Seniors returning to part-time workforce in search of supplemental income

Dec 18, 2017 12:11:00 PM / by Darwin Bayston, CFA


The Wall Street Journal reported this week that, in the coming decade, the fastest-growing segments in the American labor force will be the 65-to-74 year-old and 75-and-older age groups. In fact, 40 percent of all Americans age 65 and older are working at least part-time right now.

There are lots of reasons why seniors are returning to the workforce in larger numbers than ever before. The most common reason given by seniors who responded to the 2017 Retirement Confidence Survey, which was conducted by the Employee Benefit Research Institute, was the desire to “stay active and involved,” followed by the fact that these seniors “enjoy working.”

These are wonderful reasons for seniors to return to the workforce. It suggests that today’s seniors are healthier and more active, which enables them to get out and live their lives doing the kinds of things they enjoy doing – work can provide a sense of purpose for us during our senior years in a way that recreation and relaxation often cannot.

However, of the next five most common reasons given by seniors for why they continue to work for pay in retirement, four of them tell a very different story: they’re in it for the cash.

Why They Work

Asked why they continue to work for pay in retirement, surveyed retirees said*:

*Includes multiple responses

Source: Employee Benefit Research Institute and Greenwald & Associates, “2017 Retirement Confidence Survey” (table courtesy of Wall Street Journal)

Whether driven by the casual desire to generate supplemental income or to replace lost investment funds, or fueled by the serious problem of making ends meet or claiming health care benefits, many seniors are seeking part-time employment because of financial instability.

For those retirees who are in search of cash to help ease their financial burdens in retirement, it might be prudent to first seek to liquidate some unneeded assets before checking out the Help Wanted websites. This might include an art collection you can sell, an antique car that is no longer wanted in the family, or maybe even an old life insurance policy that is no longer needed to protect your loved ones in the event of your death.

Life Settlements

The sale of a life insurance policy to a third party – for more than the policy’s cash surrender value – is known as a life settlement transaction. A policy owner receives a cash payment, while the purchaser of the policy assumes all future premium payments and receives the death benefit upon the death of the insured. Candidates for life settlements are typically aged 70 years or older, with a life insurance policy that has a death benefit or at least $100,000, and those seniors who sell a policy can obtain roughly seven times more money than the cash surrender value of the policy.

If you’re a senior returning to the labor force because you have a passion for work and a part-time job helps you stay active then good for you! But if you’re looking for a job in your 70s because you find yourself in the unexpected place of needing some additional cash, you may want to take a good hard look at some assets that can be sold now to put cash in your hands. To learn more about life settlements, call the LISA office today at (888) 521-8223.


Darwin Bayston, CFA

Written by Darwin Bayston, CFA

Darwin Bayston is President and CEO of the Life Insurance Settlement Association (LISA). His charge is to extend the outreach of the Association to all participants of the life settlement industry from consumers to capital providers, including producers, brokers, providers and service providers who are part of the life settlement market. He was previously Managing Director of Life Settlement Consulting & Management (LSCM), founded in 2004 and specialized in life settlement policy and portfolio valuations, and life expectancy analysis. He has published several articles and participated as speaker at a number of life settlement conferences. Previous to that he operated an investment advisory firm. From 1980 to 1993, he served in several capacities, including President and CEO the CFA Institute (and its predecessor organizations). While at CFA, he founded the continuing education program, was editor of the CFA Digest and supervised research projects funded by the Research Foundation of the ICFA. He began his career as an investment analyst with a Midwest life insurance company. Mr. Bayston has been Chairman of the Martha Jefferson Hospital Foundation ($100 million), a member of the Hospital’s Finance Committee and a past member of the Board of the Institute for Quantitative Research and Finance (Q Group).