More U.S. workers retiring early

May 24, 2009 at 10:17 AM

WASHINGTON, May 24 (UPI) -- A larger than expected number of U.S. residents are retiring early, many of them believed to be laid-off workers, analysts said.

Early retirement claims are up 25 percent from last year with more people choosing to retire at age 62 instead of 66, said Stephen C. Goss, chief actuary for the U.S. Social Security Administration.

Early retirement reduces Social Security benefits by as much as 25 percent, a loss that comes on top of the stock market decline and a drop in home values.

The surge in younger retirees dispels expectations that older people who suffered financial losses in the recession would work longer to rebuild their assets, the Los Angeles Times reported Sunday. In a poll sponsored in December by CareerBuilder, 60 percent of workers older than age 60 said they planned to postpone retirement.

Another wave of laid-off older workers could choose early retirement when their unemployment benefits run out late this year and next year, Goss said.

The trend means many early retirees may outlast their financial assets, said Alicia H. Munnell, director of the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College.

"As they get into their 70s and 80s, it will be increasingly inadequate," Munnell said.

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