Medical coverage, survivor benefits, disability insurance, profit-sharing schemes, burial allowances and pension plans are some of the benefits that retired veterinarians enjoy. However, there are no standard retirement packages for veterinary professionals. Instead, benefits tend to vary with the type of practice and the nature of the contract. Self-employed veterinarians must plan for their own future.
Generally, those who work for large organizations such as research institutions and major corporations enjoy more extensive retirement benefits than their counterparts in private practice. Veterinarians should consider a variety of factors when planning for their retirements. These include income, life expectancy, expected cost of the retirement lifestyle, inflation and the number of dependents the retiree may have to support. Veterinarians should also factor in the cost of debt obligations such as loans and credit card debt.
Most vets fund their retirement using Individual Retirement Accounts and 401(k) accounts, according to a 2006 Veterinary Economics Industry Issues Study. Others sell their practices and live off the cash, an approach that is financially risky. This is because the value of a practice may be reduced in line with the productivity of its owner. To guard against this risk, vets can diversify their portfolios by investing in stocks, money market funds, bonds and other instruments. Salaried veterinarians should discuss the establishment of retirement funds with their employers. These funds are often tax-sheltered and can benefit both employee and employer.