Retirement by Choice or by Necessity?

Yahoo! Finance raises questions about the theory that you can always get serious about saving for retirement later on:

Americans may be feeling more confident than ever about their chances of securing a comfortable retirement, but there’s one thing we are seriously delusional about: when we will finally call it quits.

There’s a big gap between when workers expect they will retire and when people who’ve actually retired say they left the workforce, according to the latest retirement confidence survey from the Employee Benefit Research Institute. Half of retirees say they retire earlier than they planned.

Fewer than one in 10 workers say they expect to retire before age 60, when in fact 36% of retirees say they stopped working before 60. Comparatively, only 29% of workers retired between the ages of 60 and 64 and only 9% retired at the traditional age of 65. The odds of making it until age 70 and still working — which more than one-quarter of workers say they want to do — are even slimmer. A mere 6% manage to last that long.

“Most retirees retired earlier than they planned predominantly due to health problems,” says Luke Vandermillen, vice president of the Principal Financial Group, a co-sponsor of the study. “All you can do is try to control what you have planned, how you have saved, and whether you’ve taken steps to prepare for retirement as best you can.”

What’s clear is that the vast majority of premature retirees did not leave work because they wanted to. Sixty percent of premature retirees cited health issues or a disability as the reason. Others had little choice in the matter — their company downsized or closed, leaving them out of a job (27%), or they needed to care for a spouse or family member (22%).

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