Pittsburgh — While more Americans are working past age 65, not everyone will be able to control retirement timing.
Even as many people who have not put aside enough money to leave the workforce plan to make up the difference by working longer, statistics show workers are not always able to do so.
A 2014 survey by the Washington, D.C.-based Employee Benefit Research Institute found that 49 percent of retirees surveyed had retired earlier than they had planned. The survey did not indicate their ages.
The highest percentage of people who participated in the study (35 percent) retired before age 60. Researchers at EBRI surveyed 1,500 people in January 2014.
"Most people say they will work forever and never retire. But rarely does that ever happen," said Brendon Costa, a financial adviser in Pittsburgh. "They have to quit for health problems, disability and other reasons beyond their control.
"I see a lot of times either a person can no longer perform their job or they have family issues, such as providing day care to grandchildren or caring for a sick spouse."
The EBRI report found, as one might expect, that workers who were not confident about their financial security once they stop working planned to retire later than those who were more financially prepared.
The researchers said the annual survey has consistently shown that many Americans find themselves retiring unexpectedly, and many retirees cited negative reasons for leaving the workforce, such as health problems or disability (61 percent), changes such as downsizing or a company closure (18 percent), and having to care for a spouse or another family member (18 percent).
Others cited changes in the skills required for the job (7 percent) or other work-related reasons (22 percent).
Some did mention positive reasons for retiring early, such as being able to afford an earlier retirement (26 percent) or wanting to do something else (19 percent).
EBRI conducts the survey annually to identify trends in retirement preparation, find out how confident workers are in preparing to retire and how well they are actually doing in that area.
"The moral of the story is that relying on working longer to prepare for retirement is likely to be a failed strategy for many," said Craig Copeland, a senior research associate at the EBRI.