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‘Cliff edge’ retirement sends out shock waves

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Workers who stop work one day and fall into retirement the next are finding it increasingly difficult to adjust.

New research by Ipsos MORI shows a mixed bag of emotions for those waking up on day one of retirement, with under a third saying they felt relaxed and under a quarter feeling free. Sadly, one in 10 reported feeling anxious, sad or lost while less than half chose the word ‘happy’ to describe how they felt on the first day of finishing work.

Pensions Minister Mike O’Brien said: “The idea that one day you work and the next you stop can be a shock to the system. These findings challenge the traditional ‘one size fits all’ approach to retirement. Many of today’s older workers are rejecting the cliff edge between work and retirement in favour of a gradual step down. And employers should help them to do this.”

Topping the list of what retirees would miss about work is friends, being challenged, office banter and a reason to get out of the house; whilst on the flip side, three quarters are looking forward to escaping the Christmas party.

When asked why they still work, extra cash was a top motivator followed closely by over half doing it because they enjoy their jobs.

Chris Ball, chief executive of The Age and Employment Network said: “The government’s own policy of introducing a default retirement age of 65 means they are responsible for many older workers being pushed over the retirement cliff edge by their employers.

“So, if the government is serious about providing a gradual ‘step-down’ for those who don’t want, or can’t afford, to stop working just yet, it should scrap the default retirement age without further delay, rather than waiting for the 2011 review.”

Over 1 million Brits are already working past state pension age and most of these have chosen to work part-time. April marks the start of a two-year countdown to state pension age changes for women, which sees the state pension age for women start to gradually rise from 60 to 65 from 6 April 2010.

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Annie Hayes

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