Hanging It Up: Pandemic Prompts Early Retirements

The coronavirus pandemic has dramatically altered the labor market, with struggling companies resorting to layoffs and furloughs to deal with economic hardship. But many companies are also offering an olive branch of sorts to employees in the form of early retirement packages--whether employees want it or not.

Scott Bishop, vice president of financial planning for STA Wealth Management, has seen this particularly in the oil and gas industry this year. "These companies have stopped drilling so they're letting people go," he tells KTRH. "Many times they're getting severance packages, but some of these people are in their late 50s or early 60s, and were planning on working another five or ten years."

"Some of these people find themselves close to the end, but not necessarily at the goal line, not quite ready to retire," he continues. "And they're wondering will I be able to get another job?"

The flip side of the forced early retirement is those who wanted to retire but now can't do so because of financial hardship. "Many of these are baby boomers who simply haven't saved enough," says Bishop.

That is forcing many middle-aged professionals to suddenly make tough decisions. "For many, you have to make significant changes or do other jobs to kind of keep the money coming in," says Bishop. "Like consulting work, gig jobs...when I call an Uber, I see there are many people in their 50s and 60s driving Uber cars."

Regardless of your situation, Bishop urges caution before signing any retirement offer. "It's very important for you and your attorney to read those legal documents if you're not able or ready to retire, to make sure you're not agreeing to something that you won't follow," he says.

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