Not all retirees are the same. The Employee Benefit Research Institute’s Retirement Security Research Center developed profiles of five groups, focusing on financial assets, income, debt and homeownership.
1. Average retirees (28%) were likely to report modest levels of financial assets ($99,000 or less) and intermediate levels of income (between $40,000 and $100,000 annually). The majority within this group rely on defined benefit pension plan income along with Social Security for their retirement income. Six in 10 average retirees seek to maintain or grow their financial assets in retirement.
2. Comfortable retirees (22%) also reported intermediate levels of income but more in assets — between $99,000 and $320,000. They had easily manageable debt, were more likely to say their retirement savings are sufficient or even above their needs and that they plan to grow, maintain or spend only a small portion of their financial assets in retirement.
3. Affluent retirees (19%) were more likely to have high levels of financial assets ($320,000 or more) and annual income ($100,000 or more). They were mostly mortgage-free homeowners, with no debt. Affluent retirees reported having access to more diverse sources of retirement income than retirees from the other groups, with defined benefit pension plans and personal savings being the most common.
4. Struggling retirees (18%) had low levels of financial assets ($99,000 or less) and income (less than $40,000 annually). They were more likely than any other group to rent rather than own their homes. They also were most likely to have unmanageable debt, such as credit card and medical debt. On average, these retirees rated their health status the worst out of all groups.