Five reasons to delay retirement

Retiring later in life can make sense. There are many benefits to delaying retirement, such as increased Social Security benefits, and having more time to prepare financially.  Learn what to consider when it comes to retirement planning.

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Is delaying retirement a smart move?

“When should I retire?” is an increasingly common question. The average retirement age in the US is about 65 for men and 63 for women. 1 It makes sense, however, to wait until you reach your full retirement age (66 and several months or 67, depending on your birth year), so you can receive your full Social Security benefit. It is even more advantageous to wait longer, since Social Security benefits rise 8% with each extra year that you delay taking Social Security, up until age 70.2 There are a variety of reasons why Americans delay retirement. Some are financial. Some arise from a reluctance to stop working. Here are five reasons you might want to postpone retirement:

1. You may live longer than you think you will

Consider this: Men who are now 65 can be expected to live 17½ more years on average (or to age 82½). Women who are now 65 can be expected to live 19.8 more years (or to age 84 2/3).3 This means that your golden years may last longer than you expect. And if they do, you will need to either accumulate more retirement savings or be more frugal with the savings you already have.

2. Your health

The adjustment to retirement isn’t always smooth, and the loss of purpose that some feel when they no longer have a job can lead to depression. Researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health found that people in their study who had retired were 40% more likely to have a heart attack or a stroke than those still working. The increased risk was highest in the first year of retirement.4 Several factors could contribute to this. Some people become considerably more sedentary when they retire. Others eat less healthily. Many miss the camaraderie of the workplace and suffer from loneliness. If you’re not sure that you can maintain a healthy lifestyle in retirement, it might be wise to put it off.  

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3. Your savings will have more time to potentially grow

During the later years of your working life, you are typically at your highest income level. And with the kids (hopefully) on their own, you can sock away more money for your retirement. Not to mention that the government allows you to make catch-up contributions to your 401(k), so you will be able to put away more money than you were able to in your younger years. On top of that, you’ll delay tapping into the money that you have already saved, and it will have more time to grow.

4. Your Social Security benefits will increase

You’ve probably heard this one before, but Social Security offers some great benefits to those who work a few years more. For each year you delay taking Social Security, up until the age of 70, benefits rise substantially. Once you reach age 70, there is no reason to put off taking Social Security. But you can continue working beyond that. A year or two of collecting Social Security benefits on top of your regular paycheck may enable you to put away some significant savings or pay off outstanding debts.

5. Employer-sponsored health insurance

Whether we are retired or not, as we age we typically have more healthcare costs, which can lead to more out-of-pocket expenses. By staying at your job longer, you can take advantage of your employee benefits, including health insurance.

FAQ Accordion

The answer will differ from individual to individual. If health issues are making it difficult for you to work, retirement makes sense. If you have something specific you’re planning to do in retirement (like start a part-time business), you may want to get started sooner rather than later. If your spouse is already retired and is eager to start some of the retirement activities you had planned to do together, you may not want to wait. But if you’re ambivalent about retirement, if you don’t mind working a little longer, if you still enjoy your job, or if you’re worried about your finances, delaying retirement will probably be a smart move.

It means continuing to work beyond your full retirement age.

A delayed retirement age is any age beyond a person’s full retirement age (which varies depending on when you were born). For those born from 1943 to 1954, the full retirement age is 66. (They are now past it.) For those born between 1955 and 1959, the full retirement age increases gradually, from 66 years and two months for those born in 1955 to 66 years and 10 months for those born in 1959. The full retirement age for those born in 1960 or later is 67.

You will want to have a few years to enjoy retirement before you find yourself dealing with serious health issues. So if you’re beginning to have health issues or have concerns because of your family history, delaying retirement could be a mistake. People with health issues sometimes find that taking care of themselves turns into a full-time job. If your job leaves you without the time to properly care for yourself, putting off retirement would be ill-advised. If your job is causing inordinate stress, you will not want to delay retirement. On the flip side, if you have adequate savings and your retirement plans call for strenuous activity (like taking a cross-country bicycle trip or hiking the Pacific Crest Trail), you will want to retire while you are still in excellent health.


Take a full inventory of your own situation and carefully consider all the advantages and disadvantages of delaying retirement. Then make the best decision for you.


Want to learn more about financial strategies for retirement?

A New York Life financial professional can help determine what’s right for you.

1Dana Anspach, “Average Retirement Age in the United States,” The Balance, March 1, 2021.

2“How Delayed Retirement Affects Your Social Security Benefits,” Social Security.

3John Elflein, ”Life Expectancy for Men at the Age of 65 Years in the U.S. from 1960 to 2020,” Statistica, October 25, 2022.

4Chip Munn, “Retirement Remix: Retirement Can Be Bad for Your Health,” The Street, June 25, 2021.