OMY Syndrome & Early Retirement

Despite the weighty title that this study carries “Optimum Strategies for Creativity and Longevity”, it is worth reading again and again. The work of Dr. Sing Lin makes a great case against OMY (If I work One More Year it will be all good) syndrome and makes a fairly strong case for early retirement.

According to Dr. Lin, pension funds in many large American corporations (e.g., Boeing, Lockheed Martin, AT&T, Lucent Technologies, etc.) have in recent years been “over funded” because many retirees who work into their old age and retire after 65 tend to die within two years of retirement. Many of these late retirees do not live long enough to collect a fair share of their pension money.

Statistics gathered from several corporations indicated that the longer you work, the shorter your life will be. If people retire at 50, their average life span is 86. If they stop work at 65, their average life span is only 66.8. WoW! Ponder that for just one more minute.

To put it simply for every year one works beyond the age of 55, one loses an average of two years of life.

Retirement Age VS. Life Expectancy

The research done at Boeing confirms this: Employees retiring at 65 receive pension checks for only 18 months, on average, prior to death.

Similarly, at Lockheed, employees retiring at 65 receive pension checks for only 17 months, on average, before they die. Dr David T. Chai, another academic, whom Dr Sing Lin quotes in his research, says the Bell Labs experience is similar to those of Boeing and Lockheed.

Hardworking retirees apparently place too great a burden on their aging bodies and minds, such that they become stressed out, says Dr Sing Lin.

This leads to serious health problems which will force them to stop work. With such long-term stress-induced health problems, they die within two years of their retirement. On the other hand, people who retire at 55 tend to live long and well into their 80s and beyond.

One of Dr Sing’s most important observations reveals that many early retirees are in fact not completely retired at all. In fact most people that retire early do more than simply become wrinkly, switch to thirsty underwear and wait for their turn to die. Contrary, to what the internet retirement police might say, you can still work and be classified as retired.

According to Dr Sing most early retirees continue to do some sort of part-time income generating work that they enjoy. Of course at a more leisurely stress-free pace.

Dr Sing Lin also acknowledges that early retirees are most likely to have a better grasp on how to manage their health, finances and career better, and this is probably why they can afford to stop work and still live comfortably.

Even if the sample size, age group, stress levels, blah blah blah of the study don’t really paint the whole picture, the study still exemplifies the benefits of living frugally and within your means. IMO early retirement is just a nice way of saying – you now have the ability to choose to do the things that bring the most value to your life, so you can enjoy the rest of your time on this planet to the absolute fullest.

So avoid OMY syndrome like you would a Justin Bieber concert and don’t delay the decision to exit the proverbial “pressure cooker” before you’re overdone. You can read the entire study here.

Author: The Money Runner

Husband, father, runner, personal finance enthusiast and computer geek. Thanks for visiting. Please check out my other posts and follow me on Twitter and Facebook.

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