deal. That’s a lot of years in the rear view mirror. By age 60, working people are often tired. By 65 they are downright exhausted. It’s especially hard for people who have spent those 45 years on their feet. Martha is one such person, a delightful woman who cannot wait for her 65th birthday to come in December. She has the biggest smile and warmest way about her and is totally serious when she says that she is just plain done with work. Her goal isn’t about having a fancy retirement. In fact, she just wants to retire!
Working on your feet is demanding
Martha has worked various jobs in a hospital system near a large city for her entire career. It’s been demanding and the schedule tough. It’s always about patient care first, she told me. And that’s the way it must be. However, this kind of focus and dedication takes a toll on those caring for patients.
For 45 years, Martha has taken a back seat to care for others over her personal well-being. So, it’s no surprise that she is tired. Yet, her smile is very big when she talks about retiring at the end of the year. She loves everything about the idea of retirement, the freedom and the choices. She’s not stuck on any ideas that she’ll have a fancy retirement.
Think back, Martha wanted to retire a couple of years before now. But she couldn’t afford the high cost of health insurance. She knew she had to keep working until 65 to be eligible for Medicare. As a result, these last three years have been tough. It’s been hard to endure the high stress and physical impact on her body.
A life-altering event
Martha sports a long scar from just below her collarbone to partway down her rib cage due to life-saving heart surgery. She suffered a heart attack a year ago. Fortunately, she worked at a hospital. When she suffered the heart attack, those around her immediately jumped into action.
At that time, she worked in a community hospital. But her needs quickly became more than the facility could handle. She was med-flighted in a helicopter to the main hospital, landing on the roof of the building. After surgery and recovery time, she is doing just great.
That experience made her decision to retire right at 65 even more solid. She recognized that she has not reached her Social Security “full retirement age” (FRA) yet, so she knows she’ll be getting a slightly reduced amount monthly income. It’s worth it to her. She just wants out of the intense work place environment and to have time to enjoy every new day.
A fancy retirement is not necessary
Her retirement won’t be fancy. In fact, Martha says, “I just want some victuals on the table. I only need the basics.” She is looking forward to relieving stress level. More importantly, she’s anxious to enjoy her home. She is very close with her older sister who lives in a nearby town. Her sister is a year older than Martha. This sister duo is navigating their retirement era together. It’s great fun to try new things together. In reality, it’s also emotionally and financially important.
It’s likely that Martha will get a low-key, part-time job doing something different when she first retires. It won’t be nearly as taxing. She wouldn’t mind bringing in some extra income to give her a little safety cushion. In addition, she loves to read, so trips to the library will be on her retirement to-do list.
Most surprising, and oh so fun is Martha’s favorite social activity: line dancing. Martha has made many new friends by going to the local clubs. She loves kicking up her heels and dancing to country music with hundreds of other folks of all ages. And, an added bonus, she’s getting great exercise as well. All good from Martha’s perspective!
Making retirement plans as a divorced woman
After 20 years of marriage, then a divorce, she enjoys her peace and quiet in her own home. Though she’s planning for a modest retirement, she still needs to be mindful of her money. So, she was very interested to learn that she may be eligible for more Social Security income than she thought.
During the divorce negotiations, she thinks she may have waived her right to claim spousal benefits on her ex-spouse’s wage history. But, according to the Social Security Administration (SSA), this is completely false. A lawyer cannot stipulate reduced Social Security income. Any such “agreement” in a divorce decree is not enforceable.
Martha will need to make an appointment with the SSA’s local office to get final information. They’ll ask her to bring appropriate documents to prove the marriage and subsequent divorce. The SSA agent will look at her claiming options and determine how she can get the most income possible.
Her “ex” always made a great deal more money than she did. Therefore, it’s likely that her ex-spousal benefit will provide a substantial amount more in income for her. She will still have a slightly reduced monthly payment from Social Security, since she is claiming early. But overall, Martha should have some new-found income.
In the case of Social Security benefits, more is more. Each person is entitled to receive the highest amount of income that they qualify for. And sometimes, that means the claim is on an ex-spouse.
Maybe now, with more income than she expected, Martha will even get some cowgirl boots to wear when she’s line dancing!
Yes, retirement at 65 is just what this hardworking lady is looking forward to. It won’t be a fancy retirement, but it will be all hers.
What will you do with your free time in retirement?
Perhaps it’s time to really think about your retirement. What will you do with all of your new-found free time? Here are a few places to help you get a start on your plans:
- Download this free worksheet. Try filling it out. You might be surprised at all you’ll have time to do in retirement.
- Get some good ideas for how to go about retiring early from Time Magazine. Even a couple of years can make a big difference to your lasting pleasure.
- Ready to kick up your heels and learn to line dance? There are places all around the country. Just google “line dancing near me” and the local spots will pop up. Who knew Boston was a line dancing mecca? I might just have to persuade my hubby to give line dancing here in Boston a try with me!