There's more than money involved

Why You Should Work Past Retirement Age

by Debra Karplus


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Betty White, the 93-year-old actress, television celebrity, and comedienne, when interviewed by Entertainment Tonight (ET) in January 2015 asked the interviewer, "Can you imagine being blessed at this age and still working at the career you love?" Late night TV host David Letterman recently retired at age 68; Jay Leno retired in his sixties. Presumably, these celebrities aren't working to pay the bills. What keeps them in the game? How do you envision your routine after you retire? Perhaps you want to continue working in your current job or try a different job, or possibly start a small business. Maybe working past retirement age is a smart choice.

An August 2014, Marketwatch.com reported stated that 37% of people past retirement still work. A smaller percentage of people have started businesses, do volunteer work, or exclusively travel or pursue leisure. You've scrimped and saved to have a financially comfortable retirement, but maybe retirement's overrated. Possibly you live alone and don't have an activity "pal," or maybe, like many people, you don't have enough hobbies to sustain yourself. Have you considered working during your retirement years either full time, part time, or by starting a small enterprise?

Making more money is most always a good thing!

Probably, if you're of a certain age, you've scrutinized your social security earnings printout or even scheduled an appointment and met with one of the professionals at the Social Security office. If you're in the Teacher Retirement System (TRS), possibly they've provided you guidance as to when retirement would be financially optimal for you. Or maybe the Human Resources Office (HR) at your job has helped you decide when would be best to retire.

Related: Part-Time Jobs for Retirees

But, even if you're in good shape financially, what's wrong with earning a little more spending money. Talk to some older people who enjoy being substitute teachers or greeters at large retail stores or the guys who drive those courtesy vans that get you from the auto repair shop to your job in the morning. These are typically not longtime careers for these people but rather a source for some extra cash.

Being in the work force can help keep life meaningful and purposeful.

Most people in the peak of their working years are defined, in part, by their job. Attend most any social gathering and one of the first questions from someone whom you have never met is likely to be "So, what do you do?" And friends and family will typically ask when greeting you, "How's work going?"

A life of leisure is not inherently a bad thing, but one can easily become self-absorbed when out of the work force. A job, whether full time or part time, provides the structure that many people require to stay emotionally grounded and gives them a reason to finish that morning cup of coffee and get out of the house and make a difference.

Expert Interview: Creating a Side Income in Retirement

And truly most jobs, regardless of what they are, give people the opportunity to do something useful that impacts others in a positive way. Crossing guards at the grade school down the street from where you live earn a relatively low hourly rate and only work a few hours a day, when children are walking to school or heading back home at the end of the day. But, the children are kept safe by these workers, many of whom are past retirement age. Perhaps you remember the face of your crossing guard when you were a kid and even remember their name.

Older workers are able to stay socially connected by working even when it is not a financial necessity.

Older people are reportedly more inclined to experience loneliness and depression than people younger than them. Forbes in May 2013 discussed how to beat the "Retirement Blues." Most jobs involve some sort of people contact whether in person or via the telephone. That sort of connection is essential to good mental health, especially for people who live alone.

Will you leave
thousands of dollars on the table
by taking Social Security
at the wrong time? Find out.

Working can keep your brain from turning to putty!

Keeping yourself mentally challenged is important if you want to stay cognitively sharp well into your old age. Most jobs, even those that are seemingly mundane, can keep you on your toes mentally.

Related: Growing More Brain on a Budget

Even if your financial situation doesn't require staying in the work force, there are other reasons to stay busy with some sort of job. Explore some options of how many hours you might like to work and the level of challenge required.


Debra is an occupational therapist, accountant, teacher and freelance writer. She is a writer for Advance for Occupational Therapy Practitioners. She also writes for Grand Magazine, has some items (fiction and non fiction) selling on Amazon.com (kindle), has written several travel articles for the Champaign-Urbana News-Gazette and several articles for freelancewriting.com. Learn more about her at DebraKarplus.blogspot.com.

Take the Next Step:

  • Take a look at these part-time jobs for retirees.
  • Starting a business in retirement? Consider these things before you leap.
  • Use this tool to maximize your retirement by determining the best age to take your Social Security benefits. Don't leave thousands on the table by taking Social Security at the wrong time.
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