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Health Issues and early retirement
Old 10-16-2007, 03:32 PM   #1
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Health Issues and early retirement

DW and I are 53. She was diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer three ago and has been through hell. She's not working due to her health -- and we're still fighting the disability battle.

This month I was diagnosed with melanoma. I have a resection, skin graph and lymph node dissection next week. My physician said my prognosis, survival rate for 5 years is 60%.

I'm employed full-time and carry the health insurance for me and my wife. We were well on our way to FIRE until these illnesses pop up. Financially, we have 400K+ in investments, own on primary home free and clear and have a condo in Florida with a 90K mortgage and 90K equity. Kids are grown and out of the house. No other significant debt. My income is 100,000+. DW's disability if/when she gets it is $18,000/year.

I have a great job and if our health was not an issue I was planning on working for another 5 years. Now, I'm thinking of finding a part-time job (20 hours per week) that would provide health coverage.

Hoping to sit back and enjoy what time we have left. Anyone else made this decision? Any suggestions?

Thanks!!!
dwk
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Old 10-16-2007, 03:45 PM   #2
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Very sorry to hear of your challenges. It reinforces that none of us should take anything for granted.

I'm glad you have a job you like. My advice is to protect the health insurance at all costs. If you can do so despite cutting back your hours, the new found time will be very handy in meeting your and your wife's needs.

I would only caution (from years of experience with patients with potentially serious illness) against getting caught up in the doomsday mentality where you spend and plan as if there is no tomorrow. You may run out of money and find yourself with years of life ahead of you.

Best of luck with your recovery.
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As if you didn't know..If the above message contains medical content, it's NOT intended as advice, and may not be accurate, applicable or sufficient. Don't rely on it for any purpose. Consult your own doctor for all medical advice.
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Old 10-16-2007, 04:31 PM   #3
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I echo what Rich says. I would avoid making any major decisions for a few months.

Take care.
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Old 10-16-2007, 04:49 PM   #4
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dwk,
I'm so sorry to hear about your wife's struggle and your recent diagnosis. My husband went through the mill with sarcomas, a melanoma, a metastisis to his lungs, you name it, hell is right. While I very much understand your inclination to alter your lifestyle/work and enjoy whatever time you both have together, I'd agree with Rich & Martha to take it slow and not make any major decisions for the time being. You have a lot to deal with next week, put all of your physial and mental energy into getting yourself through the treatments and strong again.

Hang in there.
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Old 10-16-2007, 06:02 PM   #5
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I'm so sorry for your troubles.

Have you considered investigating family leave? A former coworker was able to shift from full-time to part-time work, due to health problems, keeping her job. Federal law (Family and Medical Leave Act) requires your employer to give you leave and/or accommodate health issues under some circumstances. I haven't investigated exactly what circumstances. Perhaps you could keep your great job and just work less hours.

Speaking from experience, health insurance is essentially non-obtainable if you have a pre-existing condition, unless your state has some special program (many do). So be careful about switching jobs without investigating that as well.

Doctors are notoriously bad about estimating life expectancy. Watch out, you both may have a long retirement despite what they may say!

Take care.
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Old 10-16-2007, 06:21 PM   #6
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tffmc,
Agree with your first two points. Don't like to be a downer, your last point is correct, however due to the nature of the beast you only "hear" about the people that outlive the estimates, it cuts both ways. Unfortunately when it comes to life threatening illness, statistics really lose much of their meaning and usefullness. It comes down to making impossible decisions, period.
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Old 10-16-2007, 06:48 PM   #7
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Just sorry you have to face health issues, really sorry. Prayers for both you and your wife.
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Old 10-16-2007, 08:48 PM   #8
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Thanks

Just a quick thank you to everyone for their messages.

dwk
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Old 10-16-2007, 08:55 PM   #9
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dwk,

Let me add my support and well wishes for you and your wife.

I also suggest you look at family medical leave and/or part time or reduced hours where you currently work. You may be able to do the same job for less hours/less pay or if there is a different job available. There is enough stress without having to look for a new job, new company, new people, new culture and new health insurance. By staying in the same job or the same company - at a reduced participation, you get more flexibility, fewer unknowns and can protect your finances while continuing health insurance uninterrupted. Wish you the best.
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Old 10-16-2007, 09:11 PM   #10
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Thinking good thoughts for you and your DW.

Just a data point to consider:
I usually dislike my job, but when I had a major health issue last year, it was oddly comforting to continue the daily routine of going to work as much as I could. I would also suggest taking it slow on any major decisions. On the other hand, sometimes health issues bring immediate clarity to what's important. Best of luck.
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Old 10-16-2007, 09:35 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by figner View Post
On the other hand, sometimes health issues bring immediate clarity to what's important.
Truer words never spoken. Sometimes when one of my colleagues (often junior) is hyperstressed over something unimportant or impersonal, I suggest that they take a break, think about how life would be if they just got a phone call informing them of the death of a loved one or some other real personal catastrophe. Take the exercise through to the point of whom they would call, what they would do, how they would get coverage at work, their emotional state and so on.

It's not exactly a lighthearted exercise, but that minor "whatever" that had them so upset might be put into its rightful, trivial place in life.
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As if you didn't know..If the above message contains medical content, it's NOT intended as advice, and may not be accurate, applicable or sufficient. Don't rely on it for any purpose. Consult your own doctor for all medical advice.
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Old 10-17-2007, 12:37 PM   #12
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Some mentioned family medical leave act (the act doesn't apply to all employers, such as very small employers). The FMLA allows you to take a chunk of leave all at once (up to twelve work weeks a year) or you can take intermittent leave. See how things go, but keep that open as an option.

U.S. Department of Labor: Compliance Assistance: Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)
29CFR825.825.203 - Does FMLA leave have to be taken all at once, or can it be taken in parts?
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