In the context of population ageing and low retirement incomes, the UK government is encouraging delayed retirement.However, theOECD has argued thatUKmeans-tested benefits disincentivise employment for the poorest, and Vickerstaff (2006b) has suggested managers have typically controlled opportunities to work beyond 65. In the US, contrastingly, benefits are meagre and difficult to access, and age discrimination legislation protects individuals from forced retirement. Would a US ‘self-reliance’ policy approach increase employment amongst the poorest over 65s in the UK and enhance or diminish their financial position? The evidence suggests that extendingUKage discrimination legislation and restricting benefitswould increase overall employment past 65, although not necessarily to US levels. Analysis of the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing and the US Health and Retirement Study finds the poorest over 65s were more likely to work in the USA than in England in 2002. However, within the USA, employment amongst the poorest was still low, especially compared with wealthier groups; logistic regression analysis primarily attributes this to lower levels of health and education. A US policy approach would therefore most likely damage the financial position of the poorest in the UK, as increased employment would not sufficiently compensate for lost benefits.