One of the most frequent retirement questions we get at our AgingOptions LifePlanning Seminars and on our weekly radio program is “when” – as in, “When will I be able to retire?” Many enticing articles continue to be written about the so-called secrets of retiring early. But millions of retirees have no desire to leave the work force early, preferring to keep on working – only to discover that they can’t.
We discovered this insightful article about this topic a few days ago on the USNews website, and it suggests the dilemma that faces many retirees. “Postponing retirement can improve your finances,” the article says, “but not everyone can pull it off.” By now most of us know the reasons why waiting to retire can be a good idea. “Delaying retirement can significantly increase your retirement security,” the article asserts. “You have more time to save, your investments have more time to grow and it shortens the period your nest egg needs to last. You will also get bigger Social Security checks when you do retire.” Those benefits are all well and good, but as USNews says, “delaying retirement isn’t possible for everyone, and there are many factors that make it difficult to continue to work as you age.”
This article lists three of the most common reasons why many seniors find themselves unable to keep working as long as they would like to, and what you might be able to do to mitigate some of those reasons. Unfortunately, however, as we read the USNews piece, it seems to us that once these “work-robbers” show up in your life, it may be too late to do much to stop them. Let’s consider these one by one.
- Poor Health: This is the number one culprit that causes people to leave the work force earlier than they had planned. “The primary reason people aren’t able to delay retirement is because they develop a health problem that makes them unable to continue working,” the article states. According to a 2014 analysis by the Urban Institute, almost one-third of adults between 63 and 65 years of age reported health problems that limited their ability to work. An Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI) study reveals that nearly half of current retirees had left the work force earlier than they had originally planned, and about 40 percent of those cited health problems as the chief reason for their retirement. That translates into hundreds of thousands if not millions of otherwise qualified workers who wanted to remain employed but couldn’t. If you’re still some years away from retirement age, it might help your resolve to know that the lifestyle changes you make to improve your health today could possibly help you remain employed years from now.
- Caregiving Responsibilities: In the same study of the workforce, the EBRI considered how many people had to retire early in order to care for a parent, spouse or other family member. They found that 14 percent – 1 early retiree in 7 – had to cut short their work life due to caregiving responsibilities. “Some employers might be willing to provide some flexibility to cope with caregiving responsibilities,” said USNews, “but other people end up leaving their job to cope with the time or expense of long-term care,” especially when the cost of hiring caregivers becomes prohibitive. Unfortunately, this situation is only made worse when the caregiver tries to return to the workforce later, only to find they no longer have the qualifications necessary to get re-hired. The moral here is to communicate well with your family and try to make your caregiving plans as far in advance as possible. You can’t plan for every eventuality but you can certainly take precautions that will ease some of the burden.
- Unemployment Due to Job Loss: About one-quarter of reluctant early retirees report that they left their jobs due to downsizing or business closure, reports the Employee Benefit Research Institute. Obviously this is something over which workers have little if any control, but if you plan ahead you might be able to ease some of the pain. “Maintaining and expanding your job skills can make it easier to transition to a new job,” says the USNews Keep your skills current and your network up to date. Don’t be afraid to tell anyone and everyone you know that you’re looking for a new position, and be flexible about the type of work you’ll take. As one friend of ours put it when he faced a layoff at age 62, “No matter how much you enjoy your work, always have an emergency exit strategy in place!” When he was laid off, his subsequent job search was happily brief.
To our minds the bottom line in the USNews article boils down to preparation. When it comes to retirement planning it’s always dangerous to assume that the way things are today is the way they’re always going to be. Even if you want to keep working, life may throw you a curve, and if it does the best way to protect yourself is to have a solid retirement plan in place that will prepare you for practically any contingency. At AgingOptions we call that type of comprehensive plan a LifePlan, because it really does become the blueprint that allows you to plan out all aspects of your retirement life – financial, legal, medical, housing and family. Your LifePlan allows you to face the future with more confidence than you ever thought possible.
Why not invest a few hours and find out more? Join Rajiv Nagaich at an AgingOptions LifePlanning Seminar where many of your questions will be answered – even those you didn’t know you needed to ask! You’ll find a listing of all the upcoming LifePlanning Seminars by clicking here – then you can register online or contact us for assistance. We’ll look forward to meeting you soon at an AgingOptions LifePlanning Seminar near you!
(originally reported at money.usnews.com)
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