A study from the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College has found that in many cases, even for white-collar jobs, a decline in cognitive ability may cut short a career just as declines in strength or agility may end a labor-intensive job.
That makes planning for retirement today more important than ever. Especially when your retirement may last decades.
And an unexpected early retirement won’t just cut short the number of wage-earning years you are counting on, it also could torpedo the Social Security benefit you may have anticipated after plugging your planned retirement age into the calculator at the government’s my Social Security site. That’s because retiring before full retirement age (FRA) means monthly benefits are reduced, for life.
The study, “How Do Job Skills That Decline With Age Affect White-Collar Workers,” examined hundreds of careers and shed light on those most likely to be curbed by declining cognitive skills, diminishing eyesight, and dexterity.
The list of jobs that fall victim to unexpected early retirement is eye-opening.
Researchers created a “Susceptibility Index” ranking more than 950 occupations by likelihood of early retirement due to health and other factors. Not surprisingly, “dancer” fell at the bottom with the highest age-related risk. There aren’t a lot of 70-year-old full-time professional dancers. That was followed by helpers working in construction, mining, and fishing. At the top – those least likely affected by age – were benefits managers, teachers, and sociologists.
But look in the middle, around number 475, and you find medical technicians, music directors, electrical engineers, surgeons, and retail sales workers. Not the types of occupations that might be thought of as at risk from the effects of aging.
“The notion that all white-collar workers can work longer or that all blue-collar workers cannot is too simplistic,” the study concluded. “Instead, it is important to consider the particular abilities required by an occupation and whether these abilities decline significantly by the time workers reach typical retirement ages.”
Did you get bumped into an unexpected early retirement? Share your tips for coping.