Help! Should I take an early-retirement package or stay?
Perhaps the community can give me some guidance on making this very important decision, because I am at a crossroads and really don’t know what to do.
I am 62 years old, single, and a travel-industry professional currently working for an airline. As you know, all airlines are taking a huge hit because of COVID. My company is offering a voluntary early-retirement package which is very compelling, and which I am seriously considering even though I’m not able financially to fully retire yet. If the company doesn’t get enough volunteers to leave (they are offering an early-out package for younger, less-senior employees too), then they will impose involuntary lay-offs. There is no ‘package’ for involuntary layoffs except for a 3-month severance payment.
The early-retirement package includes 5 months of severance pay, fully-paid health care benefits for 2-years, followed by COBRA for 18 months, plus a Retirement Medical Account which will give me access to $130,000 in funds to cover all of my medical expenses likely for the rest of my life (funds can be used to cover Medicare and COBRA premiums in addition to prescriptions and doctor bills, medical, dental and vision. Pretty good deal!)
However, I will need to work until I reach full retirement age, which is around 4 years. I cannot count on getting another job within my industry, as all of my options are in the same dire circumstances (airline, travel management companies, hotels…). I will need to change industries. Hard enough to do under normal circumstances but harder with my age and the state of the economy. I also will need to earn an annual salary of around $60K in order to cover my mortgage and monthly bills and not dive into my savings account. $60K is a very large pay cut compared to my current salary; I wouldn’t be getting ahead but I wouldn’t fall behind. I figured out a budget where, with the severance pay plus some reserves I can probably stay afloat without a job until the summer of 2021. Not my ideal plan but it could be done.
My dilemma is do I choose Door #1, which is a good retirement package, but the risk is needing to find a new, well-paying job. Or do I gamble on Door #2, which is either going to be a complete involuntary separation from the company, or, I could retain my job as is. I should add that there is likely to be a pay cut. My company is youth-oriented so at my age I may be on the list for layoff.
I should add that I’m not in love with my current job as a global account manager any more. It has changed from when I started it 15 years ago; I know that I don’t have the same passion or energy and frankly my plan was to stay with it only because of the pay and the benefits. The hours are long (12 hour days + some weekend hours are the norm) and the internal competition is mentally and emotionally draining.
My background is in Sales, Account Management, as well as Training, which was my chosen career path that I was pursuing before 9/11 caused me to lose my job. So I do believe that I do have marketable skills, but with so may people looking for work, I feel that my age and my travel-industry career may be serious hurdles.
I would love to hear back with any insights, suggestions or words or wisdom that you may be able to share. Thank you in advance!