Making Sense of a Mess: Phased Retirement Policies and Practices in the United States


Older workers, phased retirement, human resources policies, public policies


Phased retirement programs represent one important and attractive way to increase flexibility for older workers, while simultaneously benefiting organizations that are worried about the loss of staff and expertise that will occur as the Baby Boom generation moves into retirement. Yet phased retirement advocates have often been baffled by the various intersecting employment laws adopted to protect older workers and their pensions. We describe the legal and regulatory barriers related to supplementing part-time wages with defined benefit pension benefits, as well as other legal concerns. Recent regulatory developments have clarified when phased retirement (with pension supplements) is permissible and what would constitute a compliant phased retirement program for the Internal Revenue Service. However, there are still some regulatory and practical questions that make it difficult to predict whether phased retirement will be widely adopted in the near future.

Original Publication Citation

Kelly, Erin, Eric C. Dahlin, Donna Spencer, and Phyllis Moen. 2007 “Making Sense of a Mess: Phased Retirement Policies and Practices in the United States.” Journal of Workplace Behavioral Health 23:147-164.

Document Type

Peer-Reviewed Article

Publication Date


Permanent URL


Journal of Workplace Behavioral Health




Family, Home, and Social Sciences



University Standing at Time of Publication

Full Professor