Retirement Planning, Elder Law, and Senior Finance

8/31/2022 | By Lisa Gerstner, Kiplinger’s Personal Finance

Lisa Gerstner of Kiplinger’s Personal Finance examines the trend of retirees who “unretire” – i.e., return to work after retirement – and explores reasons and benefits.

Just 40 days after retiring from the NFL last winter, celebrated quarterback Tom Brady announced that he would return to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for another season after all, citing his competitive spirit and unfinished business on the field.

Like Brady, some retirees are so drawn to their work that they can’t stay away for long. They may crave the sense of purpose or human interaction that a job can provide. And while Tom Brady doesn’t have to worry about running out of money, many retirees want to supplement their retirement income with a paycheck.

Lately, there’s been an uptick in the percentage of folks who “unretire.” In May 2022, 3.4% of people who said they were retired a year earlier had returned to work, according to the Indeed Hiring Lab, which provides research on the labor market.

What’s behind the unretire-ment trend?

A tight labor market is one factor. In the spring, there were nearly two available jobs for every unemployed person. Employers are dangling incentives such as higher starting wages and signing bonuses to draw qualified candidates. And although ageism can still be an issue, employers are looking at older, experienced workers more favorably than they did in the past, says Chris Farrell, author of “Purpose and a Paycheck: Finding Meaning, Money, and Happiness in the Second Half of Life.” Rather than wonder when older workers are going to retire, managers are more inclined to think about how to keep them on the job, he says.

older business consultant showing younger employee something on a laptop. Image by Rmarmion, Dreamstime. Kiplinger’s Personal Finance examines the trend of retirees who “unretire” (return to work) and explores reasons and benefits.

High inflation and a rocky stock market may also be luring some retirees back to work or encouraging pre-retirees to work longer. When your dollars don’t stretch as far, adding income can help cover expenses more comfortably. “Filling up part of your income need with some part-time work can be a really good thing at this time, especially if you enjoy doing it,” says Jason Hamilton, a certified financial planner in Orange, California.

Earning a paycheck can also help retirees delay withdrawals from their retirement and investment accounts. That’s especially helpful if the stock market is down in your early retirement years. Pulling money from your portfolio while it’s losing value in a market swoon presents what’s known as sequence-of-returns risk. If your account balance shrinks significantly, you have fewer assets to create returns during market recoveries, posing the threat that you’ll run out of money in a retirement that could last decades.

Related: 10 top second acts after retirement

“Going back to work or continuing to work is one of the most effective ways of mitigating longevity risk,” says Jeffrey Levine, a CFP in St. Louis. As restrictions related to the COVID-19 pandemic lift and vaccines protect against severe illness, those who dropped out of the workforce to avoid contracting the virus may feel more at ease returning to the office or picking up a retail job. But if you’d rather avoid in-person contact, the rising prevalence of remote work provides greater opportunity to stay home when you unretire, and still collect a paycheck.

© 2022 The Kiplinger Washington Editors, Inc. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

Lisa Gerstner, Kiplinger’s Personal Finance

Lisa Gerstner is a contributing editor at Kiplinger’s Personal Finance magazine. For more on this and similar money topics, visit