3 Ways Forced Retirement Makes Life Worse

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A startling 56% of workers over the age of 50 say they were forced to leave their long-time jobs rather than departing when they wanted to. And a new study suggests that such forced retirement has a negative and lasting impact on post-work life.

For a recent survey from Edward Jones and Age Wave — titled “Longevity and the New Journey of Retirement” — the Harris Poll talked to more than 11,000 adults to learn more about their views on retirement.

Survey respondents who were forced to leave their jobs early — whether due to job loss, illness or caregiving responsibilities — reported they found the transition to retirement more difficult in a few important ways. Read on to learn more about how they struggled due to the nature of their departure from work.

They feel less liberated

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Respondents who didn’t retire by choice: 50% rated their sense of liberation as at least an 8 out of 10

Respondents who retired by choice: 65%

The freedom to choose our destiny is a major component of happiness.

Millions of workers have found this out since they began working from home during the COVID-19 pandemic. Many employers now want those workers back in the office, but millions of employees are digging in their heels and refusing to go back. They love their newfound freedom that much.

Being forced to leave a job before you are ready robs you of some freedom to live your life as you planned. So, it’s perhaps no surprise that workers pushed out of their jobs feel less liberated.

They feel less fulfilled

Lonely senior looking out a window
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Respondents who didn’t retire by choice: 52% rated their fulfillment as at least an 8 out of 10

Respondents who retired by choice: 73%

The Edward Jones/Age Wave report notes that being forced from your job early “cuts short the timing of retirement preparation and sends many into retirement on an unfortunate trajectory.”

With less time to plan and build savings, it’s more difficult to fulfill all your retirement dreams. In fact, those forced to retire early “are less active in retirement, in many cases likely constrained by their lower incomes and shortened careers,” the report says.

They are less happy

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Respondents who didn’t retire by choice: 64% rated their happiness as at least an 8 out of 10

Respondents who retired by choice: 83%

Feeling both less liberated and less fulfilled leads us here, to a reduced sense of overall happiness. Among those forced from work early, 39% describe the transition to retirement as “difficult,” and 36% have found it difficult to organize their time. As the report notes:

“More than half acknowledge that it has taken them a while to find new purpose in retirement. They also report lower overall quality of life and are less likely to view retirement as ‘a new chapter in life.'”

How to recover if you were forced to retire

Older couple
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Because the risk of being prematurely forced out of your job is so high, the Edward Jones/Age Wave report urges all workers to have contingency plans in place in case they suddenly find themselves without a job after age 50.

But even if you haven’t prepared for such an event, you can still turn things around after a premature layoff. As we reported in “59% of Retirees Will Do This to Boost Their Income,” there are several ways to add to your stash of cash after you have retired, including getting a part-time job or side hustle.

You also will qualify for Social Security once you are 62, which should help a lot. In fact, it’s not impossible to live off the income from the nation’s retirement program, as we note in “8 Tips to Retire Comfortably on Social Security Alone.”

None of this is to minimize the challenge of recovering from a forced early retirement. But there are almost always things you can do to improve your situation. With each step forward, you get closer to building a retirement that is happier and more fulfilling.

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