10 Most Common Reasons Why People are Still Working in Retirement

Even retirement can’t stop some people from continuing to work, either by choice or out of necessity.

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Updated May 28, 2024
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Retirement may be a great goal to work toward, but there are reasons you may still be working after you reach retirement age, and you're not alone. Nearly one in five people over 65 are working with you.

Some of those reasons may be needs, like covering expenses to supplement Social Security income, or wants, like staying active in the community.

As you plan your retirement, here are some of the most common reasons why retirees may still be working in their later years, according to the Employee Benefit Research Institute.

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Supporting others financially

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In retirement, you may get some financial surprises, such as the need to pay for a nursing home for your parents or help with college expenses for your kids or grandkids. 

It can be stressful and may require you to continue to work to cover the expenses you may feel responsible for.

A good rule of thumb is to make sure you pay yourself first before you pay others. So remember to have all of your retirement costs covered before you worry about paying for others’ needs.

Trying a new career

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Retirement may be the end of one story, but it’s also the start of another story. So you may consider trying that different career you always wanted or turning your side hustle into your main job. 

A new job will put some extra cash in your wallet when you’re no longer in your typical day-to-day job.

To keep insurance or benefits

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Employers may give you benefits as part of your employment package, which includes things like health insurance for you and a spouse or family member. or life insurance for you. 

You also may want to take a job because you like the specific company benefits. Some companies may offer an employee discount for the company’s products or perks like gym membership reimbursement.

Resolve $10,000 or more of your debt

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Investments/savings decreased

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You may have some of your investments or retirement savings in the stock market, which can fluctuate depending on many factors. 

Those changes could have a negative effect on your savings, which might cause you stress or even force you to go back to work so you can replenish your retirement accounts.

To make ends meet

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Bills don’t disappear when you retire, and you’ll still have to pay for everyday expenses like utilities, groceries, health insurance, and a mortgage if you have one. 

While you have budgeted for those expenses, changes in the value of your savings may force you to go back to work to cover the bills.

Before you retire, estimate your monthly costs for things like your home and other bills to give you a better idea of how much you need to save. Be sure to include an emergency fund, which can help you handle unexpected costs after you quit.

New job opportunity

Photographee.eu/Adobe psychoterapist interviewing

You may be happily retired, but what happens if an exciting new opportunity comes along? Employers who are having a difficult time finding qualified workers may appreciate your years of experience.

Nothing says you can’t go back to work once you retire. It’s OK to want to tackle a new challenge after you’ve retired. If you don’t want to work full-time, you may be able to negotiate flexible hours or work part-time.

To avoid taking money from savings

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It takes a long time and a lot of hard work to save enough money for retirement. And while you may be happy to retire, you may not want to touch that nest egg just yet.

Continuing to work in a job or as a consultant to generate money may let you cover your monthly bills without touching your nest egg. 

The IRS doesn’t mandate required minimum distributions from your retirement accounts until you’re age 72, so you may want to keep your investments as long as you can.

Buying extras

Andrew Bayda/Adobe glasses set with drinks in restaurant

As you slow down your working life, you may want to dine out more often, go to concerts, play golf, or travel more often. All of those activities cost money, though. 

Earning some extra money in retirement may be a good way to eliminate financial stress while still letting you have more fun.

They enjoy working

BGStock72/Adobe female potter working on pottery wheel while sitting in her workshop

Sometimes walking away from a career makes you realize you still enjoyed doing the work. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to go back to work after you retire because you actually like working.

You may be able to add to your retirement fund so that when you decide it’s time for post-work life, you’ll have more cash to spend.

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Staying active and involved

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Some people may feel that retirement is isolating, particularly if you don’t have post-work plans for what to do on a day-to-day basis. It may be a good idea to stay involved by continuing to work somewhere after you retire. 

It could be a position similar to the one you just left, or you could do something different while still contributing to your community.

Bottom line

Teodor Lazarev/Adobe  happy senior businesswoman working on her laptop

Roughly 19%, nearly one in five, of the population above 65 are still working today. 

Whether by choice or necessity, retirement may not be the end of your working life. You do still have options for working if you want or need to even after you hand in your resignation letter. 

It also may be a good idea to ask if you can retire early to solidify your post-work plans.

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Author Details

Jenny Cohen

Jenny Cohen is a freelance writer who has covered a bit of everything, from finance to sports to her favorite TV shows. Her work has been featured in The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, and FoxSports.com.