Data and Research

Retiring Later Not a Reliable Retirement Strategy

Luke Vandermillen, from Principal, says everyone makes the assumption that the age at which they retire is their choice, but it may not be.

By Rebecca Moore | March 23, 2017
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As in prior years, there is a big gap between when active workers expect to retire and when retirees say they actually did, according to the 2017 Retirement Confidence Survey (RCS) from the Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI).

Workers continue to report an expected median retirement age of 65, while retirees report they retired at a median age of 62. A small share of workers are adjusting their expectations about when to retire, perhaps in recognition of the fact that their financial preparations for retirement may be inadequate. In 2017, 14% of workers say the age at which they expect to retire has changed in the past year, and of those, the large majority (78%) report their expected retirement age has increased. 

Though the median expected retirement age for workers and retirees has remained unchanged for years, workers remain notably more likely to say they expect to retire at age 70 or older than at times in the past. Nearly four in 10 (38%) workers expect to retire at 70 or older, while only 4% of retirees report this was the case. Just 9% of workers say they plan to retire before age 60, compared with 39% of retirees who report they retired that early. Seventeen percent of workers say they plan to retire between the ages of 60 and 64, although 38% of retirees say they retired in that age range. This difference between workers’ expected retirement age and retirees’ actual age of retirement suggests that a considerable gap exists between workers’ expectations and retirees’ experience.

NEXT: When retiring later doesn’t pan out