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If you’ve been dreaming of retirement since you entered the workforce, you might have a certain idea of what it looks like. But there’s a chance you might not start retirement when you thought you would, perhaps due to circumstances beyond your control. While life doesn’t always go according to plan, would-be retirees can make the best of a bad situation by delaying retirement.

8 reasons for delaying retirement

Amid an shifting economic landscape and the possibility of living longer than ever before, the traditional retirement age of 65 to 67 might not be the best plan for everyone. For some, punching out for the last time may need to be pushed back a few years. Here are eight reasons why you might want to rethink your retirement timeline.

1. You give yourself more time to save and invest

For many retirees, $1 million is the magic savings number for retirement, but most Americans are nowhere close to that figure. According to Vanguard’s “How America Saves 2023” report, workers who were between 45 to 54 years old in Vanguard’s retirement plans had a median of $48,301 at the end of 2022. Those aged 55-64 had a median $71,168 in their plan. Delaying retirement gives you more time to save for your golden years and less time to live off your savings. Many retirees fear they will run out of money before they die, so the more time you spend saving, the less you’ll depend on that nest egg when the time comes to stop working.

2. You can delay Social Security for a bigger payout

While you can claim Social Security as early as age 62, the later you put it off, the more you could eventually claim. Waiting until your full retirement age or all the way until you hit 70 could significantly bump up your benefits. For example, those with a full retirement age of 67 could boost their monthly benefit by 24 percent if they waited until age 70. Delaying Social Security means you’ll need to make up for that potentially lost income. Without a solid nest egg in place, you may have to delay retirement longer than you anticipated. Continuing to work might be your only, or main, source of income for a little while longer. In the meantime, though, you’ll lock in some more Social Security boosts while you’re at it.

3. You like what you do

If you’re happy with your job and otherwise happy working, you don’t have to stop once you hit a magic number. Not everyone enjoys their jobs, and many look forward to the day they don’t have to go into the office anymore. But if you’re satisfied, don’t feel compelled to stop. Aside from income, working has numerous other benefits for emotional, psychological and mental health. Older workers needn’t stop working at a certain age, especially if they enjoy it.

4. You can capitalize on other work benefits

While income is useful, a job typically provides other benefits as well. For instance, you might have an awesome employer-matched 401(k) program. If you don’t qualify for Medicare yet, you may also rely on healthcare benefits. These benefits might be better than what’s offered on the federal  healthcare exchanges, or at least for much less than you’d pay. Some workers might receive other perks, such as reimbursement for continuing education, gym memberships, reimbursement for some bills and more. If you want to keep certain benefits that you can’t get if you leave your job, you might want to stick around for a little bit longer.

5. You can wait out inflation

Inflation is cooling but if it picks up again, you might consider delaying retirement. It can make sense to wait out rising prices and ensure that your finances are on a stable footing before you move on to the next stage. As you wait, use Bankrate’s retirement calculator to figure out how long your money will last.

6. You’re stuck and unable to retire

Sometimes important elements of your retirement plan get derailed.  For instance, you may not be able to downsize because of an uncertain housing market. Or you got laid off during the pandemic and had to find a job that wasn’t what you traditionally did for work, so you’re making up for lost income now. Maybe you wanted to relocate to be close to family, or sudden health concerns have eaten up more of your budget than you expected. Regardless of the reason, you may not be able to retire now and may need to re-evaluate your plans or consider alternatives, including working longer.

7. Health insurance

If you opt to retire before reaching the age of 65, the age at which you become eligible for Medicare, you will need to secure health insurance. Several options exist, including COBRA coverage, which can extend your employer’s group health plan for a certain period, usually 18 months. Alternatively, you might be able to join your spouse’s employer-sponsored coverage or explore individual plans in the health insurance marketplace. Remember, though, retiring early can significantly impact your health insurance options and associated costs, primarily because of the coverage gap before you qualify for Medicare at 65.

8. Continue to delay taxes

Delaying retirement can also provide you with the opportunity to defer taxes on certain retirement accounts. If you continue to work past age 73, you will still need to make required minimum distributions (RMDs) from your traditional IRAs, regardless of your employment status. However, if you are working and don’t own more than 5 percent of the company you work for, you might have the option to delay RMDs from your current employer’s 401(k) plan. It’s important to familiarize yourself with the specific rules of your plan and seek advice from a financial advisor to avoid any potential penalties.

Bottom line

Retirement isn’t a one-size-fits-all path. If you have to delay retirement because of something unexpected or because things didn’t go according to plan, don’t fret. If you’re feeling stuck and don’t see a way out, you might have more options than you think. Take some time to review your choices now so you can map out a path to retirement in the future. Use Bankrate’s AdvisorMatch tool to find a financial advisor who can review your specific situation and keep you on track to achieve your retirement goals.