The Unexpected Benefits of Delaying Retirement

Senior at a computer
Photo by Stocklite / Shutterstock.com

More older Americans have returned to work or are working longer in recent years, in many cases to rescue their retirement savings. Earlier this year, the share of Americans age 65 or older who are still working reached 19 percent — the highest it’s been since the 1960s.

It turns out, however, that older workers are getting more than money out of their extended time in the workforce. Many are finding satisfaction at work, according to the latest American Working Conditions Survey by the nonprofit think tank Rand Corp.

Delaying retirement for meaningful work

Meaningful work may be reason enough for some older workers to delay retirement. As Rand puts it, “There are many reasons to help older Americans stay in the workplace, but the best reason could be that they still want to be there.”

More than 3,100 workers ages 25 to 71 were polled for the survey. It found several differences in how older workers (age 50 and older) and prime-age workers (ages 35–49) feel about their jobs.

For example, more than two-thirds of older workers feel satisfaction over work well-done and feel that they are doing useful work. In comparison, about two-thirds of prime-age women and only 54 percent of prime-age men feel the same.

Compared with their prime-age peers, older workers are also:

  • More likely to say they apply their own ideas in their work.
  • More likely to say they solve unforeseen problems in their work.
  • Less likely to say they perform monotonous tasks.
  • More likely to set their own work hours.

Older workers are more likely to consider social support lacking in the workplace, however. They also report less opportunity for career advancement.

Other reasons to delay retirement

Rand’s findings are reminiscent of what Kerry Hannon, author of “Getting the Job You Want After 50 for Dummies,” said earlier this year about nonfinancial benefits of delaying retirement:

“People go into mourning when they retire. Your whole identity is caught up in who you are and what you did. Continuing to work provides social benefits, including feeling relevant.”

Still, the financial benefits of delaying retirement are numerous. They include that:

  • Working longer gives you more time to build up your retirement savings.
  • The longer you wait to claim your Social Security benefits, the larger your monthly checks will be, as we detail in “14 Ways to Maximize Your Social Security Checks.”
  • Every extra year you earn a paycheck is one extra year you aren’t tapping your retirement savings, which gives those savings more time to grow.

For more tips, check out “Ready to Rescue Your Retirement in 2017? Here’s How.”

How do you feel about the prospect of working longer, whether due to financial need or simply because you enjoy meaningful work? Sound off below or over on our Facebook page.

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