Why would anyone choose to keep a job when they could retire (or go back to work when they could stay retired)? After all, “tradition” has it that most workers eagerly await retirement. We tend to think of it as our ultimate reward for decades of effort and hard work.
But sometimes, the reality of retirement living doesn’t match what we envisioned. In fact, some older people (even new retirees) experience loneliness. Others miss the routine of having a job. In addition, some older adults long for the mental stimulation of working, or they want to explore career interests that they were too busy to pursue previously. And, of course, many seniors simply need more money.
We are diverse – with many different needs and motivations. But here’s something that often gets overlooked: Employment can be a truly positive experience. In fact, jobs for retired people can provide obvious and not-so-obvious advantages such as:
1. A paycheck
Without a doubt, being paid is often one of the primary benefits of having a job. (For those of us over 60, retirement can feel like an impossible dream if we don’t have enough savings. In fact, one in five workers in this age group don’t anticipate ever being able to retire due to financial issues.)
Plus, your ambitions for this stage of life may go beyond simply having enough money to meet your basic needs. Whether you want to travel around the world or pay for your grandchildren’s college tuition, you may need extra money to carry out those plans. With the right senior employment, you can fund those goals more easily.
2. A longer life
Many jobs help older people stay active and engaged, which can have important health benefits. And that can lead to longer life expectancy. In fact, one study in the Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health found that delaying retirement for just one year after the age of 65 can lower a healthy senior’s risk of death by 11 percent.
3. Sharper mental capacity
Many working seniors feel that their ability to maintain good mental well-being is a large advantage of having their jobs. (For over 60 percent of working retirees, staying mentally active is one of the top reasons for working, according to a Merrill Lynch study.) Research in the European Journal of Epidemiology suggests that remaining in the workforce may also delay the onset of dementia.
4. Greater overall enjoyment
Can working help you feel younger? In the Merrill Lynch study, 83 percent of retirees agreed that it can. Of course, how much you enjoy your job depends a lot on whether or not the job is a good fit for you. But consider this: Working may reduce your risk of depression since retirement can increase that risk by 40 percent, according to research by the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA).
5. Greater social well-being
Loneliness is a growing problem among seniors. That’s why jobs for older adults can be so important. They provide built-in opportunities for social contact and community engagement. Besides, missing the camaraderie of co-workers is one of the most popular reasons for returning to work after retirement, according to a RAND survey.
6. Opportunities to try new things
Transitioning to a new job or starting a business can be tricky when you’re younger. (Some people can’t afford to take risks because they have families to support, whereas others are focused on climbing the corporate ladder and don’t have time to explore different careers.) For older adults, the retirement years can offer the chance to finally branch out or explore ways to make money from a favorite hobby. In fact, according to the Merrill Lynch study, almost 60 percent of working seniors say they work because they want to try something new.
7. Health insurance
Once you’re 65, you’re eligible for Medicare. But seniors often have healthcare needs that aren’t covered by Medicare. That means jobs for retirees that offer health insurance benefits can potentially save you a lot of money when it comes to paying for prescriptions and medical care.
8. More retirement savings
Every year of work adds more money to your lifelong earnings, which raises the amount of Social Security you’re eligible for. And if you’re earning enough money already, you can probably delay applying for Social Security. Your benefits will increase eight percent for every year you work past retirement age (until you turn 70).
As well, continuing to collect a paycheck can delay the need to start using your retirement savings. That means your investments continue to grow. If you’ve managed your savings wisely, a few more years of growth could add up to a substantial amount.
However, if you are collecting Social Security and go back to work before your retirement age, you could reduce your Social Security benefits. So it’s best to talk to an accountant about the financial implications of working in retirement, particularly with regards to Social Security and retirement savings.