In its broadest sense, a phased retirement is a gradual change in your work patterns as you head into retirement. Specifically, a phased retirement usually refers to an arrangement that allows employees who have reached retirement age to continue working for the same employer with a reduced work schedule or workload.
A phased retirement has advantages for both employees and employers. Employees benefit from the opportunity to continue active employment at a level that allows greater flexibility and time away from work, smoothing the transition from full-time employment to retirement. And employers benefit by retaining the services of experienced workers.
There may be other advantages attributable to a phased retirement. When you work during
retirement, your earnings can be applied toward living expenses, allowing you to spend less of your retirement savings and giving them a chance to potentially grow for future use. You may also elect to work
for personal fulfillment--to stay mentally and
physically active and to enjoy the social benefits
of continuing to work with the same co-workers.
Not all employers offer a phased retirement option, but if it's available, you may want to consider whether you'll still have access to affordable health care during this period, especially if you aren't old enough to qualify for Medicare. Also, some employer-sponsored pension benefit formulas may place a higher weighting on earnings during the final years of employment. If you're lucky enough to have an employer-sponsored pension plan, will working a reduced schedule with presumably reduced pay negatively affect your pension benefit? Some employers offer life insurance to their full-time employees. However, this benefit might be reduced or eliminated if you work fewer hours, which can affect your dependents at your death.
Will a phased retirement affect your Social Security retirement benefit? The Social Security website,socialsecurity.gov, provides some calculators that can help you determine the impact a phased retirement may have on your benefits.
Before enrolling in a phased retirement program, consider its impact on your entire financial picture.