What to consider when re-entering the work force

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By Maryellen Garrison

The recent economic recession hit many Americans hard. If you’re over the age of 55 and are looking for employment, you are not alone. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the unemployment rate for older workers was 5.3 percent in August 2013. While this figure is down from its high of 7.2 percent in December 2009, it is still nearly twice as high as when the recession began in 2007. While long-term unemployment rose substantially across demographics, it occurred at a greater rate for older workers compared to younger workers. Nearly 50 percent of unemployed older workers have been actively seeking employment for more than six months.

The 2012 report by the Government Accountability Office found that older workers face several challenges to obtaining or regaining employment including high salary expectations, expensive health benefits, out-of-date skills and visible frustration during job interviews.

Eldercare has a brochure with tips to help older jobseekers brush up on their resume writing, interview techniques and application forms. It is available online at http://www.eldercare.gov/eldercare.net/public/Resources/Brochures/docs/O.... Other useful websites include the U.S. Department of Labor http://doleta.gov/seniors/ and its CareerOneStop http://www.careeronestop.org/ and AARP http://www.aarp.org/work/job-hunting/.

If you are currently receiving Social Security benefits and are thinking about re-entering the work force to supplement your income, you should realize that paid employment could affect your benefits. If you work and are older than full retirement age, you may keep all of your benefits despite your earnings amount. Full retirement age for those born between Jan. 2, 1943, and Jan. 1, 1955, is 66. In 2014, workers younger than full retirement age receiving Social Security will have their benefits reduced $1 from every $2 they earned over $15,480. Those receiving Social Security benefits who will reach full retirement age in 2014 will have their benefits reduced by $1 for every $3 they earned over $41,400 until they reach their birth month. Contact your local Social Security office to find out the amount you can earn while receiving Social Security payments.

Many employers value older workers for their experience, work ethic and mentoring abilities and are willing to hire older adults.