Seven things to consider before agreeing to a Voluntary Severance Program

Few things cause sleepless nights like the offer of a voluntary severance package. You wonder, as you toss and turn, whether you’ll be able to support yourself and your family if you accept your company’s offer, and whether you’re being foolish if you pass it up.

You might be upset and, especially if you’ve worked at the same company for many years, you might be afraid of what the future holds.

The good news is that you have the opportunity to analyze your financial situation and resources available to help you decide.

In the 30 years we’ve been in business, we’ve counseled plenty of clients through the VSP maze, and we can help you. In fact, we’re offering a free consultation to anyone facing a voluntary or involuntary severance program.

Meanwhile, here are seven things you should consider before you decide whether to participate in a voluntary severance program:

  1. The likelihood that your job will be eliminated entirely. An honest industry assessment should give you a good idea of whether innovations and/or consolidations threaten your specific job. If this is the case, you may be better off taking the severance program and make good use of your company’s employee assistance program to refine your skills and update your resume for the next phase of your career.
  2. Your age. Consider your full retirement age, which varies based on the year you were born. How close are you? Will the severance be enough to tide you over until you can withdraw from your IRA without penalty?
  3. Your current financial needs. Perhaps delaying your severance will give you more time to build up a cushion. Take a look at your budget, which will not only give you an idea of how much readily available cash you’ll need, it will also highlight areas you can trim.
  4. Tax implications. Does your severance include a lump sum payout? Will it bump you into a higher tax bracket? Can you negotiate a payout that stretches into the next fiscal year?
  5. Health insurance. Are you the main source of insurance for the family? Will you receive health insurance credits? How long will they last? You may need to look at the cost of COBRA payments and whether less expensive options are available to you in the marketplace.
  6. Long term financial needs. How robust is your 401(k)? Will there be college tuitions in your future? Can you downsize your lifestyle, including your house, to generate enough income to supplement your Social Security? Even if you have no plans to retire, just knowing that you have enough to retire can give you peace of mind.
  7.  Your emotional health. Do you have plans for how you will spend your time once you no longer have a job? Are there volunteer opportunities? A hobby you’d like to develop? Anxiety and depression can go hand-in-hand with both unemployment and retirement. They key is to have a plan.

If you are facing a voluntary or involuntary severance program, please contact us today. We can walk you through your options, including insurance, and help you make your decision with confidence.