Retirement just isn’t what it used to be. Today, it’s a whole new adventure. The full retirement age has changed over the years. It used to be that you could retire and collect full Social Security at the age of 65; now, most Baby Boomers have to wait until 66 and those born after 1959 have to wait until they reach the age of 67. And while it’s feasible for younger generations to start collecting Social Security as early as 62, they face a stiffer penalty for activating their early withdrawal — a 30% cut to their full benefit. This makes Social Security less advantageous to younger retirees. This might present a bleak future to some, however the bigger picture reveals many exciting advancements developing for this next stage of life.
- Live Longer, Work Longer. Our current life expectancy is nearly 80 years now. Previous generations started work in their teens, while most people today are opting for more education and starting work in their 20s, then easing into retirement with about 20 years of life expectancy left.
- Here's To Our Health. Today’s retirees enjoy healthier lives and better health care than previous generations. Not only do they live longer than their parents, but they also spend a greater part of their life in good health. Many have made modifications to their habits, such as eating healthy foods, getting more exercise, or giving up smoking. Health care advances have also helped allow many people who may have been incapacitated in the past to live productive and relatively healthy lives.
- Rocking Chair? Ha! Most retirees no longer dream of lingering around the front porch. Instead, because of the increase in post-career years, retirement is viewed as an active stage of life. Retirees are busy volunteering for a favorite cause, developing new skills, and helping to raise grandchildren. More people are choosing rewarding activities in their 60s and 70s to stay physically fit and maintain their mental sharpness. And some retirees enjoy their work so much that they don’t want to give it up.
- Career 2.0. To support their more active lifestyle, people are trying to combine work and leisure in new and creative ways. Some workers are able to shift from full-time to part-time work by taking on a new role that is less demanding or more fulfilling. Others opt for an encore career, retrain for a new job, start their own business or turn a long-time hobby into a money-making opportunity.
- More Flexible Scheduling. Many Americans would like to remain in the workforce longer, but their ability to do so depends upon employers recognizing the value of older workers and their desire to transition into retirement on a more flexible work schedule. Employers are beginning to embrace flexible retirement options because they need to maintain skilled workers as the number of people retiring exceeds the number entering the job market.
So even though the full retirement age for collecting Social Security has been adjusted back, the realities of living a longer, healthier and happier retirement are all very favorable. With proper planning you can be well on your way to enjoying all of the adventures this next stage of life has in store for you.
What do you think about the new realities of retirement? Please share your comments with us.