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Meniere's Disease
Old 08-15-2012, 02:18 PM   #1
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Meniere's Disease

This falls into the category of “life happens while you’re busy making plans”. I just got a firm Meniere’s Disease diagnosis. For those not familiar with Meniere’s, the symptoms are vertigo, fluctuating hearing loss eventually leading to permanent loss, ear pressure, and tinnitus. The latter three are in full force, but the vertigo is on hiatus. It’s most likely that the vertigo will rear its ugly head again and turn my life upside down (almost literally).

I’ve been ER’d since January 2011. While I’m eligible to collect a non-cola’d pension right now of $31K a year (at age 55), I planned to wait until closer to age 65 when it doubles to about $62K. In the meantime, that makes money a little tight as I draw down my savings to pay my expenses. I don't like watching my saving go down and I'm becoming quite the tightwad!


With my diagnosis, I’m starting to think that I should take the pension now and cross off some bucket list items before my health deteriorates further (Meniere's won't kill me, but it sure could make life miserable). The $31K pension doesn’t cover all of my bills, but once my 401K and SS kick in, along with my savings, I should be financially secure according to FireCalc and my own spreadsheets.


My biggest concern about taking the pension now is that I’ll be afraid to spend it since it’s only half the amount I’d get if I waited to age 65. On the other hand, what good is the money going to do if I can’t get out of bed? Can you tell that I’m a worrier by nature? J
Here are my financials (although my expenses are now $45K per year thanks to an ugly surprise regarding Cal-Cobra).


So if anyone has advice, or has been through something similar, I’d love to hear about it (in my good ear, please). J

Thanks!
Zan
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Old 08-15-2012, 02:31 PM   #2
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I was having vertigo and dizzy spells a while back and they were able to rule out Meniere's in my case. Thank goodness. It definitely doesn't sound like a fun prospect.
I'm sorry you got this news.

I have a question about the Cal-Cobra... What was the surprise? I'm curious because I'd hoped to do this if I get laid off. My former corp is based out of state - but we were acquired by a CA headquartered megacorp... so I thought I was good. I'm always interested in what will thwart my plans. If you don't mind sharing, I'd love to know why you couldn't get it.
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Old 08-15-2012, 02:52 PM   #3
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Sorry to hear about your illness.
I can relate to the tightwad aspect of the situation.

My view is to spend as much as you are able from savings 401k and trust pension + SS to cover the long term view.

Am I reading that there is a real cash shortage until you can get your 401k money? If so, you can use the 72t option of equal, periodic payments to get your hands on the 401k money now without penalty. If you go this route, there is much info here at the forum on the subject.
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Old 08-15-2012, 03:26 PM   #4
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Here's my post about Cal Cobra, but the short answer is that if your company is self insured, you aren't eligible for Cal-Cobra unless you chose an HMO option prior to leaving your job.

I'm happy to hear that Meniere's was ruled out for you!


Quote:
Originally Posted by rodi View Post
I was having vertigo and dizzy spells a while back and they were able to rule out Meniere's in my case. Thank goodness. It definitely doesn't sound like a fun prospect.
I'm sorry you got this news.

I have a question about the Cal-Cobra... What was the surprise? I'm curious because I'd hoped to do this if I get laid off. My former corp is based out of state - but we were acquired by a CA headquartered megacorp... so I thought I was good. I'm always interested in what will thwart my plans. If you don't mind sharing, I'd love to know why you couldn't get it.
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Old 08-15-2012, 03:31 PM   #5
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Hello fellow tightwad!

Are you saying to continue to delay the pension as long as possible?

Thanks for the 72t info. I have enough in savings that I won't need to go that route.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Free To Canoe View Post
Sorry to hear about your illness.
I can relate to the tightwad aspect of the situation.

My view is to spend as much as you are able from savings 401k and trust pension + SS to cover the long term view.

Am I reading that there is a real cash shortage until you can get your 401k money? If so, you can use the 72t option of equal, periodic payments to get your hands on the 401k money now without penalty. If you go this route, there is much info here at the forum on the subject.
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Old 08-15-2012, 03:37 PM   #6
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Thanks... I see I was asking questions in that thread too.
If it were for ER.org - I wouldn't have even known about cal-cobra.
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Old 08-15-2012, 04:21 PM   #7
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IMO if you can cover the medical costs should your condition worsen, spend the rest now while you can.
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Old 08-15-2012, 04:37 PM   #8
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Zantasitc,

I feel for you. I don't have Meniere's Disease, but have had my share of vertigo episodes. That's a horrible feeling. I do watch my sodium intake as that seems to help me.
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Old 08-15-2012, 06:25 PM   #9
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Sorry Zantastic for your health issues. I have not had those but having read about them, I understand the problems they will cause. Best of luck in controlling them. I read your financials and believe me I am not an asset manager, so take this for what its worth. Using just simple math you wont lose any pension money by taking it early until after age 75. But in essence your return on "investing" your pension for 10 years to age 65 is a 100% return. Your portfolio you listed is very conservative as you mentioned you are conservative. If you cant see yourself getting a great return on your assets, drawing them down and letting your pension grow may be a prudent thing to do if the pension is safe and leaving assets to someone down the road is not an issue.
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Old 08-15-2012, 08:28 PM   #10
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Zantastic,

After re-reading your original post, I'm glad to see that the vertigo is for the moment in hiatus.

My condition is benign positional vertigo (BPV) which can bring on bouts of vertigo depending on how I position my head. Luckily, with age the episodes have decreased in frequency and severity. Plus, if I watch my sodium intake and get enough rest (sleep for example), the vertigo seems in check. Though, if I bend down, for example to look for something under a bed, that'll get me feeling a bit off balance for awhile.

When I had it worse (brought about years back, perhaps by a bad diet high in sodium), one week I couldn't sleep. Lying down made the the room spinning around like crazy. For those who never had had vertigo, it's much more than just being dizzy and lightheaded. It's more like trying to focus on those old TV sets with a vertical control that is constantly moving (and closing your eyes during a vertigo episode hardly helps).

Just the thought and memory is getting me feeling queasy
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Old 08-15-2012, 08:40 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Zantastic View Post
Hello fellow tightwad!

Are you saying to continue to delay the pension as long as possible?

Thanks for the 72t info. I have enough in savings that I won't need to go that route.
I am glad that you took my comments the way I meant them (I meant well). After a lifetime of saving, I am having trouble switching gears.
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Old 08-15-2012, 11:33 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Zantastic View Post
While I’m eligible to collect a non-cola’d pension right now of $31K a year (at age 55), I planned to wait until closer to age 65 when it doubles to about $62K. In the meantime, that makes money a little tight as I draw down my savings to pay my expenses. I don't like watching my saving go down and I'm becoming quite the tightwad!
With my diagnosis, I’m starting to think that I should take the pension now and cross off some bucket list items before my health deteriorates further (Meniere's won't kill me, but it sure could make life miserable). The $31K pension doesn’t cover all of my bills, but once my 401K and SS kick in, along with my savings, I should be financially secure according to FireCalc and my own spreadsheets.
If you've run your portfolio through FIRECalc and other calculators with both with the $31K now and the $62K later, and both of them work, then I'd take the $31K now and get with the spending while the spending is good.
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Old 08-16-2012, 09:36 AM   #13
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I can't really tell you what is best in your situation, but I do know a guy who got the same diagnosis when we worked together at a sailing company. He and I were both outfitting boats for long-term cruising at the time. The focus of his management of the disease was to minimize his triggers for the disabling bouts of vertigo, and just go about his business. He was about 30 at the time.
That fall, he left on the boat and cruised from here all through the Caribbean, down the coast of South America a bit, went through the canal, all over the Pacific, and then sold the boat in New Zealand and moved back to the States to open a B&B and event destination with his wife.
I have no idea if that story is a "pro" or a "con" for your plans.
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Old 08-17-2012, 01:54 PM   #14
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Thanks everyone for your replies. I think I'll chew on this for a bit and not make a rash decision.

And for those of you who have suffered from vertigo, I'm so sorry you've had to go through that.
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Old 09-18-2012, 01:59 PM   #15
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I got a bit of a sodium hangover today. Feeling a little shaky from too much potato chips last night. Sodium does that to me
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