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Are You Making This Dangerous Retirement Planning Mistake?

April 27, 2017 • By

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Last Updated: April 27, 2017

NOTE:  A version of this article was previously published on Suze Orman’s website on April 7, 2016.
Suze OrmanI am concerned that many of you are banking on a retirement strategy that may not work out. According to a national survey by the Employee Benefit Research Institute, more than four in 10 Americans say they plan to keep working past the age of 65.

For many of today’s workers, the motivation to delay retirement is financial. A concern they lack the savings to cover all their retirement costs, including health care expenses.

It’s a logical plan to address a major concern, but I need you to listen to me: thinking you can just keep working may be unrealistic. In the same survey, just 15 percent of retirees said they kept working past age 65. That’s a serious gap between expectations (40 percent plan to keep working past 65) and real life (Only 15 percent kept working after age 65.)

Many of those who retired earlier than they expected were sidelined by illness or disability. Taking care of a family member can also derail plans, as can being laid off or pushed out of a job by downsizing.

If your retirement plan is centered around the assumption you will just keep working longer, please consider these important steps:

  • Keep saving. If you aren’t saving for retirement, or pushing yourself to save even more, you’re putting your future security at risk. The best way to navigate the unknown is to hope for the best and plan for the worst. In this case, not being able to keep working longer is a “worst” case scenario. Plan for that by committing to save as much as possible today in your retirement accounts.
  • Keep Sharp. I know you’ve heard plenty about keeping your work skills up-to-date, but many of you still haven’t done much. If there’s no on-the-job training available, check for online courses; there are plenty of terrific web-based classes you can take. Or look into whether your local community college has useful courses in your field.
  • Keep Fit. The healthier you are, the less susceptible you may be to certain illnesses. There’s also the mind-body connection; I’m a believer that when you feel physically strong, it spills over into a frame of mind that can make you more valuable at work. Besides, I want you to be in the best shape possible for when you do retire, so you can enjoy yourself!


SSA does not endorse any particular financial advisory product or service.

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About the Author

Suze Orman, Personal Finance Expert

Suze Orman is an award-winning personal finance expert.


  1. jerry f.

    Still working after 70 do i still pay taxes ?

    • Ann C.

      Hi. Jerry. Thank you for your question. Everyone working in covered employment or self-employment regardless of age or eligibility for benefits must pay Social Security taxes. Also, you will have to pay Federal taxes on your Social Security benefits if you file a Federal tax return as an individual and your total income is more than $25,000. For further income tax questions, you will need to contact the IRS. Their toll-free number is 1-800-829-1040. We hope this helps.

  2. Brian A.

    God to see Susie Orman can still be as good as ever. Wishing i was as good as ever. Brian A Koller

  3. Kathy

    My job is ending on May 25. I will be 66 in September so I went ahead and enrolled in Medicare Part A and B and filed for Social Security to start in June. Should I have waited and filed for unemployment first? Is this going to keep me from getting unemployment?

    • Ray F.

      Hi Kathy. Social Security does not count unemployment benefits as earnings. They do not affect retirement benefits. However, income from Social Security may reduce your unemployment compensation. Please contact your state unemployment office for information on how your state applies the reduction. Thanks!

    • Jenniffer D.

      Many thanks for the inspiring site you’ve set up at Your enthusiasm is absolutely contagious. Thanks again!

  4. cmoo

    Bad info from SSA about starting at 62. Read alot on the SSA site and even made three calls to make sure I understand things then filed for SSR at 62. Was told that my military retirement, IRA distributions and investment income would not cause taxes if I started SSR. WRONG, CPA just did 2017 taxes and had to pay IRS $1,506.00 because the SSR stacked on top of my military retirement and investment income (don’t have a job or any earned income). Asked SSA if I could suspend payments know that I know the truth and told I exceeded the 12 month deadline. Now the IRS will eat a big chunk of my already reduced SSR. Thanks SSA.

    • Ray F.

      Some people have to pay federal income taxes on their Social Security benefits. This usually happens only if you have other substantial income (such as wages, self-employment, interest, dividends and other taxable income that must be reported on your tax return) in addition to your benefits. For any income tax related questions, you will need to contact the IRS. Their toll-free number is 1-800-829-1040.

  5. Lesley I.

    I’m a single 70-year-old senior. Laid off two years ago from work. My Social security is all that I have. $17,000 a year. Do I have to pay taxes on that I mean file taxes? I have $1400 interest on my home which I have to sell
    Because I can’t afford it any more!

    Thank you.

  6. From F.

    I’m not retiring I still will collect on behalf of my dad King David A.k.a. King Ray McLaughlin Sr Luke chapter 19! What is due for my future offspring’s! They also stole from me if I don’t stop them now from stealing from me they always going to feel like they have a right to take my children away from me, like if I have no right to the Bible more than thry do charging me rather than me charging them, is not a wise decision, because of their behavior not only I had to pay but my daughter had to pay and my twin brother had to pay when the Bible belongs to us therefore tax return is necessary from all organizations using the trademarks of the Bible regardless if they missed use the bible meaning they still use the Bible in someway formal fashion there for my dad comes to Social Security to make sure that Social Security taxes all the people who used the Bible so my future offspring’s does not get taken from me because we owned the Bible!

  7. Ellie

    I was born in January 1953 (I am 65), and my husband was born in November 1953. My husband has been largely self-employed and hasn’t paid Social Security, but would get some benefits from jobs earlier in his career. I am currently employed and intend to work as long as possible, at least until 67. My question is, does it make sense for one of us to begin drawing Social Security benefits now, or at 65 or at 67, and if so, which one of us? He is never going to pay in another dime, but I will be doing so.

    • Ray F.

      Hi Ellie. Please bear in mind that the decision on when to apply for benefits is a personal one. We can only provide you with the information to help you make the best choice according to your own situation. There are a lot of factors that go into deciding when to retire and each individual case can be different.
      We also provide a variety of benefit-calculators to help you and your husband plan for the future.
      We suggest that you and your husband create a my Social Security account to verify your earnings and get your Social Security Statement. Please visit our Retirement Planner for more important information. We hope this helps!

      If you have specific questions, please call our toll free number at 1-800-772-1213, Monday through Friday, between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. and speak with one of our representatives. We hope this information helps!

  8. Michael

    I am presently 65 years old, as of Aug 2017. I have decided not to take my SS until I turn 70. My wife is 59 as of Aug 2017. When she turns 62 can she receive SS from my SS retirement estimated amount at that time, and receive that amount until I turn 70 and start taking my SS and then she would switch to taking the SS amount that she has earned?

    • Ray F.

      Hi Michael, your wife may be able to get benefits on your records when she is at least 62 years of age and you are receiving retirement or disability benefits.
      Also, if your spouse’s birthday is January 2, 1954 or later, the option to take only one benefit at her full retirement age no longer exists. See our Retirement Planner: Benefits For Your Spouse for more information. Thanks!

  9. Marin

    I have been absent for some time, but now I remember why I used to love this website. Thanks , I will try and check back more frequently. How frequently you update your web site?

  10. Janice I.

    I have worked up to age 70. I retired June 2017. Would I be entitled to receive more on my social security ?

    • Ray F.

      Hi Janice. Each year, we review the records for all working Social Security recipients to see if additional earnings may increase monthly benefits. If your earnings for the prior year are higher than one of the years we used to compute your retirement benefit, we will recalculate your benefit amount. Generally, we will send a letter explaining any increase in your benefit amount. Please call our toll free number at 1-800-772-1213, Monday through Friday, from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. or contact your local office directly for further assistance.

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