New study: Many will have to work into their 70s and 80s to afford retirement

Planning to work until you’re in your 70s? Unfortunately, you still may not have enough money to retire on.

That’s according to a new study by the nonpartisan Employee Benefit Research Institute.

If Baby Boomers and Gen Xers delay their retirement past the age of 65, many of them still will not have adequate income to cover their basic retirement expenses and uninsured health care costs, EBRI said in the study.

Even if a worker delays his or her retirement age into their 80s, there is still a chance the household will be “at risk” of running short of money in retirement, the study said.

But, the chance of success in retirement improves significantly as individuals reach their late 70s and early 80s, EBRI found.

A major factor is whether workers are participating in a 401(k) or similar plan after the age of 65.

“Our research finds that many people may have to delay retirement far beyond age 65 to increase the probability that they have enough money to cover their retirement expenses at a comfortable level,” Jack VanDerhei, EBRI’s research director, said in a statement. “What really makes a positive difference, we found, is if people who continue to work after 65 also continue to contribute to a defined contribution retirement plan.”

As you’d expect, lower income workers are in worse shape.

For those in the lowest income group (bottom 25 percent), only 29.6 percent of households would have sufficient resources to avoid running short of money in retirement 50 percent of the time, EBRI said. But their situation improves if retirement is deferred — the longer the better.

At the top 25 percent of the income scale, EBRI said, three-quarters of households are likely to have adequate income if they retired at age 65. Of course, their situation also improves if retirement is deferred.

The report, “The Impact of Deferring Retirement Age on Retirement Income Adequacy,” is available by hitting the link provided.

How long do you think you’ll need to work?

What’s the main stumbling block to your retirement? Or, if you’re OK, any key suggestion for others?

- Henry Unger, The Biz Beat

For instant updates, follow me on Twitter.

86 comments Add your comment

baby boomer

June 8th, 2011
8:12 am

the stumbling block to retirement is President BO’s policy. He ran for the office on change and that is all that will be left of our paychecks and 401ks if he continues to push his socialistic programs and spend beyond our means

Buzz G

June 8th, 2011
8:19 am

47 million Americans are now on food stamps. Obama and the Democrats intend to double that in the next few years. I am going to vote Democratic too so that I can get free stuff. And if Democrats give me enough free stuff, I won’t have to work til I am old. As a matter of fact, since there are no jobs, I won’t work at all and I will just lay around and get me free stuff that the Democrats give me.

Thank you, deal leader Obama and Democrats, for providing for all. We are so lucky for the hope and change.


June 8th, 2011
8:36 am

Buzz G – “47 million Americans are now on food stamps. Obama and the Democrats intend to double that in the next few years”

Buzz, why don’t you take a look at the profit margins for JP Morgan, since they are the LARGEST producer of the EBT cards. I’m not a fan of Obama or his adminstration, but the last I checked, JP Morgan is a bastion of the Free market, Capitalistic ideals you seem to hold so dear. I’m sure there are no complaints coming from the JPM executives or their shareholders about the increase in the food stamp population.

Wake up and realize that NEITHER party is going to do anything for you unless you can afford to be in the club.


June 8th, 2011
8:40 am

I appreciate the posts HU however the posters your blog attracts are easily the most moronic on the ajc site. And that’s really saying something.


June 8th, 2011
8:42 am

It all depends if older Americans can even find work. I’m 57 (58 next month). If I lose my job there are very few companies that would even hire me and most of those would be without health care benefits.

Would I like to work into my 70’s. Sure. I’m healthy and enjoy working. Biggest problem if I’m forced to downgrade my job due to layoff or whatever will continue to be health insurance though.


June 8th, 2011
8:46 am

The main thing keeping me from retiring is health insurance. The USA is the only industrial country in the world without a government option for health care.

If I could buy into Medicare before age 65, I would retire tomorrow, provided the republicans don’t kill Medicare and Social Security in the next few years! The constant attacks by the greedy rich and corporate sponsors of the GOP have caused many of us Boomers to rethink our retirement plans.

I have a secure pension and adequate 401K savings but I would lose my health insurance and could not afford thousands per month for insurance. The republican scheme to add a middleman will only increase the cost of Medicare and make their corporate insurance partners richer!


June 8th, 2011
8:51 am

I just threw up in my mouth after reading this article. Blood sucking politicians have drained Social Security for years and left it with IOU’s. It was the easiest form of legal thievery. Now you have “retirement planners” who charge an arm and a leg to “invest” your money into funds that keep getting smaller. I guess we’ll have to work until you die. The only change I have is what’s in my coffee holder in my car.


June 8th, 2011
8:56 am

Why no mention from some of you fools of the Republican contribution that got us into this mess and the policies they want to implement to keep us there? I’m no fan of the Democrats either but you people have got to start looking beyond your noses for a change to see what is really going on here. THEY want you to blame it all on Obama so that you won’t see THEM for who they really are and what THEY have done to us. You won’t listen of course because a lot of you can only concentrate on one thing at a time. Obama may not be the best we’ve ever had but he is not your enemy. You had better open your eyes and see who the real enemy is before it is too late, and it already may be.

Jim Tavegia

June 8th, 2011
8:58 am

We adopted our grandson and are so glad we did. With college to pay for retirement plans are on hold for a while. I don’t mind one bit as Nick is a great young man and brings much joy into our lives every day. As long as my health holds out in this nearly 64 year old body I will keep working. I have no regrets.

Paul Revere

June 8th, 2011
9:04 am

“the stumbling block to retirement is President BO’s policy. He ran for the office on change and that is all that will be left of our paychecks and 401ks if he continues to push his socialistic programs and spend beyond our means”

What the hell are you talking about?


June 8th, 2011
9:14 am

The comments here are telling – it’s easy to see why the south lost the civil war. What a wasteland…


June 8th, 2011
9:14 am

don’t blame the president or welfare…look in the mirror. If you didn’t start saving in your 401(k) until your are in your 40s or 50s and living beyond your means, this article is talking about you.
Sorry, it’s a sad but true fact and you guys are just looking to displace the blame elsewhere.


June 8th, 2011
9:47 am

Herman Cain for President !


June 8th, 2011
9:49 am

Oh, yeah…let’s not forget about the two wars that Bonehead Jr. and Darth Cheney got us into. Billions of dollars a month that were not even on the books for years. Time for both parties to realize that defense spending is one of the biggest welfare programs. Time to quit being the world’s police force!!!


June 8th, 2011
9:54 am

I have a secure pension and adequate 401K savings but I would lose my health insurance and could not afford thousands per month for insurance.
Health Insurance does not cost thousands per month.
What do you think your cost is currently for Medicare part A and B along with a supplemental policy and part D for drugs?


June 8th, 2011
9:57 am

Jim Tavegia – you have a golden heart my friend!

PO'd Gen Xer (or maybe I'm Gen Y)

June 8th, 2011
10:01 am

The social security program has been a joke from day 1. How could you set up that type of system without accounting for life expectancy increases?

[...] factor is whether workers are participating in a 401(k) or similar plan after the age of 65.  More Read On… ← Baby boomers are putting the summer bummer on [...]


June 8th, 2011
10:02 am

I’m 79 and still working: not because I have to, but because I want to. Most retirees are boring and have little to talk about other than their ailments and the meds they take.


June 8th, 2011
10:10 am

One of two things will normally happen to you when you become an older worker……….

Your body will betray you and health issues will force you to leave earlier than you wanted to or planned

Your mind gets tired of all the BS changes: reorganizations, retooling, rightsizing, revolving bosses, computer upgrades, new policies and procedures and just plain people telling you what to do. Believe me, at the age 60 you don’t want a 24 year old newly minted MBA directing your daily activities with warp speed. Unless you’re really hard up and need the money, you’re going to get tired of it.

On top of that, your company gets tired of you too. You’re an employee who is expensive and resistant to change. Your company can hire better, cheaper, faster and more innovative then you. Unless you are a senior executive or have very specialized knowledge, who is going to let you sit at a job and suck up a check until you get 70 or 80 years old?

Put working until your mid to late 60s as a “maybe” and not a definite. Unless you own the company the world doesn’t work like that.


June 8th, 2011
10:20 am

Make marijuana legal and then tax it – problem solved!

Roughouse Randy

June 8th, 2011
10:29 am

I have my retirement plan all worked out. Lottery and or gambling winnings.


June 8th, 2011
10:34 am

Truth –

You may want to look into how much it would cost to buy private insurance on the open market, from a new provider at “retirement age.” If it would cost me, a single woman, with no health problems and no intentions on getting pregnant $600 a month to purchase insurance (and that was the lowball quote when I checked when I was 37) I have no doubt the costs to someone who is 25 years older is astronomical!


June 8th, 2011
10:35 am

Seriously, unless you have some very special skills, what chance is there of having an interesting job at the age of 70? Assuming that we are physically able, we will be bagging groceries and wiping tables. How many people in their 70s can remember what they did yesterday much less what they did last week? What employer is going to keep a headcount full of old farts?

Pay Up

June 8th, 2011
10:40 am

Great news! Where can I get a job at age 75 or 80? will mcdonalds still be hiring?


June 8th, 2011
10:42 am

@Peepeye – I wish I could accuse you of cynicism but I think you’ve just struck the right chord. I am 59 and if I lost my job, I would be hard pressed to find anything that came close to a replacement. I have two friends who suffered that fate and they have gone from temp job to temp job for the past four years, one of them finally having simply given up and is now “retired” on next to no income except for his wife’s and no insurance.


June 8th, 2011
10:49 am

Age 45 is the cutoff age.

A lot of age discrimination comes from having employers provide work-based benefits like health insurance to its workers.

Normally when you hit your 50s and you start to use healthcare dollars you become too expensive to have on a payroll because you drive up health, disability and life insurance rates. Rates are based on the average age of your employees.

If you’re in your 50’s you might need to put in your equation, the POSSIBILITY that you may never work again. You might need to have a Plan B, C and a D too.

I tell everyone……………. don’t be making any long term plans with your employer.


June 8th, 2011
10:57 am

Who likes pb & j sandwiches?


June 8th, 2011
10:58 am

Age discrimination is rampant but subtle.

When we want someone to retire, we just give them something new and fresh. A very new young boss.

You know a recent college graduate…..preferably from India, China or the Philippines. Sometimes, we’ll get you the boss’s son or daughter so we know that you would never talk back to them or complain.

We’ll get you a young ambitious boss who wants to increase speed, productivity and workforce efficiency.

You new boss will motivate you to become the employee that you should have been all along. You know sharp, fast and cutting-edge.

Your new young boss will do daily and weekly evaluation sessions about your job performance with you. You’ll need to attend several professional development and motivational seminars. Also, you’ll need to learn all kinds of new time-saving technology and gadgets.

Each time you leave for lunch or the restroom, you need to clock out on your laptop or computer. So you know that’s going to mess up your afternoon nap.

It usually takes about 90 days for a retirement package to be completed. Skid marks are left getting out of there.


June 8th, 2011
10:58 am

My generation, Gen X, is the one getting hurt. We could not get promoted into a mid-level management position until the Baby Boomers retired, which they are starting to do. Then we have our 40’s to earn enough money to retired on, but with Obama in office most of us are worried about even having a job. We are starting 20 years behind the Baby Boomers who spend the last 20 years voting into office people who raised the federal debt so much my generation will never be able to retire.

Destin Dawg

June 8th, 2011
11:03 am

Simply work hard and $ave.. when you’re younger.. work your way through school.. go to community college 1st 2 years.. or tech/trade school.. learn skills.. technical/medical etc… live within your means.. buy used cars for ca$h.. Take personal financial responsibility…


June 8th, 2011
11:10 am

The reality is that there will be millions of elderly workers in America.

Leaving aside all jokes and the issues of expensive health care and risk management, there are a lot of jobs that seniors can still do. We need to cultivate that because we are a valuable resource.


June 8th, 2011
11:22 am

My husband is a diabetic. I am in my mid 30s. I don’t see myself ever being able to retire because we would not be able to afford his or my medical care. It’s looking doubtful someone my age will ever see Medicare or Social Security. I plan to have the house paid off by the time 51 but I don’t think we’ll have enough for health care so I plan to keep working.


June 8th, 2011
11:24 am

Most of the comments I’ve read are just blaming someone. We need better answers than working until we are in our 80’s. Come on. My job is being eliminated next year, I’m 61. Who’s going to hire me? We need better answers to what to do than working until death. Blaming everybody in the government doesn’t help anything. I’m not saying they aren’t to blame, I’m just saying let’s come up with betters answers to the problem.


June 8th, 2011
11:35 am

Quit blaming others for your financial inadequacies.

Tear up ALLLLL credit cards, and live on a cash only basis.

Sell the high priced fancy cars, and get a small economical vehicle.

Sell the McMansion and move into a condo.

Fire the landscapers and do the yardwork yourself or hire a neighbor kid with a mower.

Plant a veggie garden and reap the benefits.

Quit going out for meals every day. Learn how to plan a menu, make a grocery list and stick to it.

Live a frugal lifestyle, and you will be MUCH happier, and have plenty of money in the future.

It can be done, I’ve been doing it for well over 10 years now…….

Betty Fan

June 8th, 2011
11:56 am

When Betty White retires….we can!

Something to Think About

June 8th, 2011
12:09 pm


What happens when a person DOES do all of the things you listed but still can’t save for retirement because the cost of living keeps going up and healthcare keeps going up, but paychecks DON’T go up? Can you tell me what one should do then, because right now I have a Master’s degree and I’m being underpaid and haven’t had a raise in 5 years because the owners of our small business (100 people in both offices) would rather horde their profits instead of giving their employees a raise. And don’t tell me to pack up and move, because that isn’t an option. I’d have to move to a bigger city for my career, which would increase my cost of living but would make me in even worse shape because my husband’s career is agricultural based and can’t be performed in a city. So, how do you fix that, because right now, we’ve done everything you mentioned above and MORE because we don’t have the income for cable or things like that. It’s kind of hard to get ahead when the cost of living increases but the paychecks don’t. You assume too much!


June 8th, 2011
12:11 pm

We can all be proud… that we shall be working into our 80’s to have enough to be sufficient untill we die (at 81), and by that extra effort, we are helping bail out Greece, where people can retire at 50 with a government assisted pension….

Scottish Non-Golfer

June 8th, 2011
12:15 pm

Marz—You’re correct about all of it. Unless you’re a man and you ever want to have sex again.


June 8th, 2011
12:20 pm

I’m 37 and I’m already retired. I live off the income I earn from my rental properties plus the monthly interest from my bond funds. The thought of working until I’m old and gray just never appealed to me. Life’s too short to spend it working.

Raw Onion

June 8th, 2011
12:22 pm

I don’t buy every latest new Apple gagdet, I don’t buy a new car every 4-5 years (I have had the same car for 10 years and plan to keep it at least another 2- 3 years), I save and investment money, and I don’t have any debt except my mortagage….which at a 4% int. rate makes sense to not payoff and investment the money. I use common sense and I actually don’t spend more than I can afford…imagine that. If everyone would just take responsibility for themselves and stop looking to Republicans and Democrats to provide for them, then they would have enough to retire at a reasonable age.


June 8th, 2011
12:24 pm

Two words folks: Dave Ramsey.

Soon to retire hopefully

June 8th, 2011
12:25 pm

I am 58 years old and expect to retire when I am 60 if things stay on course. I started investing when I was in my twenties and have steadily added to them paycheck by paycheck. When my wife and I had money at the end of the year that went to retirement. I have a business education and used it to manage our money. We have paid extra on the mortgage and it will be retired before I am. Many making similar incomes chose to invest in McMansions. We live in a nice neighborhood in a 2200 sq ft house. While my peers bought a BMW or two every couple of years, we kept our Toyota or Honda for 100,000 plus miles. We saved for our kids education so the money was there when the time came without borrowing. I started my own part-time business to supplement retirement while doing something I enjoy, and it has helped position us for the future. Even with a net worth well in excess of a million dollars, I am unsure what will become of Medicare and SSI and they are an important consideration to the timing of our retirement. For those who think a “millionaire” should not have access to these programs, I will simply state that a million plus dollars is not that much when you are depending on it for retirement. I have paid into these programs since I was 15 years old, and I expect these programs to be there for me and my family when the time comes.

For the folks that lived on the edge of their means and now have no money for retirement I don’t really have any advice for you. For those who have catastrophic life events that have had a major adverse effect on your ability to retire, I pray for you. For those people in there twenties and thirties, live well within your means and make sure you are saving money with every paycheck. Study the markets and learn to manage your money yourself or at least be able to ask a financial advisor the right questions. Don’t give up because you don’t like politician x or y and use that as an excuse. Stick with the plan and you will have a fighting chance to retire successfully.


June 8th, 2011
12:30 pm

Dave Ramsey = Jim Jones….All the glassy eyed drones keep paying him to drink his Kool-Aid.


June 8th, 2011
12:33 pm

Some of us will have to work after we die. What a great expectation! We pay taxes, SS, and everything else all our lives. Our country is broke. Budget deficit. National debt. Still entering other wars. While stealing crude from other countries, we are paying more, and more @ gas stations. Where does all the money go?

Scottish Non-Golfer

June 8th, 2011
12:34 pm

Soon to retire….:

Of course you should get Medicare and SSI. Everyone should who put money in. As you probably know, you still have to pay for health care when you become eligible for Medicare. These are not “entitlement” programs. In the same way that you aren’t “entitled to a paycheck—you worked for it. Not a penny less —and not a penny more— than what people put in.


June 8th, 2011
12:37 pm

I agree with JT. Dave Ramsey is a nobody. He’s never accomplished anything other than ripping off the people who buy his common sense books. And he constantly misquotes the Bible to appeal to the Jessus freaks. Avoid him.


June 8th, 2011
12:40 pm

@something – I have also upped my 401(k) contribution. My company matches 50%. I haven’t had a raise in 6 years either, but every year, I up my contribution, which in turn ups the company’s match. So in some way, I am getting a raise, but it’s not on my paycheck, its in the 401(k) funds…..


June 8th, 2011
12:40 pm

I don’t live in a McMansion or drive an expensive car. My house worth about $120K and my car is a $16,000 Yaris. My credit card debt is easily manageable and I dine out less than once a week. I don’t have landscapers or even a neighborhood kid getting my money for mowing my lawn.

In other words, I do all the thing Marz says will work. But it doesn’t. I, like so many millions of others, have been mugged by the banking industries.

I’m 53 years old and my retirement account (in various 40x(x) flavors, depending on my employer) wasn’t opened yesterday. However, it looks now like it was. In the last four years, my “private investment” has lost 60% of its value. Five years ago I was on track to a comfortable, although far from lavish, retirement. Now, I’ll have to work an extra 10 years just to get back to where I was.

Don’t tell me about being frugal; most who know me consider me a borderline cheapskate.

Pointing fingers and chanting ‘nyahh, nyahh, nyahh’ at those who’ve suffered through no fault of their own doesn’t solve anythng.

Raw Onion

June 8th, 2011
12:49 pm

Contrarian – You said two things that are truly contrary to what others are saying. You have credit card debt, but said it is easily manageable. You seem to think this is o.k. That means that you have spent more than you can pay for, which is not o.k. You shouldn’t have cc debt. Also, a $16k Yaris….I have a $5,000 suv. First problem is paying $16k for a Yaris, no offense, but that sounds way too high for that car. Second problem is if you have cc debt, you shouldn’t have spent $16k on any type of car. Also, the loss of 401k value is due to the market, but you control your investments. In your 50’s you should have had the money in more conservative investments which would not have lost 60% of the value…again common sense. I just think people have relied on govt. to take care of them for so long that they don’t think about investments or how they will retire and society has portrayed cc debt as something that is expected and is ok.