Without Money to Retire, Paramedic Must Stay Healthy to Keep Working

BY David Pelcyger and Elizabeth Shell  June 14, 2013 at 12:51 PM EDT

Joel Peters, 62, plans on working as a paramedic for as long as he can perform the physically demanding job. Video shot and produced by David Pelcyger.

Sixty-two isn’t too old to be a paramedic, at least according to Joel Peters.

“I have to stay in shape because it’s a physically demanding job,” he told us. “That’s how you survive.”

Peters should know. He has worked twelve-hour shifts in a hospital emergency room in Taos, N.M., for 25 years.

Peters and his wife Jackie are able to meet their financial needs as long as he continues to work. After that, things are less certain.

“When I see myself not able to keep up with what’s going on, I will bow out. My next question would be, am I in a position to do that? And that’s going to be the tough part.”

Peters is among the majority of Americans who do not have enough saved for retirement, and are therefore staying on in the workplace.

So, is retirement as we know it a thing of the past? How long are we likely to work? We have spent the past year looking at the factors — demography, economics and just plain personal preference — that help explain what’s happening to the American workforce as it ages in our special project, New Adventures for Older Workers.

Editor’s note: this post originally incorrectly stated the number of years Mr. Peters has been working as a paramedic. This has been corrected.