USA Today has published an illuminating piece of research about the continual expansion of the number of public worker jobs that qualify for lucrative early retirement schemes. In the main, the paper points out, this involves taking pension benefits designed for public safety workers like police and fire, who in many places can retire at age 50 due to the physical challenges of their jobs, and extending these benefits to other types of workers, including park rangers, dispatchers, and even museum guards.
The paper's research documents that 31 states have passed laws since 2000 alone expanding the number of government workers who can retire by age 50 or 55 because their jobs have now been placed in special early retirement categories. Arizona reclassified probation officers in 2006, while California allowed motor vehicle inspectors and fingerprint analysts into the more lucrative pension category in 2002, and Iowa allowed EMS technicians into an early retirement pension system in 2008, while Maryland placed laundry workers in the state's prison system into the early retirement pension system in that same year. More details about what states did what are here.