Before Nursing Retirement, Weigh Your Options
Half of all currently employed registered nurses (RNs) will reach retirement age within the next 10 to 15 years. Furthermore, nursing burnout is causing many nurses to quit their jobs and even consider early retirement – especially nurses who work full time. Are you one of these hard-working nurses contemplating retirement? Are you excited or hesitant about the prospect? Perhaps, if you’re not 100% ready to retire, you could try reducing your workload to part time or even working just a few shifts per month. With PRN work, you can work as much as you want to in order to stay active in work that you love and as little as you want to in order to rest and enjoy your well-deserved freedom.
At What Age Do Most Nurses Retire?
First of all, there is no golden rule for when to retire and the primary consideration should be personal needs and desires. Just as there are 50-year-olds who feel they cannot stand another day on the job, there are also 80-year-olds who cannot fathom life without work. Therefore, forget the number and ask yourself how you are feeling in regard to your work – not only financially but also physically and mentally.
According to a May 2021 study by the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College, 34% of women and 31% of men who were retired and claiming benefits in 2019 were 62 years old. Similarly, 30% of women and 36% of men who were retired that year had reached the full retirement age – 65 for people who reached that age up until 2003 or 66 for people who reached that age in 2008. The other retirement age groups were much smaller:
- 7% of both women and men retired at age 63
- 8% of women and 7% of men retired at age 64
- 11% of women and 13% of men retired at age 69
- 9% of women and 6% of men retired at the age of 70 or beyond
When Should I Start My Social Security Benefits?
Although you personally might have other pension plans, in 2014, social security benefits constituted 50% of income for Americans aged 65 or older and their families and 90% of income for a quarter of Americans aged 65 or older and their household. Therefore, deciding when to start social security benefits is an important consideration for most people.
According to the Social Security Administration (SSA), starting benefits before full retirement age will cause your benefits to be reduced by a fraction of a percent for each month before your full retirement age. Before this time, you can receive benefits and continue to work, but your benefits will be reduced if you earn more than the yearly earnings limit, which in 2022 is $19,560. Nevertheless, once you reach full retirement age, the SSA recalculates your benefit amount to give you credit for any months you did not receive a benefit because of your earnings.
On the other hand, delaying benefits until after full retirement gives you delayed retirement credits that would increase your monthly benefit. Furthermore, if you continue to work, you can
receive your full retirement benefits and any increase resulting from your additional earnings when the SSA recalculates your benefits. Something very important to keep in mind is that once you reach full retirement age, your earnings do not affect your benefit amount, meaning that your benefits can no longer be reduced.
Looking beyond Finances
The American Psychological Association warns that retirement implies many psychological adjustments for retirees aside from the more obvious financial changes:
- Coping with the loss of your career identity
- Replacing support networks you had through work
- Spending more time than ever before with your spouse
- Finding new and engaging ways to stay active
For many, retirement comes as a relief: There is finally time to travel, to spend time with family and friends, and to focus on hobbies. However, others struggle with depression, anxiety, and feelings of loss during this new stage of life. Interestingly, one of the best ways to stave off depression, dementia, and hypertension during retirement is to work! Therefore, if you love your job and find yourself missing taking care of patients and rubbing elbows with other nurses, go ahead and continue working; simply scale down your hours so that you can enjoy the freedom and financial stability that retirement can bring.
Best Type of Work for a Quasi-Retiree
If you decide to continue working after reaching retirement age or even after you have officially retired, an excellent way to do this is through PRN work. The beauty of PRN work is that it can be what you want it to be.
- You can give your life some structure by scheduling shifts once or twice a week on a regular basis.
- You could commit to taking care of your grandkids Monday through Friday and still pick up a shift over the weekend just to get out of the house and interact with different people.
- You could give your spouse free range of the house once a week to invite friends over – and get out of each other’s hair for eight to twelve hours – while you reconnect with old colleagues or get to know new people.
Are You Ready for Nursing Retirement?
So much more happens during a shift than the quantifiable tasks that are carried out: You might learn something new; you might truly connect with a patient or even save a person’s life; you might hear a new joke that will have you cracking up for days. This is why, if you’re on the fence about retirement, we completely understand. Leaving behind a lifetime of personal and professional fulfillment, social interaction, endless stories, and even your very sense of identity is no simple matter – and there is no reason why you have to choose all or nothing.
Whether you have already taken this step or are simply weighing your options, we’d love to hear your thoughts on retirement. What does nursing retirement look like for you or what do you wish it looked like? Allow yourself to visualize what you want – you’ll probably realize that it’s possible.