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Middle income boomers more prepared for death than life

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Middle income boomers are more prepared for death than they are for an extended life.

A recent study by Banker Life and Casualty Company’s (Bankers Life) Center for a Secure Retirement found that middle income boomers are nearly five times more likely to have a comprehensive financial plan in place for their final expenses than they are to have one in place to cover custodial care needed during an extended life.

The finding illustrates the profound impact that longevity can have on boomers of all stripes. Innovations in health care coupled with individuals living healthier lives has left many boomers expecting to live longer than once anticipated. The issue now becomes funding these extra years.

The study, “Retirement Care Planning: The Middle-Income Boomer Perspective” surveyed 1,299 Americans aged 49 to 67 with annual incomes between $25,000 and $75,000.

Middle income boomers and boomers in general have watched the retirement planning environment change right in front of their eyes during their working lives. They have seen the switch from defined benefit to defined contribution plans all while programs like Medicare and Social Security have been remolded, reshaped and taken on and off the government’s chopping block. This, coupled with the financial crisis cutting down nest eggs, have left many middle income boomers unsure when they will be able to retire.

Three in four survey respondents reported that they will retire based on their financial situation, not age.

Middle income boomers reported that they expect to live more active and mentally stimulating lives with more personal satisfaction than previous generations, but readily admit they will have less health insurance from previous employers, less financial security and less care provided by family members than past generations.

While middle income boomers admit they will have less financial security in their retirement when compared with previous generations, they severely underestimate both the chances of needing and the cost of long-term care (LTC). Thirty-six percent believe they will need LTC services at some point in their retirement while in actuality 70 percent will need it.

The study also found that 43 percent of middle income boomers have not held conversations with anyone (financial advisor or spouse) when it comes to how they wish to receive LTC, while 56 percent of respondents have not discussed how they will pay for it.

Middle income boomers realize a nursing home stay will impact their finances but many could not wager a guess as to how much one year at a nursing home would cost. Among those that did, the average figure was $46,890 when in actuality it is nearly double at $90,520.

Eighty-one percent of survey respondents could not wager a guess regarding the cost of home health aide services while those that did interestingly overestimated the hourly cost at more than double.

Seventy-eight percent of respondents reported that they think Medicare will pay for ongoing LTC while nine percent reported that they expect their children to help them.

Planning for an extended life in retirement is critical to middle income boomers’ financial health. One third of respondents indicated that they were unsure where to look for advice on planning for retirement care. While 66 percent reported they are open to meeting a retirement care planning professional.