Win Heimer

I worked for the state of Connecticut for more than 30 years spending most of my career at the Connecticut Health Department while my wife, Carol, worked in the private sector treating patients as a psychiatric nurse at a local hospital and psychiatric facility.

When you’re planning for your retirement, you budget for things like food, medicine, and a few vacations.  You certainly don’t expect a single item in your budget to cost $150,000 per year.

But then Carol was diagnosed with early onset Alzheimers while she was still in her 50s.  And we’re now paying $150,000 a year for her treatment and care in a facility.

We manage to get by despite these massive medical bills by being careful with our money and doing our best to invest wisely—along with what we get from our pensions and Social Security.  Without our pensions or Social Security, life would be much harder, even for frugal people like us.

But the contract that protects the pension that allows me to maintain a simple lifestyle while caring for Carol comes up for negotiation in 2017—something that is constantly on my mind.  Our retirement security has become campaign fodder in the Connecticut governor’s race.  And now politicians in Washington are talking about cutting Social Security too.

Americans who work for decades and pay their bills should be able to retire with dignity.  When politicians talk about turning our pensions into 401(k)s, they’re forgetting about the curve balls life throws at us—whether it be a crash in the stock market or an expensive chronic disease.  Every working American deserves real retirement security.