Biggest Retirement Fear is Inadequate Savings

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

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.

NEXT: Outside savings

Fifty-six percent of workers are saving for retirement outside of work. However, 27% have taken out a loan, hardship withdrawal or early withdrawal from their 401(k) plan. The biggest reason for having taken out a loan was to pay off debt, cited by 41%. Among those who took out a hardship withdrawal, the biggest reason was to cover medical expenses, cited by 24%. It makes sense that so many people take out loans or hardship withdrawals, as 21% of workers have less than $1,000 in emergency savings.

Workers expect they will need an average $500,000 in total retirement savings. However, 43% think they will need less than that. They are also not giving retirement savings much thought, with 47% only having guessed at what they will need.

Only 51% of workers believe they are building a large enough nest egg, including 16% who strongly agree and 35% who somewhat agree. But many workers are procrastinating, with 40% agreeing with the statement, “I prefer not to think about or concern myself with retirement until I get closer to my retirement date,” including the 12% who strongly agree and the 28% who somewhat agree. Sixty-eight percent agree with the statement, “I do not know as much as I should about retirement investing,” including the 29% who strongly agree and the 39% who somewhat agree.

Only 16% have a written strategy about their retirement income needs. In terms of the factors they have considered, 55% have looked into Social Security and Medicare benefits, followed by ongoing living expenses (52%), retirement income needs (49%), health care costs (46%) a plan to ensure that savings last throughout retirement (40%) and investment returns (37%). However, few have taken into consideration inflation (37%), long-term care insurance (27%), tax planning (21%) and estate planning (19%).

Seventy percent of workers cite affordable cost of living as the biggest factor when deciding where to live in retirement, followed by being near family and friends (51%). Only 25% have a backup plan should their retirement happen unexpectedly, and only 18% know a great deal about Social Security benefits. Sixty-six percent want more retirement education and advice, and 53% say that if the information was easy to understand, that would motivate them to learn more about saving and investing for retirement.

Thirty-nine percent are working with an adviser to help manage their savings, and of this group, 74% rely on their adviser to recommend investments, and 49% have had their adviser calculate their retirement savings goal.