Retirement is a time which many people will look forward to, however plans for this time of life may – sadly – not always turn out to happen in the way one hoped. That’s something which Anya, whose name has been changed, has unfortunately discovered.

At the age of 61, she is currently looking for work, having first begun working at the age of 13.

Following a 20-year career in financial services and more than 20 years in recruitment, Anya was looking to retire at 60, and her finances were geared to that goal.

“I was looking to retire possibly at 60, plus with my old age pension, do temporary work – a part time job, something like that to keep me going,” she says during an exclusive interview with Express.co.uk.

However, around a year ago, the recruiter’s division was closed. She says of that time: “I got the indication that there wasn’t going to be a role and made redundant.”

Having negotiated with her manager, she took voluntary redundancy, receiving four months of redundancy pay, and left on amicable terms.

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“But of course the age is against me in recruitment,” she says. “60 is not what people are looking for. They’re looking for the young high fliers.”

Following changes to the state pension age, Anya has some years to wait until she can claim the payment. She is due to reach state pension age at 66.

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“I’m sat here thinking, ‘I’ve worked for 43 years or more, I’ve paid my taxes. I can’t have my pension.’ I’m struggling. I can’t get a job. I’ve got a bad hip at the moment.”

She adds: “My pension was all geared to be taken at 60.”

Anya made private pension contributions during her working life, and is receiving pension payments to make up part of the household income, as well as seeking part-time work.

“I’m taking my pension to help subsidise paying for my bills at the moment,” she explains.

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For some extra income, she is carrying out market research assignments. She is part way through a seven-day assignment at the time of the interview.

It means Anya needs to stand in a fast food restaurant between 5pm and 10.30pm in a bid to get customers’ thoughts on the company.

However, it is proving to be a struggle due to her health battles.

“I’m not in good health – I’ve got bad hips. I had a blood clot a few years ago and I’ve got 80 percent reduction in my lungs which means I can’t walk very far and I can’t do any manual jobs which is probably a bit of a problem,” she explains.

Explaining the challenges she faces by standing up for the shift each evening, she continues: “It’s very painful, very very painful.”

But, Anya explains that she needs the money. “I’ve got to think, ‘I’ve got to pay the bills’,” she says.

What was her retirement plan?

“If I was still employed, I would have carried on,” she explains. “I would have deferred everything because as I was working I would have had an income.

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“But now I’ve had to take my personal pension early which has made it devalued basically.”

Anya details her struggle to find a suitable job. “I don’t think it’s all age but it’s very difficult. I think an employer sometimes is looking for progressive careers, whereas maybe I’m only looking for six or seven years, maybe longer.

“They look at you on that basis I think. They have to do what’s good for their business, I appreciate that.”

Anya explains she and her husband – who is currently working as a taxi driver and has a state pension age of 68 – have had to alter their lifestyle in order to cover living costs.

She says: “We tick along with the bills, there’s no extras, no extras at all.

“I’ve always worked hard and I’ve always gone on holiday abroad.

“I’ve got a holiday booked in a few weeks, because it was paid for last year, but after that that’s it. I’ll have no spare money.”

She adds: “If a big bill comes in, it’s worrying. Normally I had a good income, I had probably £2,500 a month coming in. If a bill came in it was paid.

“I worked hard for all of these years, and the point of working hard is to have some time out on a good holiday once a year, and I can’t see I’ll be going anywhere.

“I’m now looking at what I buy food-wise. I can’t buy any extras – I buy the necessities. We have the same menu weekly because it’s cheap.”

Anya explains: “I just feel so sick and so worried now.”

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