If you’re nearing retirement age, you’ve probably wondered: “Is THIS the time to cut the employment cord and retire?”
If so, you’re definitely not alone: even people who haven’t yet reached “full retirement age” (which is about age 66 now, depending on your year of birth) have been thinking of taking early retirement (if they’re at least age 62) or simply calling it quits if they can rely on a younger spouse’s income (or if they feel they’ve enough money saved).
The main reasons why your age cohort members are thinking this are two:
- They’ve either been laid off and can’t find work and/or,
- They’re worried about getting infected by the novel coronavirus and becoming severely ill with COVID-19 if they return to/continue working outside the home.
If you’re thinking of retiring now, some facts:
- Many older workers actually are thinking of working longer due to the hit to their finances brought on by the pandemic’s economic crisis.
- Yet many people – even those between the ages of 50 and 60 – often find that they have a very hard time finding work if they are laid off or otherwise “encouraged” to leave a long-time job before they are ready.
- Retiring at 62 means you can start to collect Social Security benefits. However, those benefits are 25 percent lower than if you had waited to collect them at your “full retirement age,” age 66 plus a few months.
- Retiring at age 70 – if you can do so – means you’ll receive an additional 8 percent for each year you’re above your full retirement year. This often amounts to at least $500 or more each month in Social Security payments than you would have received if you retired at your full retirement age and $900 more if you’d retired at age 62. (These amounts are guesstimates; do not take them as gospel; your situation will be different. Check your Social Security account at ssa.gov to figure out your own numbers. You also can check out this handy guide to help you decide when to retire.)
Additional news you really do need to know…
Let’s say you’re worried about catching the virus because people older than age 65 do tend to be at greater risk for a more pronounced COVID-19 illness. Let’s also say your employer closed its physical location(s) and you’ve been working at home for the last few months, or you’ve been furloughed and haven’t been working at all. But now your employer says its reopening and calls you back on-site. You decide to ask if you can stay at home due to the risk factor.
Unfortunately, your employer is under no obligation to accommodate you under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act. (It does have a duty to accommodate you if you’re already covered under the ADA, however.) If you refuse to come in, your employer could let you go and because you “quit voluntarily” you’re probably not eligible for unemployment benefits. (There might be exceptions if your job site “is truly unsafe,” according to the link just provided.)
Of course, if you’ve already been working at home, you always can ask your employer if you can continue to do so.
Not an easy decision (and there’s an understatement)
Unfortunately, for many older workers the pandemic has changed their planned for (hoped for?) retirement schedule. Choosing to retire is not a decision to make quickly; it’s best to sit down (with your partner, if applicable) and crunch some numbers.
If you are an older worker and are looking for work, take a look at our temporary, contract-to-hire and direct-hire opportunities. If one or more appeal to you, either contact the Helpmates’ branch office nearest you or follow the listing’s application instructions.