|By Hannah Poturalski, Journal-News, Hamilton, Ohio|
The 80-year-old senior pastor at a
"I don't ever think about retirement," Elliott said. "In the back of my mind I know it might happen, but I would rather die on the pulpit."
The self-reported age of retirement for Americans has steadily risen from 57 in the early 1990s to age 60 in the first decade of the 2000s, and now another increase to 62 in the past two years, according to Gallup's annual Economy and Personal Finance survey conducted earlier this year.
"Retirement age may be increasing because many baby boomers are reluctant to retire," according to the Gallup survey. "Older Americans may also be delaying retirement because of lost savings during the Great Recession or because of insufficient savings even before the economic downturn."
"I have seen numbers that say anywhere between eight to 11 times their annual salary," Bowblis said. "Of course, more savings is always better."
Bowblis said changes in retirement benefit plans by companies could be another reason the retirement age is ticking upward. He said in the 1990s, private companies were still paying out retirement plans and offering health insurance to retirees.
"People have to work longer to create a cushion," Bowblis said.
The older defined-benefit plans — in which the retiree's promised a specific monthly benefit based on tenure and earnings history — have been shifting to defined-contribution plans in which the retiree and company both pay a percentage of the employee's salary.
"A lot of the financial burden for health care costs has now fallen on the retiree," Bowblis said. "People have to work longer partly to make up the difference … and have to go out and get health insurance or wait until
Bowblis said now that more affordable health coverage is available to people with pre-existing conditions, he believes it could help the retirement age go back down.
The rising age of retirement may also reflect longer life spans, changes in
"People can work longer because on average we're healthier than we were in the past," Bowblis said, who's also a research fellow at Scripps.
Bowblis said medical advancements and the management of chronic conditions, such as arthritis, through medications have helped Americans to stay in the workforce longer.
Nearly half of baby boomers still working say they don't expect to retire until they are 66 or older, including one in 10 who predict they will never retire, according to Gallup.
"I'm tired of living paycheck to paycheck," said
"I don't know if I'll ever want to retire," she said. "I don't want to be alone. I could see myself working as long as I physically can."
Elliott said for him, it's not a matter of when he will retire but when his health will require him to step down. He'll keep working at the church as long as he's physically able, especially since five different diseases haven't taken him down yet.
As senior pastor at
Elliott said it's his "worst dream" to think about leaving the church that has grown from a congregation of just 10 to now more than 400 every Sunday.
"It's the relationships," Elliott said of what keeps him from retiring. "A lot of (the congregation) is older. That makes the relationships even more binding."
Workers in the 55-64 age group in 2000 were 9.7 percent of the state's workforce. That's projected to grow to 17.2 percent by 2018, according to research by Scripps.
And those 65 and older still in the workforce will grow from 2.7 percent in 2000 to 6.8 percent in 2018, according to Scripps.
Cummins attributes part of that to the increasing life expectancy of Americans.
In 2012, life expectancy in the U.S. was 78.74 years — a figure that's grown from 69.77 in 1960.
"People are living longer but they're healthier too," Cummins said.
Williamson said his grandparents worked until they were 80 and unable to work.
Williamson said he continues to work into his seventies for several reasons, including getting paid and staying active.
"I interact with people and that keeps me mentally alert and thinking," Williamson said. "And I have no time-consuming hobbies or activities and I believe golfing or fishing day after day would get old, and I can't see spending my time watching soap operas on TV."
Williamson said until the day comes when he's physically unable to work, he'll "keep on plugging."
Just like in Williamson's case, Cummins said more working older adults are moving from full-time positions to less demanding work.
She said the reasons are two-fold, as some simply can't afford to retire yet or want a job that's less stressful and allows for more time with family.
"There's a real desire of older adults to remain active," Cummins said.
Life in retirement
But it wasn't so easy right after his retirement from working 29 years in accounting at Bakery Crafts in
"It was more of an adjustment than I thought it would be," Biddinger said of the drop in social connection.
Biddinger said he decided to hold off retirement until at least age 66 in order to collect full
"We have lived conservatively; we're not big spenders," Biddinger said.
Biddinger said he's now enrolled in seven courses, including introductory French, through the
Biddinger said he's also reconnected with several high school classmates that meet weekly for breakfast, and he spends one morning a week delivering
"I wanted to (retire) while I could still enjoy things," Biddinger said. "I knew I didn't want to sit and watch TV … I wanted to be active."
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