The freedom of retirement

Pensions go a long way toward helping us celebrate independence

By Michael Pramik, Ohio Public Employees Retirement System

July 3, 2023 – As we gather around on the Fourth of July to commemorate the hard-fought independence of our nation, it’s crucial to remember that freedom extends beyond political autonomy.

In modern times, the concept of freedom has evolved to encompass various aspects of our lives, including financial security and retirement. Pensions, in particular, play a vital role in granting us the freedom we deserve during our golden years.

Financial security in retirement

Retirement is a milestone that everyone aspires to reach. It symbolizes the culmination of decades of hard work and dedication. However, for some, the fear of financial instability in retirement can cast a shadow over a future without work. Here lies the true value of pensions. By providing a steady income stream during retirement, pensions can help to ensure that we have the financial security we need to live comfortably.

Pensions grant us the freedom to pursue our passions and hobbies, explore new horizons and enjoy our newfound independence. Whether it’s traveling the world, spending time with loved ones or donating time in our communities, pensions empower retirees to make the most of their post-career lives without the constant worry of financial constraints.

A great time to celebrate

The Fourth of July is a time to reflect on the significance of freedom.

Just as the American Revolution fought to liberate our nation from oppressive rule, pensions can save retirees from the shackles of financial insecurity. In fact, pensions in the United States actually date back to this formative time. After the Revolutionary War, the Continental Congress designed pensions to provide replacement income for soldiers injured in battle, to offer performance incentives, to attract new recruits and to arrange for orderly retirements.

During the late 19th and early 20th centuries, retirement plans were extended to state workers. Deferred benefits tied to longevity were designed to profit both employers — through reduced turnover costs and orderly retirement of older workers — and employees, through an increased lifetime income with less investment risk.

The Ohio Retirement Act became effective on Jan. 1, 1935, and OPERS was established that year.

Thus, the Fourth symbolizes breaking free from the constraints of subjugation, while pensions symbolize breaking free from the chains of financial insecurity. Both embody the essence of freedom and serve as reminders of the possibilities that lie ahead.

Looking ahead

Retirement is not merely a time to rest but a chance to explore new avenues and fully enjoy our independence. With the financial freedom granted by pensions, as well as other savings accumulated on the way to retirement (such as through Ohio Deferred Compensation), OPERS members can embrace their passions, embark on new adventures and contribute to society in meaningful ways.

Whether it’s starting a second career, launching a business venture or volunteering for a cause close to their hearts, pensions help provide retirees with the liberty to choose how they spend their time and resources. They allow us to redefine ourselves and discover untapped potentials, making retirement a truly fulfilling chapter of life.

As fireworks light up the sky on the Fourth of July, we’re reminded of the immense value of freedom. While we join in the festivities, let’s remember the profound impact of pensions on the freedom of retirement and appreciate the opportunities they offer.

Betsy Butler, OPERS’ knowledge and issues strategist, contributed to this blog.

Michael Pramik

Michael Pramik is communication strategist for the Ohio Public Employees Retirement System and editor of the PERSpective blog. As an experienced business journalist, he clarifies complex pension policies and helps members make smart choices to secure their retirement.

Michael Pramik

Communication Strategist

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