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Working longercould benefit health, finances

October 19, 2018 GMT

Experts say that waiting to retire and drawing your Social Security benefits later can significantly boost income. There are also nonfinancial benefits, such as mental stimulation and social engagement, to working beyond age 65.

According to a recent Washington Post article, a record number of Americans 85 and older are still working. Around 255,000 Americans who were 85 years and older were working over the past 12 months. They worked as crossing guards, farmers, ranchers and truckers. In fact, 2016 Census Bureau figures reveal that there are between 1,000 and 3,000 U.S. truckers aged 85 or older.

Some of America’s most prominent workers are 85 or older. At 85, Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is the oldest justice on the court. Rupert Murdoch, at the helm of a business empire, is 87. So is Warren Buffett, a businessman, investor and philanthropist.

U.S. Labor Department records show that at every year of age above 55, U.S. residents are working or looking for work at the highest rates on record.

There are many reasons why senior citizens are working longer today:

Life expectancies are growing. Generations past had relatively short retirements that lasted 10 to 20 years. That has now changed, as people generally are in much better health than they were 50 years go.

If you expect to live into your 80s or beyond, it’s natural that you might still be working in your 60s and 70s. As people live longer, they may have to work longer to support themselves.

Education levels are rising. Studies show that college-educated people are working longer and retiring later.

In past decades, people retired because they could no longer handle the physical work their jobs required. Today, many jobs require less physical work than in previous decades, except in fields like manufacturing and construction.

Financial reasons why senior citizens are working longer include:

Lingering effects of the recession. Financial assets lost value during the financial crisis.

Low interest rates — between 2010 and 2012, U.S. interest rates declined significantly. This reduced the yields on savings accounts, CDs and government bonds — all funds that seniors typically might have.

People have not saved enough for retirement or misjudged how much money they might need.

Fewer people are receiving pensions from their employers when they retire.

Researchers at the Stanford Center on Longevity estimate that Social Security benefits represent up to two-thirds of a middle-income retiree’s retirement income if they start drawing it at age 65. If they wait until age 70, it represents up to 85 percent.

Good for health

There’s evidence from some studies that links working past the traditional retirement age of 65 with better health and longevity. Other studies have linked working past retirement age with a reduced risk of dementia and heart attack.

Motivations for working longer are:

1. Working helps seniors avoid social isolation and keeps them connected to their communities.

2. Working gives meaning to their lives. They can achieve goals they set for themselves.

3. Working allows them to use their knowledge and experience. After gaining years of experience in a field, they feel valued by their employers.

4. Working helps older people stay physically and mentally healthy.

Health experts say staying mentally, socially and physically active is good for health. Working enables many people to do these things.

According to a Harvard Health Letter, mental stimulation and problem-solving help to maintain thinking skills. Social engagement is associated with fighting off chronic disease and remaining physically active (even if it is just walking), can lead to better health and sharper thinking skills.

For more information, visit www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/working-later-in-life-can-pay-off-in-more-than-just-income.