That’s what a Death Row inmate walking to the execution chamber is called. I’m a dead man walking at work now because I’ve begun the final steps to retirement, after which I’ll be dead to the working world.
There’s a lot of paperwork in death but when you leave this world that paperwork is completed by someone else. With retirement, the paperwork is my responsibility. And so far, it involves a good half-dozen forms.
One form is the “official” notice that I’m retiring. This form, which is notarized, sets the date (July 26) and also advises what to do with almost three years of monthly pension payments that have been deposited into an account I cannot access until I’ve retired. Since the tax bite would be over $14,000 if I took the cash, I’m “rolling” all of it into my deferred compensation account so I don’t pay taxes on it until I begin withdrawals. (And I don’t expect that to happen until I’m 70, so I have eight years to invest it.)
Then there’s a form to tell the deferred compensation office that the money is coming its way and another form to tell my investment firm the same thing. Why not one form that both get?
Another form about how to pay out ten weeks of sick leave, which is one quarter of the 1,600 hours I have (and the maximum I can be paid for). Again, to avoid the taxes, I’ll roll that over into the deferred compensation account too. Again, one form to my employer and another form with the same information to my investment firm.
Then there’s my Medical Reimbursement Account (MRA). With an MRA, each year I set aside an amount to be deducted from my pay for medical expenses. The good news is that amount is excluded from taxable income. The bad news is that if I estimate my medical expenses too high and do not use all of the funds, I lose the balance.
Last year, I barely used the $1,800 allocation within the one year, so I lowered it to $1,200. My bad, because I’ve used almost all of it since I had no idea that I’d need a dental bridge which would cost me $950 (that’s my co-payment after my dental insurance pays over $3,000.)
That’s why there’s medical tourism. If I didn’t have dental insurance, I could probably fly to Costa Rica, get the bridge and have a nice vacation for less than $4,000. (As for “quality” concerns, I still have fillings from pre-1970 dental work in the Philippines and which my dentist has remarked on how good the work was.)
What constitutes a “medical expense” is…interesting. A lot of eligible expenses are obvious, such as co-payments for doctor visits and medications. But also eligible are costs for acupuncture and chiropractic services. And…”lactation consultant services.” Hmmmm….
Since I have an MRA debit card loaded with the full annual amount but I won’t have any paycheck to deduct the remaining five months from, I have to take some action. Which in my case will be to deduct the balance I owe for the year from my sick leave pay.
For the MRA, they managed to use just one form to inform the different offices. I guess since the offices are all with my employer they are able to just pass the form from office to office.
So now that the paperwork is complete, it’s just a matter of waiting until July 26. Actually, July 24, since that is my last day in the office because I’ll be using up the last of my annual leave on July 25 and 26. Working only Monday, Wednesday and Friday since January (by using 45 days of accumulated annual leave) has been a great transitional step. The office is getting used to my not being there every day and I’m getting used to not going in to work.
Below my senior photo in my high school yearbook is this quote from Samuel Johnson which I selected for my life’s philosophy: “Every man is, or hopes to be, an idler.” That vision becomes reality on July 24!