After multiple decades of plugging away at your job, you're finally ready to close out your career and kick off the retirement you've been waiting for. But before you walk into your boss' office and tender your resignation, it pays to consider the merits of pushing yourself to work a bit longer -- say, one extra year.
Extending your time in the workforce for 12 months isn't nearly the same thing as forcing yourself to put in an extra half-decade, and if you're willing to make that effort, you stand to benefit in a number of ways. Here are a few you'll appreciate.
1. Boosting your Social Security income
Your Social Security benefits are calculated based on how much you earn during your top 35 working years. Then, if you wait until your full retirement age to file, you'll get the full monthly benefits to which you're entitled. For those born in 1960 or later, full retirement age kicks in at 67. But if you're willing to work another year, thereby giving yourself the option to hold off on filing, you can instead claim your benefits at 68 and give them an 8% boost in the process.
Let's imagine you're entitled to a monthly benefit of $1,500 at age 67, only you wait a year and file at 68 instead. Doing so will increase your monthly payments to $1,620, leaving you with an additional $1,440 a year throughout retirement. Now, let's be optimistic and assume you live until age 90. Working that extra year and holding off on Social Security will give you an additional $13,680 in lifetime benefits -- not too shabby.
2. Padding and preserving your nest egg
Working one extra year also affords you an opportunity to add more money to your nest egg. Currently, workers 50 and over can contribute up to $24,500 a year to a 401(k) and $6,500 a year to an IRA. Now let's say you have access to the former and rather than retire as scheduled, you stay at your job another year and max it out. You'll add $24,500 to your next egg, but just as importantly, you'll hold off on withdrawing funds from your savings sooner than necessary. And the longer you leave that balance intact, the more it'll get to stay invested and grow.
3. Helping you avoid the boredom factor
There's a reason retirees have an increased risk of suffering from depression compared to workers: All of that free time can get old very quickly, and once it does, your mindset can easily shift from content to downright dissatisfied. The benefit of working even one extra year is that it helps you stave off that boredom when you're younger, and are more likely to get frustrated by the notion of not being busy enough. As you age, you might still get restless, but as your energy level drops, you might have an easier time coming to terms with your new routine. And while you can argue that a single extra year in the workforce won't make that much of a difference as far as the boredom factor goes, it can only help things, not hurt.
If you're utterly sick of your job and have a decent amount of savings to your name, then there's no need to push yourself to work longer than you'd like. But if you don't mind going to work and feel your savings could use a boost, then it pays to give yourself one more year to grow your Social Security benefits, accumulate some additional wealth, and reconcile the notion of not having a rigid routine. It could end up making a huge difference in the grand scheme of your retirement.