Should I consider working in retirement?

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what are some reasons to work in retirement?

A growing number of people are working during their retirement years.

  • With rising life expectancy, retirements that last 20, 30, 40 years or more are increasingly common. More and more people are asking if retirement without work is practical or desirable.

  • Four out of five pre-retirees now say they want to continue working in some form during their retirement years.1 


79% of pre-retirees say they want to work in retirement.

Top reasons to work in retirement

  • People age 65+ say the top reasons for working in retirement include staying active and healthy and greater financial security.​

  • Studies show that working longer may help you stay more mentally and physically fit, live longer, and enjoy a happier, more fulfilling retirement experience.2

Source: Life Stage Insights, Client Priorities Survey, 2019

How might i work during my retirement?

Retirees often have much greater flexibility and more choices regarding how they work. With age comes experience and connections that can often open new doors. Some retirees choose to "downsize" their income to pursue work they find more fulfilling. Many retirees can pursue their passion rather than the highest paying jobs because they can count on personal savings, Social Security, Medicare, and pensions to help support their income, and they have fewer financial burdens and family obligations. 

  • More flexible, balanced work schedules. People age 55+ are twice as likely as younger people to work part-time.3 Retirees often have more flexibility to work a few days a week or just part of the year, leaving room for their other retirement pursuits. 

  • New career paths. Many see retirement as a chance to try something new and pursue career dreams they were unable to explore during their pre-retirement years.

  • Entrepreneurship. The 55 to 64 age group accounted for a quarter of new startups in 2017, up from 19% in 2007.4 The rate of self-employment among workers age 65 and older is the highest of any age group.3

  • Mentorship roles. Many retirees find fulfilling mentorship opportunities to pass on their knowledge and expertise to future generations, either within companies, nonprofits, or through teaching positions.

  • Careers that give back to communities or causes. Whether by working for a nonprofit, taking a position in a for-profit company that furthers a cause that interests you, or starting your own nonprofit or foundation, retirement can be a great opportunity to use your experience to give back in meaningful ways.

How can i prepare now to pursue fulfilling work in retirement?
Research the type of work you would find most rewarding

When graduating from school, many of us had career counselors, parents, and other resources to help us figure out our potential career paths. Deciding your potential retirement career paths is an opportunity for perhaps even more exploration and creativity.  You might start by asking yourself what your greatest passions are. What times in your career have you been most happy and motivated? Is there a passion or dream from your younger years you might make a reality through a retirement career? Is there a hobby that might become your next career? Expanding your business network, taking classes, volunteering or working part-time in a field related to work you may want to do, as well as talking with other working retirees to better understand paths they took toward a fulfilling retirement career, can also be helpful next steps.

Upgrade your skills through classes or training

The workplace is evolving faster than ever. Succeeding in your retirement career may require upgrading or refreshing your skills and capabilities, especially if you have  taken a break from work. Many local universities and community schools offer adult classes in everything from management to technology. Online courses and resources can also help you re-gear for work in retirement.

Talk with family about balancing time in retirement

Your family may have different expectations regarding how work and leisure will be distributed during your retirement years. Having a conversation early will help you share priorities and plan effectively.

Talk with a pre-retirement employer about retirement work options

Your employer may have opportunities for continued work you find more motivating, or to work on a more flexible basis, such as phased retirement, part-time or seasonal work, sabbaticals, and mentorship positions.

Estimate how income from working might affect your retirement plan

Continued work can play an important role in bolstering your nest egg, delaying drawing down on your savings, and reducing the amount you need to save for retirement. However, consider that health challenges—yours or a loved one’s—could force you to stop working earlier than you might anticipate.

Assess how working in retirement might affect your Social Security, Medicare, and other benefits

Some benefits may be reduced or delayed due to employment income.

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1. EBRI, Retirement Confidence Survey, 2019

2. Boston College, Center for Retirement Research, “How Does Delayed Retirement Affect Mortality and Health?”, 2018

3. Bureau of Labor Statistics

4. Kauffman Foundation, Kauffman index startup activity

This publication is designed to provide general information and is for discussion purposes only. The effectiveness of any strategy is dependent upon each individual’s facts and circumstances. This article does not provide legal, tax or account advice. Because of the possibility of human or mechanical error, the accuracy, adequacy, completeness or availability of any information is not guaranteed.