Retirement Planning for We Energies Employees: What’s new?

Check out Jeremy’s latest podcast on retirement planning for We Energies employees by listening on  “Apple Podcasts” or “Google Podcasts” or read below for a complete breakdown of We Energies’ 2021 Retired Employee Benefits Guide.

#59 – Are you a We Energies employee planning to retire soon?

If so, you don’t want to miss this episode.

As a financial services firm operating in the Milwaukee area, we at Keil Financial Partners have had the pleasure of helping several We Energies employees reach their ideal retirement.

So, we are well-versed in the key retirement considerations you need to make as a We Energies employee, plus ways to avoid common pitfalls.

Join Jeremy Keil as he unpacks the 2021 Retired Employee Benefits Guide for We Energies employees. Jeremy discusses the latest updates in their insurance, pension payouts, and 401(k) plans. Jeremy also explains how the retirement planning strategies discussed in this episode can be applied by employees outside of We Energies to optimize their retirement picture.

Jeremy discusses:

  • Reliable sources for gathering all the necessary information to make informed decisions
  • The pros and cons of various health insurance coverage plans
  • How to determine the ideal time to start your pension and maximize your payouts
  • Tips for maximizing interest and minimizing taxes on your 401(k) income
  • Ways for We Energies employees to indulge in tax-efficient charitable giving
  • And more

Breaking Down the 2021 Retired Employee Benefits Guide

  1. Getting Health Insurance Coverage

Getting the right health insurance plan is at the top of the priority list for almost every retiree. Here are most common coverage options you can opt for:

a) COBRA: After you retire, you have 60 days to enroll in the COBRA health insurance program, and it provides coverage for up to 18 months. You can take advantage of COBRA until you transition to a long-term coverage plan.

b) Spouse’s Insurance Plan: If your spouse is still working, you can check for possibilities to be added to their ongoing health insurance plan.

c) Affordable Care Act (ACA): This is another health insurance coverage option you can consider, also known as “Obamacare” or “Marketplace.”

d) Retirement Health Insurance Plan: Some companies might continue to offer health insurance to retirees. We Energies’ latest guide (2021) lays out a high deductible health plan, which costs nearly $6,798 per year per adult ($566.50 per month) –– an offer we believe to be worth considering!

e) Medicare: Turning 65, you become eligible for Medicare health insurance. Medicare covers most of your medical expenses! We Energies offers two options to complement the Medicare plan:

– We Energies’ Medicare Advantage, which costs nearly $35 per month, with zero deductible and maximum out-of-pocket expenses capped at $2,400. Doesn’t sound too bad!

– Standard Plus, which costs nearly $322 per month. However, it has a maximum lifetime benefit of only $100,000, which is incredibly too low!

  1. Pension

It’s important to determine the ideal time to start taking your pension payments. Believe it or not, but the timing of your pension can make a difference of hundreds of thousands of dollars over your lifetime!

For some employees, it might max out at an early age. For instance, if your pension maxes out at 62 years, it won’t  increase even if you keep working or wait until a later age to start your pension.

On the other hand, if your pension maxes out a month before you hit 70, it might be worth waiting a few years to start your pension. In some cases, it might even be possible to double your monthly pension payout by delaying it!

(Note that We Energies employees need to go through Fidelity NetBenefits to manage their pension. The company HR doesn’t start your pension for you.)

  1. 401(k)

It’s common for employees to own stocks in the company that they work for.

If you own We Energies stock inside of your 401(k), there is a strategy that can help you minimize taxes on your capital gains. It is known as Net Unrealized Appreciation.

Before we get into it, we must understand what “cost basis” means. It is the price for which you originally bought the stock. When the price of the stock increases, the total price gain above the cost basis is taxable.

In a traditional 401(k), that gain is taxed as regular income tax. But if you transfer the stock from your 401(k) to a regular brokerage account, you get to sell that stock (when you choose) at long-term capital gains rates, which are almost always better than the income tax rates that your 401(k) or Traditional IRA would have. 

Of course, there is some complex planning that needs to be done to make sure this is the right thing for you, but a great retirement planner will bring this up and help you through it without you having to mention or ask about it. tal gains!

Another benefit of the 401(k) plan is something called a stable value fund, that pays out a set interest rate. It is only available inside a 401(k) plan.

At We Energies, this stable value fund is known as the BRIF (Blended-Rate Interest Fund).

While hunting for better interest rates, don’t forget to take such stable value funds into consideration. They can provide higher returns than a regular checking account, where the interest rate is often next to 0%.

Additional Pro-Tips

We Energies employee or not, every retiree should keep the following things in mind:

a) Gather all the relevant information well ahead of time. Several companies don’t provide it to you until one year prior to your retirement. However, if you ask for it, they might hand it over to you earlier. We Energies employees can email employeeservicecenter@wecenergygroup.com to get access to the 2021 Retired Employee Benefits Guide.

b) There is no universal retirement solution. Employees within the same company, too, can have significantly varying retirement options. For example, two We Energies employees belonging to different unions, or if one is union and the other is corporate, might have varying benefits.

c) Look out for important envelopes in your mailbox. Many documents, such as the COBRA insurance package, might be mailed to your address by a company called BenefitExpress.

d) Remember, your pension probably doesn’t include automatic deductions for health insurance. You can write a monthly check, or link your insurance payments to your checking/savings account. Don’t assume they will take your health insurance costs out of your pension (like your salary) – If you fail to pay your premiums, you’ll end up losing your coverage altogether!

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Make sure you check out the resources below. You can utilize most of them even if you’re not a We Energies employee.

If you have any questions regarding your retirement, investment, or tax planning, feel free to contact us!

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