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Mary Anne Robbins and her dogs Keira, left, and Aylish.Handout

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Mary Anne Robbins, 66, retired in 2018, at age 62, after working for 25 years as a librarian. Her husband, who was in sales, retired at the same time, at age 64. For the past year and a half they’ve been travelling with their two rescue dogs in a 26-foot RV after selling their home in South Carolina.

“We decided to try the RV lifestyle for a year, but we’ve enjoyed it so much that we’ve kept going,” she says in the latest Tales from the Golden Age feature.

Ms. Robbins, originally from Brampton, Ont. talks about how “cozy” RV life is and her plans to eventually move to the Maritimes.

Read the full story here

Say goodbye to early retirement? How the average age of retirement has shifted in the past 45 years

The average retirement age fell steadily from the late 1970s to the late 1990s, writes Globe contributor Fred Vettese.

This is partly because of high unemployment rates, he says, which made early retirement incentives attractive to both employers and employees.

Since then, the trend has reversed direction, largely owing to longer lifespans and declining real interest rates that made retirement more expensive. A declining worker-to-retiree ratio was also a factor. The self-employed, however, have always retired late.

Read the article and see the chart here

Talking about end-of-life preferences and money: not easy, but crucial

My wife and I held a dinner party recently when the topic of end-of-life preferences came up – often a touchy, sometimes difficult, subject, writes Gary Rabbior, president at Canadian Foundation for Economic Education in a recent Globe article.

“Our discussion revealed that many at the table realized they had no idea what their parents’ preferences were regarding end-of-life wishes,” he says. “Most had never had such a discussion with their parents – or discussions about virtually any other matter related to matters such as transfer of family assets, designation of power of attorney, or other money and financial affairs. Most said they would be in the dark if a parent should die suddenly without time to prepare.”

Read his article to find out why it’s important to have these conversations, and how to do it well.

The death positivity movement is growing. Here’s how to get involved

The seeds of the “death positivity” movement started in the early seventies, around the time Elisabeth Kubler-Ross published On Death and Dying: What the Dying Have to Teach Doctors, Nurses, Clergy and Their Own Families, and Ernest Becker published the Pulitzer Prize-winning book The Denial of Death, which argues human behaviour is motivated by our fear of death.

In 2011, a Brit named Jon Underwood took the death conversation to a whole new level when he played host to the first Death Café. His theory that organizing safe places for people to talk about death might help them accept it, plan for it and hopefully live the time they have left, whether it be a few months or a few decades, as joyfully as possible.

The model has grown, and, as of today, according to deathcafe.com, there are 15,000 death cafés in 82 countries, writes the Globe’s Gayle MacDonald.

Read the full article here

Can Luna, 68, retire next year and keep her home, without having to downsize?

Luna will be 68 this year and is worrying whether she has enough money to retire from her government job without having to sell her home. She earns about $83,000 a year and will be entitled to a defined benefit pension of $31,270 a year, indexed to inflation, when she hangs up her hat.

She has a rental suite in her B.C. home that covers the cost of her $240,000 variable-rate mortgage. She also has some savings, although her portfolio “is probably smaller now with the shift in financial markets,” Luna writes in an e-mail. “With the cost of everything going up, I wonder if I should wait longer to retire,” she writes. “I do not want to be scraping pennies.” She has two adult children.

Luna hopes to retire in January and maintain her lifestyle. She’ll also need a new car soon. “Do I need to sell the house and pay off the mortgage to retire with a similar lifestyle?”

In the latest Financial Facelift, Andrea Thompson, a certified financial planner (CFP) and founder of Modern Cents, an advice-only financial planning firm based in Mississauga, looks at Luna’s situation.

In case you missed it:

Why a retiree feels it’s important to separate yourself from work

Greg Demuynck retired at the end of last year, at age 64, after working for the same company, the Alberta Motor Association, for just shy of 38 years.

“People often say: ‘How could you work for the same company for so long?’ But I had 14 different jobs throughout that time, which kept it interesting,” he says in the Globe’s latest Tales from the Golden Age feature.

It was after suffering a heart attack in 2019 that he started thinking about retirement. “It wasn’t genetic; it was related to stress and diet – things I could have controlled,” he says. The plan was to retire at age 62, but then COVID-19 came along.

“Since I couldn’t travel, go to concerts, movies or the gym, I deferred my retirement. I was part of the team that implemented my company’s COVID plans, which was a new and exciting challenge, so I stayed,” he says.

But then, after a couple of years, he grew weary of the relentless pace. Read the full story here including why Mr. Demuynck believes why it’s healthy for retirees to separate from work once you retire.

Ask Sixty Five

Question: My 92-year-old mom – a Canadian citizen who has lived in Toronto her entire life – did not claim a survivor’s benefit based on his Canada Pension Plan (CPP) when my father passed away 24 years ago at the age of 68. Would she have been entitled to a survivor’s benefit? Mom never had her own CPP as she was a homemaker and never worked other than raising 5 kids! I don’t believe that she knew about the survivor’s benefit. Is there any way I can find out if she would have been entitled?

We asked Rachel Metzger, a financial planner at Caring for Clients, to answer this one:

Even after 24 years, your mother can apply for CPP survivor’s pension. If the application is accepted, she will receive 12 months of retroactive payments and a monthly pension for the remainder of her life.

The amount available to her will depend on the amount of your father’s pension at the time of his passing. When your dad elected to begin his pension will impact the size of the survivor’s pension. Starting in 1987, CPP contributors could elect to take a reduced pension as early as age 60. The maximum benefit for each recipient required starting at age 65. There was no deferral benefit beyond that age.

The current survivor’s pension rules differ from those in place 24 years ago, so don’t rely on the current rules when estimating her potential benefit.

In 1998, the maximum CPP pension was $744.79 per month, and if the surviving spouse was age 65 or older, the survivor’s pension maximum was $446.87 per month. Your mom was 68 at the time of your dad’s passing, so she was eligible for benefits.

The one-time CPP death benefit was in effect in 1998 and was capped at $2,500 that year. These days Service Canada asks that executors apply for the death benefit within 60 days of death. It is unclear what the rule was in 1998.

Applying for a survivor’s pension is done through Service Canada with a paper-based form, or with an online form through the My Service Canada Account. In either case, there is documentation required and certified true copies can be mailed or dropped off at a Service Canada office. For standard applications, it usually takes six to 12 weeks after they receive your application before they issue a decision letter and/or make the first payment. Yours is an atypical request so a longer wait time is likely.

If you disagree with Service Canada’s decision, you can request a review within 90 days of receiving the decision letter. If you disagree with the reviewed decision, you can contact the social security tribunal to make an appeal. I hope that helps!

Have a question about money or lifestyle topics for seniors? E-mail us at sixtyfive@globeandmail.com and we will find experts and answer your questions in future newsletters.