Families of All Types Have Retirement Savings Concerns

October 1, 2012 (PLANSPONSOR.com) Retirement security remains a major concern for a large percentage of Americans, particularly in terms of being able to maintain a “reasonable” standard of living for the rest of their lives.

Forty percent of those polled for a MetLife Mature Market Institute study feel they are behind on their plans to save for retirement. Overall, the families surveyed have concerns about their ability to pay living (53%) and medical (49%) expenses. Significantly more non-couples have concerns about paying living expenses.

Respondents cite external factors for their concerntax increases (39%), changing interest rates (30%), stock market fluctuations (29%), and reductions in pensions and annuities (20%). More than half (54%) of respondents fear that changes in Social Security and Medicare will reduce their retirement resources; many will rely heavily on Social Security as a source of income.   

Longevity poses risks, as many of those polled say they might not have enough money to pay for health care (45%) and a long-term stay in a nursing home (44%) as they age.   

The study found the presence of children is both a financial burden (52% of those with adult children have provided them some financial assistance, primarily due to a job loss) and a potential source of support (one-quarter of respondents expect children to help retired parents in need).   

Nearly half of respondents have calculated how much monthly income—in addition to Social Security—they will need in retirement. On average, they estimate they will need an additional $3,136.

Nearly four in 10 respondents do not know where they will turn to for assistance if they are unable to meet their financial obligations in retirement. One-third will turn to state/federal assistance; many will turn to family members. 

According to the survey findings, financial security concerns are greater among non-couples, which are an increasing percentage of families in the country. More single women believe it is harder for them to save for retirement than respondents who are married or have a blended family.  

More couples than non-couples have taken action to lower their debt, have met with a financial adviser and have invested for their retirement. While couples in first marriages report that they are better financially prepared than those in second marriages, couples in second marriages do not feel more vulnerable to financial risks such as inflation, stock market fluctuations or outliving retirement resources.  

Half of couples and fewer non-couples agree that they have a clear idea of what they hope to experience in retirement. More couples than non-couples feel that they have planned well enough that they can face problems when they arise.   

About four in 10 respondents do not expect to support anyone else in retirement. However, the majority of married respondents will be supporting their spouse or relying on their spouse for retirement income.  

For the study, GfK Custom Research North America surveyed 2,500 adults ages 45 to 80. The study can be downloaded from here.