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are you planning for RETIREMENT

dmj101's picture
dmj101
Posts: 526
Joined: Nov 2011

This may seem insensitive.. but I was speaking with my brothers the other day.. and we were talking about retirement planning they are both approaching retirement as they are older than me.. I am 49... I have a modest 401k and some life insurance with my job and stage 4 rectal cancer... Metastisis in my lungs... I stated that at this time in my life with a stage 4 diagnosis... that I don't know if planning for retirement is a wise idea for me.. don't know if I will ever see retirement...needless to say that didn't over so well.. I don't know.. what do you say to people when they are discussing stuff like this.. I am happy they will have the opportuinity to retire.. but clearly I don't see that in my future.. where do you hide from these conversation.. and do you plan.. I just don't know.. I don't see a clear plan for the future.. so here I sit wondering.. as I am watching George and Clarence jump in the river tonight.. wondering why I am not.. but you know what I mean.. no bells are ringing near me.. so to plan or not plan that is the question tonight rolling around in my head...

joemetz's picture
joemetz
Posts: 493
Joined: Nov 2011

this is a very good topic, and no it is NOT insensitive. These and all topics and concerns should be shared. Many of us are in the same boat, so hopefully others will share.

For me, this is a VERY big topic and I feel some passion in this area. I am NOT a financial adviser are insurance guru. But, I am a 2nd generation small business owner and saving for retirement, saving for kids college, succession planning, funded (with life insurance) buy-sell agreements as well as wealth building are all topics i have planned for over the years... but this past year my thoughts definitely took a sharp turn in a different direction.

For other people to understand the thinking or your comments... they have to actually live in your shoes. Sure, they may have read the fact that a StageIV colon cancer fighter has about a 6-8% chance of living 5 years or longer... but others always think "but you'll just be one of those 6-percenters! yeah, easy for them to say. The Cancer that we have is bad. We face it each and every day. We are reminded of it when we having bad sessions on the toilet, when our hands tingle, when something tastes like metal and when we feel so sick we could puke... but wait, then we get to go to chemo treatments and see just how sick many of the people look, feel and act while getting their treatments.

but have your brothers ever come to a treatment with you? Do they truly understand what we are faced with? Its very hard for them to walk a mile in our shoes, but its equally hard for us to share or explain how it feels.

I've had this conversation, and I've had these thoughts... I believe now that we should have a happy medium. I 48 years old, and have had this colon cancer stage IV for a year a one week. yet, 24 years ago I had non-hogkins lymphoma. I've lost a brother to brain cancer and have other survivors in my family.

but, if you think about retirement... at your age of 49 the chances of us living to be 65 are slim. But, that doesn't mean that there is NO chance. It just means that we could, but yet based on what we know and the people we've met... there are very few Stage Iv colon cancer survivors of more than 10, 15 or 20 years out there.

sure the brothers and sisters of each of us will say.... but you're different. Your a fighter. Or they'll pull out the old... There's more medicines and newer chemos coming out all the time. somewhat true, but we're still in a very serious battle.

so, here's what I am doing.
I am still saving into my 401k at work, and I save a comfortable amount which gets the company match. But, the reason I am doing this is that it will go to my wife and 4 kids. But, if I was single and didn't wish to worry about their financial future... I would cut that amount going into retirement savings in half.

I would save for the next vacation. The next airplane ticket to see family or friends.
I would update any life insurance beneficiaries if needed. And, I have even considered cashing out one of the policies to create a fun account for travel and entertainment for me and my family... while I am still here.

do i hope to live 20 years... yep, do I believe I'll live 20 years... not really. But, I know I've got 5 and maybe 10 years. And, I want it to be lots and lots of fun. If i get to year 10 or 15 and i run out of money.... I'll call on one of my brothers or sisters! (LOL)

WinneyPooh's picture
WinneyPooh
Posts: 318
Joined: Jul 2009

Some of you know me some do not, but I too am in my 40s ( 46) and I have been fighting stage IX for almost 4 years, 5 operations all major. 4 near death experiences,one just this previous October. I want to live for a long time and I feel good most of the time and everyone always comments on how good I look. But Cancer and the economy have wiped out all my saving and all my ability to save. I often think if I am still around and well, But for now the most fun I have is telling creditors I have Stage four colon cancer and then recounting my last four year and listening to them cry and say they are sorry and wish they did not have to call me, ( but they still call.)

Don't get me wrong I am happy for you who can save but with treatments ranging from $9000 to $17,000 and medicare only paying 80% and Hospitals only will to write off some, and doctor visits every two weeks, and medically needy programs that say they can't help. Its a wonder I am not living in the street.

So plan, Heck I just plan for another a day.

Just giving a voice to those who are not able to save, and are just concentrating on surviving.

And to Joemetz I commend you for doing all that you have done, I to had NHL and that was one of my near death experiences( I was 34 with two small kids and Husband). Now with the colon cancer I can't wait for the next shoe to fall.

Living the best I can,
Winnie

Chelsea71
Posts: 1170
Joined: Sep 2012

It's an interesting subject you've brought up. I've been very confused about this since my husband was diagnosed. I used to be a planner. Had it all mapped out. Unfortunately, the thing about stage 4 cancer is it makes it very hard to plan. You almost have to have a couple plans. My husband and I don't have any kids. We are less focused on retirement since his diagnosis. Still saving and still making contributions (we don't have the 401 k here in Canada), but just not as much. Want to be able to afford to travel and have some fun. We want to be able to enjoy life now, but still be responsible and have some money saved up for the future. For us it's about balance. Also, if at any point we don't feel comfortable with his course of treatment, I would like to be able to afford to seek treatment outside of Canada. Obviously this would be a huge expense. I find it's peace of mind to have some savings set aside to utilize if need be. I miss the days of being able to plan.............

Chelsea

joemetz's picture
joemetz
Posts: 493
Joined: Nov 2011

"Life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans"

-- John Lennon

Lovekitties's picture
Lovekitties
Posts: 2926
Joined: Jan 2010

While we usually think of retirement as a voluntary cessation of our work/career, for those with an illness like cancer there may come a time when you can no longer work.

You need to check with your company about the detail rules of your 401k and life insurance.

The federal government allows early withdrawal with no penalty from a 401k if your medical bills are more than a given percentage of your income, however employers are not required to include this allowance. If your company does have it and if they do any matching to your contributions, then it may be a good thing to continue it.

As for the life insurance, if it allows for accelerated benifits payout, then that is also a good thing to have. This would allow you, not your benificary, to have access to the funds. Of course there are certain rules and not all policies permit this.

I guess the bottom line is that "retirement" takes on a whole new meaning when our illness is severe enough to make normal retirement age seem like unlikely.

Financial planning for your comfort and care when you are no longer able to work should be the focus now. Even with social security and medicare benifits it is unlikely that would cover your needs.

Yes, you will likely retire one day. Just not with the same outlook as your brothers.

Marie who loves kitties

barbebarb's picture
barbebarb
Posts: 464
Joined: Oct 2011

Being a single mom, I do have retirement accounts thru work and one from my divorce. I put the minimum amount at my work account since it is matched and I may use a small amount from another account to redo a very beat up kitchen. I contemplate whether to sell. my home and my 21 and 23 year old live with me and are finishing college, etc.
I upped my life insurance through work and shared the mortgage amounts with the kids should something happen suddenly...
Retirement probably wont be in my cards but I hope I can at least use that $ for a kitchen and a couple trips.
Its a whole different dimension with cancer and some friends get it and others dont.....
I am living cautiously with expenses and keeping up with medical expenses.

Doc_Hawk's picture
Doc_Hawk
Posts: 685
Joined: Jan 2012

Donna, I'm not positive on this, but I've been told that Stage IV cancer qualifies for 100% disability. SSDi is NOT and entitlement: you've paid into it and it is your right to access your money. You may feel perfectly able to work now, but that can change very fast. Contact a Social Security Attorney in your area for guidance. They only charge 25% of your lump sum payment when your case is approved. I did this at 39 and have been collecting my payments since. Also, you can file for medical need with the state to pick up your Medicare premiums so that you collect your whole payment.

Best wishes
Doc

WinneyPooh's picture
WinneyPooh
Posts: 318
Joined: Jul 2009

The SS disability is automatic for stage four, just go and apply, if your work has decrease due to the cancer they will back date so you do not have to wait the 6 month waiting period and they will also pay you any back pay. Don't wait until you can't work, While on Disability you can still work, provided you don't go over the limit, I believe it is $1000 per month, try and work as an independent contractor and you can work and earn more, just make sure you save for taxes and save all receipts and write offs, you need to file self employment at tax time but its is better than
not working. it is true that medically needy will pick up your medicare premiums but that is it they don't determine with your whole family income you don't quailfy. If you have children who are working the medically needy programs will count them, if you have savings they will count that, if you own your cars they will count them, if you have life insurance or 401 K they will count that so. So I wish you the best of luck with that. BUt do go after you disability it is worth it, but do it your self no need to give an attorney any of the money, their are tons of free diabilty advocates who can help if you don't know where to start.
Winnie

WinneyPooh's picture
WinneyPooh
Posts: 318
Joined: Jul 2009

The SS disability is automatic for stage four, just go and apply, if your work has decrease due to the cancer they will back date so you do not have to wait the 6 month waiting period and they will also pay you any back pay. Don't wait until you can't work, While on Disability you can still work, provided you don't go over the limit, I believe it is $1000 per month, try and work as an independent contractor and you can work and earn more, just make sure you save for taxes and save all receipts and write offs, you need to file self employment at tax time but its is better than
not working. it is true that medically needy will pick up your medicare premiums but that is it they don't determine with your whole family income you don't quailfy. If you have children who are working the medically needy programs will count them, if you have savings they will count that, if you own your cars they will count them, if you have life insurance or 401 K they will count that so. So I wish you the best of luck with that. BUt do go after you disability it is worth it, but do it your self no need to give an attorney any of the money, their are tons of free diabilty advocates who can help if you don't know where to start.
Winnie

tachilders's picture
tachilders
Posts: 315
Joined: Jun 2012

This is a great topic, but I have a question for the board on a slightly different subject. I am very fortunate that I have a good job, a LOT of life insurance, a pretty respectable amount socked away into my 401k, and minimal debt (only my house). This has taken me 20 years of hard work and many sacrifices to accomplish. I also have 6 young kids (15, 12, 10, 8, 6 and 4) and a wife. I was diagnosed in June with stage 4 colon cancer (mets to liver, lungs, and peritoneum), but have been doing/feeling very well on chemo so far, and am actually working full-time for now (which I need to keep the income and insurance). My question/issue is, how much do I live for now vs. planning for the future??? I don't know if I will be here for 2 years or 20 years (highly doubtful with my diagnosis). There are quite a few things I would like to do before I leave this world (travel, maybe buy a classic car to drive, do things with my kids, etc...) but I am reluctant to spend the money to do these things, as I want to leave my wife and kids as much as possible when I am gone. I do plan to try and do a lot with my family, but what about the other things? For example, I would LOVE to take my wife to Hawaii for a second honeymoon/vacation (been married 18 years), but not sure I can justify spending that money on myself, especially with 6 kids that will all need money for college. Any others out there with similar questions/issues?

FTR, I am 46 now, so living to retirement age will be a challenge....

WinneyPooh's picture
WinneyPooh
Posts: 318
Joined: Jul 2009

Dear Tachiler, I am 48, I had rectal tumor removed, 3/4 liver removed and I still have mets in the peritoneum fats and some cling to my kidneys and my uterus, been struggling for almost 4 years, Best thing you can do is look into pre paying for college( in most states you can do this at to days tuition rates) or the college 429( some combo of numbers) (plans) this money cannot be touched to pay medical bills which i am sorry to say will get ridiculous
as things progress, count on 4 weeks off for liver surgery, so save for that, and if they tell you at anytime they cannot operate and chemo for life is your best bet, then sock away money for the kids in a trust that they can touch when they turn 19, If you pass the government will provide them with 1/2 of your social security until they are 18 and in school, and they will have to save some of that. If you love your family and want quality time with them by all means take those vacation while you feel good and are able, cut your work to part time and convert your 401K to a Roth in your wife's name or something else that make it safe from creditors, once again don't wait, the expenses will eat away at everything you don't protect. Apply for your disability your family will get some money also, you can still work and be disabled, just find out from SS how much your allowed. My advise is just don't wait. do all the living you can and sock all the money away where the creditors and government can't get to it when you are not here. also now that you are sick and can't get much more life insurance make sure what you have is not going to increase the prem.
Don't try and second guess this illness. Anyone of us can be living our last days and not know it, like my last post read, I have technically died four time in my life, and for some reason by the hands of God and great Surgeons I am still here but my money did not make it ( may it rest in peace).
I am on my take home bag today and I only seem to think of my cancer when it is staring me in the face. rest of the time I like to think of other things.
take care and never give up.
Penny (winnie)

barbebarb's picture
barbebarb
Posts: 464
Joined: Oct 2011

Thank you for sharing your insight and experience. I am very concerned about my next treatment plan since the reoccurence is one tumors at site removal and another on the other side. Also have a small lung nodule. Wondering if they will recommend surgery and chemo or cyberknife. I also have MS which I have done well with so far. These treatments could really shoot me down....
Your posts are helping me put all of this financial piece in perspective.
Thank you

tachilders's picture
tachilders
Posts: 315
Joined: Jun 2012

I will drag myself into work as long as humanly possible to keep my insurance benefits, you can count on that. Also, my company offers the option to but disability insurance, and I have that as well, so I can get 70% of my salary if I become unable to work due to long-term disability. Not sure about what insurance coverage is under this disability policy, but I plan to check. As of my initial diagnosis, I was told I was not a candidate for surgery, as my tumors are small but very numerous and thus are all through my liver. We'll see how things look in early January when I get my second set of CT scans post-chemo (12 total treatments of FOLFOX on January). Thanks for all the advice, and I will check on ways to protect what money I have saved for my kids. I do have a 529 plan for college, but I can't afford to save enough to put 6 kids through college....

Tedd

dmj101's picture
dmj101
Posts: 526
Joined: Nov 2011

Well, thank you all for your responses.. and Winnie thank you for sharing your sroty i hadn't read any of your posts I am guessing as I don't recall your story.. but I really can sympothize with you.. I am sorry

Well.. I guess I am one of the lucky ones.. no husband and no kids to provide for... (my guess a blessing in disguise-- and one I'd rather have not had.. )

I see a future today but when I go back on Chemo in a month.. I will probably loose it again.. not that I every really had it all togeter but I am falling apart in ways others don't see.

Money - I have none... really.. my ex took it all or should I say spent it all.. so the little I do have is it.. I wonder though about leaving it for my family. I make just enough to live on presently and am very thankfull for the health benefits I pay for thru my job.. Have I mentioned how great my job has been - Letting me work from home.. I am always waiting for the day they tell me I have to work in the office.. I get sick everytime I go in there..

I will be looking into the disability thing and the reverse of Life Insurance.

Thanks so much for all the advice...

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