Tag Archives: retirement

Op-ed: Retirement, not just a luxury for the rich

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com


When we think of retirement, we like to imagine years of relaxation after a lifetime of hard work. But the unfortunate reality for millions of New Yorkers is that retirement is more likely to be a time of desperation and abject poverty.

That’s because the current retirement system is broken. Pensions, once the hallmark of retirement savings, are becoming a luxury of the past. In 1985, over half of American workers nearing retirement had a defined benefit plan, but in 2009 only 29 percent were expecting pension income in retirement. And Social Security has faced brazen attacks in Washington, threatening the future of a vital benefit that has provided retirement security for millions since the New Deal.

In light of this grim reality, the time is now for New York City to offer new avenues for retirement savings for all New Yorkers.

Last month, my office issued a report highlighting the urgent need for New York City to take action against an impending retirement crisis. By 2035, the city’s senior population is expected to explode to 1.5 million — a dramatic increase from the number of seniors today. Meanwhile, recent data shows that only 41 percent of working New Yorkers have access to an employer-sponsored retirement plan, down from 49 percent a decade ago.

If current trends continue, everyday retired New Yorkers will struggle to pay the bills as they fight to survive on fixed incomes. My report found that for a retiree in New York City to live at the poverty line for 15 years, they would need over $215,000 in savings and income. But most New Yorkers today have less than $100,000 saved for retirement, and over 40 percent have under $10,000 saved. The savings problem is even more acute for communities of color and women. Over 75 percent of black households and 80 percent of Latino households have less than $10,000 in retirement. And, nationally, there are twice as many women than men living in poverty.

The lack of affordable housing in New York City has also hit retired New Yorkers especially hard. Forty seven percent of New Yorkers over the age of 70 are considered rent burdened, forcing many seniors to choose between housing, food and transportation.

That’s why I have introduced legislation in the City Council that would help move forward the process of creating a city-based retirement savings program — a program that would place no significant financial burden on taxpayers or private employers, but uplift millions of New Yorkers for generations to come. Accounts would be pooled and centrally managed, which will help keep fees low given the expected high participation rates.

States like California, Illinois and Massachusetts are already moving forward with similar programs, and New York City cannot fall behind. Retirement should not just be a luxury for the rich, and I am determined to do everything I can to ensure every working New Yorker can live out their golden years in dignity.


CB 1 chair, district manager to retire in the summer after almost four decades of service

| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Map via CB1 Website

Astoria will soon say goodbye to two Community Board 1 leaders as they get ready to retire from their posts after nearly eight decades of combined service to the area.

Vinicio Donato, chair of CB 1, and Lucille Hartmann, district manager of the board, have announced they will both be retiring. Donato will stay on the board until August, while Hartmann will remain until July. 

Donato has been chair of the community board, which covers all of Astoria, and parts of Long Island City and Woodside, since 1979 and in January was re-elected to the position without any opposition. 

Hartmann has been on the board for about 38 years, during which she left for a brief period of time to work for the mayor’s office. 

However, the decision to announce their retirement at the same time was a coincidence and was made because it was just time for both of them to make the move, according to a community board representative. 

Lucille Hartmann (File Photo)

Lucille Hartmann (File photo)

Local elected officials thanked both Donato and Hartmann for their service and dedication to the community.

“Vinny and Lucille deserve our thanks for their long and dedicated service to our neighborhood,” state Senator Michael Gianaris said. “I have worked hand in hand with both of these community leaders throughout my career in public service and am proud to have stood side by side with them as we fought to make Astoria the wonderful place it is today. I wish both Vinny and Lucille the best in all that they do in the future.”

Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer also thanked both of the community leaders for their commitment over the years.

“I thank Vinicio Donato for his four-plus decades of public service with Community Board 1 and acknowledge him for his commitment as an educator while at I.S. 10, where I attended as a kid,” Van Bramer said. “I commend Lucille Hartmann for her dedication to the communities of Community Board 1. Together, Vinny and Lucille cared deeply about the communities they served and worked hard every day to make western Queens a better place.”

Community Board 1 is expected to elect a new chairman at its September meeting after returning from the summer break.


Community Board 9 district manager announces retirement

| slicata@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/ Photo by Liam La Guerre

After three and a half decades of service Mary Ann Carey is stepping down from her position as District Manager of Community Board 9, which covers Richmond Hill, Kew Gardens, Ozone Park and Woodhaven.

“In my thirty-five years of service to this great city with very little exceptions, I loved every minute,” Carey wrote in her resignation letter earlier this month. “I have overseen many projects too numerous to mention here and worked with four Borough Presidents, dozens of legislators, commissioners, District Managers and their staff.”

Current Chairman Ralph Gonzalez congratulated Carey, who began her work as District Manager when Ed Koch was mayor, on her retirement and said it would be hard to imagine anyone who can fill her shoes.

“She has done so much for the community, and for so long,” he said. “She can be proud of the legacy she’s leaving at Community Board 9. I know that many people in Queens and on the Board join me in thanking Mary Ann for her years of dedication.”

The process to search for the next District Manager will start at the next community board meeting.



Joe Abbracciamento Restaurant set to close after nearly 70 years

| mchan@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Melissa Chan

A beloved Queens eatery that has fed generations for nearly 70 years will soon be serving up its last course.

Joe Abbracciamento Restaurant, a neighborhood fixture at 62-96 Woodhaven Boulevard, will close March 2, as longtime owners prepare for retirement.

“We just want to sit back for a little while, relax and breathe the fresh air,” said owner John Abbracciamento, 60 . “It’s bittersweet. But, basically, it’s time.”

The Italian eatery opened in 1948 under Abbracciamento’s father, Joe. Over time, it became a staple in the borough.

“We’ve taken care of people from the day they were born,” Abbracciamento said. “It’s a wonderful treat to be a part of their lives and some of the most important occasions that they would celebrate. We will sadly miss that part of it.”

Abbracciamento has known the restaurant life since he was 13.

It was not an easy decision to put it to rest after the baton was passed down to him from his late father, Abbracciamento said. But it was a necessary one.

“It was my father’s dream,” he said. “My brother and I kept it going. But I’ve just come to the point in my life where I just need some time to clear my head and move forward.”

“We had a nice, long run — a very successful run,” Abbracciamento said. “It’s just time to just relax a little bit.”

Longtime patrons said the loss of the local icon is a blow to the Queens dining scene and to the community.

“I’m sad. I’ve known them for 30 years,” said Leon Sorin. “They’ve been working hard for many years. Maybe it’s time.”

John Harrington, 73, has been coming for the “out of this world” lasagna for 38 years.

“I was shocked when I heard it was closing,” he said. “It’s a shame because you don’t have any good restaurants around.”

Ed Wendell, a lifelong Queens resident, called the restaurant “the go-to place” for Italian cuisine.

“It’s one of those places where a lot of people are going to look back now and say, ‘Man, I wish I had gone more,’” he said. “It will be missed.”



Your money has a lifespan, too

| ara@queenscourier.com

(ARA) – Ever tried to calculate how long you might live? How much you’ll need to save for retirement? If you retire at age 65, are you financially prepared to live 30 more years? Or, will you outlive your money?

These are important questions to ask, as Americans are living longer than ever before. In fact, for couples aged 65, there is a 50 percent likelihood the husband or wife will live to age 94, according to the Society of Actuaries. This can mean more years to enjoy retirement – if your money lives as long as you do.

A recent study from Northwestern Mutual took a look at Americans’ financial planning (and saving) habits. The data reveals that many feel financially unprepared to live longer.

Only 56 percent of Americans surveyed say they feel financially prepared to live to age 75. Less than half (46 percent) indicate they feel prepared to live to age 85. And only 36 percent say they feel prepared to live to age 95.

The research also shows that half of Americans take an informal approach to financial planning – if they have a plan at all. Moreover, most feel their planning needs improvement.

“While Americans see the value in setting financial goals, not everyone has plans to achieve them,” said Greg Oberland, Northwestern Mutual executive vice president. “Developing a plan to reach your goals provides confidence that you won’t outlive your savings.”

On the bright side, respondents say they’re taking positive steps to pay down their debt, develop a budget, save a portion of their paycheck regularly, build up an emergency fund and organize financial documents.

“These are good first steps to enhance one’s current financial well-being,” said Oberland. “But looking at these steps in the context of a comprehensive plan (that offers flexibility as circumstances change over time) can help provide long-term financial security.”

In other words, planning can help you manage how long your money lasts. Keep in mind, a prudent plan should work no matter how long you live in retirement.

Here are a few ideas that may help you solidify your financial plans:

1. Consider your own longevity.

Longevity calculators like Northwestern Mutual’s lifespan calculator can help you understand how long you may need your money to last.

2. Reflect on your current state of financial security.

Ask yourself, “Do I feel financially prepared to live a long life?” Then, put your answer into perspective by playing the “Get Your Financial Security Score,” game. The free mobile game (also available on Facebook) awards users with customized financial tips based on responses to a variety of personal finance-related statements.

3. Help your kids develop good “saving” habits early.

Endorsed by the American Library Association as “a great website for kids,” TheMint.org offers games, activities and useful information for kids, as well as meaningful content for parents and teachers. By teaching your children the value of money early on, you reduce the odds they’ll need your financial assistance later in life. That means you can focus on putting more money towards your retirement.

4. Start talking about your personal finances.

Meet with an experienced financial professional who can help tailor a plan to accumulate and protect your financial resources. Consider how your financial plan today can help you build financial security for future life events.


Bank helps customers prepare for retirement

| tpetropoulosedit@queenscourier.com

The Courier/Photos

The road to retirement is often a tricky one, with many obstacles along the way.

On April 18, Dime Savings Bank tried to make that road a little smoother by hosting a dinner to discuss options for retirement with select customers at Luigi’s Italian Restaurant in Glen Oaks.

This is the third event of its kind the bank has done this year and the first in Queens.

“We believe that it is our responsibility as their bank to educate them on all the options that are available so they can make more money,” said Larry Kinitsky, Senior Vice President of Marketing at The Dime Savings Bank of Williamsburg, which helped organize the event. “In this event, we educate and reward our customers, let them have dinner and have a good time while also getting educated.”

In between a dinner of Italian specialties and a desert of assorted pastries, Mary Ferrante, regional vice president for U.S. Life, a partner of Dime Bank, gave a PowerPoint presentation and fielded questions from the roughly 45 attendees.

Ferrante discussed how planning for retirement has changed over the years, how every individual should have a specific plan, and the benefit of annuities.
“We all dream that when we are retired we can sit and relax in our rocking chairs,” said Ferrante. “No one wants to be in their rocking chair worrying about where their money is going.”

Branch managers from Garden City, Bayside, Hillcrest and Glen Oaks were also at the event, mingling with guests and giving one-on-one advice.

“I think the event was very informative and I learned a lot,” said attendee Carolyn Sorrentino. “It was absolutely better than anything I would have expected.”