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Health tops reasons for early retirement

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Poor health is the most widely cited reason for retiring early, according to a new report.

Merrill Lynch, New York, discloses this finding in a 2013 study, “Americans’ Perspectives on New Retirement Realities and the Longevity Bonus.” Conducted in partnership with Age Wave, the survey polled 6,300 baby boomers ages 45 and older.

Just over a third of the respondents (34 percent) cite personal health issues as a reason for retiring early. The percentage is slightly higher among men (36 percent) than among women (33 percent).

Fewer of those polled attribute early retirement to having sufficient financial resources (27 percent), losing their job (24 percent), wanting to spend more time with family (16 percent) or having to look after a family member (10 percent).

Health care issues also dominate concerns in the survey among those seeking advice from financial professionals.

Three-quarters of respondents (75 percent) identify “help sorting through health care and long-term care options” as information they view as most valuable beyond core financial advice. Nearly as many (71 percent) point to help “making sense of Social Security or employer pensions.”

Seven in 10 (71 percent) of pre-retirees say they want to include some work in their retirement years. Most are seeking flexible work arrangements, such as part-time work (39 percent) or cycling between work and leisure (24 percent). Just 8 percent of those polled say they plan to work full-time.

Additionally, healthcare expenses are a top financial worry among both individuals with more than $250,000 in investable assets (52 percent) and less than $250,000 in investable assets (37 percent).

Nearly one-third (29 percent) of respondents say they never plan to work again. Among affluent households (those with more than $250,000 in investable assets), the proportion is slightly higher at 32 percent.

“Working in later life is increasingly becoming the norm,” the report states. “For example, between 2006 and 2011, only the age 55+ workforce grew, while during the same time, millions of younger workers left or were displaced from the work force.”

During this five-year period, the report notes, the number of workers age 55 and older grew by 4 million. This compares to declines of 1.6 million, 4.4 million, 556,000 and 2.5 million among workers in the 45-54, 35-44, 25-34 and 16-24 age groups.


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