Back To Work: How To Rejoin The Workforce After Retirement

by Jacques Sprenger on July 27, 2009

Jack Newman is 70 years old; he retired 5 years ago from his job as a construction engineer, happy to live on his Social Security benefits and some income from shrewd investments. However, in December of 2008, Jack and his wife Dolores discovered the appalling truth: they had lost 75% of their investments having dedicated too much to stocks and not enough to cash. Their only solution is to go back to work at whatever position they could find. This terrible situation is happening all over the country to tens of thousands of retirees who find themselves suddenly unable to stay retired.

back to work senior, after 65
Image from chinadaily.com

For those seniors facing this situation, we offer these articles and advice:

As you can see, we’ve got lots of coverage here on financial issues faced by boomers and seniors. But for those interested in going back to work and wondering how to proceed, we have some tips for you below.

Back To Work: How To Rejoin The Workforce After Retirement

Step 1: Crunch The Numbers

This Wall Street Journal article says the following: Keep in mind that if you’re under full retirement age and collecting Social Security, $1 will be deducted for every $2 you earn above the annual limit, which is $13,560 for 2008 and $14,160 for 2009. There would be no limits for Jack since he has reached full retirement age, although in some cases there is a provision called “The Windfall Provision” which cuts your Social Security benefits if you receive retirement monies from a pension plan.

Step 2: Search Within Your Expertise

Since Jack is in good health and physically active (remember that the modern 70 is the old 60), he could very well go back to his specialty, construction. This is what the same WSJ article recommends: stick to what you know. Your strong background in any field is pure gold for many firms since they can leverage your extensive career experience to benefit them. Under federal law, no candidate can be rejected because of age, among other conditions, unless the job involves strenuous physical activity suitable only for younger people.

Step 3: Learn New Technologies

If you’ve been retired for 10 years or more, it would be a good idea to freshen up on the latest technology before looking for a job. Using a computer in some areas is a must, as is texting and IM (Instant Messages). Read some professional journals or magazines, take a look at what the required dress code is nowadays, and maybe talk to some younger colleagues to find out whether the lingo or jargon has changed. It might be convenient to seek a part time or consultant job at first.

Step 4: Go Back To School

As another option for seniors who want to get back into the workforce, there’s also this thing called “Plus-50 Initiative”. Here’s a description of the program from its website:

Plus 50 is a program for adults 50 and over, designed to support wellness, lifelong learning, and “creative retirement” through a variety of classes offered at the Western Wake Campus of Wake Technical Community College. This program is for “baby boomers” who are getting ready to retire or want to transition from their current careers to a new “encore” career.

The new “encore” career is of course a euphemism for people who have retired and find out they have to go back to work. You can check your local community colleges for similar programs. Someone who’s participated in this program is Roxanna Evans, age 68, who says she retired in 2002 but found out later that she would need to go back to work out of necessity. The great news? She got a job after attending the Plus-50 initiative.

Step 5: Check Out Back To Work Programs

There may also be back to work programs available for the type of work you are looking for. For instance, there are programs that facilitate the “return to work” goal for former nurses: because of the nation’s nursing shortage, there are more clinics, health care centers and hospitals that are encouraging former health care workers and retired nurses to consider returning to work. You can check out this site for more details.

Another association is busy helping senior citizens: The AARP pairs employers with retired individuals who are searching for work. Resources such as these can help you identify potential positions designed for older, more experienced personnel. So make sure you check all these options before starting to look for a job. They will help you shorten the process and prove to yourself that you can still show the young whippersnappers a trick or two.

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