Editor's note: In the wake of Tom Osborne's retirement, we asked a local expert to weigh in on some retirement basics. Dr. Sikora is an assistant professor in the College of Public Health at the University of Nebraska Medical Center. She earned her PhD at Cornell University in 2012. Her research focuses on elderly health outcomes and behaviors, intergenerational family transfers and elderly care giving.
Regardless of where you're at in your career, straight out of college or twenty years into the job, sooner or later you'll think about retirement.
Most people list the following as primary factors that go into the big decision: age, job tenure, financial preparedness, retirement of a spouse and health status. In most cases, except in the instance of failing health, retirement is a voluntary process.
The most familiar definition of retirement age is based on full eligibility for social security benefits. The federal government defines this as between 65 and 67-years-old, depending on birth year. Sixty-two and 70 are considered early and late retirement, respectively. And in certain professions, individuals may become eligible for retirement before 65, based on their job tenure.
The first step: Define what retirement will mean for you. Many people romanticize retirement as a time to travel the world, reconnect with family and do all of those things their busy work lives didn't allow. But there's more to it. The decision to retire is a complex one, whether individual or family-based, and age is only one component.
Recent research has found that many retirees have returned to the workforce. Some are finding they need to supplement their retirement income, and others go back for the social aspect -- a part-time job allows them to engage with others and gives them a sense of purpose again. Research shows that those who work longer have higher cognitive function later in life than those who exit early.
Getting close to retirement yourself? Here are a couple more things to consider:
Physical demands: Depending on how physically challenging someone's job is on a daily basis, this may sway when they choose to retire. For example, those in “blue collar” occupations tend to retire earlier than those in “white collar” jobs.
Technological changes: Older workers may retire earlier depending on the amount of retraining required. Or maybe they're willing to adapt? Older workers may also stay in the workforce longer if new technology makes their tasks easier.
Financial preparedness: While social security income is the public safety net provided for everyone, often supplemented with pensions or individual retirement savings, many people undersave for retirement and find themselves in the workforce longer than they expected. Planning and saving should start as soon as possible. Those with fewer years left to prepare may choose to speak with a financial planner.
Resources for retirement planning: