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Here’s what happens when someone is forced to retire because they’re ‘old’


Founding Member
Board Elder
Site Mgr
Sr Site Supporter
Mar 25, 2010
Here’s what happens when someone is forced to retire because they’re ‘old’

By Alessandra Malito
Published: Oct 27, 2016 9:10 a.m. ET

Is mandatory retirement discriminatory?

Courtesy of New Line Productions
Jack Nicholson in the movie “About Schmidt.” He plays a man who retires after working as an actuary for the Woodmen of the World Insurance Company for decades.
Mandatory retirement is still in the workforce, and it’s causing problems as people live — and work — longer.

Being compelled to leave a job because you’ve hit a certain age could impose significantly negative consequences on older employees, and experts say such a requirement shouldn’t exist at all.

Pennsylvania has a ballot question coming this November that directly touches on forced retirement, asking voters if an amendment should be created to extend the age a judge can be to serve. If approved, judges would be allowed to work until they are 75, five years past the age they’re currently required to let go of the gavel.

For a lot of workers today who hope to stay on the job well past 65, the good news is, not many jobs have a mandatory retirement age, thanks to the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 that banished the cap of 70 years old in a 1986 amendment. That act now protects anyone older than 40. The bad news? There are a few roles in public and private sectors with an enforced timeline, and the effects on those employees can be detrimental.

Experts say pushing retirement on employees borders on discrimination.

“If you substituted any other characteristic for the word age…anybody would be shocked that that kind of bias was appropriate,” said Paul Irving, chairman of the Milken Institute Center for the Future of Aging.

Instead of creating a set age for retirement, employers should identify each employee’s capabilities and skills at work, experts say.

“Everyone is entitled to be judged as an individual and everyone is different,” said Laurie McCann, senior attorney with AARP Foundation Litigation. “If someone is able to do a job at 70, 80, 90, they should be able to do their job.”

And yet, often that’s not the case. The Federal Aviation Administration requires pilots to retire at 65 and air-traffic controllers at 56. Federal law enforcement and firefighters must also retire by 57 — or they have the option to retire after 20 years of service even if they are not yet 57. States can determine a retirement age for their state and local police and firefighters, McCann said. Partners in law firms, accounting firms or doctor’s offices are exempt from the act as well.

Being forced to retire can have destructive effects on a person, both physically and emotionally. Full retirement caused a 15% to 16% increase in mobility issues, a 5% to 6% increase in illness, and a 6% to 9% decrease in mental health over the six years following retirement, according to a 2006 National Bureau of Economic Research report. Such effects were magnified if that retirement was pushed on the employee, and were offset if the retiree was married, physically active or worked in some other form.

Being kicked out of a job also leaves those still wanting to work in an uncomfortable situation when they apply elsewhere. Age discrimination is a huge problem in hiring, experts said. Employers are hesitant to hire older workers, partially because of concerns about cost and low productivity, according to a Stanford Center on Longevity report.

“I’m not going to sugar coat it, ageism is alive and well in the workplace,” said Kerry Hannon, an AARP jobs expert and author of “Great Jobs for Everyone 50+.”

Boomers, the oldest of which turned or are turning 70 this year, say age doesn't equate to job performance, and experts say as this generation lives longer, their abilities are being prolonged as well. “The 76-year-old today is not the 76-year-old of the generation before,” Hannon said.

Regardless, older people still want jobs, and that’s a trend that’s not going away any time soon, Irving said.

Financial advisers say there's one key mistake to avoid when heading into retirement. It involves your Social Security.

For some, the desire to work is linked to financial reasons, but for others, it is simply wanting to stay engaged and productive. The labor-force participation of workers 65 and older is expected to increase, to 21.7% in 2024 from 18.6% in 2014, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Older women are working into their retirement years because they don’t have enough money to last or they sincerely like their jobs.

Listen: Working Into Retirement: A New ‘Golden Girls’ Era

While employers are figuring out how to retain or hire older employees, more seasoned workers forced into retirement or wanting to stay in the workforce should try to find a new job sooner rather than later, sharpen their skill set, update their résumés with relevant information, and stay physically fit, Hannon said.

The salary may not be what it was before, but applicants can negotiate the entire compensation package, including potentially telecommuting or more vacation time. Workers should look at employers’ concerns, including being overqualified or working with younger employees, and positively address them one by one, she added.

“People should have an opportunity to maximize their talents throughout life,” Irving said. “No matter who they are, whether it is a question of race or gender or ethnicity or frankly, age.”



Killed then Resurrected
Midas Member
Site Supporter ++
Apr 2, 2010
You can't get there from here.
Mixed emotions about this one. Many physical jobs need an age limit. Having been an Infantryman until 48, I felt I was on the extreme edge of what the body can take. Can't imagine a guy or gal in their 50's being a Light Infantryman.

Think how a 60 to 75 year old would be as a fireman or police patrolman. Perhaps their might be some exceptions, but I think they would be a problem for themselves and others in some situations.


Gold Member
Gold Chaser
Sr Site Supporter
Mar 30, 2010
I earned my MBA with honors from the University of Chicago when I was 56 years old. All other things being equal, such a distinguished educational achievement should have made me a desirable employee. But don't you see? All other things were not equal. In the employment world I had become an old man. And I found scheduling job interviews to be nearly impossible. Ah well, that's their loss. I was well prepared financially so I retired, even though here I am 15 years later in good physical shape.


Gold Member
Gold Chaser
Site Supporter
Mar 31, 2010
I'm an old fart.
I doubt anyone would want to hire me.
That's fine.
No one should be forced to hire anyone for any reason if they don't want to.
If a business only wants to hire buxom 18 year olds to deliver greasy chicken wings to a table, then fire them at age 19, it's fine with me.
It comes down to property rights.
Does a business own their business or not?


Gold Member
Gold Chaser
Sr Site Supporter
Feb 21, 2012
On the top shelf.
I work for a company that started to go in the opposite direction. Instead of hiring a bunch of young gee-whiz kids management has been looking at the resumes of older people for a lot of positions to hire and then work their way down to the young'uns. I guess they finally learned that you can't have a company of ADD cowboy kids and that someone needs to get the work done and stick to a schedule. Don't get me wrong. A lot of the sexy latest craze new technology is still run by the 20 somethings but the core foundation systems and security applications are all the domain of the "older than dirt" crowd.

Though working with the kiddie set can be amusing. My manager called me over, trying not to laugh too hard. I had provided some obfuscated data to our outside auditors for testing purposes. The barely 20 year old auditors thought I gave them live data because the customer names were Barney Google and Snuffy Smith! Better yet another auditor thought Barney was a new application from Google and had to evaluate it. Thinking back on it I was surprised they didn't focus on VaVoom and General Clang.