Brother Pat Hepler, Local 1828, offers this advice on retirement.
Making the decision to retire is something we will all face in our career as fire fighters, EMS workers, dispatchers, law enforcement officers, or wildlife officers. As first responders, whether it is your decision or one made for you due to health issues, it is one we will all encounter.
That is where our similarities stop. Each of us has personal and individual needs and financial issues that impact our decisions in retiring. Each of us also has specific choices to make to meet the goals we set for ourselves and our families in retirement. The WSCFF, the LEOFF Plan 2 Retirement Board, and DRS have worked to provide options for us to meet these diverse needs.
As an active member, it is imperative that you educate yourself and prepare for this life-changing decision. DRS and the WSCFF have educational opportunities for you to help prepare. And each union local has variances in the benefit structure with which you must be familiar and apply to your individual situation.
After you cross the threshold into retirement, your interest and concerns should not end with your retirement benefits. It is not a static world; and though your benefits will remain, they can change. The most recent example is the passage of the LEOFF 2 and LEOFF 1 benefit improvement bills which will be implemented in January 2023. As a LEOFF 2 retired member, you will need to decide how you want your benefit enhancement paid. DRS is in the process of developing rules to meet the bill’s requirements, and you will need to stay informed and make a choice before January regarding your benefit.
Communication related to the above benefit change and other issues that impact our lives are being improved upon by the creation of the WSCFF Retirees Association (RA). The RA exists within the WSCFF and was created to benefit retirees of both LEOFF1 and LEOFF 2. The RA board consists of three LEOFF 1 and three other WSCFF retirees who seek to improve communications with our retired members, give them a platform for participation, and increase interactions with their peers. We also work with the WSCFF Legislative Team to assist in improvements for our retired members.
We have been tested greatly in the last two- plus years with the pandemic and its fallout, whether you are already retired or are considering it now. Keeping up on the issues and staying in contact with your coworkers and friends you left when you retired, have been made more difficult due to the pandemic. When you choose to leave the service, you should not have to completely sever relationships, communication, and interaction with your peers. Choosing to join the WSCFF Retirees Association will help keep you in contact and informed. Regardless of your status, as long as you left in good standing, you are welcome into the ranks of the RA.