Plan to Work in Retirement? Think Again

Baby boomers often stop working for reasons beyond their control. Here’s what you need to know before it’s too late.

If your notion of retirement is to continue to work — or even to gradually ease out of work — it’s time for a backup plan.

Nearly half — 48 percent — of the retired members of the baby boomer generation who aren’t currently employed would like to be working but cannot do so, according to a recent report from the Bankers Life Center for a Secure Retirement.

Health limitations (35 percent) are by far the most common reason why these boomers aren’t employed despite their desire to work. Being unable to find a job (8 percent) and the obstacles posed by the health of a loved one (5 percent) are also factors.

The Bankers Life report — titled “New Expectations, New Rewards: Work in Retirement for Middle-Income Boomers” — is based on two nationwide surveys of middle-income baby boomers. The first survey polled more than 1,000 people, while the second survey featured more than 2,200 respondents.

The Bankers Life study found that 69 percent of retired middle-income baby boomers report having retired earlier than expected — largely due to reasons beyond their control, including personal health, layoffs and loved ones in need of care:

Even for those who expect or want to work as part of their retirement plan, work is not always a guaranteed option.

Bankers Life is not the only institution to argue that medical issues can trip up retirement plans or finances.

For example, the national nonprofit Employee Benefit Research Institute’s latest annual Retirement Confidence Survey found that unexpectedly having to retire sooner than planned — mostly due to health problems or disability –may be part of why Americans find themselves short on retirement savings. (See “The Retirement Savings Gap: Where Do You Rank?“)

Easing out of work is not always an option either, even though recent research from the TransAmerica Center for Retirement Studies, a division of the nonprofit Transamerica Institute, found that 41 percent of workers envision retiring that way.

Such workers want to gradually reduce their work hours while gradually increasing their leisure time, or they want to work in a less demanding, more satisfying capacity.

With these types of retirees-to-be, employers often trip up workers’ plans. The TransAmerica study states:

Nearly a quarter of workers (23 percent) say their employers don’t offer any of the listed ways to facilitate transition. … However, a third of workers (33 percent) aren’t sure what their employer offers, suggesting dialog between employees and employers is necessary.

If you’re worried about retirement, beware of “7 Reasons Why You’ll Retire Poor.”

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Stacy Johnson

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