This month marks the first six months since I “officially” retired. Here are a few takeaways from this period.

Transitioning to a New Stage

The first months of retirement may feel similar to when a wedding is being planned. When the day finally arrives and then the honey moon is over, reality sets in! Now what do you do?

Expectations seem to be a big issue in the early stage of transition, much more than I had anticipated. I faced the challenge of creating a new daily and weekly schedule. Then I started filling it up with events and appointments that began to fill in the calendar more and more.

It then turned out that my retirement “expectations” and those of my spouse didn’t align as well as we had intended.

Even though we had discussed the bigger picture of wanting to travel, activities to do locally, and time with family and friends, we – or rather I – did not anticipate that having a calendar full of various engagements was going to be an issue. I liked staying busy and liked taking on new challenges.

But now I wonder, is it possible that how men think about spending time in retirement is much different than how women envision it?

Time for Your Significant Other

From my male perspective, not assuming all men or all women think the same way, having “things and activities” is part of the fun of retirement. So, what are your thoughts on the following questions:

  • Do men look at retirement as the time when they can finally fill up their calendar with activities and events that do not always include their spouse?
  • Do women think of retirement as finally having their spouse being able to have the time to focus on them now that work is no longer the priority?
  • Does it matter if both spouses had careers or if one was a stay-at-home spouse and the other was working outside the home?

Does this ring true with how most couples feel? Have you had this type of conversation with your spouse post retirement? Do you feel like the calendar is getting filled up with a good deal of activities or other interests that are not being done jointly?

We had this conversation early on and decided to have a “date day or personal day together” where we would not schedule other activities. This is a good idea but the execution of it is not always as easy as the intention.

The Question of Health Insurance

Medicare and Social Security retirement benefits are other issues that many newly retired couples face. Depending upon the age at which you retire, you may need to get professional help with making decisions that could impact your financial wellness throughout your retirement years.

The decision of when to start receiving social security and Medicare Part B, C, and/or D can be challenging. Failing to timely enroll for Medicare Part B can be very costly as the penalty is permanent and will impact your cost for the rest of your life.

There are some exceptions that will allow for delaying the start of signing up for Part B, but these are limited, and you need to be sure you get the help to make the best choice of when to enroll and which options to take in your particular circumstances.

One big issue is the drug/prescription benefit. You will need to review exactly which of your current medicines are covered and the costs for each in order to determine the best prescription benefit option for you.

The Financial Side

Did you know that if you are past the Full Retirement Age (FRA) for Social Security, you may be able to go back as many as six months from when you first sign up to receive retirement benefits and get a lump sum payment for those past months?

In addition, if you planned to wait until age 70 to begin receiving benefits but something occurs in mid-year of your age, you will still receive a “pro-rated” benefit. For each month that you delay, you gain an additional credit for postponing the start of receiving benefits.

If you are at the midway point of your age, you will effectively receive about half of the increase you would have obtained by waiting until your next birthday.

This becomes important in determining when to start receiving the benefits. Many people have been told to wait until reaching age 70 to begin receiving SS benefits as they will get about an 8% increase for each year after reaching FRA.

However, do you know that this does not affect the benefit your spouse may receive as a spousal benefit as that is based upon the benefit calculation of your own FRA?

If your spouse does not have a higher benefit under their own work history then it may be important for them to start receiving spousal benefits as soon as they reach FRA, assuming you have already started receiving benefits.

So, you see, retirement is more complicated than just “getting out of the work force.” There is that, but life doesn’t end there. In fact, it seems to begin anew.

What types of things do you do with your spouse to stay engaged in your relationship post retirement? Have your expectations for life in retirement come to fruition? What have you done to guarantee your Medicare and Social Security benefits post retirement? Please share in the comments below.