What Is the Ideal Nurse Retirement Age?

nurse in her sixties considering retirement
Written by
Crystal Shoaie
Reviewed by
Miranda Kay, RN
November 7, 2023

Age 65 may come to mind when you consider leaving your working years behind you, yet there is no universal retirement age. Although full Social Security payments and eligibility for Medicare typically begin at this age, your health, interests, and finances also provide crucial insights into the right nurse retirement age for you.

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Some nurses yearn to retire early, while others prefer postponing this life change. In any case, knowing when and why you hope to retire and planning for it is essential, in the words of T.D. Jakes, "Time is a precious commodity"—and a scarce commodity for active full-time nurses. The stage of life when you will have this priceless possession is retirement, often offering 20–25 years of precious time for enjoyment and fulfillment after decades of hard work.

I Want to Retire 

Many nurses look forward to retirement.

Yes, we all long to be free to enjoy life. But what do you want to do with your free time?

One person's idea of a "dream retirement" may be quite distinct from someone else's, even unique. That's why it's essential to consider what you want to do, what lifestyle you would like to adopt, and the related expenses. Although each person has their particular style and longings, seven common retirement aspirations might help you discover your own.

  1. Family and friends: These are the people closest to my heart, and I want to strengthen our connections.
  2. Personal health challenges: I may seek a temporary retirement to regain strength or learn to cope with my limitations. However, I plan to continue with some income-generating activities because my health expenses are higher than expected.
  3. My work is my life: I want to relax and have more time, but I prefer to retire gradually, continuing with less stressful work, reducing the number of hours or shifts, or taking a mentoring position. I may opt for a later retirement. 
  4. A hobby: An activity such as gardening, restoring antique cars, cooking, singing, or improving my home is what I want to spend my time on.
  5. Entertaining: Inviting friends and family to my home brings closeness, laughter, and joy. 
  6. Travel: Globetrotting, visiting national parks, or cruising through islands is my dream, and I already find some time for travel, even before retiring.
  7. Volunteer service: Caring for others has always been important to me as a nurse. In retirement, I expect community service to give meaning to my life and opportunities to use my knowledge and skills with much less pressure and in a supportive, friendly environment.

Combinations of the above can also be a good fit for you.

  • Travel combined with volunteer community service: Numerous reputable organizations provide well-structured, safe programs to use your skills, empathy, and expertise in areas of greater need. Such organizations include Projects Abroad, International Volunteer HQ, and International Medical Relief. These organizations provide medical placements for dedicated healthcare mission teams comprising seasoned professionals who'd like to put their hard-earned expertise to use with grateful communities.
  • Cooking with entertaining: Although you can entertain without taking on the job of cooking for your guests, it is an excellent opportunity to show off those exotic dishes you have mastered.
  • Family and travel: Take a family member on a trip to the beach or organize a family reunion. You could get the grandchildren together at a place they would enjoy.
  • Per diem shifts with your hobby: Retirement activities can be expensive, and per diem shifts can help cover the extra expenses.

Of course, this list is not exhaustive; it includes a few common retirement aspirations to help you think about your future. What you want to do helps to determine the best retirement age for you.

What Factors Affect the Ideal Nurse Retirement Age?

Early retirement is leaving the workforce before the traditional age of 65, and retiring after 70 is usually regarded as late retirement. According to scholarly research published by the Journal of Advanced Nursing, the most significant factors leading to early retirement are a retired spouse and poor health—which closely relate to the first two retirement aspirations mentioned above: family and health.

Late retirement can often be the case for those who feel "their work is their life." However, all retirement dreams have financial implications. Travel and some hobbies involve higher spending levels.

More and more nurses and other professionals are opting for gradual retirement to have more time and less stress, but not drop from 40 intensive weekly work hours to zero—often a difficult and traumatic transition.

Whether early, late, or in between, nurse retirement age depends greatly on finances: if your Social Security payments will be enough to live on, if you have another pension and when payments will become available, or if you have savings or investments. Once nurses resolve financial issues, they are freer to make their own decisions regarding retirement age, and many look forward to taking off early into this relaxed time of life.

What's the Average Age of Nurses?

The average nurse age is 46 years, according to the 2022 National Nursing Workforce Survey. On average, Americans retire around 62, although some nurses manage to retire in their fifties, and others extend their work life well into their seventies.

What's the Average Social Security Check at Age 70?

The national average Social Security monthly payment is $1,963.48 as of May 2023.

Your retirement age and the earnings on which you have paid Social Security payroll taxes determine the exact amount you receive.

Full Social Security retirement is available at ages 66-67, depending on your date of birth. Your monthly payments will stay the same if you receive benefits after your full retirement age. In like manner, for those who opt for early retirement, available from the age of 62, the monthly amount decreases.

The Social Security Retirement Planner shows how delayed retirement raises your benefits. The increase depends on your birth date and the months you delay beginning to receive your monthly payments.

Age When Beginning to Receive Benefits and Increase for Delay

Age Percentage of Full Retirement Justification
67 108% Benefits not paid for 12 months
70 132% Benefits not paid for 48 months

When you reach age 70, the increase to your monthly benefit stops even if you continue to work and postpone taking benefits.

You can start early Social Security retirement at 62, but the monthly benefit decreases 25 to 30 percent.

Work After Retirement May Boost Your Benefits

Your earnings can increase your monthly benefit amount—even after you start receiving benefits. If your latest year of earnings is among your highest, Social Security will automatically recalculate your benefit amount and pay you any increase due. 

Nursa connects nurses with healthcare facilities, making finding high-paying per diem shifts simple and easy, allowing a gradual transition into retirement. Whether you retire early or late, you can stay active and supplement your income with per diem jobs.

a nurse close to retirement and a new nurse with patient on stretcher
Many nurses derive deep satisfaction with their jobs and enjoy working as older adults.

How to Celebrate Retired Nurses

All those years of work deserve a celebration at whatever age a nurse retires. What's a good retirement gift for a nurse? A plaque honoring the years of dedication and a nicely framed picture of them with their colleagues would be good conversation pieces to bring back good memories, but maybe one of the best gifts is a piece of that precious commodity—time. You can organize occasional get-togethers with the closest colleagues or celebrate the retiree's birthday, making sure they know they are warmly remembered and admired.

See Also: Plan Your Retirement with Ease: A Guide for Nurses
Crystal Shoaie
Blog published on:
November 7, 2023

Meet Crystal, a contributing copywriter for Nursa who specializes in writing topics that help nursing professionals navigate the world of finances, education, licensing, compliance, equality, and ideal locations for per diem jobs.

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