Most evenings, ERS retiree Charlie Keen enjoys some of the most beautiful sunsets in Texas from the deck of his home overlooking Lake Travis. Keen built the home in Volente, nine miles from Austin, on land he purchased in 1981.
“Owning a home was always my dream. It represents all I have worked for in my life and security for the future,” he says.
As a state of Texas retiree, Keen appreciates the simple pleasures each day brings. Whether it’s swimming in Lake Travis or watching the sunset, he is grateful he is able to enjoy a modest but comfortable retirement. He retired in 2007 after working as an appraiser in the Property Tax Division of the State Comptroller’s Office for 15 years and in a county appraisal office for nine years.
For Keen, two key benefits have added up to retirement security.
“The defined benefit annuity is the only type of plan that offers true security later in life. I have been able to have a comfortable retirement because I have good health insurance and a reliable source of income.”
These two benefits must be preserved in order for the state to continue to attract a quality workforce, he says.
“There are all sorts of jobs that need to be done by state workers. We want to attract bright, dedicated people to these jobs. A defined benefit annuity and health insurance coverage in retirement are two of the most important advantages of working for the State of Texas instead of the private sector. If these two benefits are changed or taken away, the state will have difficulty attracting quality people to work in government.”
Because he retired before his house was paid off, Keen’s ERS annuity covers mortgage payments. Social Security payments cover basic expenses like food. He rents out rooms in his home to help cover other costs.
“I’m not wealthy by any means. But my ERS benefits allow me to follow my rule of retirement: try to enjoy every day. I’m so fortunate to be able to live a peaceful existence in this gem of a place.”