Paying for the New Retirement: Responsibilities and Challenges for Middle-Income Boomers

July 2016

Today, about four in 10 (39%) members of the Boomer generation identify themselves as fully retired. But for the generation caught in the transition from institutional responsibility for retirement financial security to an increasing amount of individual responsibility, most Boomers have not done enough to adequately prepare for their retirement years. In fact, 69% of Boomers admit that they don’t have or don’t know if they have the financial resources to comfortably make it to age 85, the average life expectancy of a 65-year-old Boomer today.

Boomers are making adjustments to meet the new financial challenges they are facing in retirement. The Boomer experience may provide a cautionary tale for generations to follow. More education, more advice and guidance and ultimately more saving for retirement will be necessary for people to live comfortably in their retirement years.  
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  • Eight in 10 (80%) retired middle-income Boomers are relying on Social Security or an employer pension to be their primary source of retirement income, while one in 10 (12%) rely on personal investments, savings, or employment as their primary source of retirement income.
  • Other than contributing to a retirement account or savings, only six in 10 (61%) middle-income Boomers have taken steps to plan their retirement.
  • Seven in 10 (69%) Boomers do not believe or do not know if they have enough money to live comfortably to age 85.
  • Three in 10 (28%) middle-income Boomers say that they devote more than 40% of their monthly income to debt.

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This study from the Bankers Life Center for a Secure Retirement—Paying for the New Retirement: Responsibilities and Challenges for Middle-Income Boomers—was conducted in March 2016 by the independent research firm The Blackstone Group.

The internet-based survey consisted of a nationwide sample of 1,001 middle-income Americans age 52 to 75; Boomers age 52 to 70 made up 893 of the sample. Quotas were established based on the U.S. Census Current Population Survey data for age, gender and income to obtain a nationally representative sample. The margin of error is +/- 3.1 percentage points at the 95% confidence level.

Multiple answers were accepted on some questions; results on these questions sum to greater than 100%.

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