Recent research indicates that there’s a significant increase in mortality among men who retire at 62 (the earliest age a person can retire and start receiving Social Security retirement benefits). According to the MarketWatch article “Why early retirement can be a killer,” that increase is 20% for men; however, the data is inconclusive for women. And although a man doesn’t have to retire when he starts claiming benefits at 62, one-third of men in that situation do stop working.
So why should we believe the conclusion of this one study? There’s actually circumstantial evidence that backs it up. If you look back to the time before people could claim Social Security at the early age of 62, men at that age didn’t have a big increase in mortality. The increase is only seen at the point when they could claim Social Security at 62.
Why could early retirement lead to increased mortality in men? Research indicates that retired men:
- Become more sedentary while it seems that women in retirement don’t experience that same change
- Have fewer social interactions than they had before, which can negatively affect their health. Women’s level of social interactions seems to remain the same.
- Often increase their use of tobacco and alcohol
So, what’s a 62-year-old man to do? If he chooses to start collecting Social Security, he could continue to work at least part time if working stops him from developing unhealthy behaviors.
But since there are aspects about retirement that can result in positive changes to a person’s health, the real answer it to make sure that when you retire, you need to continue to interact socially, stay physically active, limit tobacco and alcohol use, and focus on incorporating other healthy behaviors into your life.