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Stephen Lim, CPA, CA
Henry Yan, CPA, CA

The Ascent Team
Suite 105- 3380 Maquinna Drive
Vancouver, BC
V5S 4C6, Canada
Tel. 604.291-0366
Fax. 604.291.0367

Early Retirement: Myth or Reality?

You're 55 years old and as part of an early retirement package, you've just been offered a large cash bonus and salary continuation, along with a lump sum payment from the company retirement plan and continuing medical benefits. Is this a dream come true or a potential financial nightmare?

Corporate downsizing is a fact of life for todayís workforce. As companies look to reduce their payroll, many older employees are offered early retirement packages. When faced with the possibility of early retirement, many factors must be considered in order to make an informed decision.

Can you really afford to retire?

If your retirement package is offered to you 10 years before you had planned to retire, you may have to find another job or start your own business in order to make ends meet. In general, you will need between 70 and 80 percent of your pre-retirement salary to maintain your present standard of living once you retire. This can be achieved through a combination of your company pension, other government and private pensions, and any other sources of continuing income that you may have. If your health is good and you would like to continue to work elsewhere, maintaining your current lifestyle after early retirement may be possible. You would need to have other sufficient financial resources to draw upon.

Will early retirement negatively affect your long-term retirement benefits?

In many cases, accepting an early retirement package can mean sacrificing some pension benefits. This is because these benefits are usually based on a formula that considers how many years on the job you have and your salary in the last few years of employment. To make your early retirement package more appealing, some employers add years to your age or time on the job when making the calculation. It's important to get educated on how your employer deals with this potentially costly issue.

Is this the best package you can get?

What is the reason behind the company offering you an early retirement package? Is it possible that you may get a larger payoff or more benefits if you were to wait six months or a year? Or do you risk losing your job as part of a larger layoff? Is your company hiring or downsizing? Evaluate the company's motivation for offering you an early retirement plan as part of your decision process to avoid regrets later.

Are you ready to retire?

For some people, going to the office every day gives them a sense of purpose and structure in their life. Once you retire, your familiar daily routine is gone and you must find ways to fill your days. Some people flourish with the extra time now available to pursue their other interests and hobbies such as travel, exercise, or charitable work. For others, though, the loss of routine and structure in their lives can be devastating. If you do not plan to continue working, make sure that you are prepared to change your daily routine when considering early retirement.

Before you decide whether or not to accept an early retirement package, please feel free to contact our office. We would be happy to assist you as you explore your options.

The information presented in this document is of a general nature only and should not be relied upon to replace professional advice. Before acting on this information, talk with a professional advisor as laws and regulations are constantly changing. Readers accept full responsibility; no document found here is a substitute for a consultation.

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