- Americans have a fairly loose definition of retirement these days.
- While Americans can begin claiming full Social Security benefits between ages 66 and 67, many are continuing to work for both personal and financial reasons, according to a new survey from Provision Living.
- Most keep working either because they need the money or they still enjoy their job. On average, the survey respondents don’t expect to leave work completely until age 72.
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Retirement isn’t quite what it used to be.
More seniors today are putting retirement off for both financial and personal reasons, according to a new survey from Provision Living, a network of senior living communities in the Midwest. The survey asked about 1,000 Americans over age 65 who have yet to retire about their motivations to continue working.
On average, the respondents don’t expect to retire fully until age 72. Over one-third of the seniors said they’re not financially prepared to retire yet, 23% are continuing to work to support their family, and 19% are doing it to pay off debt.
But it’s not just about the money for everyone. Nearly 40% of the respondents said they haven’t quit work entirely because they still enjoy it (45%), are trying to avoid boredom (18%), or don’t want to give up their workplace camaraderie just yet (6%), among other reasons. Those who switched to part-time work — just over half of the total respondents — said they did so around age 61.
In many ways, the long-held retirement benchmark of age 65 has grown obsolete. A previous analysis of US Census data by United Income, an investment and financial-planning firm, found that about 20% of Americans over age 65 — a total of 10.6 million people — are either working or looking for work, representing a 57-year high.
According to the Provision Living survey, the working seniors have an average of $133,108 saved for retirement. When broken down by education, college-degree holding respondents have more than twice as much saved ($169,180) as non-college educated individuals ($80,221). Still, the majority expect to rely on Social Security and pensions before tapping into their personal savings.
The earliest age a person can claim Social Security benefits is 62. But the full retirement age for most of today’s working-age Americans is between 66 and 67, when they can begin to claim the full amount of their benefit. For each year a person delays taking Social Security, however, their benefit will increase by up to 8% until age 70.
Interestingly, those staying in the workforce — regardless of when they claim Social Security — are the ones in the best financial shape for retirement, the United Income report said. Rather than being driven by money, some are motivated to keep working simply because they’re healthy enough.
But not all Americans have the good fortune of working well into their 60s and 70s. Often, health issues crop up and stifle job opportunities, forcing people into retirement with little savings to fall back on, reports Business Insider’s Liz Knueven. Downward social mobility in retirement is a mounting issue for many middle- and working-class Americans, she writes, and working longer isn’t the panacea many believe it to be.
More savings and retirement coverage