Sunset Years for Two: Retirement with a Big Age Gap


April 25, 2024

1:19 min

Couple sitting together outside

Retirement with an age gap can be a wonderful adventure, but communication and planning are key.

Dean E. McCullar, CFP®
Vice President & Financial Advisor, LPL

Retirement is a dream for many, but for couples with a significant age difference, it can add a layer of complexity. Here's a look at the pros and cons of retiring when one spouse is younger:


  • Extended "pre-retirement" phase: The younger spouse can keep working, providing financial security and health insurance benefits while the older spouse enjoys retirement.
  • Potential for a longer travel window: With staggered retirements, couples can have more flexibility for adventures before the older spouse's health may decline.
  • Reduced Required Minimum Distributions (RMDs): If the age gap is 10 years or more, the older spouse can take smaller withdrawals from retirement accounts, making the nest egg last longer.


  • Conflicting timelines: The older spouse might be eager to relax, while the younger one thrives on work. Finding common ground on activities may be challenging.
  • Social Security considerations: The younger spouse might miss out on maximizing their own Social Security benefits if they claim early to support the couple.
  • Potential for dependence: The older spouse might rely heavily on the younger one, creating resentment or stress.

Tips for Success:

  • Open communication: Discuss retirement goals, timelines, and financial expectations well in advance.
  • Phased retirement: Consider the older spouse cutting back on work hours before fully retiring.
  • Invest for the long term: Maintain a growth-oriented investment strategy to account for the younger spouse's longer life expectancy.

Retirement with an age gap can be a wonderful adventure, but communication and planning are key. By addressing potential challenges head-on, couples can ensure their golden years truly shine.

Category: Retirement

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