Working Past 65 — Sometimes it is Good for Your Health; Sometimes Bad
It’s no secret that many older Americans are working past traditional retirement age. Whether working later in life is due to financial necessity or a desire to stay active, it’s clear that many people are trying to retire later.
A recent Gallup poll shows that nearly four in 10 Americans plan to still be working past the age of 65. What do you think? Is working past retirement age for you?
Benefits of Working Past Age 65
There really are many benefits of having a retirement job or working in retirement.
The social and intellectual stimulation can be even more important than the obvious financial benefits.
Additional research found that it may be possible that seniors who go into bridge employment, meaning working part-time while transitioning into full retirement, have fewer major diseases than their fully retired counterparts. Older workers who are socially and mentally stimulated in higher status occupations also face less depression.
Not convinced work is for you? Here are the Top 14 Reasons to be a Working Senior.
Working Past Retirement Age is Not for Everyone
If you are considering a retirement job, it may be important to consider your reasoning and the type of job you have.
Money Magazine found that seniors who continued to work part-time after age 65 were happier than their retired peers. However, happiness was dependent on a certain set of circumstances, including:
- Working voluntarily and not because of financial necessity.
- Jobs were associated with their chosen occupation and not part of a career change.
- 50 percent or more of income came from a predictable source such as a pension or rental income.
Working Because There Isn’t Enough Money
For years, companies have been replacing traditional pension plans with defined benefit programs like 401(k)s, which put employees in charge of saving for retirement. Whether today’s seniors didn’t invest enough or saw the value of their retirement funds drop during the recession, many have to keep working to pay the bills.
In the past, most workers nearing retirement age had little to no debt, but now almost half of seniors still have mortgage debt, and many are still paying off student loans. Social security alone might not be enough to cover monthly expenses and debt repayment.
Working past age 65 because there is no other option is not good for mental or physical health. Also, seniors who have on-the-job injuries are less likely than younger coworkers to improve from rehabilitation or work modifications.
How to Retire if You Don’t Want to Work Past 65
If seniors want to retire but feel obligated to keep working for financial reasons, there is hope. There are several ways to lower expenses so retirement is within reach.
- Understand your financial needs. If you do not have a good handle on your retirement budget, you are not alone. The good news is that knowing what you need for a secure retirement does not need to be difficult. The best retirement calculators like the NewRetirement Retirement Calculator can be an easy way to find out what you have and what you need — both now and in the future.
- Downsize your home or move to an area with a lower cost of living. This works well for those having larger homes in more affluent areas who are able to buy smaller places or rent in areas where housing costs are less.
- Consider a reverse mortgage if you don’t want to move. This program converts equity in your home into cash. The downside is that the money has to be repaid when the home is no longer your primary residence. Repayment will be taken out of any inheritance or profit from the sale of the home.
- Stop supporting adult children. Tough love is a hard act to pull off if grown children have come to depend on Mom and Dad for financial support. Giving money when you can’t afford it doesn’t encourage adult children to be independent and successful. Don’t sacrifice your retirement to enable family members who are capable of supporting themselves.
The NewRetirement Retirement Calculator can even help you assess these strategies and others with your own numbers.
If seniors enjoy their job and the social interaction that comes with it, they are much more likely to experience life satisfaction. Older workers who find themselves chained to a paycheck in order to make ends meet experience far less happiness and well being. It seems that working past age 65 is certainly a viable option as long as it isn’t the only option.
Kim Parr is an author who writes about finance and retirement at Eyes on the Dollar.