Even before the Great Recession triggered massive layoffs, older workers often faced unique job disruption. About one-third of workers ages 51 through 55 in 1992 were involuntarily bounced from their jobs by the time they reached their mid to late 60s, according to a 2009 Urban Institute study. One-fourth lost their jobs because of a layoff or business closing; another 12 percent were forced to stop working because of illness.
But the upside to working through your 60s is so strong that it's worth fighting back to stay on the job, if you can. These principles should help.
Move the goalposts: If you're still harboring thoughts that retiring at 62 is "right," you risk mentally retiring at 60 or so. That makes you easier pickings if the boss decides to cut overhead. Plan to work until at least your late 60s and you will stay more engaged in your work.
Quitting is not an option: Don't think you can give full retirement a whirl at age 62 and then just go back to work if your new life doesn't shake out as expected. "Retirement is a bit of a black hole," says Working Longer coauthor Sass. "It's habit-forming."
Be a problem solver: "Look around and see what holes your employer needs to fill, then offer to step in," says Sass. "The more flexible you are, the more valuable you are."
If you have to switch jobs, plan on making less: Some good news: If you've been at your job for a long time, you're in a better position than colleagues with less tenure. "Older workers are better protected from losing a job, but once they lose that job, they have a much harder time [than younger workers] finding a new job," says Richard Johnson, an Urban Institute retirement-policy expert. And the next job will likely be at a lower salary, so don't hold out for a fatter paycheck. Remember, though, that the main goal is to earn enough to cover your living costs.
Take care of yourself: A healthier you increases the odds you'll be able to keep working. It also makes it likelier you'll enjoy your 60s — and beyond.
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