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Octogenarians Weigh In on Retirement

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Retirees say their financial situation was a bigger factor in their decision to retire than their health, according to a survey released Tuesday by New York Life of retirees 80 and older. Over two-thirds of respondents said their financial well-being was among the most important factors in their decision to stop working.

Health was important, but less so: 53% said it was one of the most important factors.

Less than half of respondents said their age was an important factor in their retirement decision. However, many said they weren’t expecting to live as long as they have, the survey found.

Almost 4% of Americans are 80 or older, according to the 2014 American Community Survey.

“One of our most striking findings is that a generation which many believe is lucky to commonly receive pensions and full Social Security benefits is in fact relying on more than those two traditional income sources in retirement,” Ross Goldstein, managing director of retail annuities marketing division for New York Life, said in a statement. “That is a good lesson for everyone — planning really matters.”

Most respondents — 90% — said they were receiving Social Security benefits for some portion of their retirement income; 57% said they got income from savings accounts. A little over half said they got some of their income from traditional pensions, and 46% had some from life insurance.

Less than a third of respondents were getting retirement income from annuities, and just 22% had some portion of their retirement income from a defined contribution plan.

The survey found income sources that take day-to-day management out of retirees’ hands provides them greater peace of mind, and 88% of respondents said they would encourage younger generations to create pension-like income sources to support them in retirement.

In fact, all of the respondents who didn’t have a pension said they wish they did. Income annuities, DC plans and managed investment accounts were also popular, with over a third of respondents saying they wish they had income from these sources.

“We have all heard the saying ‘listen to your elders.’ In this case, we hope younger generations listen closely to what octogenarians report about how they planned for retirement and how this planning worked for them once they got there,” Goldstein said.  “We hope boomers, Gen Xers and millennials will take action to find pension-like income that will allow them to retire and enjoy their younger retirement years.”

— Read Coping With America’s Coming Cognitive Decline on ThinkAdvisor.