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How to Handle Being Forced into Retirement

BOSTON (TheStreet) -- Even those who have been diligently preparing for retirement can be in for a rude awakening if it arrives too soon.

Let's say you plan to retire at 70 and have based your saving and investing on that. Then an illness or layoff pushes you to leave the work force up to a decade sooner. Too old to easily get another job and too young to hit your desired numbers for a 20-to-30 year retirement, it can be a rough time indeed.

Being pushed out of the work force a decade too soon by illness or layoff can be rough indeed.

Don't panic
The first bit of advice from financial advisers is to keep your emotions in check. It is advice intended not just to keep you sane, but to prevent rash, counterproductive moves.

Fear can lead some to rashly react more to immediate obligations than with rationally with future needs. They may, for example, commit what many see as the one of the great sins of retirement planning -- liquidating a 401(k) and just eating the added taxes, withdrawal penalty and lost funds from future compounding returns.

"It is the worst decision you can make, and you only make it if you are truly backed into a corner and there is nothing else you can do," says Ron Courser, president of Ron Courser & Associates in Grand Rapids, Mich.

"There are always options out there. At some point in time, you may find out you are going to live to be 90 and if you consume everything today it is going to be unpleasant. It's kind of like eating the seed corn. The more you consume today the less you are going to have tomorrow," Courser says.

It is even more troubling when grabbing at that money comes as market returns ebb.

"You have chopped it off at its legs when it was low because you needed the money," says Tony Zabiegala, vice president of Strategic Wealth Partners in Seven Hills, Ohio.

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