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October 2020 is National Retirement Security Month

This annual event encourages you to consider your retirement goals to see if you’re on target to reach them. Whether you’re new to public service, mid-way through your career or getting ready to retire, we encourage you to use the tools we share here.

If you work in a state agency or local government here in Washington, you’re probably enrolled in one of the DRS pension retirement plans. The plans offer a path to successful retirement, especially when you save additional income. Make October 2020 the year you ensured your retirement was on the right path.

Change happens

Change happens in many ways as you progress through life and your career in public service. Life events can have an impact on your budget and planning for the future. Changes at work can take many forms, including growth in responsibilities and compensation, or possibly a change of employers or losing a job.

 

This year, changes brought about by the effects COVID-19 has had on the economy have presented challenges none of us expected. DRS knows you might be struggling with finances due to furloughs and unemployment. You might have changed the timing of your retirement. Or you’ve exhausted your options and although you should try your best to continue saving, you’re wondering if you can withdraw your retirement funds or temporarily suspend your Deferred Compensation Program (DCP) paycheck deduction.

 

The DRS’ response to COVID-19 webpage contains the retirement-related topics you need to help navigate options and answer questions. You’ll find information about furloughs and retirement benefits, how to request Coronavirus-related distributions (applies to certain customers only) And DRS availability information so you’ll know when and how to contact us.

 

DRS’ Education webpage is also a great resource where you’ll find live webinars, videos, investment basics, and sections based on where you’re at in your life: early career, mid-career, retiring soon.

Going somewhere?

When you leave your employer, you have a great option for your savings. You can leave your money right where it is and continue to enjoy the great benefits of the plan.

If you have a new employer, you can roll it over into their plan. But whatever you do, don’t jeopardize your financial future by taking your money out of your plan and spending it.

You've got the job!

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Congratulations, you’ve landed your first job in state or local government! Welcome, and thanks for stepping up to public service.

While retirement is likely the last thing on your mind right now, this is the time to make some important decisions and take steps that will pay off years from now.

We’ve put together a simple list of clickable action steps that will help you get started. You’ll find out how to activate your online retirement account and select a beneficiary. If you’re a new general government or school district employee, you’ll also need to choose between two types of retirement plans. (The sooner the better – you’ve got 90 days to choose.)

The checklist page also links to all kinds of resources and tools to guide you, including videos, summits, webinars, calculators and more. Ready? Let’s get started.

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Start saving as soon as possible.

One of the smartest things you can do on the way to retirement is to start saving additional retirement income as soon as you are able to. It only takes about 10 minutes to join an additional retirement savings plan. Washington state offers an extra retirement savings plan called DCP. If you are not able to save more today, make a budget or a plan to start when you can.

Save from the start

As a state or local government employee in Washington, you’re eligible for guaranteed retirement benefits. How much those benefits will be depends on a few things, including how long you work, how much salary you earn and, for Plan 3 members, how your investments perform.

Your pension benefit and Social Security could be a big part of your retirement income, and you may have other sources as well. Even so, they may not be enough to meet your needs and goals for your retirement years.

And this is where we emphasize the “third leg” of your retirement strategy: putting aside extra savings that can grow throughout your career. How? Check out the DRS-administered Deferred Compensation Program (DCP), a supplemental retirement savings plan that has distinct tax advantages over traditional savings accounts.

DCP is available to all state employees (new, full-time employees are automatically enrolled). Many local governments offer DCP or a similar program. The sooner you start, the more you’re likely to save. Ready? Let’s get started.

Let’s do the math

Your tax deferred savings can multiply with the power of compound interest. Experts recommend contributing at least 10% of your current income to your future retirement. You have your pension, but have you considered using DCP savings to make up the difference or save even more?

You're vested!

We know what you’re thinking: “What the heck is vested?” In this case, it’s not an extra layer of clothing. It’s an important stage in your retirement journey.

Vesting means you’ve worked the minimum number of years required to be eligible for the pension benefits offered by your plan. How much you receive will depend on factors such as how long you work, how much salary you earn and what plan you’re in.

While vesting doesn’t come with a lot of fanfare, it is a significant milestone in your career. It’s also an excellent time to assess if you’re on track to meet your retirement goals – and take action if you’re not.

The easy way to save more

Auto-escalation helps make sure the amount you’re saving keeps up with you during your working years. And this feature is available through DCP! Auto-escalation automatically increases your savings rate to help make sure you’re saving enough for when you stop working. Auto-escalation makes it easy to save more.

Here comes retirement

There it is, just on the horizon: Your retirement!

The horizon may be a few years or a few months. Either way, there are important things to think about – and steps to take – as you near retirement.

It may seem a little overwhelming, so we’ve broken it down into a simple list of action steps and resources. You’ll find out how your online retirement account is the gateway to customized information about your retirement benefits and, when you’re ready, the tool you can use to retire online. We’ve created a planning checklist and FAQs to guide you through the process, and information about how you could use DCP or other such plans to acquire additional lifetime income in your retirement.

The Nearing Retirement page also links to a variety of resources and tools to guide you, including videos, webinars, calculators, seminars and more. Ready? Let’s get started.

How long are you going to live in retirement?

Imagine that your retired life lasts as long as your working life. It could happen, and saving a little more now will make a big difference then. Make sure you will have enough money to maintain your lifestyle. Log in to check your savings contributions today.

Beneficiary Designation

Members, you can update your beneficiary information from your online retirement account. Select “My Account” in the navigation menu and then “View/Edit” beside “Beneficiary.”

(If you prefer to fill out and mail in a printed form, select this link.)