Is Semi-Retirement the New Normal? - J.E. Wilson Advisors

Is Semi-Retirement the New Normal?

Most individuals who are not already retired will likely have a far different retirement experience from earlier generations. In our realm, with a small handful of exceptions, clients who retire from full-time work before age 65 typically re-entering the workforce in some capacity or another as a transition. Nowadays, you are much more likely to have a semi-retirement.

Work Until You Drop?

In years past, individuals retired from something and now are usually retiring to something else. It could be another career or maybe another stage of life. We have colleagues that argue the entire concept of retirement is outdated. They believe that individuals should simply plan on working until they drop.

The problem we see with that idea is many individuals will be forced out of the workplace by health issues. In fact, a recent study by the Employee Benefit Research Institute estimates almost half (47%) of retirees left the workforce for reasons related to health. Of course, most people don’t want to work until they drop anyway.

Some jobs and professions make it difficult to work beyond age 70 or so. Many of our physician clients have told us that once they stop taking night calls, the clock starts running for their eventual retirement no later than 3 years hence. Other professions and industries have similar constraints that impede the practicality of working beyond the early 70’s.

The Benefits of Working Longer

For those of us with the “Y” chromosome, the self-identity that comes from “what we do” is powerful. I have had many male clients over the years express concern, bordering on fear, that they won’t know who they are without their work. This makes the idea of continuing to work in some capacity very appealing.

Beyond the psychological aspects, there are, of course, money issues. Continuing to work in a semi-retired state allows for the concerns about running out of money to be quelled. Increasing life expectancies make the retirement calculations hugely difficult for most individuals not already retired. Remember, days or decades…the resources have to last.

Since many of our clients arrive here nearing retirement, we have substantial expertise in framing a reasonable strategy for transitioning into semi-retirement and eventually full retirement.

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