Rob Miller thought he had everything figured out. He was a high-priced attorney in his mid-40s, working for a good firm in Seattle, so he assumed his financial future was set. Then came the recession of 2007. Law firms were downsizing, Rob got nervous, and he wound up cutting a few too many corners at work. In short order, he found himself not only fired from his firm but disbarred and unable to practice law. Now 55, Rob works at the Port of Seattle as a longshoreman. It’s a union job, so Rob is a member of the International Longshoremen’s Association (ILA), the largest union of maritime workers in North America. Feeling older and wiser than he was when he practiced law, Rob is thankful for the opportunity to work, but he’s still looking forward to retiring at age 67, if he can.

Rob’s goal for financial independence is modest: $3,000 per month in current dollars. This amount will allow him to travel, kayak, and enjoy some great bar-b-que. One of the benefits of his ILA union job is the defined benefit retirement plan, which at current assumptions is expected to provide him with a defined benefit of $1,500 per month without any cost of living adjustments. Rob believes that the defined benefit check from the ILA, along with his Social Security benefit at full retirement age, will meet his goal for financial ...

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