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The best deal usually comes when offered a package to take a buy out. Incentive can include x months of pay (I got 16 months) based on years of service, early retirement with participation in company employees health insurance at employee rates (usually much cheaper than Cobra) and goes all the way to Medicare. They also offer assistance finding employment. Help with resume and printing costs.

The normal retirement includes all of the above but you don't have much negotiation power and you won't get severance pay; just pension.

Severance pay usually requires signing an agreement not to sue (for age discrimination or dozens of others: health, age, religion,race, sexual orientation). Collecting unemployment can be touchy depending on circumstances.

When you are ready to retire, best is to wait for a package to be offered.
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