Harry and Joyce Smith are among 8 million Americans with long-term care insurance - an area where insurers expect big growth as baby boomers zero in on their senior years. (AP Photo/John Miller)

Owners of variable annuities, life insurance with a long term care benefit, or long term care insurance feel 20% more confident about retirement than do others, according to a new survey.

Sun Life Financial Inc., Wellesley, Mass., reached this conclusion in the fall 2011 release of its U.S. Unretirement Index. The survey is based on telephone interviews with 1,499 adults between the ages of 18 and 66 who are working full-time, part-time, or are in job transition.

Among the 42% of those polled who reported owning an annuity, life insurance with long term care benefit and/or long term care insurance, 43% say they expect to receive an annuity payment at age 67. This contrasts with the 34% who not do not expect to a receive payments at age 67 among the 35% of respondents who do not own these investments.

The first group also express greater confidence about retirement than the other non-owner respondents, the study adds.

Sixty-seven percent of owners of annuities that will pay a guaranteed life income at 67 say they are happy with how much they are saving for their retirement years. And 77% of these owners say that at age 67 they will have done a good job preparing for retirement.

These percentages contrast with 40% and 56%, respectively, among survey respondents who don’t own an annuity providing a guaranteed life income stream, the study says.

Among the report’s other findings:

  • Only 23% of working Americans feel very confident they will meet basic living expenses in retirement—plunging from double that number (42%) last year.
  • One in five working Americans say they will never retire.
  • Confidence in the future of Social Security has plunged over the last four years, to 9% in 2011 from over double that (22%) in 2008.
  • Confidence about Medicare benefits has also plummeted, to 8% in 2011 from over double that (20%) in 2008.