Biggest Retirement Income Gap Seen for Oldest Pre-Retirees

According to BlackRock and EBRI analysis, older pre-retirees have only 59% of their pre-retirement income saved

Click to enlarge: The retirement income gap by age. Source: BlackRockOlder pre-retirees are furthest from being retirement-ready, according to a recent analysis  by BlackRock and the Employee Benefit Research Institute.

The younger the retiree, though, the better it looks.

According to the study, 55-year-olds with median income and retirement savings are on track to replace 69% of their pre-retirement income. Based on the idea that retirees will need to replace about 80% of their income in retirement in order to maintain their standard of living, these 55-year-old median workers are falling 14% short.

For older pre-retirees, the gap gets wider.

The study found that 64-year-olds with median income and retirement savings will be able to replace only about 59% of their income, less than 60-year-olds who have the potential to replace about 64%.

“U.S. workers closest to retirement, and with the least amount of time left to bulk up their savings, are the ones who have the most work to do,” wrote Chip Castille, head of BlackRock’s U.S. Retirement Group, on BlackRock's blog.

BlackRock focused on people in their last decade before the traditional retirement age of 65 that have the two primary sources of retirement income, Social Security and retirement savings, usually 401(k) plans and individual retirement accounts.

“The 26% gap that the median 64-year-old faces to replace 80% of pre-retirement income is more daunting,” wrote Castille. “And for workers who expect to make up at least some of the difference by staying on the job past age 65, it’s important to note that EBRI’s 2014 Retirement Confidence Survey has found that 49% of retirees left their jobs earlier than they had planned.”

Castille added one explanation for the larger gap for older pre-retirees is “workers in their 60s are far more likely to receive some sort of traditional pension to supplement their retirement.”

To assess the retirement readiness of pre-retirees, BlackRock used its CoRI Retirement Indexes and incorporated data on U.S. workers’ median income and retirement savings provided by the Employee Benefit Research Institute.

To estimate the Social Security retirement benefits at the “full retirement age,” BlackRock collected the median retirement savings balances of people the same ages who have 401(k) accounts and IRAs in EBRI’s database and used the BlackRock CoRIRetirement Indexes to estimate the retirement income that those savings could provide.

Launched last year, the CoRI Retirement Index series was developed to help investors age 55 and older plan for retirement by tracking the estimated cost of $1 of future, annual inflation-adjusted lifetime income beginning at age 65.

The analysis also found that the cost of future income for investors ages 55, 60 and 64 has risen since BlackRock began tracking the cost of future retirement income a year ago.

“For someone age 55, for example, every $1 of lifetime retirement income was estimated to cost $14.09 as of June 30 – a 7.15% increase from what that same income would have cost a 55-year-old a year ago,” the study said.

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