It's one thing to worry that benefits from Social Security and Medicare will be unavailable when your clients need them; it's quite another to worry that those benefits will become unavailable when clients have already come to depend on them. A survey released Monday by LIMRA found more than half of retirees are afraid changes to Social Security and Medicare, as well as increases in taxes, will affect their plan for retirement.

“With so many lawmakers talking about cutting costs to reduce the growing deficit and the financial implications resulting from it, retirees who might have felt secure that their retirement savings would last their lifetime, now recognize the uncertainty of the times and how vulnerable they are,” Marie Rice, corporate vice president of LIMRA Retirement Research, said in a press release.

LIMRA studied income sources for retirees between ages 55 and 79, as well as how they spent their income, and found over 85% rely on Social Security. Three-quarters of respondents have a traditional pension, and 44% depend on investments and taxable savings. Other sources of retirement income like employee earnings, defined-contribution plans and IRAs fund retirement for about one-quarter of respondents.

Furthermore, respondents reported that more than half of their income goes to basic living expenses.

“A significant change in public policy like Social Security and Medicare benefits could be disastrous for many retirees – particularly those with lower income and asset levels,” noted Rice.

Rice added that with traditional pension plans falling out of favor, it will be important for future retirees to "increase their current savings patterns and think about retirement income solutions including guarantee investments that will adjust for inflation."

Rice pointed out that low-income retirees, "who can least absorb additional unexpected costs during retirement," will be most affected by policy changes.

Less than half of respondents have worked with a professional advisor to help them make investment decisions, and only 22% had a written plan.