Returning to Work After Retirement Proving Difficult but Necessary for Many 

Fall 2005

In a recent member poll by a national retiree association, approximately one-in-five respondents indicated that mounting expenses have forced them to go back to work to make ends meet. 

Many of the retirees respondents interviewed indicated serious concerns and offered anecdotes about rejection they have faced from potential employers, possibly due to their age. 

Elizabeth Carnesecchi retired from NYNEX, said rent hikes and the high price of medicine and food forced her to return to work. Carnesecchi applied for jobs at temporary employment agencies and said that some of her experiences were humiliating.

Photo Provided by MAS 

“When I retired in 1994, the word processing and computer skills I learned at NYNEX allowed me to gain temporary employment, but after some time the opportunities diminished. My inability to find work affected me psychologically. I knew I had the skills to work, but I believe when the agency saw my ID, they were not willing to place me and companies weren’t looking to hire temps my age.” 

Carnesecchi has seen the value of her monthly pension diminish and is increasingly concerned about how to pay for her medical expenses. 

In the recent poll, conducted by the 100,000 member Association of BellTel Retirees (, respondents cited increased medical costs, higher property taxes and increased cost of living as key factors in their decision to return to work. Some also noted the lack of an expected cost of living adjustment from their individual pension plans. 

Anne Guerin, who also worked for the telecommunications company that is now part of the Verizon Communications, became ill and was forced to take an early retirement package in 1992 after twenty-five years of service . Guerin said, “My monthly pension is not nearly enough to survive on with today’s soaring costs of living, plus the huge amount of property taxes I must pay... to remain in our single family home"

Guerin added that her husband Neil worked in the airline industry over 45 years and almost every single airline he worked for went bankrupt. Neil Guerin’s pension from the Eastern Airlines has decreased in value and what Ann identifies as a desperate financial situation has forced him to return to work at age 74. For Anne, a back injury and a recent heart attack have prevented her from returning to work. 

Matthew Sinclair, a financial representative with New England Financial in Tarrytown, New York said retirees are re-entering the workforce for a number of reasons notably because, “older workers want to continue to be productive members of society. There is also a curiosity to pursue new career paths that they never envisioned for themselves before retiring.” 

Sinclair added, “Unfortunately the vast majority of retirees who return to work do so out of necessity. They did not effectively plan for their retirement and now are faced with the need for additional income.” 

Some of today’s younger retirees also return to work to take better advantage of Medicare and Social Security programs. Since eligibility for Medicare does not begin until age 65, if an employee receives a buy out or retires from the workforce before then, or receives an early buy out, their families and dependents will in most cases have to enroll in private insurance programs that could prove to be very expensive. 

Retirees enrolled in Medicare and who have chronic medical conditions necessitating regular medication can also be better served by employer-sponsored insurance policies that do not have the $3,000 annual limit on drug purchases, as the government sponsored program has. 

Delaying the age of retirement can boost government pensions as well. If retirees file for Social Security at full retirement age (65 to 67 depending on date of birth), they could boost the amount of their payment by 20 to 30 percent. 

Another factor in pushing retirees to return to work is that Americans are living longer. 

Life expectancy in the U.S. has risen to an all-time high of 77.6 years. According to preliminary data from to the Center for Disease Control’s National Center for Health Statistics, males are living to an average age of 74.8, while females are living to 80.1. 

Leo Gotlieb, a certified financial planner with the firm of Gotlieb & Associates, in Cherry Hill, New Jersey said that retirees must better plan their investment portfolios because older Americans are typically living into their eighties and nineties. 

“Typically, retirees I work with have invested too conservatively. As older workers are living longer, their pension or social security, coupled with their nest eggs may not be able provide for their daily and monthly expenses. Ultimately it is about cash flow. By returning to work, they can have more disposal income, be better able to invest it and experience a more lucrative retirement.” 

Be Prepared For the Job Opportunities 

For retirees returning to work, there are a number of issues to consider, including opportunities and the demands of a new economy. 

Today, virtually every U.S. job demands at least basic computer skills. In general, there will not be as many managerial positions available to post-retirement workers and the opportunities will require knowledge of office computer systems. 

Retirees should be flexible and willing to negotiate. 

If employers appear reluctant to hire older employees, propose working on a part-time or project-base basis. Employers may appreciate the option and be willing to experiment. 

Finally, be ready to negotiate compensation needs. 

Retirees must be clear about their needs. If health benefits are more vital than money, state that to prospective employers. If retirees need a flexible schedule, negotiate for it. 

Did You Know? 

The age to receive full social security benefits is based on an applicant’s year of birth. 

The following chart details full benefits based on year of birth 

Year Of Birth

Full Retirement Age

1937 or earlier



65 and 2 months


65 and 4 months


65 and 6 months


65 and 8 months


65 and 10 months




66 and 2 months


66 and 4 months


66 and 6 months


66 and 8 months


66 and 10 month

1960 and later


* If you were born on January 1st of any year you should refer to the previous year *

The earliest you can start receiving Social Security retirement benefits remains age 62. 

Note: If you qualify for benefits as a surviving spouse, you full retirement age may be different. 

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