Thursday, September 8, 2011


A co-worker asked if I planned to retire anytime soon since I now have 30 years in here at my place of employment. With 30 years, I’m fully vested in the retirement system and can get my full pension.

I told him that I really don’t know. I planned to work another 4 years, but so many things are beyond my control.

There are the possibilities of layoffs here and I’d retire before being laid off; hopefully with an incentive package to entice me into leaving.

But that also raises the question of whether I’d even want to live in North Carolina after I retire. NC is proposing an anti-gay marriage amendment to its constitution. If it passes, I don’t want to live here. There are a handful of states that have either marriage or domestic partnerships that I’d consider moving to.

As my partner and I get older, we are thinking more and more about the ability to make medical decisions for each other and inheritance rights. We don’t want to get stuck paying twice for the home we’ve bought together. (As an unmarried couple, we have to pay inheritance tax on the portion of the house that the deceased partner paid.)

On the other hand, if we stayed in NC, we don’t have to pay state income tax on our retirement benefits where we would in most other states. Also, our former employer pays our medical insurance if we stay here. They would pay if we move, but we’d face 40% co-pay for treatments, which would get prohibitive very quickly.

Speaking of health care, we have excellent health care here in NC in this region. Duke University and UNC Hospitals are nearby with excellent cancer care. Also Wake Medical Center has excellent cardiac care.

But again, we need to be in a location where we have rights. We’ve read about couples that have medical power of attorney and the hospital not honoring the power of attorney. It’s some crazy things happening in this country toward gay couples. If the amendment passes, it is worded in such a way that we may not have rights even with the Power of Attorney.

When we look at the list of states where we can marry, those tend to have pretty high cost of living. It will be pretty tough to get the pension to stretch far enough for us to live comfortably.

So many things to weigh in making this decision; I just don’t know what to do.

On the face of it, you would think this would be such a simple question, “When do you think you’ll retire?”