Wednesday, 20 March 2019

How are today’s retirees doing? 10 insights on finances, quality of life – BenefitsPro

1. Standard of living maintained for most in retirement.

More than two-thirds—64 percent—of respondents said their standard of living has “stayed the same” in retirement, compared to one quarter that report their standard of living has “decreased.”

Nine percent of respondents said their standard of living has increased in retirement. (Photos: Shutterstock)

2. Most are happy, but few say they built a large enough nest egg.

The vast majority of retirees claim to be happy people and in good health. But relatively few expressed confidence in the size of the their retirement nest egg.

Only 16 percent expressed high confidence in the size of their retirement savings; another 30 percent were somewhat confident in their savings.

Nevertheless, 67 percent said they are confident they will be able to maintain a comfortable lifestyle in retirement, with nearly 20 percent claiming to be very confident in their ability to live comfortably.

3.  Limited household income.

The median household income of respondents was $32,000. One-quarter reported an income of less than $25,000, with 15 percent reporting an income of more than $100,000.

4. One in 10 has zero savings.

Median household savings, outside of home equity, is $75,000.

Almost one-third has less than $50,000 in savings, and nearly 10 percent has zero in savings. About four in 10 have savings of more than $100,000.

Respondents reported a median of $79,000 in home equity, with 22 percent reporting no equity in their homes.

5. Social Security is the primary source of income.

Most retirees—66 percent—say Social Security will be their primary source of income throughout retirement.

Only one in five cited workplace retirement accounts, IRAs, and other savings and investments as their primary source of retirement income.

One in 10 cited company pensions as the primary source of income.

Nine in 10 of respondents are already drawing Social Security. The median age for starting benefits was 62; 29 percent began drawing benefits between 65 and 69; only 4 percent waited until age 70 to draw the maximum annual benefit.


6. Three quarters have income from DC or DB plans.

Four in 10 draw some income from 401(k), 403(b) or IRA plans.

Another 35 percent benefit from a company-funded defined benefit pension. About 8 percent claim income from continued work in retirement.

7. Debt is a factor for many retirees.

When accounting for mortgages, most retirees are still servicing debt in retirement.

Almost half — 45 percent — carry non-mortgage debt, including credit card, auto, student, and medical debt. The median non-mortgage debt level is $4,000.

Another 28 percent of retirees have mortgage debt, with the median level being $52,000.

8. Most don’t use a financial professional.

Only one-third of retirees reports working with a financial professional.

Among those that do, most are using advisors and brokers for investment recommendations. Relatively few — 27 percent — use the pros to factor income needs and strategies for spending down savings.

Fifty-four percent of retirees claim to have a retirement strategy, but only 12 percent have a plan in writing.

9. One-third never had access to a workplace retirement plan.

Thirty-two percent of respondents were never offered a retirement savings plan through the workplace. Half participated in a defined contribution plan, and 37 percent participated in a defined benefit plan.

According to the survey, 30 percent of retirees said they never saved for retirement during their working careers. Of those that did save, 31 percent began before the age of 40, and 39 percent began in their 40s or later.

Two-thirds said their most recent employer did “nothing” to assist with the transition to retirement.

10. Several prevailing fears.

Declining health and the reduction or elimination of Social Security are retirees’ prevailing fears, according to the survey.

About four in 10 also cited outliving their savings.


The majority of today’s retirees are maintaining their pre-retirement standard of living, work sparingly and by choice, and left the workforce prior to when they had anticipated, according to the Transamerica Center For Retirement Studies, a non-profit think tank funded by Transamerica Life Insurance Co.

Transamerica surveyed more than 2,000 retirees with a median age of 71. While many report being healthy and satisfied in retirement, some critical data — such as low median total savings and an increasing dependence on social safety nets that are headed toward insolvency — suggest the arguably positive experience of today’s retirees also points to areas of policy shortcomings.

The slides above show 10 data points from the Center’s annual survey, providing a window into the quality of life of today’s retirees.


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