Q. I plan to retire in a few years, but I'm afraid of running out of money at some point. Is it realistic to expect that I'll be able to find a well-paying job in retirement?
A. A growing number of Americans approaching retirement age realize they may not have saved enough money to live comfortably during their retirement years. Blame the recession, the stock market meltdown that erased millions of dollars from workers' 401(k) savings, or just poor planning, but older folks are considering working into their late 60s, 70s or even 80s.
According to a recent survey by the Employee Benefits Research Institute, 70 percent of today's workers plan to work for pay after they've officially retired. But the number of current retirees who actually do this is just 23 percent.
Why the gap? It's partly because today's retirees are more likely to enjoy a steady stream of income from pensions and Social Security to make ends meet. Consequently, they see less need to work in retirement. Also, the grim employment picture has kept people of all ages from getting hired.
Tomorrow's retirees can expect to live longer, so their need for retirement income may be greater. Moreover, they may have only 401(k) plans and Social Security to support their retirement years because pension plans are fading away, so working later in life may become a necessity.
Keep in mind, too, that filing for Social Security benefits before you reach your full retirement age, say at age 62 instead of age 66, will cost you — you'll get a reduced amount.
To increase your chances of finding work after you've retired, consider:
- Keeping your skills and your industry contacts up to date.
- Going to networking events or joining professional associations.
- Learning a new skill or vocation by volunteering in that particular field or by returning to school.
- Consulting websites such as aarp.org/work, retiredbrains.com and snagajob.com, which offer job opportunities and tips such as how to freshen your résumé.
- Taking good care of yourself so you'll be healthy enough to work.
Carole Fleck is a senior editor at the AARP Bulletin.