This is the first in a series of articles for National Retirement Security Month exploring how Colorado PERA provides retirement security to public employees.
October is National Retirement Security Month, and the events of the past year and a half have made clear the importance of planning for the future.
The value of a defined benefit pension
Retirement security is a major concern to many Americans right now. A recent survey by the National Institute on Retirement Security found Millennials and members of Generation X are especially worried about saving for retirement and are more likely to be concerned about how the COVID-19 pandemic might have affected their retirement plans.
According to the survey, members of all age groups agree that the average worker cannot save enough money for retirement on their own and it’s important to provide for retirees. To that end, the generations agree on the importance of defined benefit retirement plans — also known as pensions — like what Colorado PERA offers. With a pension, retirees receive a lifetime benefit they can’t outlive.
Earlier this year, we surveyed retired PERA On The Issues readers and asked them what the security of a PERA benefit means to them. Continue reading for their perspectives and their advice for preparing for the future.
What does your PERA benefit mean to you?
For many retirees, the value of a defined benefit is the reliable income.
Allen W., a PERA retiree now living in Wisconsin, said: “[PERA] provides regular monthly income along with Social Security, and my personal investments,” he said. “Without PERA I would have to reduce my standard of living.”
For Mike M., a retired educator from Westminster, quality of life is key: “A PERA retirement plan has allowed me to do the things I never had the time to do while working,” he said. “Travel and recreation and enjoying time with friends and family have been a big part of my life during retirement. A secure retirement plan provides me with the financial resources to do the things I always wanted to do.”
Walter R. of Colorado Springs said he appreciates the peace of mind that comes from knowing his loved ones will be taken care of: “The retirement plan truly helps us,” he said. “In addition, I elected Option 3 which will ensure my spouse continues to receive our retirement pension when I pass.”
What advice would you give to others?
PERA retirees said they’ve learned some important lessons on their journey toward retirement. Mark J., a retiree from Colorado Springs, said his advice for younger workers is to learn as much as they can about their benefits.
“Learn all of the PERA plan details and attend all PERA briefings long before you plan to retire,” he said.
Rob W. of Salida said he learned the importance of saving additional money for retirement: “Enroll in the PERA defined benefit plan and start saving in a 401(k) or 457 plan the first month of your employment,” he said.
For others, the advice is simple: Stay the course.
“If you are a working PERA member, stay in PERA if you are in a job you enjoy doing,” Mike M. said. “A retirement plan such as PERA can provide you with retirement security at a time when you need it in later years.”
We’d love to hear from you — if you’d like to share your story about what your PERA benefit means to you, click here.