the worriers ó the people who are afraid they wonít
ever be able to retire or that they will run out of
money too early in retirement.
out of 10 say they are so stressed out they even think
about it at work, according to the Employee Benefit
Research Institute, a research organization that has
been examining for years how prepared Americans are for
findings show people have calmed down since the Great
Recession, when a broad swath of Americans were
horrified as they lost jobs and as the stock market
crashed and destroyed a significant portion of the
savings theyíd worked hard to accumulate. Now, most
are back at work, home values are recovering and the
stock market has been kind to anyone with money in a
401(k). Measures of consumer confidence show Americans
having a bright view of their future.
while people generally are feeling optimistic now about
their jobs and putting food on the table, the optimism
wanes for many when they ponder whether they will be OK
in retirement. According to the EBRI study, only 18
percent are very confident they will have the savings
they need for a comfortable retirement.
a third of people arenít confident they will be able
to cover basic living expenses in retirement. Paying for
doctors, hospitals, medicine and other medical care is
also a major concern. About 45 percent of Americans arenít
confident they will be able to cover their medical
expenses once theyíre retired. If they think ahead
about the possibility of a long illness or injury that
would leave them unable to care for themselves without
help in their homes, 57 percent get worried.
not an unreasonable fear considering estimates of health
care costs in retirement. According to Fidelity Benefits
Consulting, a couple who retired at age 65 last year
likely will need $260,000 to cover health care needs
beyond those covered by Medicare. To cover long-term
care needs, Fidelity suggests an additional $130,000.
22 percent of workers arenít at all stressed about
preparing for retirement. And stress is hitting people
hardest in their mid-40s, when they start to realize
that they are aging and havenít come up with the
savings they thought would materialize as they got
who are already deep into retirement worry the least,
according to EBRI research.
great to have Social Security checks arrive each month
and not to have to worry about being fired or laid
off," said Craig Copeland, a senior researcher at
the concerns EBRI found among working Americans, many
are actually more confident than they should be,
the people closest to retirement ó baby boomers 55 to
64 years old ó only 57 percent are likely to have the
savings they need to last through retirement, said
and other EBRI researchers have looked at existing
savings for each age group of workers and calculated
where that is likely to place them when they retire.
Surprisingly, there is little difference between young
workers and older ones. Based on their savings,
calculated from the present into the future, about 43
percent of each age group is going to fail to have what
they need, said Copeland.
makes a difference, but is not the only factor. Among
the upper quarter of earners, 86 percent have been
saving enough to cover retirement needs, Copeland said.
Among lower middle income people, itís 53 percent and
among higher middle income people 72 percent should have
enough to cover basic expenses.
income, the people feeling the most comfortable are
those who have been doing some saving for retirement.
About 56 percent were saving when surveyed by EBRI. Most
of those who had 401(k) plans at work were doing some
saving, but few save if they donít have a workplace
retirement savings plan like a 401(k).
a serious problem since only about half of Americans
have retirement savings plans at work. Often smaller
employers donít offer plans.
even among people saving for retirement, EBRI found
stress arising from the fact that people werenít sure
if theyíd saved enough or worried because they thought
they were far behind. About 54 percent were promising
themselves that theyíd save more later. But the survey
shows what other research has shown: People are
procrastinators and "later" often never
a result, people in sorry shape for their futures look
for another way out. In the EBRI survey, 57 percent said
they will work longer than they expected and retire
later. Thatís a fine plan for people who are short of
money as they approach retirement age, but itís not a
solid plan. Surveys of current retirees have shown that
most people who had planned to work longer were forced
by health issues or layoffs to give up on the plan.
worrying, check to see if you are on course with your
retirement savings. Do the ballpark estimate at