One in eight too ill or disabled to work by state pension age

By agency reporter
September 5, 2016

Around one in eight (12 per cent) men and women are forced to stop working before state pension age due to ill-health or disability, according to Trades Union Congress (TUC) research published today (5 September 2016).

The TUC report, Postponing the pension: are we all working longer?, finds that nearly half a million (436,000) workers who are within five years of state pension age have had to leave the workplace for medical reasons.

The analysis also reveals a stark North-South divide. In the South West of England, sickness and disability is cited by just 1 in 13 of those who have left work in the run-up to state pension age, followed by 1 in 11 in the South East and in the East of England.

But this rises to 1 in 7 in Yorkshire and the Humber, the North East, the North West, Wales and Scotland and 1 in 4 in Northern Ireland, reflecting wider health inequalities across the regions and nations of the UK.

The report also reveals that those who have worked in the lowest paid jobs – including cleaners, carers, those working in the leisure industry and those doing heavy manual jobs – are twice as likely to stop working before retirement age due to sickness and disability than managers or professionals.

Workers aged over 50 now make up one in three (30 per cent) of the workforce – up from less than one in four (24 per cent) in 2000. The report finds that nearly half (49 per cent) of 60 to 64 year olds stopped working before their official retirement age.

The TUC General Secretary, Frances O’Grady, said: “Raising the state pension age is an easy target for chancellors of the exchequer wanting to make stealth cuts. But these figures show that we must hold off on any further rises in the pension age until we have worked out how to support the one in eight workers who are too ill to work before they even get to state pension age.

“People should be able to retire in dignity with a decent pension when the time is right. Older workers have a crucial role to play in the labour market but we can’t expect the sick to wait longer to get a pension when they may need financial support more than ever.”

* Read Postponing the Pension: are we all working longer? here

* TUC https://www.tuc.org.uk/

Although the views expressed in this article do not necessarily represent the views of Ekklesia, the article may reflect Ekklesia's values. If you use Ekklesia's news briefings please consider making a donation to sponsor Ekklesia's work here.