Simple thoughts on Retirement Planning

There are so many questions and emotions associated with retirement. The secret to dealing with this situation is planning whether you are a first year, a tenth year or a last year employee.

How will I save for retirement and all the other needs of my family? How do I invest? Will I have enough savings? Will I relocate? Should I volunteer or work for income. Can I travel? What can I do with my time?

The concerns are personal and legitimate. Your retirement should be based on what you want to do. It is normal to be concerned.
Spousal, family or financial issues always enter into the process, but yours is the opinion that counts. Use caution when it comes to letting others have too great an impact on your thoughts.
For a prospective retiree this is a stressful time. The best way to approach retirement at any stage of your career is with a flexible plan. The plan can be an ever-changing series of thoughts that can be as simple as “I will wait for my decision until Social Security”, “I will accumulate a certain dollar amount” or “I will open a 403b or Tax Sheltered Annuity”. These all work. Planning can and will help your thinking about and expanding your thoughts on retirement.
In my 16 years as a retirement counselor one thing stands out. People with a plan have an easier time with the emotion of retirement. Finances are important but the emotional side of retirement is important too!
If you need or want help getting started with your plan or “wrapping up” your career, may I suggest that you visit the NYSTRS website or attend one of their seminars. Beware of insurance company invitations.
You can also call me or set-up an appointment to discuss any and all retirement matters. I welcome your inquiries.

Hank Sessa
NYSRetirement Guide

Summertime may be the right time to look

Solving the Retirement Puzzle
Hank Sessa, NYS Retirement Guide
631 335 8201.
An affiliate of NABCOT

Summertime may be the right time to look, adjust, or learn more about your money and your retirement. Many people say “they just don’t know where to start” or know what is appropriate. Let me give you some suggestions or even a plan. The following list of ideas can be accomplished in any order. Set a deadline and get them all done.

  • Sign up and login to My New York State Retirement System at This site contains all the information pertinent to your NYS retirement account. The site is a good place to check for any mistakes in service, reported salary and prior service claims. There are links to calculators and other valuable information.
  • Log in to your Tax Shelter Annuity (403b) website. Check your account. Read about the funds you own. Use the calculators that are available. You might even want to call your TSA agent to set up an appointment to review your status or adjust your contribution. Remember your agent should work for you!
  • The Social Security Administration website, is a terrific resource for general and personal information about benefits and eligibility. It may be helpful to call Social Security at 800-772-1213 for answers about your personal situation. The phone service is available 7AM to 7PM. I try to call as early during these hours as possible. Just a reminder, you can only access your personal information on the phone.
  • Read your Teacher Union Contract! Your union agreement contains valuable information about salary, insurances, sick days, possible incentives, payouts at retirement and notification dates. This document governs your separation from your employer. Ask your union representative for help or another copy of your contract if yours is misplaced.
  • You can call me. I will answer questions about retirement related issues or we can schedule a consultation in your home to fully discuss your personal retirement concerns.

Spend time organizing and synthesizing the information you have gathered. Take the time to get acquainted with all the pieces of the retirement puzzle. Don’t be afraid to ask questions of involved people – your union, your employee benefits officer, your TSA agent, or your spouse or partner.

Spend a few hours this summer on your retirement even if it is years away. Share the information you have gathered with the person you share financial responsibilities. It will be very rewarding!

Never Too Early to Start Saving

There is an old adage – it is never too late to start saving. Well, it is also never too early to start saving and now a new wrinkle has been added.

The newest concern for younger workers who have pensions is the need to fill the income gap between taking a pension at age 55 through 62, and collecting Social Security payments that Congress is likely to push back collection of full benefit to age 67 through 70.

If Congress changes the Social Security full benefit age to 67 through 70 but still allows you to collect a percentage of full benefit at age 62, that payment will be smaller than the current 75%, thus increasing the need for a savings cushion.

Savings, in the form of equities, bank accounts, IRA’s. 403b and 457 will help bridge the gap that will most likely occur if you leave the pension system prior to Social Security age of collection. This is not the “good old days” of Tier I and II. The newest tiers are designed to pay you less by reducing the pension for the years after thirty years of service.

If you only have one vehicle for savings, I would recommend the 403b and/or the 457 accounts. These are accounts that have money taken from your paycheck before taxes and deposited in vehicles of your choice. You don’t see the money making it more difficult to spend! If you already have such accounts, try to increase your contribution. The maximum is $17,500 up to 50 years of age and $22,500 for those over fifty.

If you are nervous about this kind of investing choose the fixed income selection of the company you choose – it is sure to pay at least 3% guaranteed. Reminder: $10,000 savings per year at fixed rate of 3% yields $276,765 after 20 years and $490,027 after 30 years.

Over the thirteen years I have been a Retirement Consultant, I have seen thousands of public employees through the retirement process. The most difficult issue we deal with is not having enough savings. Try not to be one of the people who is forced to work after you have had enough at the job.

Savings give you confidence, security, and many choices at decision-making time. This is a position we all want to be in.

Happy savings!

We Are Educators

We are educators. We expend a great deal of effort preparing our students so that they can do their best and reach their goals. We use many forms of preparation to ensure that they have an arsenal of information to help move our students forward. Nights and weekends are spent researching and at in- service courses to help us gather that information. Why, then, don’t we use the same due diligence and intensity on our own finances and retirement planning?

We can quickly gain financial and/or retirement knowledge by simply “putting in some regular time.” Once you start the learning process and start building the habit of acquiring financial knowledge you can assure yourself of an unconfused financial future.

To get started, here are some helpful hints:

The New York State Teachers Retirement System ( and the New York State and Local Retirement System ( are truly good resources for accurate information and estimates. Members of NYSTRS can have instant access to all of their personal data by signing up for and logging in to MyNYSTRS.

The Social Security Administration website ( has an estimator and many interesting, practical bits of information that help build knowledge.

Your TSA/TDA/403b provider will also have a helpful website. Many providers have calculators, estimators and helpful hints.

You will become more comfortable with your financial future if you start planning for that future. The knowledge that you gather will put you at ease and allow you to build and fine-tune your plan.

If you think you need help getting started or fine-tuning your plan I am only a phone call away.

Just a reminder; I don’t sell any products. I am here to help. I am your NYS Retirement Guide.

Retirement Incentives: Should I Stay or Should I Go?

Is there an incentive offered by your employer?
“Should I consider it? Does that incentive make sense for me? What are the conditions of the incentive?”

Incentives to retire can start an employee planning, move their plan along or help an employee leave the workplace.

Incentives are offered by an employer to either save money and jobs or change the culture of the workplace. There are many types of incentives. Incentives cost the employer money whether they are state or locally sponsored. You should be ready if one is offered.

The most common type of retirement incentive in schools is a cash offering. The offering can be based on many criteria: sick days, dollars per years of employment, percentage of salary, lump sum paid over several years or reduced payments for retiree health insurance.

The employer dictates whether or not to offer the incentive and what it will be based on because that incentive must make fiscal sense for them.

An incentive must make sense for you, too. Fully examine the offer before you decide. Always remember, emotion and economics.

“Do I really want to leave? Can I afford to leave? What happens if I stay”?
If these are your questions, this may be the time to talk it over with a consultant.
Hank Sessa NYS Retirement Guide

The Emotion of Retirement

There are many emotions and questions attached to thoughts of retirement.
What will I do with my time? Will I like it? Will I have enough money to travel? Should I work or volunteer after I retire? Should I relocate? And so on.

I have heard so many concerns during my career as a retirement consultant. These concerns are legitimate and very personal. Your retirement should be based on what you want to do. It is normal to be concerned. There maybe spousal, family or financial issues that enter your thoughts at decision time, but yours is the opinion that counts.

I caution you on letting others have too great an impact on your thoughts.

For a great percentage of prospective retirees, this is a stressful time. The best way to approach retirement is with a flexible plan. This can be as simple as waiting to accumulate a certain dollar amount in assets, or until you can collect both your pension and Social Security.

Your plan can include time for travel, time to help loved ones, or “I would like to move my hobby to a business.” Spend time thinking about your retirement. Financial assets are important, but the emotion of retirement is important, too.
Hank Sessa NYS Retirement Guide

The Retirement Process

NYS Retirement Process
Don’t forget that the actual retirement process has two distinct paths. And this is a case where both paths must be followed.

We’ll call them “Employer-Related” and “System-Related” paths.

First, the Employer-related path. You must inform your employer of your impending retirement. This step can be as simple as presenting a letter of resignation telling your employer the date you wish to leave service.

You should be aware, some contracts have notification dates and conditions of which you must have knowledge and to which you must adhere.Secondly, the System-related path. You must fill out a retirement system application and have it notarized. This is when you have to make a decision whether to,
a) Protect a beneficiary or b) Choose your maximum pension.

This is the point where advice and consultation can be a great help.

Hank Sessa NYS Retirement Guide