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By Laura Ostrowsky, RN, CCM, MUP

They say that case managers never retire. I don’t think that’s true. Just like any other group of people, some of us stop working and do other things such as traveling and playing bridge, mahjong, golf or tennis.  Others explore new hobbies or old interests. Many discover or revive talents, such as art, writing, music and dance. Some of us do continue to work but in a different way: consulting, volunteering gigs and teaching. Our new jobs may be related to case management or may be something completely different. We’re people and we can’t be categorized. Retirement may be a full-on discharge or a transition.

Retirement may be a goal in and of itself. Case managers spend their professional lives assessing, planning, researching and facilitating. For many of us, or at least for me, it was not a step to be taken lightly. In many ways, I was my own client, so I assessed, explored goals, identified needs, likes, opportunities, as simplified or complicated as I desired. I also visualized the future and then facilitated and implemented a plan to get there. So, don’t forget to evaluate and re-evaluate as needed for whatever works best for you.

The decision as to when, whether or how to retire is personal. People with careers and/or professions rather than just jobs often find it harder to retire because their career is so tied to their sense of who they are.  That’s why my retirement was a transition in my life, not just a discharge from a particular stage.

Retirement timing decisions may be financial. Did you plan, save and invest enough to be comfortable with walking away from a steady paycheck? Do you have a pension? When should you begin to collect social security? You can wait until the year you turn 70-1/2 and maximize your payment or collect sooner.  You may want to meet with an accountant, financial planner or your HR benefits specialist. Timing may also be based on current events. I think the pandemic may have shortened the retirement timeline for many in healthcare.

Health concerns and healthcare coverage are another factor that must be considered when you retire. Although there are still organizations that provide health insurance as part of the retirement benefit, this is becoming less common. Medicare provides coverage starting at 65, but there is still a need to supplement it and there is a cost. If you are providing coverage to others like a spouse, domestic partner or adult children (now covered under most employer plans until age 26), you may have to schedule retirement around those needs. The ACA has made it easier to obtain individual and family coverage without being part of an employer or other large group and, sometimes, it is cheaper than COBRA.

Many people relocate when they retire. Will you be staying put or moving? Do you have a dream destination? Is downsizing part of your plan? Do you want to be closer to family or friends?

Lots of questions to ask, lots to think about, but it’s never too soon to dream about, fantasize or plan your future. Begin that assessment, think ahead, explore your options and go forth and make the most of it.

Bio: Laura Ostrowsky, RN, CCM, MUP, is the current president of the NYC chapter of CMSA and a Director on the national CMSA board. She teaches a CCM prep course with the Case Management Institute, works with Athena Forum and writes and consults on all things case management.

Laura has 40 years of healthcare experience, including time as a staff nurse, QA Coordinator, Director of UR and QA, followed by directorships in CM at New York Presbyterian (NYP) and Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center.

Looking towards retirement? Did you know that CMSA has a retired membership category at a significantly reduced rate? Go to https://cmsa.org/membership/join-now/ to see if this option applies to you. Don't give up the contacts and influence garnered over decades. Get involved and give back!