Retirement: a 3-legged stool
By Sandy Denesen, Chair, Retired MEA-MFT
If retirement is in your future, whether three years, 10 years, or 20 years from today, there are some steps you can take right now to help make your retirement dreams come true.
The key is to plan ahead. Your retirement is much like a three-legged stool. If you balance it wisely, it will support you during those much-deserved golden years.
Leg #1: Teachers or Public Employees Retirement System. When you receive your TRS or PERS statement this fall, check your birth date, Social Security number, beneficiary, and contributions for the past year. Make sure the information is correct. Keep statements in a file and check them on a yearly basis. Do not discard these records.
Leg #2: Social Security. Three months before your birthday, you should receive a Social Security statement. Check it for your correct birth date, Social Security number, and contributions you made this past year. Keep this document in your files. Remember, Social Security is not intended to be the sole source of income when you retire.
Leg #3: Your union benefits. The third leg of is saving for your future through benefits offered by our union.
As a member of MEA-MFT, you have access to both NEA Member Benefits and AFT Plus. Both offer a wide range of programs to help improve the quality of life for members and their families, including savings and investment programs that can help in retirement planning.
Benefits also include life insurance, health and income protection insurance, casualty insurance, credit cards (including cards with airline mileage), loans, car rental discounts, and magazine services.
Long-term care and Medigap insurance (to cover added expenses beyond Medicare payments) are additional benefits offered.
Take advantage of these union benefits to support that third leg of your retirement stool. Visit nea.org and aft.org to learn more.
To keep using these benefits after you retire, you will need to continue MEA-MFT membership as a retired member. Active MEA-MFT members (those still working) may become pre-retired members anytime in their career.
Your best bet is to become a lifetime member, and the sooner you pay for lifetime membership, the less it will cost. Your one-time payment will be $292 if purchased in the 2005-2006 school year ($192 for the MEA-MFT portion and $100 for the NEA portion).
If you wait until the fall of 2006, you will pay significantly more money. In September 2006, NEA will raise dues to $200 for the lifetime membership category, thus bringing the total cost to almost $400.
Continue your ability to use the excellent benefits offered by our union. Buy your lifetime membership this year! Contact MEA-MFT for a membership form, or stop by the Retired MEA-MFT booth at the Educators' Conference in Missoula, October 20-21. Now is the time to steady the third leg of the retirement stool.