Why would people choose to claim Social Security retirement benefits at the earliest possible age of 62, rather than waiting until their full retirement age (66 to 67 for anyone born in 1943 or later), when doing so would reduce their monthly benefit by as much as 30%? There are many reasons, according to a recent General Accounting Office report titled, "Challenges for Those Claiming Social Security Benefits Early and New Health Coverage Options," including work-related and demographic factors.
The blue-collar blues
The study compared workers in a variety of positions and industries--farming, construction, sales, professional, and managerial, among others--and found that blue-collar workers were much more likely to claim early retirement benefits than others. This may be due to the fact that blue-collar work is typically more physically demanding, and therefore progressively harder as people age.