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Pre-Retirement Morbidity Higher in Later Birth Cohorts

FRIDAY, Oct. 13, 2017 -- Americans who must work longer to reach Social Security retirement age have worse measures of health in the years leading up to retirement, according to a study published in the October issue of Health Affairs.

HwaJung Choi, Ph.D., and Robert F. Schoeni, Ph.D., from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, examined the level of morbidity in the years leading up to retirement for birth cohorts born after 1937, who must wait longer to collect full Social Security benefits, compared with earlier birth cohorts. They used two nationally representative data sets: the annual National Health Interview Survey and the biennial Health and Retirement Study.

The researchers found that pre-retirement morbidity was higher for the later birth cohorts. Higher rates of limitations in activities of daily living (ADL) were seen for birth cohorts with later normal retirement ages. The ADL morbidity rate at ages 55 to 57 years increased from 8.8 percent for those with normal retirement age between 65 and 66 years to 11.5 percent for those with normal retirement age between 66 and 67 years, respectively. For those aged 58 to 60 years, the differences were similar.

"Our analyses demonstrate that the prevalence of ADL limitations, fair or poor self-rated health, and cognitive limitations before the ages when Americans typically retire are higher for cohorts required to work longer," the authors write.

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Posted: October 2017