It's a well-established fact that the retirement expectations of many Americans went up in smoke in the Great Recession, though it's never been clear precisely how many were forced to work longer than they anticipated.

A new study from the Employee Benefit Research Institute sheds light on that question, finding that prior to September of 2008 — the onset of the recession — 72.4 percent of workers retired either before the date they'd planned to retire, or no more than a year after that date. 

After September of 2008, however, it was a different story. Only 49.6 percent of people retired before or shortly after their planned retirement date, the EBRI said, a nearly 23-percent drop. 

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