older female worker with arms crossed and confident expression (Photo: Shutterstock)

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You know people who've said this: "I'll work till I'm 80!" or"I'll never retire." You hope for their sake, at least, they canwork as long as they want. We all want to workas long as we want. But that's not up to us. Call itchance, fate, bad luck, divine plan, interestingcircumstances, but we can only control so much about when weretire. What can you do? We caught up with MikeHeard, president of CNO Financial's Worksite Division and he gaveus four key steps to consider.

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Heard is president of the worksite division of CNO FinancialGroup and is responsible for the sales and operations of thecompany's worksite business. From April 2017 to January 2020, heserved as president of CNO's Washington National business, whichoffers a suite of supplemental health and life insurance productsand administrative technology, including an enrollment platform tohelp employers administer their benefits programs.

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BenefitsPRO: What have you seen as far as early orunexpected retirement occurring?

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Mike Heard: COVID-19 has impacted our daily lives and may haveeven changed retirement planning. From layoffs and furloughs to paycuts and early retirement options, there are a number of ways thatcan prompt an unexpected retirement. And while unexpected and earlyretirement is more common than you might think, it can throw youoff course.

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BenefitsPRO: Is there anything one can do, especiallyduring these uncertain times when any decision seems to have anextra large impact on the future?

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Yes. To avoid any sleepless nights, here are four key steps toensure you are financially prepared for your next lifemilestone.

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1. Snapshot your finances: Beforemaking any rash decisions, take a complete inventory of yourfinances, including assets, debts and interest rates; income; andexpenses. Create a realistic monthly budget that outlines how muchcash you'll need to cover your expenses. Also, you may want to alsothink about how your expenses might be changing based on how yourwork or personal situation has evolved this year.  Then,talk to your financial advisor for expert insight and advice.

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2. Don't make rash decisions: Unfortunately, I've heard plenty of stories from our clients abouthow COVID-19 has forced employees into taking early retirement.

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If you're faced with such a scenario, take a moment to evaluate.Don't make drastic moves, especially regarding yourfinances.  For many, this might be right time to find your"Second Act" in retirement, pursue a different interest or hobby,or even a new job.

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3. Safeguard your health care – against highcosts: The COVID-19 pandemic may have just amplified theneed for supplemental health insurance. In the past three months,millions have lost their jobs and their health insurance as aconsequence.

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Additionally, for many battling COVID-19, they may have realizedgaps in their current health insurance. Many expenses likecoinsurance, deductibles, transportation needs, child or eldercare,and non-prescription medicines and supplies can build up overtime.  Supplemental health products, including ahospital indemnity product, can help cover some of those costs, andthese should be a part of your retirement planning. Manysupplemental products are portable, which means if an employeefaces an unexpected retirement or is furloughed, that supplementalhealth remains with them wherever they go.

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Additionally, consider a Return-on-Premium feature to make yourhealth insurance program a potential savings vehicle should younever need to utilize the actual benefits. This could addadditional income down the road at a later stage in life.

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4. Provide and protect with lifeinsurance: No matter what stage of life you arein, it's never too late to add life insurance to your financialretirement portfolio.  Consider a product with aliving-benefits rider to help not just with cash-value or insurancecoverage, but also for unforeseen critical conditions or illnesseswhere you could utilize a meaningful portion of the face amount ofthe life insurance contract to assist with medical needs. There area lot of reasons to have life insurance, including helping withyour retirement planning, with cash benefits, replacing lostincome, funding college education, paying off debts, as well as andpaying for final expenses.

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