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Many of Those at Retirement Age Keep Working for Money, Health Benefits

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RISMEDIA, July 17 2007—(MCT)—Retirement, what’s that? Bettye Rhodes hasn’t retired yet and she turns 70 in September. She’s not ready to turn in her desk chair at University Hospital for a rocking chair at home.

“I just became a great-grandmother for the third time yesterday, so they’d probably like for me to spend some time in the rocking chair baby-sitting, but that’s not my plan,” Ms. Rhodes said. The plan is to sell jewelry at home shows after she leaves the hospital’s medical records department in March.

She’s not alone in working past retirement age.

Annette Hart of North Augusta left a radio station sales job at age 64 and went to work for a staffing agency three years ago. The lower stress level was appealing, in addition to the flexible schedule temporary staffing affords. This week she was able to take care of her 70-year-old husband who had to be in and out of doctor’s offices.

“I wanted to do something that got me out of the house, got me into a position to see people, meet people, but not have the responsibility of a full-time job,” Mrs. Hart said. “That’s the perfect thing working for a temp agency.”

She’s been a receptionist for lawyers and worked in accounting at Kellogg’s.

Despite their age, both women are in a demographic that is in demand for its experience, reliability and attitude.

In May, Georgia’s AARP chapter came out with a workforce study that revealed two trends — baby boomer retirement and a shrinking under-24 population — will result in fewer people entering the job market over the next 20 years as demand for workers increases. Employers might need to keep more people on the job after they pass the traditional retirement age.

The numbers might work out fine because 68% of the 50- to 70-year -olds who responded to a different AARP study had plans to keep working in retirement or never retire at all.

Money and health benefits are the most common reasons cited by AARP for people wanting to work in the twilight of their life.

Ms. Rhodes fits both those answers.

“I can’t afford to retire. I’ve had a lot of things along the way that have depleted the savings that I’ve had. Don’t regret any of them, but Social Security isn’t quite enough to live on,” she explained.

When her 10-year anniversary with the hospital arrives in February, she can retire and have health benefits.
She’s got a job waiting for her when she goes: self-employment in direct sales with a jewelry firm. She said she could average $400 to $1,000 a week working part time at home shows.

Emily Leckie, employment and training coordinator for Experience Works Senior Workforce Solutions, said money isn’t the only reason that older workers either jump back into the workforce or never leave it. They want to stay busy. They want to feel useful. They don’t want to stay home all day long.

And it isn’t necessarily only recent retirees that continue to work.

“I talked with a lady today that was 78 years old,” Ms. Leckie said. “She still wants to work and still needs to work.” That woman had to leave her home health position because of lifting. Ms. Leckie said home health agencies often love hiring older workers because of their reliability and trustworthiness.

“What they bring to the table is a wealth of knowledge,” said Spherion franchise owner Angela Swarts.

Loyalty and stability are qualities that many companies are looking for, Ms. Swarts explained.

McDonald’s restaurants have tray liners that attempt to attract seniors into their ranks, touting extra cash and flexible schedules. “Think rehirement, not retirement,” they read.

Ms. Swarts said life’s circumstances can also lead a person out of the retired life.

“I had a guy who had to raise a grandchild. He couldn’t be retired any more,” Ms. Swarts said. Spherion got him jobs in inventory control and facilities management.

Ms. Swarts said retirees often begin to seek out that “rehirement” after a year out of the workplace.

The proverbial rocking chair isn’t as fun as first thought.

“They give retirement about a year and then they find out it wasn’t quite what they thought it would be and that they are not ready to quit working. They get bored,” Ms. Swarts said.

Answer these 10 questions to find out whether you’re ready:

–Have you and your spouse discussed retirement plans and goals?
–Do you know what options are available for retirement savings?
–Have you and your spouse decided at what ages you will retire?
–Do you monitor your savings and investments with your retirement age in mind?
–Have you estimated what your retirement income will be from Social Security, your employer-sponsored retirement plan and other savings?
–Do you continue to search for new savings options to help you increase your retirement assets?
–Have you estimated how much you will spend each year during retirement?
–Do you have a plan to automatically divert money from your paycheck or bank account into retirement savings?
–Have you prepared an emergency fund or otherwise financially prepared for unexpected life events such as illness or unemployment?
–Do you periodically review your insurance coverage to ensure you are adequately covered?

If you answered yes to two or fewer questions, you aren’t prepared for retirement. It’s not too late to be financially fit, so start doing your homework now.

If you answered yes to three to six questions, you’re off to a good start, but you’ll need to keep up the good work or even slightly increase your pace to achieve the kind of retirement lifestyle you want.

If you answered yes to seven or more questions, you’re probably secure about your retirement plans.

RETIREMENT CALCULATORS:

There are numerous tools on the Internet to help you determine whether you’re financially prepared for retirement. But before you type “retirement calculator” into a Web browser, you should have answers to the following:

–Your pretax income. Check your last pay stub of the year.
–An estimate of your Social Security benefits at retirement from the annual statement the Social Security Administration sends you. Call (800) 772-1213 or go to www.ssa.gov.
–An estimate of your pension income, if any, from your employer.
–How much you’ve saved for retirement.
–How many years you are from retirement.
–Your age and your best guess at life expectancy.
–If you’re married, this same info about your spouse.

WEB RESOURCES:
–The Longevity Game (www.nmfn.com/tn/learnctr-lifeevents-longevity): Enter in factors such as your weight, ability to handle stress and your driving record to determine how long you can expect to live.
–AARP (www.aarp.org/money/financial_planning): Detailed information on retirement savings, investments and budgeting for older consumers.
–Bankrate retirement calculator (www.bankrate.com/brm/cgi-bin/retire.asp): Determine how much income you want in retirement and the calculator will determine how much you will need to achieve that goal.
Sources: MarketWatch, Vanguard Group, staff research

WORKING IN RETIREMENT:
Reason / percentage
–Need money / 22%
–Need health benefits / 17%
–Stay mentally active / 15%
–Be productive or useful / 14%
–Stay physically active / 9%
–Help other people / 6%
–Do something fun / 5%
–Be around people / 4%
–Learn new things / 3%
–Pursue a dream / 3%
–Don’t know or didn’t answer / 3%
 
Source: AARP Working in Retirement study

Copyright © 2007, The Augusta Chronicle, Ga.
Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.

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