How We Developed a Series of Step-by-Step Guides

At Rhizome, we believe in simplifying life for our clients and the communities they serve. As the legendary architect Frank Lloyd Wright once said, “Form and function should be one.” We aim to unite these elements by crafting solutions that not only serve their intended purpose but also bring joy and inspiration to their users.

The Seattle Fire Fighters Union, IAFF Local 27 provides its members with a robust suite of retirement benefits, but as some of us know from planning for our own retirement, navigating the retirement maze can be a daunting task. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the sheer volume of information, options, and deadlines. The union’s leadership team wanted to make it easy for members to plan and save for retirement, and retire when they’re ready.

Together with the union, we embarked on a mission to simplify the journey to retirement—and make the actual retirement process less stressful. Collaborating with the union’s benefits team and a diverse group of stakeholders, including representatives from multiple departments from the City of Seattle and the State of Washington, the insurance brokers and insurance agencies used by the union, the company responsible for coordinating the union’s benefits, and recent union retirees. After analyzing and organizing the volumes of information we gathered, we crafted the following three guides designed to help members through every stage of their retirement journey: from joining the service to service retirement and disability retirement:

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The Road to Service Retirement Checklist, a step-by-step roadmap to a successful Service retirement.

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The Guide to Service Retirement, a detailed walkthrough for members approaching retirement and navigating their retirement benefits.

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The Local 27 Guide to Injuries, Illness, and Disability, a comprehensive resource for understanding and using injury, illness, and disability benefits, including disability retirement.

The roadmap analogy employed in the guides is not groundbreaking, but it serves its purpose. We selected it because it conveys the idea that retirement is a linear process with crucial milestones along the way. Though the journey may be lengthy, it follows a familiar, manageable pattern. Members can embark on the first steps confidently, knowing they can successfully navigate the path to their ultimate destination: Retirement.

Our collaboration with The Seattle Fire Fighters Union, IAFF Local 27, exemplifies our commitment to helping our clients forge new pathways through the thickets of information that often accompany their real-world challenges. Together, we made retirement planning and retirement manageable, as it should be.

Rhizome would like to thank Cliff Guren, our content architect and writer for his due diligence and eye for detail on all these guides.