What If You Decide To Never Retire?

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Retirement has long been considered a rite of passage for Americans as they reach the end of their working lives. However, in recent years, there has been a growing trend of individuals deciding to delay their retirement or forgo it altogether.

“The concept of retirement has changed vastly over the past several decades,” said Doug Dahmer, founder of Retirement Navigator. “[It] was originally introduced by many governments to bring in a new generation to the workforce; these days there is a [high] probability that retirement will disappear for its past socioeconomic reasons.” 

Many factors contribute to this trend, including financial stability, longer life expectancy and a desire to continue working. With more people choosing to work well into their golden years, it begs the question: What are the implications of not retiring? 

For those who decide to continue working past retirement age, there are a number of factors to consider. One of the most significant is the impact on government-provided assets, such as Medicare. Many people assume they will be automatically enrolled in Medicare when they turn 65, but this is not always the case. For those who choose to keep working, there may be delays or limitations in accessing these benefits.

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Additionally, taxes may be impacted by continuing to work in retirement, as income levels may change and new sources of income may be introduced. As such, it is important to understand the legal and financial implications of not retiring in the United States.

You Don’t Have To Retire — Mostly 

In general, the U.S. government does not have the authority to force individuals to retire. While there are no federal laws mandating retirement, some companies have policies that require employees to retire at a certain age.


These policies are often viewed as discriminatory, and many have been challenged and overturned in court. However, there are some exceptions. For example, certain occupations might have mandatory retirement ages for safety or health reasons. These include airline pilots, firefighters, air traffic controllers and some law enforcement officers, among others. In these cases, mandatory retirement ages are set by law or regulation and are designed to ensure public safety.

Are You Retirement Ready?

Additionally, some employers have policies that require employees to retire at a certain age. These policies are often referred to as “mandatory retirement” policies and are generally viewed as discriminatory unless they are based on a bona fide occupational qualification, such as the need for physical strength or agility.

What About Medicare and Other Government-Provided Assets? 

Yes, you can still be eligible for Medicare even if you choose not to retire. However, you will need to enroll in Medicare proactively since it is not an automatic process unless you are already claiming Social Security benefits.

Individuals who are 65 years old or older and are U.S. citizens or permanent residents may be eligible for Medicare regardless of their employment status. This includes people who are still working, self-employed or unemployed. However, the cost of Medicare might vary based on income, and some individuals might be eligible for assistance in paying these costs. 

It’s important to note that the decision to enroll in Medicare can impact an individual’s ability to receive other government-provided benefits, such as Social Security. 

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What About Taxes?

You’ll still have to pay taxes on the income you earn, which can impact your overall tax liability. Additionally, if you’re receiving Social Security benefits and continue to work, your benefits may be subject to taxation based on your income level. 

However, there also might be some tax benefits if you continue to work in your later years. For example, you might be eligible for a higher standard deduction or catch-up contributions to retirement accounts. 

To make sure you understand how your decision not to retire will affect your taxes, it’s a good idea to talk to a tax professional.  

It’s Never Too Early To Start Thinking About It

Thinking about retirement can be intimidating — especially if it feels very far away. However, experts agree there’s no day like today.

“Life is a process of constant trade-offs with all of our resources, and more of one thing usually means having to make sacrifices elsewhere,” Dahmer said. “I see my clients have this realization once they begin to consciously contemplate their future life choices and start charting a course of what they hope to achieve in future.”

Are You Retirement Ready?

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