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Why Some People Don’t Retire (Even if They Can Afford to Do So)

Physician on FIRE, a popular blogger in the FIRE (Financial Independence Retire Early) movement, wrote an article recently that caught my attention.  In the piece, he examined the reasons why physicians continue to work after the age at which they could retire comfortably.  While the article is ostensibly written for physicians, I suspect that some of the basic principles apply to other types of employees as well; particularly those who commonly work past normal retirement age, such as university professors.

Physician on FIRE’s top five reasons that physicians work past the age of financial independence are as follows:

  1. They love their jobs
  2. They wish to ease the transition to retirement
  3. Their patients need them
  4. Their lives need purpose
  5. They are afraid (for various reasons)

For details, I will refer you to his article, as I strongly encourage you to read it and the companion piece addressing physicians who retire early.  For plan sponsors with physicians, professors or other employees who delay retirement, it is critical to understand the reasons behind these delays, as it can help dictate the efforts to incentivize these employees to retire.  For example, the strategy to incentivize retirement for professors that love their job more than they love the prospect of not working is quite different than the approach for professor who may be afraid of retirement.  Clearly, any incentive will need to be customized to address the particular issue of why employees are delaying retirement when they can afford to do so (and for those who cannot afford to retire, a monetary incentive is much more likely to work).

Have you successfully addressed the issue of incentivizing those who seemingly wish to work forever, to retire?  I would love to hear from you!  Connect with me on Twitter or at  

Note: This feature is to provide general information only, does not constitute legal advice, and cannot be used or substituted for legal or tax advice.

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