AARP's 2016 Retirement Confidence Survey talked to people age 50+, divided between those who are already retired and those who are not yet, to try to assess how confident they felt about their retirement. There are lots of interesting findings here, some of them include:
- Retirees were about equally split between those who retired earlier than they planned and those who retired when they planned. Very few retired later.
- Of the 46% of retirees that retired earlier than planned, the primary reason for doing so was health problems.
- Other reasons for retiring earlier than planned included realizing they had saved enough, a job layoff or downsizing, a desire to do something else, and the need to provide caregiving to someone else.
If you combine the responses of personal health problems and those that cited a need to care for someone else, you can see that many early retirements were due to someone's health problems.
Multiple responses were allowed, so there is overlap in these results. Considering health problems and downsizing represent involuntary reasons for retirement, it appears that most of the responses cited involuntary reasons for early retirement.
The lesson to be learned is that you can't wait too long to start planning for retirement, it can happen sooner than you expect.