Jet table saw

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ex-71

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I have owned a Jet table saw for about 7 years, bought new.
I have used the saw to what I would describe as a less than moderate amount
It has had its problems, niggly ones
until today ..............
As I attempted to raise the blade I could feel the shaft turn, but the blade refused to move
Upon inspection it would appear that the end of this shaft is held in situ by a washer held by a circlip (said washer now gone walkabout) to retain shaft against worm gear.
Why would circlip suddenly pop off?
Looking at the end of the shaft it would seem that the groove which the circlip would have sat in, has over time, been worn away by the turning motion of the shaft to leave no groove, just a very thin edge which has allowed the circlip to leave.
Has anyone experienced similar (and if so, is there a remedy?) or am I just a very lucky chappie???
 
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