Reality bites when it comes to wages in retirement

Most working retirees are making much less per hour now, survey shows

By Liz Skinner

Jul 13, 2015 @ 12:01 am EST

Many of the nation's 76 million baby boomers are in need of a vital reality check as they move into retirement over the next decade or two.

As many as 60% of this giant demographic has concluded that they will continue to do some work after officially retiring. However, their expectations of what they'll be paid for that work are unrealistic, a new survey shows.

Only 21% of non-retired boomers say they are willing to work for much less per hour during retirement, according to survey of 1,005 baby boomers around the country by Bankers Life's Center for a Secure Retirement. About a quarter of them said they aren't willing to take any kind of a pay cut once they are retired.

The reality is that 53% of employed retirees make much less per hour than they did before retiring, a companion survey of 2,295 retired boomers found.

(More: Retirees need more than a good investment plan)

More than 90% of not-yet-retired boomers also expect that they'll have special work arrangements such as flex-time, telecommuting or job sharing. The reality is, only a third of working retired boomers said they have such arrangements, the surveys found.

Higher level “c-suite” executives are typically able to command a reasonably high pay, for example, on a board of directors, said Keith Weber, president of Weber Consulting.

But “for the average middle-class American, there is surprise and some disappointment that their skills don't command a little higher wage,” said Mr. Weber, who helps advisers work with investors to plan a happy retirement.

(More: A retirement plan from the guy who teaches retirement income planning)

Once informed about the pay they can realistically expect to earn for work during retirement, some people will decide to work full-time longer and put off retiring, he said.

But others make spending adjustments instead.

“The lesser salary for some is something they are willing to accept to get into something they enjoy more," Mr. Weber said.

(More: When it comes to retirement savings, millennials blow past boomers)

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