Every year someone you know plays a prank on you on April 1st. If you look up April Fool’s Day it is unclear how it started or even what it is about. Some historians speculate that April Fools’ Day dates back to 1582, when France switched from the Julian calendar to the Gregorian calendar, as called for by the Council of Trent in 1563. People who failed to recognize the change, and continued to celebrate New Year during the last week of March through April 1st, became the butt of jokes and hoaxes which included having paper fish placed on their backs and being referred to as “poissond’avril” (April fish), said to symbolize a young, easily caught fish and a gullible person.
Sometimes, however, politicians and companies can make you feel as though you have had a prank played on you.
In March 2017 CalPERS, the largest pension system in the US, cut pension benefits to the East San Gabriel Valley Human Services Consortium retirees by as much as 63%. In 2011, Wisconsin Act 10 cut pensions for employees of the Wisconsin Retirement System leading to the now infamous recall vote and then reelection of Scott Walker the Governor of Wisconsin. In April 2012 the state of Virginia changed their pension benefits by creating a hybrid plan changing benefits for employees under 5 years and all new employees as of January 1st, 2014. New York State cut their pension benefits in 2012. In Houston, Texasthey are working on reform currently. As Ralph Waldo Emerson put it so succinctly “All promise outruns performance.”
If you believe that because you work for the state, the county, or federal government, and because they have promised you a pension benefit, you do not need to worry about retirement planning, you are possibly the subject of a future April fool’s joke.
Benefits can and do change. Without a thorough and well-constructed financial plan, where you have explored options for your retirement that include flexible income goals, retirement dates and savings' targets you are in danger of being the victim of change. Loss of pension benefits especially matter because 25 percent of public workers are not eligible for Social Security. Meet with an advisor and get a financial plan done today and see what happens if your benefits get reduced.
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