Data and Research

Biggest Retirement Fear is Inadequate Savings

People also worry that Social Security will be pulled out from under them.

By Lee Barney | August 25, 2016
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More than half, 51%, of workers’ biggest retirement fear is outliving their savings, according to the Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies. That is followed by Social Security being reduced or ceasing to exist, cited by 47%; declining health that requires long-term care (45%); not being able to meet the basic financial needs of their family (42%); dementia or Alzheimer’s (35%); lack of access to affordable health care (32%); and being laid off (19%).

Fifty-four percent of workers plan to work past the age of 65, and of this group, 13% do not expect to retire. Just over half, 51%, of workers plan to work after they retire, including 38% who plan to work part time and 13% who plan to work full time. Only 22% do not plan to work after they retire, and 22% are not sure. For 30% of those who plan to work after they retire, the reason why is that they won’t be able to afford to retire.

Workers are taking proactive steps to work past age 65, with 60% trying to stay healthy, 52% making efforts to perform well at their current job, and 42% keeping their skills up to date. Forty-eight percent of workers plan to stay with their current employer while transitioning into retirement, and 72% either strongly or somewhat agree that their current employer is supportive of people working past age 65 (28% strongly agree and 44% somewhat agree). Thirty-two percent say that their employer permits flexible transition arrangements.

Workers expect the majority of their retirement income, 36%, to come from 401(k)s, 403(b)s or individual retirement accounts (IRAs), followed by Social Security (25%). However, 77% worry that Social Security may not be there by the time they retire.

In terms of their current financial priorities, paying off debt (cited by 62%) trumps saving for retirement (57%). Nonetheless, workers’ top financial priority is saving for retirement, cited by 26%, followed by covering basic living expenses (21%) and paying off debt (17%).

Among all workers, 77% are saving for retirement, with the average starting age being 27. Eighty-eight percent of workers say that having a retirement plan at work is important. Seventy-one percent of workers are offered a retirement savings plan. For full-time workers, that’s 77%, and for part-time workers, that’s 42%. Workers are saving an average of 8% of their salary.

Sixty-three percent say they are very involved in monitoring and managing their retirement savings, but only 16% strongly agree that they would like an outside expert to monitor their retirement savings.

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