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Retire later? New study says many actually leave sooner

Posted by: Amy Feldman on July 15, 2009

Especially since the financial crisis began, people have been saying they’ll solve their retirement woes by working longer. The reality, according to a new study from the Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI), is that many leave earlier than planned.

The 2009 Retirement Confidence Survey found that 47% of retirees left the work force before they thought they would. Why the disconnect? A shrinking economy and declining health. Of those who left earlier than planned, 42% cited health problems; 34% pointed to layoffs, closures or other problems at their companies; and 18% said they had to care for a spouse or other family member.

Since working longer is one of the easiest ways to boost a shrunken portfolio (or one that was never big enough to start with), this new data is another troubling sign for Americans’ retirement readiness.

Reader Comments


July 15, 2009 2:38 PM

Work longer before retirement? Don't there need to be jobs left to work in?? Unfortunately, there still seems to be a bias against older workers as far as who gets the axe in lay-offs.


July 15, 2009 5:13 PM

A rather large bias for workers over 50. Train your H1B replacements then kiss your pension goodbye.

Norman Pappous

July 15, 2009 6:08 PM

The BIG problem is not how long one works - it is how much they have when they do. If a Financial Advisor (or 401k provider) takes just 1.5% fee on a yearly basis, the client's portfolio will have paid around 30% of its TOTAL ENDING value in fees!!!

If the advisor adds enough value to the portfolio then there is no problem. If they are getting paid then they should make their fees up and then some.

There is only one internet site which conclusively tells you if your advisor or 401k provider is adding value or not -


July 17, 2009 12:55 PM

BW's "hypothetical couple" in the 7/13&20 issue is unrealistic in two respects: (1) While many households take in > $200K, this is usually achieved via having two professionals working full time + interest generated by investments. Very few wage earners achieve this on their own, even among BW's readers and especially after the recession hit. This is precisely why Obama can score points by promising to soak these folks. (2) Expenses for a single student at a private college is typically in the $35-50K range, without any assistance (unlikely for a $200K family). Thus, a total of $40K for two students is a significant underestimate.

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Bloomberg Businessweek’s Ben Steverman focuses on the latest moves in financial markets and emerging trends in stocks, bonds, and funds, always with an eye toward giving readers a better understanding of the sometimes confusing and often chaotic world of money. Standard & Poor’s senior index analyst Howard Silverblatt will also provide his take on companies’ finances and the markets. Voted one of the “Top 100 Finance Blogs” in 2007.

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