If you are over 55 and still working, you have the option of transitioning into retirement by accessing your superannuation savings to supplement your income and reduce your tax bill.  This means that you may be able to cut your hours down to part-time work but not reduce your income level, or continue to work full time but pay less tax and build up your super savings faster as you prepare for eventual retirement.

Many people find it difficult to contemplate just stopping work altogether, and others may want to but find they don't have enough savings to retire in comfort with sufficient financial security.  The reality of retirement is changing, especially after the GFC with more older people now staying in the workforce for longer, or returning to the workforce after their financial situation has changed. Since the GFC, there has been a 40% increase in the number of workers aged 60 and over, and many more older women working, according to ABS statistics on the Australian labour market.

These changing patterns of work are more likely to involve a "transition" to retirement, utilising part time work, telecommuting, working from home, self employment, shifting to a "second career" in voluntary work or just downshifting to allow time to pursue other interests.  Downsizing the home to free up cash and get rid of the mortgage and pay down debt is also part of the equation for many older workers.

So exploring the option of accessing your super before you actually retire, with a "Transition To Retirement Pension" once you are over 55 can really help facilitate a desired lifestyle or career change, even if you have no intention of retiring anytime soon.

You can use the MoneySmart website to consider how a TTR pension can supplement your income if you reduce work hours or salary level; boost super savings, or reduce your income tax bill by drawing down a super pension and salary sacrificing more into super.  How it will apply to you will depend on your personal circumstances and ultimately it will be important to get professional financial advice before making major decisions.

More on transition to retirement: see ASIC's MoneySmart website.