When most workers plan for retirement, they expect to work until their full retirement age, which is 66 or 67 for people born after 1942, or even longer.
But some workers find themselves out of a job at an age when it’s difficult to find another one – and at a time when they expected to be in their peak earning years. Others are forced out of the workforce because of illness or responsibilities as a family caregiver.
“About 45 percent of people retire earlier than they planned,” says Jamie Hopkins, a professor of taxation at the American College in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania and the associate director of the New York Life Center for Retirement Income. “You really need to have that contingency plan for early retirement.”
The option of getting a high-paying job may be off the table, especially for those in industries that rely heavily on contractors. While it’s illegal for employers to discriminate because of age, many older workers find it difficult to get hired. An analysis of September 2014 unemployment data by the AARP Public Policy Institute found that job seekers 55 and older had been unemployed an average of almost 42 weeks, compared with about 30 weeks for those under 55.
For ideas on how to survive an early retirement, visit our sister site, Living on the Cheap.