Even for the most prepared retiree, unexpected expenses during retirement can derail a carefully crafted financial plan.

Some of these risks are more obvious than others. Not having enough money to cover expenses and outliving savings are two risks that most people think about when planning for retirement. But less-obvious expenses can sneak up on retirees and cause both minor and major impacts to their financial situation.

The Society of Actuaries studied the impact of unexpected or shocking retirement expenses during its 2015 update to its biennial risk survey started in 2001. The study followed up with focus groups to supplement regular surveys with people who were retired at least 15 years to understand the long-term impact of a lack of retirement planning. While almost three in ten retirees (28%) report experiencing none of these shocks or unexpected expenses, 13% say they encountered three and 19% encountered four or more in retirement. One-quarter of retired widows (24%) indicate they have encountered four or more.

The society asked retirees and retired widows which retirement expenses they had encountered during retirement. Read on the find out about these costs, along with the relevant break down by age, gender and household income. 

Loss of capacity

17. Loss of capacity requiring someone outside the household to manage your money

Retirees: 1%

Retired widows: 1%

Men: 1%

Women: 1%

Age 45-59: 4%

Age 60-69: 0%

Age 70-80: 1%

Household income less than $35,000: 2%

Household income $35,000 – $74,000: 1%

Household income greater than $75,000:

Divorce

16. Divorce during retirement

Retirees: 3%

Retired widows: 1%

Men: 3%

Women: 3%

Age 45-59: 3%

Age 60-69: 4%

Age 70-80: 3%

Household income less than $35,000: 5%

Household income $35,000 – $74,000: 2% 

Household income greater than $75,000: 2%

 Damage to home

15. Significant damage to or loss of home due to fire or natural disaster

Retirees: 3%

Retired widows: 4% 

Men: 2%

Women: 4%

Age 45-59: 5%

Age 60-69: 2%

Age 70-80: 3%

Household income less than $35,000: 2%

Household income $35,000 – $74,000: 4%

Household income greater than $75,000: 2%

Foreclosure

14. Loss of home through foreclosure

Retirees: 3%

Retired widows: 6%

Men: 2%

Women: 3%

Age 45-59: 6%

Age 60-69: 3%

Age 70-80: 2%

Household income less than $35,000: 4%

Household income $35,000 – $74,000: 2%

Household income greater than $75,000: 1%

Bankruptcy

13. Bankruptcy

Retirees: 4%

Retired widows: 4%

Men: 5%

Women: 3% 

Age 45-59: 8%

Age 60-69: 3%

Age 70-80: 4%

Household income less than $35,000: 7%

Household income $35,000 – $74,000: 3%

Household income greater than $75,000: 1%

Scam

12. Victimization by fraud or scam

Retirees: 6%

Retired widows: 5%

Men: 5%

Women: 7%

Age 45-59: 11%

Age 60-69: 5%

Age 70-80: 5%

Household income less than $35,000: 8%

Household income $35,000 – $74,000: 5%

Household income greater than $75,000: 4%

Loss of savings

11. Loss in total value of savings of 10% or more due to poor investment decisions

Retirees: 9%

Retired widows: 8%

Men: 12%

Women: 7%

Age 45-59: 16%

Age 60-69: 9%

Age 70-80: 8%

Household income less than $35,000: 11%

Household income $35,000 – $74,000: 9%

Household income greater than $75,000: 7%

Death of spouse

10. Death of a spouse or long-term partner

Retirees: 10%

Retired widows: 56%

Men: 5%

Women: 14%

Age 45-59: 4%

Age 60-69: 6%

Age 70-80: 16%

Household income less than $35,000: 15%

Household income $35,000 – $74,000: 7%

Household income greater than $75,000: 5%

Emergency

9. Family emergency that impacted the amount able to spend on other things or used 10% or more of savings

Retirees: 12%

Retired widows: 18%

Men: 11%

Women: 13%

Age 45-59: 20%

Age 60-69: 11%

Age 70-80: 11%

Household income less than $35,000: 17%

Household income $35,000 – $74,000: 11%

Household income greater than $75,000: 6%

 Medicaid

8. Going on Medicaid

Retirees: 14%

Retired widows: 11%

Men: 16%

Women: 12%

Age 45-59: 24%

Age 60-69: 12%

Age 70-80: 12%

Household income less than $35,000: 27%

Household income $35,000 – $74,000: 6%

Household income greater than $75,000: 3%

loss of savings

7. Sudden loss of total value of savings of 25% or more due to a fall in the market

Retirees: 14%

Retired widows: 13%

Men: 14%

Women: 14%

Age 45-59: 13%

Age 60-69: 9%

Age 70-80: 19%

Household income less than $35,000: 15%

Household income $35,000 – $74,000: 12%

Household income greater than $75,000: 14%

 Buckets

6. Running out of assets

Retirees: 15%

Retired widows: 16%

Men: 15%

Women: 15%

Age 45-59: 23%

Age 60-69: 13%

Age 70-80: 13%

Household income less than $35,000: 27%

Household income $35,000 – $74,000: 9%

Household income greater than $75,000: 3%

 Disability

5. Illness or disability that limited the retiree’s ability to care for himself or herself

Retirees: 15%

Retired widows: 22%

Men: 15%

Women: 15%

Age 45-59: 25%

Age 60-69: 13%

Age 70-80: 14%

Household income less than $35,000: 21%

Household income $35,000 – $74,000: 12%

Household income greater than $75,000: 9%

 Home value

4. Drop in home value of 25% or more

Retirees: 16%

Retired widows: 22%

Men: 16%

Women: 16%

Age 45-59: 13%

Age 60-69: 15%

Age 70-80: 19%

Household income less than $35,000: 13%

Household income $35,000 – $74,000: 19%

Household income greater than $75,000: 18%

 Pills and bills

3. Significant out-of-pocket medical or prescription expenses from a chronic health condition or disability that did not limit the retiree’s ability to care for himself or herself

Retirees: 20%

Retired widows: 12%

Men: 22%

Women: 18%

Age 45-59: 31%

Age 60-69: 21%

Age 70-80: 15%

Household income less than $35,000: 27%

Household income $35,000 – $74,000: 20%

Household income greater than $75,000: 8%

 Dental

2. Major dental expenses

Retirees: 24%

Retired widows: 28%

Men: 23%

Women: 25%

Age 45-59: 27%

Age 60-69: 20%

Age 70-80: 28%

Household income less than $35,000: 23%

Household income $35,000 – $74,000: 23%

Household income greater than $75,000: 26%

 Hammer

1. Major home repairs or upgrades

Retirees: 28%

Retired widows: 34%

Men: 28%

Women: 29%

Age 45-59: 28%

Age 60-69: 27%

Age 70-80: 31%

Household income less than $35,000: 23%

Household income $35,000 – $74,000: 30%

Household income greater than $75,000: 35%

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