Retirement Planning Resources

By Friends & Neighbors December 15, 2010 13:36

Planning for retirement can be a daunting prospect. The list of things to consider ranges from finances to health care to how you’re going to spend your spare time. What do you need to know about Social Security and Medicare? What if your health declines and you need special care? Should you take a part-time job, start a business or volunteer?

As a first stop, check the AARP website,, for a wealth of financial, health and general retirement planning information. Or call the Area 12 Agency on Aging in Sonora, which serves a five-county area, to connect with its Information and Assistance Program, (209) 532-6272, or 1(800) 510-2020.   

Other key resources:

Finances and Social Security

  • Visit the Social Security website,, to learn about your options, when you can begin collecting Social Security, and the consequences of working while you receive benefits. For general information or to schedule an appointment, call (800) 772-1213. The office for Tuolumne and Calaveras counties is at 1194 N. Highway 49, Sonora, (888) 397-4125.
  • If you may need to work after retirement, contact Mother Lode Job Connection,, about its senior services, 19890 Cedar Road North, Sonora, 588-1150. It has special programs for veterans and low-income seniors. Calaveras Job Connection is at 700 Mountain Ranch Road in San Andreas, 754-4242.
  • Consider a team approach involving attorneys, accountants, financial advisors and insurance brokers as you shape your retirement strategy. Even if you don’t have a lot of money, for example, an estate attorney can help you protect the assets you have, ensure your wishes are known regarding health care, and help you plan for low-income Medi-Cal long term care should you need it.
  • Financial planners and other retirement advisors abound. Some offer comprehensive planning to help ensure that you won’t outlive your money, and can help address key aspects of your present and future financial situation. Many offer specific products – stocks, annuities, insurance, reverse mortgages, etc. Most offer a free initial consultation. Ask your family, friends, attorney or tax preparer for referrals. Review any potential advisor’s training and certifications – title alone may not ensure licensing, qualifications or ability.
  • The government offers clear and simple financial education and planning at Kiplinger offers retirement tools and information at

Health, COBRA and Medicare

  • For overall information on Medicare, visit or call the Medicare Helpline, 1 (800) 633-4227; TTY 1 (877) 486-2048.
  • Area 12 Agency on Aging offers free Medicare counseling and information through its Health Insurance Counseling and Advocacy Program (HICAP). Call 1 (800) 434-0222, especially if Medicare Part D (prescription drug coverage) has you stumped, or email
  • Contact insurance agents to compare specific health plan costs, including dental and vision coverage, which basic Medicare does not cover.
  • If you’re retiring early, consider how you will bridge your health insurance until you are eligible for Medicare at 65. Most people retiring from a job with medical coverage can purchase continued health insurance for up to 18 months, under COBRA laws. In California, this can extend to 36 months. Visit the California Department of Managed Health Care website,

Long-term care planning

  • HICAP counselors at Area 12 Agency on Aging can provide one-on-one help in exploring whether long-term care insurance makes sense for you. Long-term care insurance is like any other insurance – you can affect the premiums by deductibles, co-pays, how long the coverage will last, etc. Shop around, as premiums and coverage can vary depending upon the company.
  • The government’s Medicare website,, has basic planning information for long-term care.
  • Social Services departments are the contact points for low-income seniors who need Medi-Cal-funded long term care. In Tuolumne County, 20075 Cedar Road North, 533-5711. In Calaveras County, 509 E. Saint Charles St., San Andreas, 754-6448.
  • offers a number of helpful articles.


  • In Tuolumne County, call Sierra NonProfit Services, 533-1093. Also, Senior Resource Service maintains a directory of useful services, including volunteer opportunities,
  • In Calaveras County, visit the Volunteer Center, within the Senior Center, 956 Mountain Ranch Road, San Andreas, 754-1699,
  • View the “Volunteer Match” database online at
  • The Peace Corps has a volunteer program for those 50 and older,
  • Friends and Neighbors lists area groups’ volunteer needs in each quarterly issue.

What else?

  • Military veterans can obtain pension and benefits information through, or from veterans’ service offices in Sonora, 105 Hospital Rd., 533-6280, and San Andreas, 509 E. Charles St., 754-6624.
  • Area 12 Agency on Aging,, provides information, help and referrals for seniors and family caregivers. Browse an extensive collection of informational brochures at the Sonora office, 19074 Standard Road.
    • Legal Advocacy for Seniors, a program of Catholic Charities, provides free legal help to foothills residents 60 and older regardless of income, 588-1597.
    • Retirement bonus: It’s senior discount time at banks, restaurants, grocery stores, movie theaters and more. Ask wherever you go. One of the best deals: $10 “America the Beautiful,” national parks’ lifetime pass for those 62 and older, available at park entrance stations. It’s also good for discounts at some federal campgrounds.
    • For links to many other programs and services, visit the National Council on Aging website,, or California Department of Aging,

© 2010 Friends and Neighbors

By Friends & Neighbors December 15, 2010 13:36