Some people work in retirement because they need the money to pay their bills. But most working retirees enjoy a variety of other benefits including opportunities to socialize, a reason to stay mentally and physically active and a chance to feel like a vital part of a community or organization, according to a Merrill Lynch and Age Wave survey of 4,854 people. Here's a look at why working retirees stay on the job.
Mental engagement. Whether it's making a sale or writing a report, a job often provides opportunities to keep your mind active and engaged. The majority of working retirees (62 percent) say staying mentally active is a major reason they continue to work, Merrill Lynch found.
Physical activity. Without a job to go to every day, you might find yourself increasingly sitting around at home and watching TV. Most jobs require you to get dressed and commute to the office, and some positions come with additional physical activity. Almost half (46 percent) of retirees who work say they appreciate the physical activity working provides.
Social connections. Retirees aren't typically invited to business lunches or important meetings. Seniors might begin to feel lonely once they don't have colleagues or clients to chat with. Some retirees (42 percent) keep working for the friendships and social connections a job provides.
An identity. A job can become a part of your identity that helps to define your role in your community. Those who leave absorbing professional careers can feel like they have lost their sense of purpose in retirement. Just over a third (36 percent) of retirees say continuing to work gives them a way to contribute to society that enhances their feelings of self-worth. Some retirees choose to give back by teaching or working at a nonprofit organization.
Money. While it's nice to have some extra money coming in during retirement, only about a third (31 percent) of working retirees identify a paycheck as one of their primary reasons for remaining employed. While a job is necessary for some retirees to pay their bills, most older workers say they appreciate the income, but it isn't essential to get by. Many older employees work in retirement in order to give their nest egg more time to grow (19 percent) and earn "fun money" for discretionary purposes (31 percent). A few people (6 percent) say working in retirement will help them to leave a better legacy to heirs or charities.
New challenges. Once you have been retired for a few years it can start to get a little boring. Some 30 percent of those surveyed say they work in retirement because it provides them with new challenges. Some retirees enter a new line of work or become self-employed. A job often requires you to set goals and make a plan to achieve them, which can give you the motivation to acquire new skills and put them into practice. At many jobs there's also a celebration when goals are accomplished.
Health insurance. Medicare coverage doesn't kick in until age 65. If you retire before age 65 you will need to purchase health insurance through your state's health insurance exchange or find coverage from another source. Some people in their early 60s continue to work to maintain eligibility for employer sponsored health insurance (11 percent).
A more relaxed schedule. While many retirees plan to continue to work, only 5 percent of the survey respondents say they want a full-time job in retirement, Merrill Lynch found. Most older workers want a flexible retirement work schedule that is part-time (35 percent) or cycles between periods of work and leisure (33 percent). Many retirees schedule a career break to relax and recharge before taking on a new role, often in a different career field. The older workers largely report that their retirement jobs are more fun and flexible than their previous career.
Emily Brandon is the author of "Pensionless: The 10-Step Solution for a Stress-Free Retirement."
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