The concept of “unretirement” is gaining momentum as an increasing number of retirees are choosing to reenter the workforce. In this blog post, we’ll explore the reasons behind this trend, delve into both financial and nonfinancial factors contributing to unretirement, and highlight a common mistake retirees make when planning their retirement. We’ll also provide practical tips on how retirees can achieve fulfillment and purpose during their post-career years.

The Financial Motivation for Unretirement

Recent statistics reveal a surprising trend in retirement. According to T. Rowe Price, approximately 20% of retirees are currently working full-time or part-time jobs. Even more intriguing, a study from Paychex found that one in six retired individuals is contemplating returning to work, and the primary motivator for this group is financial need. Nearly 50% of those considering reemployment cited the necessity for additional income as their primary driver.

The Nonfinancial Aspects of Unretirement

While financial concerns play a significant role in the decision to unretire, there is another critical dimension to this phenomenon: the nonfinancial aspects. Many financially stable retirees, who do not necessarily need extra income, are still opting to return to work. Their motivations revolve around the emotional and social benefits of work.

A remarkable 45% of respondents in a survey mentioned that they return to work to fulfill social and emotional needs that retirement doesn’t satisfy. Loneliness, a lack of purpose, and a diminished sense of community are common challenges retirees face. These issues align with the three Cs of retirement fulfillment: connection, contribution, and creativity.

Fulfilling the Three Cs in Retirement

To combat the challenges of unretirement, retirees can focus on the three Cs:

  1. Contribution: Retirees can donate their time and skills to causes or charities they are passionate about. Using their unique abilities to assist organizations can be incredibly fulfilling. Identifying your strengths is essential, and tools like StrengthsFinder can help pinpoint your skills.
  1. Connection: Maintaining strong social relationships after retirement is crucial. Retirees should make a concerted effort to stay connected with friends and colleagues. Additionally, exploring hobbies and interests can lead to new social connections.
  1. Creativity: Engaging in creative pursuits can provide a sense of purpose. Whether it’s pursuing a long-lost hobby, starting a new artistic endeavor, or exploring a passion, creativity can bring joy and fulfillment to retirement.

The Big Retirement Mistake: Starting Social Security Early

One common mistake retirees make is rushing to start Social Security benefits immediately upon retirement. This decision can backfire when retirees experience unretirement. If retirees exceed an earnings limit (around $21,000 per year), they may have to repay Social Security benefits at a rate of $1 for every $2 they earn.

To avoid this pitfall, retirees should consider waiting a few months before starting Social Security. During this time, they can rely on other savings and investments to cover their expenses while they gauge their interest in returning to work. This approach allows retirees to test the waters of retirement and ensures they don’t inadvertently incur financial penalties.


The rise of unretirement is a multifaceted phenomenon driven by both financial necessity and nonfinancial factors. As retirees consider returning to work, it’s crucial to balance their financial needs with the emotional and social aspects of retirement. By focusing on the three Cs—connection, contribution, and creativity—retirees can find fulfillment and purpose in their post-career years. Additionally, avoiding the common mistake of starting Social Security too early can help retirees navigate the transition to unretirement more smoothly, ensuring their financial security and overall well-being.

Disclaimer: Since we don’t know your specific situation, none of this information should be construed as tax, legal, financial, insurance, financial advice, or other advice and may be outdated or inaccurate. It is your responsibility to verify all information yourself. This content is prepared for entertainment purposes only. If you need advice, please contact a qualified CPA, attorney, insurance agent, financial advisor, or the appropriate professional for the subject you would like help with. Streamline Financial Services, LLC or its members cannot be held liable for any use or misuse of this content.

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Disclosures: Securities offered through LaSalle St. Securities LLC (LSS), member FINRA/SIPC. Advisory services offered through LaSalle St. Investment Advisors LLC (LSIA), a Registered Investment Advisor. Streamline Financial Services is not affiliated with LSS or LSIA. LSS is affiliated with LSIA.