Declines in 401(k) Accounts Lead to Delayed Retirements

June 18, 2009 ( - A Watson Wyatt survey found that a third (34%) of workers have increased their planned retirement age in the last 12 months.

According to a Watson Wyatt press release, 44% of those age 50 and over plan to delay their retirement, compared with only 25% of those under 40. Although the average planned retirement age for all employees is 65 years old, half of respondents age 50 or older plan to retire at age 66 or later.

Three-quarters (76%) of older workers (age 50 to 64) cited the decline in the value of their 401(k) accounts as the top reason they are planning to postpone their retirement, followed by the high cost of health care (63%), and higher prices for basic necessities (62%). Of this group, more than half (54%) also indicated they will work for at least three years longer than previously expected.

The survey also found that workers who participate in a defined contribution (DC)-only plan are more likely to delay retirement than those with a defined benefit (DB) plan, the press release said. Only approximately a quarter (26%) of respondents with DC plans plan to retire before the age of 65, compared with 41% of those with DB plans.

The Watson Wyatt survey was conducted in February 2009 and includes responses from more than 2,200 full-time workers.

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