Back problems are the leading cause for early retirement among the work population. But those who stop working due to pain are likely to feel more pain in the wallet.

A group of Australian researchers found that not only does early retirement limit the immediate income available to these individuals, but it also reduces their long-term financial capacity, by reducing their ability to accumulate wealth to a significant degree.

The study findings were published 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 Deborah Schofield, lead researchers of the study, and chair at the 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.”

Researchers based their study on “Health & Wealth Mod”, which is a model created to measure the economic impacts of ill health on Australian workers aged 45-64 years of age. The 2003 SDAC data consisted of 147 people between 45-64 years, who were out of the labor force due to back problems, 168 respondents who were employed part-time and suffered from back problems, and 356 individuals who were employed full time and had back problems.

By the age of 65, mostly all of the people who were employed full time with no health condition, will have accumulated more finances, but about 75 percent to 85 percent of those who are out of the labor force due to their back condition will have achieved the same amount of financial success. Men who were 45-54 years of age who retired early due to back problems are expected to have a median value of wealth by the time they’re 65, of only $5,038.

This amount is significantly lower than the expected median value of wealth for men in the same age group who remained in the labor force full time. Women aged 45 to 54 who retired early due to back problems are expected to have a median wealth value at age 65 of only $20,064, as opposed to their counterparts who stayed in the workforce full time, and were able to accumulate $237,496 of wealth.

“Preventing early retirement due to back problems will increase the time individuals have to amass wealth assets to finance their retirement, “said Professor Schofield. “Adopting cost-effective approaches to prevention and treatment of back problems may contribute to extending the labor force participation of individuals and help prevent the costs of lower wealth assets associated with early retirement due to back problems.”


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