By Kennedy Jones
(HALIFAX, NS) – After my article on the NHL, for which I took a lot of flak for particularly as pretty boy Crosby is a saint in our province, I am going to let you have the truth right between the eyes. If you want to know how cranky I can get just read my NHL article.
You have had some sort of career? Yes? Now the time has come to become the dreaded Penniless Pensioner.
How is the trigger pulled?
No more paycheque with half of it going to the government. Dropping bombs in some obscure part of the world costs money. Yet our own aboriginal people live in squalor. Charity starts at home people.
It has no place in my heart when there is poverty and suffering in our own country that has not been addressed adequately. Food banks perpetuate the 1%’s grip on power. Come to think of it, bombing in an attempt to reverse a lost cause rather does the same thing.
And forgive my obsession with NHL hockey, but it’s an opiate for the masses.
Don’t be duped by all the fluff about retirement planning, which is some fantasyland that assumes you have a choice about the date you will pull the trigger, that propels you into retirement. I’d say this is free will fantasy of the blindest sort.
Let’s start off with the pleasant scenario where you have made the choice to retire. It’s voluntary, although it rarely is truly voluntary. By that I mean the retirees were not forced out but, by being so very sick and tired and stressed out, they really could not stand it anymore.
Some feared imminent mortality if they continued.
So much, then, for a truly voluntary pulling of the retirement trigger. How truly voluntary is a voluntary retirement when you say to yourself, “ I am so frigging tired of all this crap I have to put up with, I really should get the hell out of here.”
There is also the fatigue and the feeling of being out of place in a young culture.
Now the reality of today’s workforce will point to the trigger pulled for you by your company. You are redundant. Your job has been outsourced to some jumbled Indian joint venture. You are no longer useful so you are tossed out. Hopefully you are treated decently and fairly and given a good package which, years ago, might have been true. But in terrible corporate times the package culture has disappeared.
Most likely, you’ll be lowballed and will end up settling for less than you are entitled to. Your employer most likely has endless resources to litigate you out of your legal entitlement to a fair notice period.
So, not having planned for a pre-65 retirement, you are thrust into a no a man’s land of the retirement planning model, most likely supplied to you by your employer’s employee benefits provider. You most likely have a defined contribution plan, meaning there is no formula determining your benefits.
You get whatever you invested in has earned.
The employer frantically tries to cover its butt against potential lawsuits by offering educational seminars to defined contribution plan members and keeping track of those who did not attend. This information will be stored and used in any lawsuit as necessary.
Mr X failed to attend any of these training sessions so no wonder he is a penniless pensioner. You were supposed to make it to 65, but you are turfed at 57. Did the retirement model take into account the eight year shortfall?
Yes, my friend, welcome to the world of a penniless pensioner where a decent lunch may consist of Kraft Dinner with hot dogs chopped and thrown into the pot. You stupid turkey listening to all that media palaver about how older skilled workers will be needed in the future.
Face it. If you are turfed and over 55, you are you know what. You have been you know whattted up the ass. Look and hope, but not to discourage you, you are toast.
Network, play the LinkedIn game but, face it, you are toast.
Who knows, you might get lucky and clean toilets at the local Legionnaires Hall and perhaps cleaning up Ebola waste at minimum wage.
Now think carefully if you are sick and tired of what you are doing if there any sickness involved. If there is any sickness caused by the workplace don’t be a wimp and walk out the door with your tail between your legs and instead explore a claim for short and long term disability.
Now I have only anecdotal evidence of what occurs when you pull the disability trigger. Rest assured, from what I have been told, if you have any short and long term disability (LTD) claim you have to get your GP onside. And if he/she knows what she/he is doing, there will be a psychiatric examination of some sort to establish stress. You’ll be harassed and snowed under paperwork thrown upon you by the insurance company, my contacts tell me.
Something like a collection agency hounding you. Not to overwhelm you with legalities, but you’ll have to read your employee coverage policy very carefully if you want to pull the short or long term disability coverage trigger.
And I recommend you see the movie Fortune Cookie, with Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau, to get a glossy perspective on the disability approach.
Let’s take a look at a typical long term disability requirement;
- You have to be totally disabled which means a restriction or lack of ability due to an illness or injury which prevents you from performing the essential duties of your occupation or any occupation for which you are qualified by training, education or experience.
- Long term disability benefits are not 100% of salary.
- There may be a waiting period to obtain benefits.
- The benefits payable will most likely be paid until 65.
- If there is any qualifying period for LTD you must be totally disabled during that qualifying period.
- You’ll have to provide medical evidence how your disability prevents you from performing your duties of your own occupation or any occupation for which you are qualified by training, education, or experience.
- You must be under the care of a physician receiving regular and on-going treatment appropriate for your disabling condition as determined by your insurance company.
- At anytime the insurer may require you to submit you to a medical, psychiatric, psychological, educational or vocational examination or evaluation selected by the insurance company.
Be prepared to be bombarded with paper and harassing telephone calls by your insurance company. Does your company really care for your health or is the insurer paying the disability benefit the one taking the loss paying out to a terrible cheater like you?
Apart from any sickness, caused to you by your workplace, some 44% of Canadians retire because of ill health. And retire, as you may, this might mean you have to pick up drug costs that might have been covered by the corporate benefit policy. If you are close to the cusp of a penniless pensioner, no doubt having some prescription costs added on to your daily living can be quite considerable.
So, I have presented you with a potentially bleak picture, but only if you were stupid and deluded to think you’d willingly choose a retirement date and walk out with a smile and piece of cake. The reality is, my friend, if you aren’t out of the picture because of illness your retirement will be facilitated by a security guard taking you off the premises.
Now, if you have a juicy TFSA, RRSP, and a registered pension plan you just might be OK.
Were you a valued employee or simply some chattel on some accountant’s spread sheet?
Whatever happens, try not to take it personally. If you wanted to swallow the corporate bullshit about how valued and important you are, best you live your next life as a fish chewing on a worm on the hook. Of course you can just ignore what I have written and go watch an NHL hockey game.
That will make you forget the nasty edge of becoming a Penniless Pensioner.