It’s no secret that the economic downturn of the last five years has been hard on everyone. But according to a recent New York Times article, the evidence is that the worst-hit have been older workers just about to enter retirement. The first to go when layoffs come, the last to be hired for what few positions there are available, Seniors were pushed out of the workforce in record numbers, with important consequences for the health of their retirement plans, as well as their ability to transition into retirement at all.
It’s likely that if you’re reading this, you were already aware of how badly the recession hit older workers. The question is what to do about it? If your retirement plans are in ruins or you’ve been laid off with little hope of being hired elsewhere, what are you supposed to do about it?
Well, according to the article, not a whole lot. There are some solutions that the article rejects, such as the notion of retraining. Older workers don’t get rejected for jobs because they’re unqualified, they get rejected because of age bias. Companies are more willing to take a risk on training and acclimatizing a new hire if there’s a possibility that the hire will be around for decades, and older workers tend (on average) to have more health issues that can drive up premiums for company-offered health insurance. For those leaving the labor force, the article speaks of increasing numbers of seniors leaning on disability programs or taking social security at the earliest possible point.
Optimizing Social Security is nothing new, but most optimization schemes assume that you will be looking at maximizing your overall income from the program, irrespective of the time it takes for you to do so. As we’ve all seen recently, bad economic times can change this calculus, and the prospect of losing 20% or more of your benefits seems significantly less daunting when the alternative is not having enough money to pay the mortgage. Yet as always, even when circumstances force you into making less than optimal choices, it’s important to know your options so that the choices you do make hurt as little as possible. Choosing to start Social Security early may be tempting, but such a choice is almost irrevocable, as changing back to a higher monthly payout requires you to pay back everything you’ve received from the program so-far. The bottom line is that the recession has had a major impact on the Boomers and they’ll need to think creatively about how to pay for their retirement. Hopefully, even if your retirement plan has fallen off the rails, this site can help you piece together a new one by helping you find strategies, products and services to help you secure your retirement.