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Afraid You’ll Be Forced to Work in Retirement?

By John Eikenberry


That may not be so bad.

Many older Americans who once dreamed of lounging around the house in retirement instead are waking up each morning to get ready for work.

A recent Pew Research Center study showed that the percentage of Americans 65 and over who are still employed is on the rise, having reached 18.8 percent as of May. That’s up from 12.8 percent in 2000.

Depending on an individual’s situation, though, working past traditional retirement age may not be such a terrible thing.

Some people say they keep working because they can’t afford to retire. Some people don’t want to retire because they love what they do.

At 68, I fall in the latter group. My keep-at-it attitude worked in my favor after a surgery in February.

One of the people in the medical field told me that because I’m active that has helped me to rehab quickly. They said if I was retired, it typically takes longer to rehab.

Some advantages of working in retirement include:

Relief from financial stress 
One of the biggest worries retirees have is running out of money. With people living longer, that’s a legitimate concern. Even just a part-time job that brings in a little extra cash can help alleviate some of the stress. I have clients who work just a few days a week and that works well for them.

Physical fitness
It’s no secret that, as people age, they tend to suffer more problems with their bodies, such as joint pains. Many jobs can keep them active and moving, making for better health.

Mental fitness
A study published in the peer-reviewed journal Neurology this year found that activities that challenge your brain may help delay symptoms of dementia. Talk to people in their 50s and 60s and you’ll see that does scare us. Work gives us the ability to keep our minds active.

Anyone considering working in retirement does need to be aware of the financial implications with Social Security.

If you wait until your full retirement age to draw Social Security — 66 to 67 for most people, these days — you can earn as much as you like.

But if you claim Social Security early — which you can do starting at age 62 — earnings are limited to $15,720 annually. For every $2 you make over that amount, $1 is deducted from your Social Security.

That changes beginning with the year in which you reach full retirement age. At that point, $1 is deducted for every $3 earned above a different limit. In 2016, that limit is $41,880. But the only earnings counted are those before the month in which you reach full retirement age, according to the Social Security website.

I’m happy with my decision to remain on the job beyond retirement age and many of the clients I provide financial advice to find it rewarding, too.

For me, there’s nothing negative about working in retirement at all.

John Eikenberry is president of Eikenberry Retirement Planning (, a wealth-management firm in Ohio. He has 42 years of financial-services experience. 

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