Expectations and Reality of Working for Pay in Retirement — March 2012, reviewed January 2013

Many workers express or desire to work for pay into retirement years.  This could mean less hours in a current career or a new job at less than full time.  How many actually do?

The 2012 Employee Benefit Research Institute Retirement Confidence Survey answers that and many other questions.   Basically, the survey has consistently found that workers are far more likely to expect to work for pay in retirement than those retirees who have actually worked.  The percentage of workers planning to work for pay in retirement now stands at 70 percent, compared with just 27 percent of retirees who report they worked for pay in retirement.

Retirees who have worked for pay in retirement most often say they did so because they wanted to stay active and involved or enjoyed working, but the percentage who report working solely for nonfinancial reasons is small.

Ninety percent identify at least one financial reason for having worked, such as wanting to buy extras, a decrease in the value of their savings or investments, needing money to make ends meet, or keeping health insurance or other benefits.

Yet few retirees who have not already worked for pay in retirement anticipate returning to paid employment.  Just two percent say it is very likely they will work for pay some time in the future, and only eight percent say it is somewhat likely.

Full details of the 2012 Retirement Confidence Survey are available on line at the website www.ebri.org .  Find out more about how retirement expectations may conflict with reality from this report.

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