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Baby boomers ill-prepared to retire, national retirement institute says

Published Feb. 20, 2014

A comfortable retirement is becoming more elusive for aging Americans, many of whom will have no choice but to work well into their golden years.

Sparse savings, fewer pension plans, stagnant home values and rising health care costs have created a scenario in which many of the country's 70 million-plus baby boomers — who began retiring in earnest in 2011 — will struggle to live as well as their parents in old age.

The National Institute on Retirement Security says that "92 percent of working households do not meet conservative retirement savings targets for their age and income."

There are 45.1 million older Americans today, according to the federal government. That demographic is projected to grow to 77.4 million by 2033.

Much of the squeeze on would-be retirees can be traced to a lack of savings. William Wood, a senior lecturer and director for Wright State University's financial services program, suggests that people save 10 percent of their income for retirement, but one-third of the workforce has no savings set aside, studies show.

Only 57 percent of the workforce even has access to employer-sponsored retirement plans, such as a 401(k), according to the National Institute on Retirement Security. As a result, many baby boomers — who are reaching retirement age at a rate of 10,000 per day — have no choice but to keep working.

Wood said a recent study by Fidelity found that 75 percent of individuals in the 55-to-64 age bracket have less than $30,000 in 401(k) savings.

Also, because people are living longer, health care has the potential to drain savings. Almost 70 percent of people turning 65 will need long-term care at some point in their lives, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.


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