5 Reasons You Should Work for as Long as You Live

Senior worker
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While countless workers dream of retirement, millions more have decided to work full time or part time after age 65:

Working longer might be your best option. Here are several reasons why.

1. Increase financial security

If you’re worried about outliving your savings, working longer is the answer. It can let you:

  • Wait to collect Social Security. Delaying benefits until age 70 earns you payments much larger than if you had started claiming benefits at your full retirement age.
  • Keep adding to your retirement savings.
  • Leave your nest egg untouched longer. This means having more money to use later and give your savings more time to grow and compound.

Last year, MarketWatch cited these findings from the National Bureau of Economic Research:

“The longer you work, the longer you can add to your retirement savings, the more time they have to grow, and the less you will need when you eventually retire. Throw in the boost to Social Security as well, and ‘delaying retirement by one year is roughly 3.5 times as impactful as saving an additional 1% of wages for 30 years,’ calculated financial researchers recently.”

2. Stay sharp

A job gives you projects to complete, tasks to perform, deadlines to meet and co-workers to team up with.

If that vanishes in retirement, you may risk losing some mental acuity. One researcher found that people reduced the risk of dementia by 3.2% for each additional year they worked.

Another researcher found that folks who didn’t fully retire and kept working — whether through self-employment, part-time work or a temporary job — enjoyed better mental and physical well-being than those who retired completely.

3. Live longer

One analysis of a long-term public health study showed that Americans retiring at age 66 had an 11% lower rate of mortality than those working until 65, Oregon State University doctoral student Chenkai Wu told the Harvard Business Review in 2016. Even unhealthy people in the survey had a lower risk of death when delaying retirement by a year.

The research in this area is interesting but not conclusive, Wu said. A connection between working and a lower mortality risk doesn’t prove one causes the other.

4. Feel relevant

Like it or not, it’s not uncommon to measure ourselves and others by career status and achievement. Leaving work forever can provoke an identity crisis for some.

But there are many alternatives to withdrawing from work completely. For example, workers may transition to an “encore career” in their profession or elsewhere to use their skills in a new way.

Several websites can help older workers find encore careers and deploy skills they spent decades acquiring and perfecting.

5. Retain social networks

After decades of employment, co-workers may be among your closest friends. Leaving that world can be a shock to the system, and 43% of people over 60 reported feeling lonely on a regular basis, says U.S. News & World Report, citing a study from the University of California, San Francisco.

The lesson: Working helps retain vital connections. If you retire, take steps to build new social networks through church, neighborhood, classes, clubs and elsewhere.

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