Americans Taking More Responsibility for Retirement

October 2, 2003 ( - More than seven out 10 workers preparing for retirement say their golden years are up to them and them alone.

As concern grows among workers that outside parties, such as employers and the government, will not be able to provide the level of income necessary for a comfortable retirement, 73% identified themselves as the most responsible for their retirement care. This compares to only slightly more than half (58%) of current retirees who see similar reliance on their own merits, according to a survey conducted by the Million Dollar Round Table.

The survey found a direct correlation between this growing sense of responsibility and the confidence levels of retirement savings options. As evidence, 59% of future retirees have confidence in IRA programs, compared with only 46% of current retirees. Perhaps more telling is that 66% of non-retirees are confident in 401(k) investing compared to just 31% of current retirees.

With more retirees planning on flying fiscally solo through their retirement, the survey found an overall decreasing confidence in traditional retirement programs like Social Security and employer pensions and increasing confidence in options like 401(k) plans. While 77% of retirees say that they are confident in Social Security, only 43% of non-retirees express confidence. At the same time, 66% of non-retirees are confident in 401(k) investing compared to just 31% of current retirees.

Some of the trepidation and needed responsibility may come from what lies ahead. Forty-five percent of non-retirees said health-care is their top retirement concern and nearly a third say that honor belongs to the failure of Social Security. The study said these fears are not without reason, after health insurance premiums jumped by 13.9% this year and Social Security benefits will have to be cut by an estimated third by 2039 if the current system remains untouched.

However, retirees may not be as concerned about being the sole source of retirement income, but two-thirds wish they had done something differently in their retirement planning.

  • 50% –wish they had started planning earlier
  • 47% – wish they had more saved
  • 25% – say they should have gotten more guidance.

Additional information about this survey as well as financial planning tips can be found at .