Planning a Graceful Exit

Once faculty decide to retire, they can begin planning for the transition. Creating personal and academic plans are just as important as financial ones, although the latter often feels more pressing and anxiety inducing.  Faculty who leave DU employment voluntarily by at least the age of 55 and after at least 20 years of service in a benefited position are eligible for retirement benefits, but there is so much more to consider when preparing to retire. The VPFA’s office has already created this checklist which includes information from all three pages to aid you in planning month-by-month.


In the years and months leading up to retirement, laying the groundwork for reaching personal goals and well-being is important. Along with visualizing what a successful retirement means for each individual, it can be useful to experiment with new skills, volunteer opportunities, or health practices. While it is normal to experience a range of emotions prior to and during retirement, processing or reflecting on the meaning of these emotions can help reframe the experience. Individuals also sometimes forget that their retirement can have a large impact on children, partners/spouses, or other family and close friends, and may neglect to discuss it with them. Health disparities in the United States track other inequities, so faculty of color or LGTBQ+ faculty may want to have a conversation about what this could mean for their retirement. (For example, Medicare coverage for transgender people can sometimes require navigation.)

DU Health Insurance Options after Retirement 

  • Employees hired prior to January 1, 1992, who have attained age 55 with at least 10 years of service, are eligible for early retiree medical benefits.
  • Employees hired January 1, 1992 and later, who have attained age 55 with at least 20 years of service, are eligible for early retiree benefits.
  • Once the retired employee reaches the age of 65, then the retiree can enroll in the Kaiser Senior Advantage Group Plan or an individual supplement or advantage.
  • The University contributes $60.00 per month toward the retired employee’s University group Health Insurance premium for the Kaiser Group plan or a Medicare supplement plan (over age 65 years).


Medicare Part A is sometimes called “Hospital Insurance.” It helps cover inpatient hospital care, skilled nursing facility care, hospice care, and home health care.

  • Most people should enroll in Medicare Part A when they turn 65, even if they have health insurance from an employer.

Medicare Part B is sometimes called “Medical Insurance.” It helps cover services from doctors and other health care providers, outpatient care, home health care, durable medical equipment, and some preventive services, including certain vaccines and cancer screenings.

  •  People who have health insurance from their (or their spouse’s) current employer may be able to delay enrolling in Part B.

For more information, visit or check out for comparisons.

Life Insurance

  • Appointed employees, age 55, with at least 30 years of active service upon the date of retirement may continue their Core Life Insurance in retirement until age 70 and the university will continue to pay the Core Life premium. (Please note: Core Life benefits reduce by 35% at age 65).
  • A retiree with at least 30 years of active service may also continue his/her own Voluntary/Supplemental Life Insurance by continuing to pay the premium. All retiree life insurance terminates at the end of the month following the retired employee’s 70th birthday.
  • Group dependent life insurance will terminate on the last day of the final month of active service. For retired employees who do not meet the 30 years active service criteria, group Life Insurance will also end on the last day of the final month of active service; however, retiring employees do have the option of “porting” or “converting” their coverage within 30 days of their official retirement.
  • Contact Shared Services at for additional information

Other Resources

The National Resource Center on LGBT Aging has resources for older adults who are lesbian, gay, bisexual and/or transgender, including Colorado specific supoots, such as the SAGE of the Rockies program from LGBTQ+ adults over 50.


Retirement is a Human Resources category, and this status is available to all faculty and staff who meet the conditions as stipulated above, but there are special considerations for those retiring as faculty. Emeritus/Emerita status is a unique possibility for faculty members in all series and ranks, governed by this Faculty Senate Policy. We encourage eligible faculty to pursue Emeriti status, starting the process in the term prior to retirement. Please reach out to the VPFA’s office if you need assistance. 

Faculty should consider how their retirement might impact their academic  department and, when feasible, have a conversation with their chair or unit head a year or more before the intended retirement date to aid curricular and other planning. Retirees also may need to work with the ORSP or collaborators to create an agreement for any funded or collaborative research that will continue post-retirement. Currently, DU does not have a phased retirement program. However, faculty seeking a gradual reduction in duties or tenure relinquishment should work directly with their department and/or unit or college to see if this is a possibility.  


Faculty should discuss retirement with the benefits office as well as their own financial advisors, recognizing that each faculty member is unique. Standard retirement advice can be affected by identity or group membership; the racial wealth gap in the United States means that much financial advice is written with assumptions that the audience is white. There may also be particular laws or norms connected to disability or sexual orientation that may affect certain benefits or shape approaches to retirement. Help preparing for the financial transition into retirement from a TIAA financial consultant is available for all faculty and staff at no additional cost.

A TIAA financial consultant can help with topics like:

  • How much income will I need and where will it come from?
  • What are my options for claiming Social Security?
  • What is the most I can save while I’m still working?

TIAA also offers these tools for the various stages of planning:

  • Update your beneficiary information:
    • Make sure your beneficiaries are up to date because out-of-date information can cause your family significant delay in receiving payments, or even cause your assets to be distributed in ways you no longer intend.
    • You can check your beneficiary information by logging in to your account at or calling 800-842-2252.
  • TIAA preparing for retirement
  • TIAA Living in retirement

It is important to evaluate financial plans in light of your personal and academic values and goals; not everyone’s retirement will look the same or require the same resources.


Other Resources

Age Milestone
59½ Active employees are eligible for in-service distributions from the Supplemental 403(b) Plan and are not subject to a 10% early withdrawal penalty.
62 Active employees are eligible for in-service distributions from the Defined Contribution Retirement Plan Alternative and are not subject to a 10% early withdrawal penalty.
62 Minimum age to begin receiving Social Security benefits at a reduced amount.
65 Enroll in Medicare if you are not actively employed
66 Eligible to receive full Social Security (if you were born between 1943 and 1954); no reduction in benefits no matter how much is earned in the future
67 Eligible to receive full Social Security (any age).
69½ Last opportunity to choose payments from TIAA Traditional Annuity—interest-only option.
72 Minimum distribution required from tax-advantaged retirement plans as of April 1 of the year following the year in which you turn age 72—or face 50% federal penalty of the difference between amount received during the year and the required amount for that year. However, if you are still employed, you may delay taking minimum distributions until the year after you retire. IRA owners must begin taking minimum distributions no later than April 1 following the year they turn age 72.
75 Withdraw funds exempt from age 72 distribution requirement (funds contributed to a 403(b) plan before January 1, 1987) unless you are still employed and meet certain criteria.