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The SOA at Work

The SOA at Work

This edition's SOA at Work column focuses again on the SOA's important work on retirement and longevity risk issues. The focus this time is on our newest retirement issues report, "The Phases of Retirement and Planning for the Unexpected." Actuaries and the SOA recognize that retirement concerns are among the most pressing facing society, with the massive baby boomer generation now reaching normal retirement age. Already this year, the SOA has hosted its triennial Living to 100 Symposium and released reports on inflation risks in retirement. We will soon release reports on women's issues and health issues in retirement. This is vital work. The Phases of Retirement report describes three separate phases, or stages of retirement. These phases are described in detail below. By exploring these issues, the SOA hopes to provide actionable information to the public and highlight the important contributions actuaries are making to our understanding of these and many other issues. This SOA at Work column also lists several important upcoming continuing education opportunities for actuaries and highlights several citations of SOA research results. We think you'll find it very interesting and informative!
–SOA Executive Director Greg Heidrich

SOA Releases Phases of Retirement Survey Results

The Society of Actuaries recently released its short report, "Key Findings and Issues: The Phases of Retirement and Planning for the Unexpected." This report provides key findings from the SOA's "2007 Risks and Process of Retirement Survey" that describes how respondents conceive retirement and how they actually retire. It also examines post-retirement phases, as primarily defined by retirees' abilities and needs. Generally speaking, retirement phases can be defined by a number of characteristics including age, health status, extent of work, family status and capabilities. For purposes of the survey, three phases of retirement were defined:

  • Phase One is the most active phase of retirement. Retirees entering this phase may define retirement based on collecting a pension, leaving a long-term job or moving to a location of choice. During this phase, the physical and mental capabilities of a retiree or retired couple are essentially the same as before retirement. Paid work and/or volunteering often occur in this phase, although the nature of the paid work is often on a part-time basis or through self-employment.
  • Phase Two is marked by a decline in either physical or mental capacity, or both. This phase, if it occurs, does not happen at the same age for all. Many retirees may unwillingly enter this phase because of health problems that occur before retirement, therefore bypassing Phase One completely. Because of physical limitations, exercise will generally have shifted away from vigorous activities, although many will continue to exercise on a regular basis. Because of health problems, retirees in this phase may incur extra medical expenses, and they often fall victim to high prescription drug costs.
  • Phase Three is the least active phase of retirement, when retirees likely will have substantial need for assistance. The need for assistance may arise due to cognitive or physical impairment. Some retirees in this phase are unable to speak or write and communication can be very difficult. Retirees are much less physically active and activities will be limited. For most, driving may no longer be feasible. Mobility and transportation are significant issues, particularly if there is no family available to help.

The report attempts to shed light on the changes people are likely to encounter as they pass through these three phases of retirement. As well, it emphasizes the benefits of planning both financially and emotionally for the potential changes that may be encountered in each of the three phases. You can view the short report by visiting www.soa.org.

The Actuarial Profession IN THE NEWS

Principal Financial Group Chooses FSA for CFO Job The group named Terry Lillis chief financial officer. View this article by visiting Imageoftheactuary.org and clicking on "Actuaries in the News" and "Industry News."

Insure.com Article Cites SOA/LIMRA Persistency Update The Web site included statistics from the update in an article on buying life insurance. View this article by visiting Imageoftheactuary.org and clicking on "Actuaries in the News."

Spectrum Online Highlights SOA Retirement Report The Web site for seniors featured an article around findings from the "Risks & Retirement Report." View this article by visiting Imageoftheactuary.org and clicking on "Actuaries in the News."

2008 SOA Educational Opportunities
March 1–4
ReFocus 2009
Las Vegas, Nev.

March 30–31
Investment Symposium
New York, N.Y.

March 30–April 1
Life Insurance Conference
Lake Buena Vista, Fla.

April 1–3
Retirement Industry Conference
Lake Buena Vista, Fla.