What does the word "retirement" signify? For your grandparents, it probably meant a time of leisure and no work. For boomers, retirement may mean they stop doing their longtime job, but not necessarily that they won't be working.
A nonworking retirement is becoming a relic of simpler times when pensions were plentiful and a person could get full Social Security benefits at age 65. With people staying active and living longer, working has become part of the retirement lifestyle.
About 60 percent of boomers who have not retired say they expect to continue working well past age 65, according to a new study from the Bankers Life Center for a Secure Retirement. Of that number, 41 percent said they plan to work in retirement because they want to, not because they have to. The study involved two surveys of about 3,300 boomers with annual household incomes between $25,000 and $100,000.
"The people who are able to get work, they're doing it for reasons that are not necessarily financial," says Scott Goldberg, president of Bankers Life. "It fills your day, it keeps you active, keeps you mentally, physically and socially engaged and gives you a sense of purpose." The study bears this out. More than three-quarters of people in the survey who are working in retirement said they are as satisfied or more satisfied with their new job than the one they had before they retired. They also report lower stress levels than retirees who are not working.
"There's always the percentage of people that are unable to work in retirement," Goldberg says. "People say they'll work forever, but it's not always an option." The study found that nearly half the retired boomers who want a job are not in the workforce, primarily because of their health.
While having a job in retirement may be your plan, you should be prepared in case you can't work because of health problems or other issues, Goldberg says. Before retirement, ramp up your savings and retirement accounts. Consider investing in disability and long-term care insurance to protect your assets.
Also, in the years leading up to retirement, reduce your debt and cut expenses. Some couples in their 50s and early 60s, when both spouses are working and at their earnings' peak, not only don't cut back but take on a lifestyle that may be unsustainable in just a few years. "Expenses are pretty reliable," Goldberg says. "Income is not always reliable."