Middle-income boomers are delaying retirement by an average of five years, a report released Tuesday by the Bankers Life and Casualty Company Center for a Secure Retirement found. The majority of boomers agree that the catalyst for retirement will be their financial status rather than their age.
The report identified several factors for the shift in retirement age. First, retirement risk has been effectively shifted to individuals from employers with the steady decline of pension plans in favor of 401(k) plans. Uncertainty about Social Security and Medicare also contributes to boomers' feelings of having to put off retirement. And, of course, the recession has done no one any favors in saving for retirement.
Over two-thirds of respondents said they thought they'd be better off than they are. Just 4% say they are better off than they expected to be at this point in their lives, and less than one-quarter are on target.
The report claims, though, that if there is a silver lining it's that the recession occurred before the first wave of boomers began turning 65. "The downturn will encourage more people to realistically examine their financial plan for retirement while they may still have time to make adjustments that can help improve their financial security and, ultimately, the enjoyment of their retirement years," the report claims.
Boomers have accepted that retirement will look different from that of their parents, and over half said they were "looking forward to retiring." The pensions and guaranteed income of yore are what boomers envy most; three-quarters expect to work in retirement. "Old retirement" activities such as slowing down, being taken care of by family members and moving to a retirement community are being replaced by keeping up with technology, working and staying physically fit.
Two-thirds of these middle-income boomers aren't receiving any financial guidance at all. One in seven have no retirement account at all and 55% have saved less than $100,000. Boomers' top concerns are being unable to cover health care expenses, inflation, and outliving the savings they have accumulated.
Of the more than two-thirds of middle-income boomers who suffered a decline in their retirement accounts since 2008, 30% say they haven't seen any rebound in values. Almost half of the boomers surveyed expect the changes they've made to weather the recession will be permanent.
"Whether you hope to retire in five or 15 years, it's not too late to create an achievable plan," Scott Perry, president of Bankers Life and Casualty Company, said in a statement. "Middle-income Boomers should take full advantage of the retirement savings opportunities through their employer or a professional advisor, reduce financial debt, practice healthy living and help insure against life's uncertainties, whether its health costs, long-term care or out-living one's savings."
Boomers aren't taking those advantages when they're available though. Middle-income boomers are less likely to participate in an employer–sponsored retirement plan than the average worker.