WLW-Thenewretirementworking_6B6F-old-woman-using-laptop_thumbHope is not a strategy, or so it’s been said.

But hope seems to be the strategy for many American workers when it comes to their retirement plans.

According to a just-released survey by the Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies, the retirement plan for most workers over 50 is to not retire or to continue to work well past retirement age.

Working later in life can be a good strategy for a lot of great reasons.

Working helps to pay the bills, obtain medical benefits and stay mentally alert and socially engaged; but for many people work as a “retirement plan” is not realistic.

Last year, 17 percent of retirees planned to stop working between the ages of 60 and 64, but in fact more than twice that number actually did, according to Employee Benefits Research Institute.

The reasons for the unplanned retirements varied and sometimes spanned multiple factors, but all were unexpected and unplanned.

•42 percent cited health problems or disability.

•34 percent cited layoffs or downsizing.

•18 percent needed to care for a spouse or another family member.

•13 percent said outdated skills forced them to stop working.

Debbie, an artist and waitress living in Thousand Oaks, now spends three days a week in Ventura caring for her 90-year-old parents.

“Caring for Mom and Dad has become almost a full-time job,” said Debbie. “I’ve had to set aside projects that could earn me money in order to care for my parents, and now I’m considering quitting one of my jobs altogether because the stress is overwhelming.”

At the same time she’s trying to meet the demands of her parents, Debbie is worried about securing her own future.

The greatest fear for workers considering retirement is outliving their savings and investments, according to the Transamerica survey. Most people feel they must work out of financial necessity.

But what if you are forced into retirement unexpectedly?

Most people don’t have a backup plan for retirement income in the event they are unable to work before their planned retirement, so creating a plan is a great place to start.

Here are six ways to begin your backup plan:

•Talk with friends and family about the need to plan and save. Discussion gets the ball rolling and puts ideas on the table.

•Learn more about retirement related government benefits like Social Security and Medicare. According to the Transamerica survey, 71 percent of respondents agreed that they didn’t know as much about these programs as they should. A deeper understanding of these programs can help you to determine how much you will need to supplement these benefits in retirement.

•Take advantage of company retirement plans while you are still working, if at all possible.

•Take advantage of retirement plan opportunities such as saver’s credit, if eligible, and catch-up contributions, if applicable.

•As you begin formulating your plan, write it down. Only 10 percent of those surveyed reported having a written strategy.

•If you do plan to work in your retirement, consider what kind of work will sustain you and if your skills will match the needs of the marketplace. Don’t assume that what you are doing now will be exactly the same thing you will be doing years from now.

To learn more about working in later life, download the free e-book “Plan B for Boomers and Beyond” athttp://www.sandiegoatwork.com/pdf/lmi/PlanB_ Boomers_ Beyond/PlanB_ final_ 10_ 09.pdf.

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