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Reality Bites for Boomers Unable to Work in Retirement, New Study Unveils
Retired Boomers are Returning to Work for Non-Financial Reasons

CHICAGO, May 13, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- Seventy-two percent of America's retired Baby Boomers are not currently working for pay in retirement. However, of those, a surprising number (48%) would like to work but cannot, due to their own health reasons (35%), the health of a loved one (5%) or because they can't find a job (8%), according to a new study commissioned by Bankers Life Center for a Secure Retirement® (CSR).

Employment Now Part of the Retirement Experience

The study – New Expectations, New Rewards: Work in Retirement for Middle-Income Boomers – surveyed 1,005 middle-income Boomers and 2,293 retired Boomers aged 51 to 69 with an annual household income between $25,000 and $100,000.  

A majority (69%) of retired Boomers say they would have liked to have worked longer but find that they retired earlier than expected. Among those, nearly eight in 10 (79%) retired early for reasons that were not in their control, such as a personal health situation (39%), being laid off (19%) or could no longer perform their job (6%).

Meanwhile, many retired Boomers who are in a position to continue working are doing so for reasons beyond just pay.

Employment now part of the retirement experience
One third (28%) of retired Boomers are either currently employed or have been employed for pay during retirement. Of those currently working, more than six in 10 (61%) say they are working because they want to work, not because they have to work. In contrast, more than seven in 10 (71%) nonretired Boomers say they are working because they have to work. 

While money is the top singular reason for continuing to work for many employed retirees, six in 10 (59%) work for non-financial reasons, including to stay mentally alert (18%), to remain physically active (15%), to have a sense of purpose (14%) or to stay socially connected to others (7%). Furthermore, half (49%) expect to work beyond age 70 or as long as their health will allow. 

Flexibility trumps pay for working retirees
Boomers are willing to work for less money in retirement. Nearly three-quarters (72%) of employed retirees report that their per hour compensation in retirement is less than before retirement, with more than half (53%) reporting their hourly compensation now is much less than before retirement.

However, working Boomer retirees trade reduced compensation for the increased employment flexibility that retirement offers. Nearly nine out of 10 (88%) employed Boomer retirees have work arrangements other than full time, including part time (59%), freelance (18%) or seasonal (7%). 

Positive impacts of working in retirement
Despite lower compensation, working Boomer retirees say they are happier and more satisfied with their job than nonretirees. An overwhelming 78 percent are just as satisfied or more satisfied with their job now than they were with their job before retiring. One-third (32%) report being much more satisfied now. 

Compared to non-working retirees, employed retirees report lower stress levels, better relationships and other positive impacts.

"Consider work in retirement, even if it is only part time," said Scott Goldberg, president of Bankers Life. "Because we are living longer into our retirement years, the financial and health benefits of working longer can enhance the retirement experience."

The New Expectations, New Rewards: Work in Retirement for Middle-Income Boomers is part of a series of studies commissioned by the Bankers Life Center for a Secure Retirement. It was conducted in February and March 2015 by the independent research firm The Blackstone Group. 

The findings are from two internet-based surveys:

  1. Main survey: a nationwide sample of 1,005 middle-income Boomers. Quotas were established based on the U.S. Census Current Population Survey data for age, gender and income to obtain a nationally representative sample. The margin of error is +/- 3.1 percentage points at the 95% confidence level.
  2. Supplemental survey: a nationwide sample of 2,293 retired middle-income Boomers to assess the percentage of retired Boomers who are working in retirement. The margin of error is +/- 1.6 percentage points at the 95% confidence level.

All respondents were aged 51 to 69 and have an annual household income between $25,000 and $100,000.

About the Center for a Secure Retirement
The Center for a Secure Retirement is the Bankers Life's research and consumer education program. The Center's studies and consumer awareness campaigns provide insight and practical advice to help everyday Americans achieve financial security in retirement.

About Bankers Life
Bankers Life focuses on the insurance needs of middle-income Americans who are near or in retirement. The Bankers Life brand is a part of CNO Financial Group, Inc. (NYSE: CNO), whose companies provide insurance solutions that help protect the health and retirement needs of working Americans and retirees. There are more than 5,000 Bankers Life insurance agents at over 300 offices across the country. To learn more, visit

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SOURCE Bankers Life