Working past the traditional retirement age is a reality for many people, whether for financial necessity or a genuine desire to keep active.
Working longer can be rewarding and doesn't have to be a chore, so what are the employment options for those in their sixties and beyond?%VIRTUAL-SkimlinksPromo%
Review your goals
Just like at other landmark points into your career, it is important to review what you want from working and whether your current situation meets your needs. As well as financial commitments, think about what kind of lifestyle you would like to have.
Are you happy working for an employer or do you want to try being your own boss? Do you want to keep full-time hours or work at a more leisurely pace? Are you passionate about your current industry or eager to retrain and try something new?
If you are happy in your current position, the phasing out of the retirement age (formerly 65) means that you can now work as long as you want to without discrimination.
"If you want to continue working at the same pace, you need to prove to employers that you are full of energy, genuine enthusiasm and have all the relevant and up to date skills and knowledge for the job," explains Corinne Mills, managing director of Personal Career Management and author of You're Hired! How to write a brilliant CV and Career Coach. "While age discrimination undoubtedly exists, if you can prove your capabilities, then your age should be unimportant."
If you enjoy your job but want a slower pace, talk to your employer about flexible working options. This could include working reduced hours, working a different pattern of hours or working from home. "This can be done in the form of an informal chat about what you would like to happen, or by submitting a more formal 'flexible working request'," explains Esther Smith, a partner in the employment team at law firm, Thomas Eggar.
If your request is rejected, you have the opportunity to appeal. You may also have a case for discrimination if your employer cannot give objective justification for refusing your request.
Freelance or contract
If you like what you do but are keen to be your own boss, a move into contracting or freelancing can be a good idea. "The flexibility of contracting offers a chance for the over 60s to continue working at their own pace and on their own terms," explains Matthew Huddleston, chief financial officer of FPS Group – the umbrella company for contractors.
"Contractors over 60 are valued in the market for their wealth of experience and the fact that research shows they are the most savvy age category when considering the next steps in their employment."
It is sensible to phase your way into this kind of work – building contacts and taking on work over a period of months – before taking the plunge to leave the regular income of a permanent position.
Build a portfolio
If you like the idea of variety in your work, a portfolio career could be a good option. "Look into combining different paid and voluntary work activities," suggests Mills. "This could include consultancy or mentoring, or a customer facing job like retail or call centres as mature workers are often valued for their customer service skills."
If you want to try something new, a college course could also be integrated into your portfolio, which could lead to a new job or business opportunity once you are fully trained.
Seven retirement nightmares
Working past 65: what are your options
Figures from charity Age UK show that 29% of those over 60 feel uncertain or negative about their current financial situation - with millions facing poverty and hardship. Even though saving for retirement is not much fun, the message is therefore that having to rely on dwindling state benefits in retirement is even less so. To avoid ending up in this situation, adviser Hargreaves Lansdown recommends saving a proportion of your salary equal to half your age at the time of starting a pension. In other words, if you are 30 when you start a pension, you should put in 15% throughout your working life. If you start at 24, saving 12% of your salary a year should produce a similar return.
Many older couples rely on the pension income of one person - often the man. Should that person die first, the other person can therefore be left in a difficult position financially.
One way to prevent financial hardship for the surviving person is to take out a joint life annuity that will continue to pay out up to 67% of the original payments to the surviving partner should one of them die.
The disadvantage of this approach, however, is that the rate you receive will be lower. Again, the Pensions Advisory Service on 0845 601 2923 is a useful first port of call if you are unsure what to do.
Around 427,000 households in the over-70 age groups are either three months behind with a debt repayment or subject to some form of debt action such as insolvency, according to the Consumer Credit Counselling Service (CCCS).
Its figures also show that those aged 60 or older who came to the CCCS for help last year owed an average of £22,330. Whether you are retired or not, the best way to tackle debt problems is head on.
Free counselling services from the likes of CCCS and Citizens Advice can help with budgeting and dealing with creditors.
Importantly, they can also conduct a welfare benefits check to make sure you are receiving the pension credit, housing and council tax benefits, attendance and disability living allowances you are entitled to.
The average UK pensioner household faces a £111,400 tax bill in retirement as increasing longevity means pensioners are living on average up to 19 years past the age of 65, according to figures from MetLife. And every year in retirement adds an extra £5,864 in direct and indirect taxes based on current tax rates to the costs for the average pensioner household. You can be forced to go bankrupt if you fail to pay your taxes, so it is vital to factor these costs into your retirement planning.It is also important to check that you are receiving all the benefits and tax breaks you are entitled to if you want to make the most of your retirement cash.
The cost of a room in a care home in many parts of the country is now over £30,000 a year, according to figures from Prestige Nursing and Care. So even if the prime minister announces a cap on care costs - last year the economist Andrew Dilnot called for a new system of funding which would mean that no one would pay more than £35,000 for lifetime care - families will still face huge accommodation costs. Ways to cut this cost include opting for home care rather than a care home. Jonathan Bruce, managing director of Prestige Nursing and Care, said: "For older people who may need care in the shorter term, home care is an option which allows people to maintain their independence for longer while living in their own home and should be included in the cap." However, the only other answer is to save more while you can.
Older Britons are often targeted by unscrupulous criminals - especially if they have a bit of money put away. For example, many over 50s were victims of the so-called courier scam that tricked into keying their pin numbers into their phones and handing their cards to "couriers" who visited their homes. It parted consumers from £1.5 million in under two years. Detective Chief Inspector Paul Barnard, head of the bank sponsored dedicated cheque and plastic crime unit (DCPCU), said: "Many of us feel confident that we can spot fraudsters, but this type of crime can be sophisticated and could happen to anyone." The same is true of boiler room scams that target wealthier Britons with money to invest, offering "once-in-a-lifetime" opportunities to snap up shares at bargain prices. Tactics to watch out for include cold calling, putting you under pressure to pay up or lose the opportunity for good, and claiming to have insider information that they are prepared to share with you.