Many Americans say they are concerned about their retirement but have done little about planning for the future, a new study by the Society of Actuaries finds.

The survey report from SOA, Schaumburg, Ill, compares preretirees’ and retirees’ answers in 2009 to those in a previous survey it conducted in 2007.

According to pre-retirees (older workers still in the workforce), 31% said they will be financially unable to retire, and 23% will choose to continue working.

Both pre-retirees and retirees say they plan to prepare for retirement risks, but little had changed between 2007 and 2009 in how they are addressing the gaps in strategies, such as concerns with protecting inflation from outpacing savings or the risk of outliving their assets, SOA found.

The fifth bi-annual SOA report, “Risks and Process of Retirement,” notes that the proportion of individuals planning to save money and work as much as possible is statistically unchanged compared to before the economic downturn. Inflation still reigns as the main concern, surpassing healthcare risks, for both pre-retirees and retirees.

For pre-retirees, the findings from 2009 mirrored those in 2007. This includes:

–In terms of strategies to manage risk, a little more than half of pre-retirees said they already saved as much as they could.

–Less than one-quarter of pre-retirees said they do not plan to completely pay off their mortgage.

–55% of pre-retirees in 2009 invested a portion of their money in stocks or stock mutual funds, compared to 54% in 2007.

–28% of pre-retirees planned to retire from their primary occupation at age 65.

For retirees, the findings include:

–About one-fifth planned to move to a smaller home or less expensive area.

–8% of retirees in 2009 and 9% in 2007 planned to buy long term care insurance.

–About three-quarters had no plans to purchase a financial product or choose an employer plan option to have a guaranteed annual level of income for life.

There is an overall misperception among retirees and pre-retirees that a strategy of planning for the short term would last them through the remainder of their lives, the study found.

For example, 54% of retirees and 64% of pre-retirees agreed that if someone manages their finances well during the first 3 years of retirement, their money will last for the rest of their retirement.

“More long-term planning is needed for individuals, and it is imperative that they look beyond 5 or 10 years, because that is the tip of the iceberg for many individuals nearing retirement or early into their retirement,” said Anna Rappaport, chair of the SOA Retirement Risk Survey and owner of Anna Rappaport Consulting. “Individuals are clearly concerned about their retirement and the associated risks, but many are still not taking the necessary actions and planning to address these issues.”

SOA’s 2009 survey found 81% of retirees and 90% of pre-retirees indicated they eliminated or plan to eliminate all of their consumer debt, compared to 79% of retirees and 89% of pre-retirees in 2007.

“We’ve found that retirees and pre-retirees continue to try to protect themselves against financial risks by decreasing debt, increasing savings and cutting back on spending,” said Rappaport. “These steps are simple, but they are only a starting point. More follow-through is needed on the larger actions, such as considering purchasing a product that guarantees lifetime income or planning for widowhood and severe healthcare challenges.”