‘Open heart surgery changed my perception of life’

For Rivka Sansolo, 68, the former chief occupational nurse for Clalit Health Services, the most significant decision she made in the last decade was to begin planning her retirement ahead of time.

Rivka Sansolo (photo credit: Courtesy)
Rivka Sansolo
(photo credit: Courtesy)
For Rivka Sansolo, choosing the time to retire was obvious years before it came to fruition - age 67 and not a minute sooner. As one who defines herself as a “workaholic,” it wasn’t even a question. In her senior position as Occupational Medicine Nursing Director of Clalit Health Services (Chief Occupational Nurse), Sonsolo continued, until November of last year, to roam the various health clinics and branches across the country, her hands   filled with work - and then she retired. But if you ask her, the most important and significant decision she made at that time is related to the timing of her participation in the permanent preparation workshop organized by the health services provider for employees approaching retirement age.
“Clalit has a very organized procedure for preparing for retirement, which includes, among other things, an intensive three-day counseling session at one of our training centers,” recalls Sansolo, a resident of Ashkelon and mother of four. “Like many employees, I also planned to participate in  this meeting just a few months before retirement. Fortunately, it turned out that my boss and I were supposed to retire pretty much at the same time, and he suggested we both sign up for this important meeting two years before retirement. He told me, ‘Why wait until the last minute? Let’s go do this together now.’ In retrospect, it was an incredibly important and effective decision.”
“Because it taught me that retiring from work is a process that you need to plan and prepare for a few years in advance and not within a few months. You have to make important decisions about your future, decisions that most of them cannot be changed once taken and are of  ‘no return,’ and there are many considerations at hand. You need to find out, plan, look for additional occupations for the retirement period, and this should not be done under the pressure. For example, what do you do with all your vacation days and sick days you accumulated? How many of them should you take advantage of before retirement and how many of them should you get compensation for? You need an interval of time so you can make the right decisions for yourself with a quiet mind and also, so that you have time to implement them. I remember that at the preparation meeting I attended, there were people who had already retired, and I think that was a mistake for them.”
What does such a preparation for retirement meeting include?
Talks and lectures on various issues related to retirement - nutrition, hobbies, health, and of course, meetings with representatives of the National Insurance Institute and pension funds that explain all the rights you deserve, the money that you are about to receive and what you should do with them. Because I attended the meeting two years before retirement, I had plenty of time to absorb all this information and all the fill out  the relevant documents. Of course, I also took into account the pension of my husband, who served for many years in the SWAT team of the Israeli Police. Accordingly, I also made the most optimal decisions relating to him.”
Why didn’t you retire already at the age of 62?
For two reasons, the first and most important is that I loved my job. I would leave my home in Ashkelon every day at 5AM, arrive at the Tel Aviv executive office and begin with the meetings and consultations on many and varied topics, such as new regulations of the Labor and Health ministries, registration of professional illnesses, issuing pamphlets and guidelines for people in the field and so on. I really like to teach - both in nursing schools and also in the field, I held courses and gave lectures in the university. I was a member of various committees, such as the National Council on Occupational Health, and was a partner on very important decisions on these issues.”
And that worked for the health service provider?
“Absolutely. I wanted to continue, the health service provider also wanted me too, and for us it was a win-win situation. Listen to this story: Towards the age of 62, I suddenly received a message from the HR department inviting me to a pre-retirement meeting . I immediately contacted the head of the department and asked her what was going on. So, she started laughing and told me, ‘leave it, leave it, ignore the message. It’s something that the system automatically sends out, and it’s not about you. You are not retiring anywhere now.’”
What is the second reason?
“I started working at Clalit at the age of 33, after 12 years of working in various positions at Barzilai Hospital in Ahskelon. So, I was missing a few years of work to reach the maximum percentage of rights. Because both my old provident fund and also the NII provide a special supplement for percentages for every working year over the age of 62, I knew that by the age of 67, I would be able to fill this deficiency, which is indeed what happened.
If you had the option, would you go back to work today?
“Know that even when I was approaching retirement age, the health service provider didn’t want me to stop working, but a year earlier I had undergone open heart surgery, which changed my perspective of life. This surgery taught me that beyond work there is also life, and that you never know what scenario might surprise you. So I don’t rule out going back to work and I am also currently in touch with a large health care body who wants my services, but it is clear to me that I will do it at the right pace, and that I am leaving the workaholism behind.”
Disclaimer: the bank is not a tax advisor. Everything stated above only comprises general information and explanation, that does not constitute pension advice, investment advice of tax advice, and it does not replace personal advice subject to provisions by law.