An equally important question arises from another life-altering choice that most people must make: Is there life after retirement? Especially if you spend an entire career with a stable, mission-oriented and controversial employer like Uncle Sam.
A 70-something friend recently celebrated his 10th anniversary of being retired. By celebrating (he is an engineer and scientist by trade), I mean he squirted some high-test coffee in his normal decaf cup at a local watering hole. But he seems fine. And happy. Substitute teaching — a couple of days a week — to honors math and chemistry classes makes for a nice and rewarding break.
Last year, he completed a portion of his geographic bucket list by visiting his 50th state (South Dakota, I think). He and his wife travel a lot. He’s been so many places he is starting to repeat (Switzerland being a favorite spot). He started investing (wisely as it turns out) as soon as he got his first job.
Like many retirees, at least the ones I know in the D.C. area, he is often overbooked. He has so much going on that he, like many others, doesn’t remember how he got anything done when he was working full time.
Another friend, who has been retired even longer, isn’t doing as well. He’s in his 80s, a World War II wounded combat veteran. We knew each other at The Washington Post. He’s lost his wife and son since retiring and seems to be shrinking, literally. He’s still sharp but increasingly lives in the past. Unlike my retired fed friend, he hasn’t had a cost-of-living adjustment to his pension since he retired 20 years ago. Fortunately there was some family money and a nice house sold before the real-estate bust. Otherwise he would be living very, very modestly.
Other than being 10 years apart and having chosen two very different career paths and employers, one of the things that separates them is the computer. The Internet. Google and email.
The former fed has a computer and a cell phone and knows how to use them (though not as well as his granddaughter). He’s in touch — but not texting — with people who still use email. The former newspaperman retired before computers were king. He’s forgotten what little training he had. I recently Googled him — got hundreds of hits, articles and columns he had written — and copied and mailed them to him. He got them, was pleased but doesn’t understand where they came from or how he could get more.
I mention my two retired friends to segue into a very interesting article in the January issue of NARFE, the monthly magazine of the National Active and Retired Federal Employees Association. It’s theme is: “Retired & Rehired, The Benefits and Challenges of Rejoining the Federal Workforce.”
The piece deals with what it is like to return to government as a reemployed annuitant. Under both new (the 2010 National Defense Authorization Act) and expanded rules, a growing number of federal workers are (or will be) allowed to retire and rejoin the federal service without the normal salary offset. The number of reemployed annuitants is expected to grow somewhat as agencies become more comfortable with the program and as part of a plan to have retirees work temporarily as mentors to train replacements. It is already popular with agencies with national security missions as they scramble to snag experts (with security clearances) who have retired from other agencies.
For details on life and work after retirement and the new dual compensation options outlined in the NARFE magazine, go to www.narfe.org, and click on the Mike Causey Special Offer Icon.
For the answer to the first question, you are on your own!
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