Get a Life

By Judith Welles

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Don't retire until you read this!

If you are planning to retire at the end of the year, or if you could retire but the economy has made you unsure, there are things you need to know.

Among several significant changes in federal retirement rules, the fiscal 2010 defense authorization bill signed by President Barack Obama allows federal retirees to return to government for limited, part-time appointments without reducing their annuities.

Not all agencies will decide to put aside funds for such appointments. But offices in which retirements are leaving needed skills unfilled are likely to take advantage of the new authority.

What, you say? Why retire and then starting working again at same kind of job? The income boost from part-time work on top of a pension would be an obvious plus. But there are also distinct health benefits that may be even more important.

A national study published by the American Psychological Association finds that there are fewer major diseases and mental health problems for retirees who transition from full-time work into temporary or part-time jobs.

In fact, people who make a “bridge employment” transition between a full-time career and full retirement actually function better day to day than people who stop working altogether.

All of this is good news to baby boomers who have already become known for wanting to be active and continue working after retirement. The new government authority for part-time work after retirement may help those already retired find what they have been seeking. And for those still working, but on the fence about whether to retire, it may provide another incentive.

The findings are reported in the October issue of the Journal of Occupational Health Psychology. Researchers used data from 12,189 participants who were between the ages of 51 and 61. The participants were interviewed every two years over a six-year period beginning in 1992 about their health, finances, employment history, and work or retirement life.

People whose post-retirement jobs were related to their previous careers reported better mental health than those who were fully retired or who worked in jobs outside of their career field. This may be because retirees who take jobs not related to their career may experience more stress in adapting to different job conditions.

The authors suggest that retirees carefully consider their choice of post-retirement employment. So if you can snag a part-time job doing what you used to do, why not try government again?

Posted by Judith Welles on Nov 03, 2009 at 12:12 PM

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Reader comments

Mon, Apr 19, 2010 Nancy Utah

I'm retiring in June. Would I be able to take a job as a seasonal worker?

Mon, Nov 30, 2009 Steve San Antonio, TX

This study suggests that working part-time has a causal relationship with good health. It’s a nice feel-good piece. I would assert that people in good health seek part-time employment after retirement, not the other way around.

Mon, Nov 16, 2009

Wow, for every rehired retiree, there is someone out there trying to get a good job. Retire and stay home I say. Same goes for you retired school teachers too.

Fri, Nov 13, 2009

I have been a reemployed annuitant for a couple of years now in DOD. I work part time in a field related to my previous employment. I find the transition between full-time and part-time to be one of the most enjoyable options I was given. Hope more annuitants get to enjoy the benefit of a temporary, but extended employment opportunity.

Fri, Nov 13, 2009 Bill Warren MI

I welcome the idea of part time work without the offset. I'm getting ready to go next year and would welcome the chance to phase out. What I'm hearing though is that approval authority for rehiring will be up at the Assistant Secretary level. Once again, great ideas are stymied at the top because someone wants ultimate control. How about leaving the authority at the local level?

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