Having been retired for exactly one month, I have discovered that bureaucracy rules. I spend time every day calling some “organization” about my pension or my medical supplement or some other aspect of this life-changing event, or visiting organizational offices in person. I find it ironic that, in this time when I am supposed to be approaching senility, I need my wits about me more than ever.
Every day, a new package of information or blank forms arrives in my snail mailbox. In pursuing my understanding of the information, I find that there are often elements that are missing or not clear (hence my phone calls or visits). Some of the forms I’ve faced are incomprehensible to me (hence more phone calls or visits). And every day I struggle to get things in place before I need them.
I also wonder how many of us face this on retirement. In talking to retired persons I know, they assure me that this is the “norm” when retirement begins. While these anecdotes are not scientific, they are reassuring to me, in that I’m not the only one who faces this initial challenge to retirement. On the flip side, they are worrying to me because, at the moment, I have my full mental capacities (or so I think) and I am able to question organizations’ representatives and challenge elements I don’t think are correct. How many retirees are able to ensure that they receive their full benefits in pension and in medical benefits? My fear is that some slip through the cracks, although, for the most part, the people with whom I’ve spoken genuinely want to help.
I also wonder if we need to create some sort of voluntary “pods” of people (expert on social security, expert on IRAs, expert on Medicare, expert on medical supplements, expert on estates, expert on … whoever is needed). Certainly, we can hire CPAs, lawyers, financial advisors, and so on, but what about those who can’t afford to do that. How do we help them? How do we identify those people and put them together with what help is available? A complex issue not easily solved.