The presumption that an individual will use Social Security in a “substantial way” increases the nearer retirement looms. A recent survey by AARP found that 32 percent of young boomers and 41 percent of older boomers say they plan to or currently are relying heavily on Social Security.

As boomers age, they are more likely to say that Social Security will be their main source of income in retirement. Twenty-seven percent of those between 45 and 54 say they will rely most on Social Security; 37 percent of boomers between 55 and 64 agreed.

One-quarter of younger boomers say they won’t use Social Security at all, but older boomers are dramatically less optimistic. Just 12 percent say they won’t rely on Social Security at all for retirement income. The same percentage says they will rely mostly on savings and other investments for retirement income. Seventeen percent of young boomers say they will depend more on savings than Social Security in retirement.

Older boomers are far more likely to say they will rely on a company-sponsored pension plan than they would a 401(k). One-fifth of boomers between 55 and 64 say they rely or plan to rely on a pension plan, more than any other age group, even respondents 65 and older (15 percent). Just 6 percent of older boomers say they will use a 401(k) for retirement income.

Younger boomers however, are slightly more likely to depend on a 401(k) in retirement. Fifteen percent say they rely on or plan to rely on a 401(k) compared to 13 percent who say the bulk of their income will come from a pension plan.

Survey respondents who were 50 or older were also asked whether they thought Social Security was more important now than they thought it was when they were younger. Forty-four percent of boomers between 50 and 54 thought Social Security was more important now than they thought it would be, and 29 percent said it was much more important. Forty-five percent of boomers between 55 and 64 thought Social Security was more important, and 29 percent said it was much more important. However, older boomers were more likely to say it was equally important (22 percent) than younger boomers (11 percent).

Regardless of their sentiments about how valuable Social Security is or could be, the survey found wide opposition to cutting the program. Nearly 80 percent of young boomers and 86 percent of older boomers opposed cutting Social Security.