Health Care Costs, Social Security Concerns Near-Retirees

Recent retirees paint a different picture of life in retirement than some pre-retirees expect.

Future retirees do not have a positive outlook for their life during their golden years, the Nationwide Retirement Institute found in a survey.

Only 21% expect that life will be better in retirement. Among recent retirees, 28% said life is worse. Among this group, 78% said it is because of income, and 76% said it is because of the cost of living.

Seventy-eight percent are worried that the Social Security Administration will run out of funding in their lifetime, according to the survey of 1,012 adults age 50 and older. Fifty-two percent think the Trump Administration will cut Social Security benefits.

“With growing uncertainty and looming potential changes, Americans in or nearing retirement need help navigating the complexity of the program,” says Tina Ambrozy, president of sales and distribution for Nationwide. “When and how Americans file for Social Security is one of the most important financial decisions they will make in their lifetime.”

Future retirees expect to wait until age 65 to begin collecting Social Security benefits, but recent retirees, on average, starting collecting these benefits at age 62.

Future retirees expect to receive $1,578 in monthly Social Security benefits, but the average for recent retirees is $1,487. For those who retired more than 10 years ago, it is $1,208. Fifty-three percent of future retirees and 59% of recent retirees expect Social Security will cover half of their expenses in retirement, but the program is designed to cover only 40%. Twenty-five percent of retirees said their benefits were less than they had expected.

Future retirees expect to use 19% of these funds for housing, 23% for groceries and 20% for health care. However, 59% of recent retirees say they are likely to use these funds to pay for health care, and 56% for housing.

“Many Americans nearing retirement have misconceptions when it comes to planning for and spending their Social Security, and their assumptions don’t match the reality of how current retirees use their funds,” Ambrozy says. “Our fourth annual survey uncovers the importance for many of maximizing their Social Security benefits to better prepare for planned—and unplanned—expenses in retirement.”

Among those who have retired, 37% say they are grappling with health issues. Among this group, 75% said these problems occurred earlier than they had expected, and 24% said health care expenses are keeping them from living the life they had anticipated in retirement.

Ninety-one percent said they don’t know how to maximize Social Security benefits. Seventy-nine percent of future retirees who work with a financial adviser said they would switch advisers if the new adviser would give them guidance on maximizing Social Security benefits. However, only 17% of future retirees have received advice about Social Security from an adviser.

People who have worked with a financial adviser report receiving $1,584 in Social Security benefits, compared to $1,290 among those who have not worked with an adviser.