Skip to Content

Do most people retire at 55?

The average retirement age in the United States has been steadily increasing over the past few decades. In 2020, the average retirement age for men was 65 years old, and the average retirement age for women was 63 years old, according to the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College.

What is the full retirement age for Social Security?

The full retirement age for Social Security benefits ranges from 65 to 67 depending on your year of birth. For those born in 1960 or later, the full retirement age is 67. Retiring before your full retirement age results in reduced Social Security benefits.

What percentage of Americans retire before age 65?

According to data from the Center for Retirement Research, around 40% of Americans retire before age 65. This includes:

  • 20% retire between ages 62-64
  • 15% retire before age 62
  • 5% retire between ages 55-61

So while a significant percentage retire before 65, only around 5% of Americans retire as early as 55.

What are the most common reasons people retire early?

Some of the top reasons Americans choose to retire early include:

  • Being financially ready – Having enough savings and pension income to cover expenses
  • Health issues – Chronic illness or disability that prevents working
  • Change in family status – Caring for a spouse or elderly family member
  • Job loss – Being laid off and unable to find new employment
  • Workplace issues – Burnout, difficult work environment, lack of satisfaction

What percentage of Americans work past age 65?

Working past the traditional retirement age of 65 has become more common. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics:

  • 19% of Americans aged 65 and older were working in 2020
  • 13% of Americans aged 75 and older were still in the workforce

This reflects a steady upward trend, as only around 12% of those 65+ were still working in 2000. The increase is driven by factors like insufficient retirement savings and better health allowing longer careers.

How has the average retirement age changed over time?

The average retirement age has steadily risen over the past few decades:

Year Average Retirement Age
1991 62
2000 64
2010 64
2020 66

This reflects the overall trend of Americans working to older ages, driven by factors like increasing life expectancy, erosion of traditional pensions, and rising Social Security full retirement age.

What percentage of retirees wish they had retired earlier?

According to a survey from Allianz Life Insurance Company:

  • 49% of respondents said they would have retired earlier if they could go back
  • The top regret was not having enough money in retirement, reported by 32%
  • 26% said they missed spending time with family by waiting too long to retire

This indicates a significant number of retirees feel they worked longer than necessary, highlighting the difficult balance between leaving the workforce too early vs. too late.

What percentage of retirees wish they had retired later?

While some retire too early, there are also regrets from retiring too late. Surveys indicate:

  • Around 20% of retirees wish they had worked longer
  • Top reasons include missing the mental stimulation of work and a sense of purpose
  • Approximately 25% of retirees re-enter the workforce in some capacity such as part-time work or consulting

These individuals found they were not quite ready for full retirement or missed aspects of their career. Gradual transition strategies like shifting to part-time can help ease the adjustment.

How can people decide on the best age to retire?

With people retiring earlier and later than in the past, determining the optimal retirement age is a very personal decision. Experts recommend considering factors such as:

  • Your financial situation – Will you have enough savings and income?
  • Health – Are you physically capable of working longer?
  • Career satisfaction – Do you gain meaning and purpose from your work?
  • Life goals – How will retiring affect your lifestyle and relationships?
  • Eligibility ages – When can you access Social Security and Medicare?

Doing thorough retirement planning, testing different scenarios, and being flexible can help identify the magic number for exiting the workforce.


While some Americans do retire as early as 55, this reflects only around 5% of the population. The average retirement age has risen steadily to 66 in 2020, with many working into their late 60s or even 70s. Retiring at 55 is possible for those with ample savings or pensions but can present risks like high healthcare costs or lack of purpose. Determining the optimal age is a complex decision requiring careful financial and lifestyle planning.