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Many senior Americans continue to work after they become eligible for full Social Security benefits at age 66. Participants in a recent survey by Provision Living, a service provider for older adults and their families, said they would retire on average at 72.

Provision Living conducted a poll in August to find out why seniors put off retirement. The sample comprised 1,032 people between the ages of 65 and 85 who worked either full time or part time. Sixty percent of respondents were men and 40% women, and their average age was 67.

Previous research by Provision Living showed that in U.S. cities with populations of 200,000 or more, at least 20% of the senior population was still in the workforce.

Part Time vs. Full Time

Fifty-five percent of respondents in the new study said they worked part time and 45% worked full time. The average age at which working seniors switched to part-time employment was 61.

One-third of working seniors said they enjoyed working and did not wish that they were retired, while 20% said they would like to continue working, but with fewer hours.

The survey showed that many seniors found it difficult to keep up with the ever-changing and evolving workplace. Forty-four percent reported that physical or mental limitations prevented them from completing tasks, causing some to worry about losing their jobs.

Thirty-six percent of respondents said they feared being laid off because of their age, and 33% said they had experienced “ageism,” or stereotyping because of their age.

Asked why they were still working, 62% of respondents cited finances. Of those, 37% said they simply could not afford to retire at the moment, while 23% said they were staying in the workplace to support their family and 19% said they were still paying off debt.

For seniors who continue to work out of necessity, an alternative may be to relocate to a city that allows them to stretch their dollar without sacrificing their desired lifestyle. Some of the best cities in the country for retirement have significant populations of senior citizens.

The remaining 38% of respondents in the Provision Living poll said their decision to keep working was a personal matter — 45% still enjoyed working, 18% worked to avoid boredom, and 6% valued workplace camaraderie and said they would feel too lonely if they stopped working.

Retirement Savings

Survey respondents still in work reported average retirement savings of $133,108. The average for college-educated seniors was $169,180, and for non-college-educated seniors $80,221.

Provision Living noted that the ideal average savings among working seniors was $800,000.

Seventy percent of working seniors said Social Security would be their primary source of income after retirement. Thirty-seven percent said their main income source would be a pension, another 37% said a 401(k), 27% personal savings and 20% stocks.

Eleven percent said they would look to their children or family to support them financially in retirement.


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