Pandemic Effects on Retirees: Somewhat of a Mixed Bag

The job-related impact on older workers appears to have been more severe than the effects felt in younger segments of the workforce, as explained today in a post by NerdWallet’s Liz Weston. “Older workers lost jobs faster and returned to work slower last year than midcareer workers,” Ms. Weston reports in her post, also noting that older workers faced persistently higher unemployment rates than younger workers. The implication of this scenario, from a retirement viewpoint anyway, is that many older workers forced to the sidelines may need to look to Social Benefits as a financial fallback earlier than originally intended, often before their full retirement age or age 70, when benefits would reach maximum levels.

On the other hand, the pandemic-fueled growth in “work at home” arrangements has evidently prolonged the ability of many workers to remain in the workforce longer than originally planned, thereby enabling them to avoid early filing and, in some cases, to add to their eventual Social Security benefits. Ms. Weston’s article includes this telling quote from John Boroff , director of retirement and income solutions for Fidelity Investments: “If you’re still working, it’s an easier decision to put off Social Security.” Since the decision on when to begin collecting benefits is perhaps the most significant decision a retiree can make, extending time in the workforce is a substantial long-term benefit for those able to delay filing.

Overall, it seems fair to say that COVID-19 has changed many attitudes about work and work-life within the older demographic. Ms. Weston’s post, which you can access here, provides an overview of these attitude changes.

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