Volunteering and Retirement
It's never too late to be a Volunteer
If you are a U.S. citizen and at a point in life where you are considering leaving the workforce, thinking about retirement, or excited to make a change—and a difference—consider serving as a Peace Corps Volunteer. You can even serve with your spouse or partner.
- What it's like to serve
- Volunteer programs
- A big decision: Health, finances, and more
- Expectations and benefits
I love sharing my story about being a Peace Corps Volunteer, especially with people who say, "I wanted to do that when I was in college, but my parents wouldn’t let me go, and I’m too old now." I turned 80 during my service.Dorothy, Returned Peace Corps Volunteer, Ghana, 2009–11
What it's like to serve
In the Peace Corps, your professional experience will be an asset in your host country to both your community members and your fellow Volunteers. Use your skills to help a community learn about business or technology, inspire a new generation in the classroom, or transfer your love for sports or a hobby into a youth development program.
As you share your expertise, you can learn about a new culture and be embraced by a community that values your experience.
Read firsthand perspectives: 9 Peace Corps Volunteers weigh in on serving later in life
The Peace Corps allows you to select what country you want to serve in, the type of work you want to do, and when you wish to depart. Or, you can choose to go where you are needed most and we’ll work with you to find the best country and position match.
Peace Corps Volunteers
Serve for two years plus three months of training for an opportunity to totally immerse yourself into a host country community.
Peace Corps Response
Serve for three months to a year in a specialized, technical position that requires professional experience.
A big decision to consider
At any age, serving as a Volunteer means making decisions that impact many areas of your life.
Medical needs, and the services available in a host country, will be a consideration. Before you apply, review important medical information for applicants. All applicants undergo a comprehensive medical and dental assessment based on their health history to determine if their medical needs can be supported in our host countries.
There is a Peace Corps medical officer in-country to help you protect and maintain your health and to provide primary care as needed. If a medical condition should arise that requires a level of care not available in the country of assignment, medical evacuation to another country or to the United States will be arranged.
View our health video series for more information about health before, during and after service.
Social Security retirement and Medicare benefits
Only the Social Security Administration can determine whether, or how, your benefits will be affected while you serve as a Volunteer. As a Volunteer, both your readjustment allowance, accrued at the rate of $375 per month for a total of more than $10,000 (pre-tax) and paid at the end of service, and a small percentage of your monthly living allowance constitute earnings for Social Security purposes. Social Security and Medicare tax payments are deducted from your monthly readjustment allowance.
Medicare enrollment begins three months before your 65th birthday and continues for seven months after. If you will be receiving Social Security benefits while you serve as a Volunteer, you don’t need to do anything. You will be automatically enrolled in Medicare Parts A and B effective the month you turn 65. If you do not receive Social Security benefits, then you will need to apply for Medicare online with the Social Security Administration or by calling 800-772-1213. Medicare Part A (hospital insurance) is free for almost everyone. You have to pay a monthly premium for Medicare Part B (medical insurance). As a Volunteer, it may be possible that you will not need to sign up for Medicare Part B right way, and because you must pay a premium for Part B coverage, you can choose to turn it down. However, it is important to speak to the Social Security Administration regarding this important decision and how your benefits may be affected while you serve as a Volunteer. If you do not sign up for Part B right away, then you could be subject to a penalty. Your Medicare Part B premium may go up 10 percent for each 12-month period that you could have had Medicare Part B, but did not take it. In addition, you will have to wait for the general enrollment period to enroll. The general enrollment period usually runs between January 1 and March 31 of each year.
For more information, view the Social Security Administration's Medicare Benefits page, call 1-800-772-1213, or visit yourlocal Social Security office.
Volunteers have many options for staying in touch with family and friends while abroad: 92 percent of Volunteers have cellphone service and 64 percent have daily access to the internet where they live. Check out the Peace Corps 50+ Facebook group for more information.
Some older Volunteers assign power of attorney to someone in the United States to help with their financial affairs.
I joined the Peace Corps when I was 56 years old, and it was like having a second life. I enjoyed my work in the United States very much, but as I got older, I began to think less about "me" and more about "we." I loved working for the Peace Corps; I felt like I did something for the world, for the planet.Diana Gomez, Returned Peace Corps Volunteer, Armenia
Expectations and benefits
The Volunteer experience is rewarding, but it can be challenging in different ways. You may find this includes: adapting to less structure, developing strategies for language learning in pre-service training, having less input in your housing choices, and having less freedom of movement.
Many older Volunteers find their age an asset in their host country communities, but they may be the only older person in a Volunteer group. Each experience is as unique as the Volunteer serving.
Learn about benefits of Peace Corps service.