This Financial Fear Is Driving Many Retirees Back to Work in 2024

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Senior male worker drinking coffee and staring out the window
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2024 marks a major retirement milestone: More Americans will turn 65 this year than ever before.

About 12,000 people will celebrate such a birthday each day this year, according to the Nationwide Retirement Institute. Millions of them will likely retire sometime this year, and millions more are already in retirement.

But although retirement is usually viewed as the long and uninterrupted final stage of life, it doesn’t always work out that way. Many retirees end up returning to the workforce, either by choice or out of necessity.

Recently, Nationwide surveyed 1,000 U.S. consumers between the ages of 60 and 65 and asked them about their concerns and expectations around retirement planning, and the lessons they have learned.

Somewhat surprisingly, around one-third of retirees in the survey group said they are weighing whether to return to the workforce. Here are the reasons they cited most often for doing so.

1. Fear of running out of money

An old man holding an empty wallet
Motortion Films /

Retirees who cited this reason for considering returning to work: 45%

One of the trickiest aspects of retiring is deciding when you have enough money to safely quit working. Half of retirees who are thinking of returning to work say their main motivation for doing so is either being afraid of running out of money or already running out of it.

Let’s face it: No matter how much money you have, it rarely feels like enough. But unless you plan to work yourself into the grave, you will eventually have to settle on a time to leave the workforce for good.

If you need a few pointers about when to finally hang it up, check out “”How to Decide When to Retire.”

2. Being bored in retirement

A worried senior black woman sits on her couch
Monkey Business Images /

Retirees who cited this reason for considering returning to work: 32%

The cruel reality for millions of people is that after spending their working lives dreaming of retirement, something unexpected happens when they reach the promised land: They are bored out of their gourds.

There is really no shame in discovering you miss the stimulation and challenge that a job provides. One option for retirees is to seek out part-time work. Plenty of opportunities are available — see “20 Great Part-Time Jobs for Retirees.”

3. Missing socializing with co-workers

Co-workers in a discussion
Ground Picture /

Retirees who cited this reason for considering returning to work: 31%

Many of us forge great friendships with our co-workers. Some might even consider their colleagues to be a second family.

Once you retire, you no longer see those familiar faces nearly every day. That can leave a big hole that is difficult — even impossible — to fill. Returning to work is one way to restore the sense of community.

Other factors driving retirees back to work

Senior businessman
metamorworks /

The other common reasons retirees are considering returning to work are:

  • Wanting more routine/structure: 28%
  • Wanting a new or greater sense of purpose or direction: 25%
  • Already running out of money: 14%
  • Wanting to continue working after having been laid off or forced to retire: 13%

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