5 Reasons You Should Work as Long as You Live

New benefits of work in old age are being uncovered. They're enough to make you think twice about retirement.

industrial factory for assembly of microelectronics - older workerindustryviews / Shutterstock.com

For workers whose jobs are physically demanding and mentally grueling, retirement can be the healthiest option for the golden years.

But, increasingly, more of us are delaying full retirement and working full-time or part-time after age 65:

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

1. Grow 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 70 earns you payments that are 32 percent larger than if you’d starting claiming benefits at age 66).
  • Keep adding to your retirement savings.
  • Leave your nest egg untouched longer, which will mean having more money to use later and giving your savings more time to grow at compound interest.

MarketWatch cites findings from the National Bureau of Economic Research that “delaying retirement by one year is roughly 3.5 times as impactful as saving an additional 1% of wages for 30 years” (including higher Social Security payments from delaying retirement).

2. Stay sharp

Think about your daily job: projects to complete, tasks to perform, deadlines to meet, co-workers to team up with.

If that vanishes in retirement, you may risk losing some mental acuity. People reduced the risk of dementia by 3.2 percent for each additional year they worked, an article on the American Psychological Association website says, citing the work of French researcher Carole Dufouil.

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, the APA says, citing research by University of Florida researcher Mo Wang.

3. Live longer

One analysis of a long-term public health study shows that Americans retiring at 66 have an 11 percent lower rate of mortality than those working until 65, Oregon State University doctoral student Chenkai Wu tells the Harvard Business Review. 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, in American society it’s not uncommon to measure ourselves and others by career status and achievement. Leaving a job for good can provoke an identity crisis for some.

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

A raft of websites is available to help older workers find encore careers and deploy skills they spent decades acquiring and perfecting.

5. Retain social networks

After decades of employment many or most of your friends may be your co-workers. Leaving that world can be a shock to the system, and 43 percent 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 do stop, you can take steps to build new social networks through church, neighborhood, classes, clubs and elsewhere.

A smooth transition to retirement is vital. “8 Surprising Things Nobody Tells You About Retirement” tells what to expect and how to adjust.

Are you hoping to work until you die? Share your reasons why — or why not — in a comment below or at our Facebook page.

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