Back Problems May Cut Into Retirement Savings

TUESDAY, Feb. 14 (HealthDay News) -- Most people forced to retire early because of back problems face ongoing financial struggles, a new study finds.

Not only does early retirement reduce immediate work income, it also affects long-term financial health by significantly reducing the ability to accumulate wealth, said the researchers at the University of Sydney in Australia.

They analyzed data from 147 people, ages 45 to 64, who had to retire due to back problems, 168 people with back problems who worked part-time, and 356 people who had full-time jobs and back problems.

The researchers concluded that nearly all people with full-time jobs and no health problems will accumulate some wealth by the time they're 65, compared with 75 to 85 percent of those who have to stop working early due to back problems.

Men ages 45 to 54 who retire early due to back problems would have a median value of wealth of just over $5,400 (in U.S. dollars) by age 65. This would generate an annuity of only $314 per year.

In comparison, men ages 45 to 54 who remain in the labor force full time would have over $366,00 of wealth when they retire at 65, which would generate an annuity of $21,000 a year.

Among women, the median wealth value at age 65 would be almost $21,700 (annuity value of about $1,100) for those who retired early due to back problems and $256,500 (annuity value of almost $13,000) for those who worked full time until retirement age.

The study was published recently in the journal Pain.

"Relative to those who retired early due to other health problems, there are more than twice as many people who have retired early due to back problems who are estimated to have no savings by the time they reach the traditional retirement age of 65," said lead investigator Professor Deborah Schofield, chair of health economics at the National Health and Medical Research Council Clinical Trials Center and Sydney School of Public Health, University of Sydney.

"For most of the age and sex groups analyzed, even those who reported back pain and were working full time accumulated less wealth than full-time workers who suffered no chronic health conditions," she added in a university news release.

More information

The U.S. National Institutes of Health offers tips for preventing back pain.

SOURCE: Pain, news release, Jan. 31, 2012

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