Pittsburgh Legal Back Talk

Legal topics of interest to lawyers and consumers with a Pittsburgh and Western Pennsylvania focus.

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Baby Boomers and Retirement Age.

Posted By Cliff Tuttle | January 2, 2011

No. 555

The first of the Baby Boomers, my generation, are beginning to turn 65 in 2011.  Among the early ones, Chief Judge Donetta Ambrose of the US District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania, elected Senior Judge status on her 65th birthday this past November.  Being a Senior Judge is not exactly retirement — its probably better.  Someone else must squeeze an administrative load into a busy trial schedule.  The stress level drops like a rock. Meanwhile, the judicial system and the country are big winners.  All of that experience and knowledge is a valuable resource — too valuable to waste.  And as more BB’ers pass the retirement threshold, this should be a model for post-retirement employment of seniors in every field.

It wasn’t too long ago that a 65 year old man had an actuarial life expectancy of 2 or 3 years and a pension waiting.  Under those circumstances, it made sense  to step aside.  But that’s not the way it looks to many boomers approaching the traditional retirement age and a considerable number want to work longer and retire later.

Some see this as a negative trend.  I don’t.  After all those years of self-education and experience, successful seniors can and should be able to make an even greater contribution to employers, the economy and to mankind.  However, seniors who continue to work will need to be given a reasonable accommodation for diminishing health, stamina and other physical limitations. Why bother?  Because they are a valuable national resource, one that should not be wasted.

However, their greatest role could well be as teachers, teachers of all kinds.  This would include acting as mentors and trainers in industry, but should extend much further. A second career in public and private school teaching, at all levels, should be made accessible to retirees.  Not mediocre ones, mind you, but the most energetic, intelligent, educated and motivated seniors we can find. And frankly, if you look in the right places, you ought to be able to find candidates who rank about two standard deviations above the mean of the existing teaching corps.

Of course, they should audition for such positions, perhaps annually.  And once you find the best candidates, they should be given a high degree of flexibility.  In return, those with the right stuff  would enrich the education of the next generation enormously.  And in the era of cyber-education, their impact could be enormous. As tutorials are being assembled to teach subjects that used to be presented live, experts will be in demand to write, produce and present these cyber-lessons.  And where will such experts be found?  You’re getting the idea.

And there is another big advantage to hiring the elderly.  They probably won’t work long enough at their second careers to earn pensions.


CLIFF TUTTLE has been a Pennsylvania lawyer for over 45 years and (inter alia) is a real estate litigator and legal writer. The posts in this blog are intended to provide general information about legal topics of interest to lawyers and consumers with a Pittsburgh and Western Pennsylvania focus. However, this information does not constitute legal advice and there is no lawyer-client relationship created when you read this blog. You are encouraged to leave comments but be aware that posted comments can be read by others. If you wish to contact me in privacy, please use the Contact Form located immediately below this message. I will reply promptly and in strict confidence.

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