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7 Reasons People Retire Earlier Than Planned

Loren Merkle, CFP®, RICP®, Certified Financial Fiduciary

For 32 years, the Employee Benefits Research Institute has been surveying Americans about retirement. Here are the top seven reasons people stopped working sooner than planned from the 2022 Retirement Confidence Survey.


#1 They could afford to
Thirty-eight percent said they retired early because they could afford to. This is the ideal reason to retire early. We find that people who retire early because they can afford to aren’t just guessing that they have enough saved for retirement. They’ve worked with a retirement planner to develop a customized, written retirement plan that shows them how they will pay for all of the things they want to do in retirement.

#2 Health problem or disability
Thirty-two percent said they retired early due to health problems or disability. According to the Centers for Disease Control, about 40% of adults age 65 or older have at least one type of disability. The most common disabilities are mobility, cognition, hearing, and vision.

#3 Workplace changes
Workplace changes, unrelated to COVID-19, made 23% of survey respondents retire earlier than planned. Some people see workplace changes and exit to avoid them, while others may retire due to a company reorganization or downsizing.

#4 Workplace incentive
Sometimes your employer will make an offer you can’t refuse. A retirement incentive package is the reason 19% of survey respondents retired early.

#5 Desire to do something else
Some are ready for a second act in retirement. Whether pursuing a dream career or working a low-pressure gig, 15% of respondents said a desire to do something else is why they retired early.

#6 Caring for a spouse or other family member
Some retire early to care for aging parents or a spouse with a chronic condition. Thirteen percent of survey respondents retired early for this reason.


#7 COVID-19 workplace changes
The pandemic has changed the workplace. Working remotely, hopping on a Zoom call, and supply chain issues have all become part of our work world. For 10% of respondents, COVID-19 workplace changes made them retire sooner than expected.

Sources: 2022 Retirement Confidence SurveyMoneyTalkNews.com, and CDC.org

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