Many older U.S. workers are having a hard time getting a grip on their finances.[@@]

Researchers in the retirement division of Prudential Financial Inc., Newark, N.J., have published data supporting that conclusion in a report on a survey of 1,023 full-time U.S. workers ages 55 to 64 that was conducted in late 2004.

Although researchers found that 83% of the survey participants said it is “very important” to generate a “retirement paycheck,” or a steady retirement income, only 20% said they felt well-informed about creating a retirement paycheck and only 20% said they feel very confident about the chances that their income will let them live comfortably throughout retirement

Only 42% of the participants said they have worked with employers or professionals to calculate how much savings they will need in retirement, and only 39% of the participants said they have worked with professional advisors, employers or planning tools to estimate how much monthly income their savings might generate.

Just 7% of the participants said they have a formal written retirement plan.

Prudential executives say they are responding to the gaps in retirement planning knowledge by developing income-projection programs for members of its retirement plans.

Prudential also wants to do a better job of educating older workers about income annuities.

An income annuity is a product that converts savings into the basis for a lifetime income payment stream.

Only 44% of the retirement savings participants said they had heard of income annuities, and only 9% of the participants said they would use income annuities, even though the annuities are the only products that generate an lifetime income stream, Prudential says.