People Plan to Work Into Their 70s or Later

MarketWatch

Almost four in 10 workers say they'll retire after age 70 -- or just keep working.

Almost four in 10 workers said they'll work long past the normal retirement age, if they even retire at all, and a growing number of people said the recession will force them to work longer in life, a new survey finds.

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Thirty-nine percent of people said they'll work past age 70 or simply never retire, according to the annual survey from the Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies, a nonprofit private foundation. Fifty-four percent of those surveyed said they plan to retire between age 60 to 69, and 6% said they'll retire between age 50 to 59.

Meanwhile, 40% of workers said the recession will force them to work longer than planned -- up from 28% who said that a year ago -- and 54% said that even after they retire, they'll continue to work, according to the survey of 4,080 U.S. workers conducted by Harris Interactive in February and March.

Of those who say they'll work in retirement or after age 65, 34% said it was because they can't afford to retire and 9% said it was because they need the health benefits, according to the survey.

Continuing to work is "a very important opportunity to bridge their savings shortfall," said Catherine Collinson, president of the Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies.

"If you expect to live to 95 and you retire at 75 versus 65, that gives you 10 additional years to generate income and save, and 10 fewer years that you need to save for. It's a wonderful opportunity to help workers bridge their savings," she said.

Still, there's a problem for those who plan to work well into their 70s: That strategy assumes they'll keep their jobs and stay healthy.

"Planning not to retire is not a retirement strategy," Collinson said. "Too often, life's unforeseen circumstances can dictate otherwise, be it through a job loss, health issues or life's other obligations."

Get Creative

Yet 87% of those workers who plan to keep working said they don't have a back-up plan if for health or other reasons they're unable to continue working. And 82% of all workers in the survey said they don't have, or aren't sure if they have, a back-up plan.

Collinson said creating a back-up plan requires some creativity. Trying to stay as healthy as possible is one idea, she said.

Another idea: Take a page from the "Golden Girls" and consider living with a roommate or two in retirement.

"Maybe it's not the retirement that we envisioned," Collinson said, "but even though it's different, that doesn't mean it needs to be worse."

Wealthy People Plan to Keep Working, Too

A separate survey found that 46% of wealthy people -- those with $3 million or more in investable assets -- said they will continue to work in retirement, according to a U.S. Trust/Bank of America Private Wealth Management survey of 457 high-net-worth investors.

Necessity isn't driving these high-net-worth people to continue working: many said they want to start a second career or new business. Fifty-five percent said they will volunteer in their community.

But the kids of these wealthy individuals might face some retirement-savings challenges of their own: Just 49% of the parents surveyed said it's important to leave an inheritance to their children.

Elusive Savings Goal

How much will you need to retire? The median amount workers in the Transamerica Center survey said they'll need is $600,000, but just 30% of those surveyed now have more than $100,000 total in their household's retirement accounts.

Older workers said they've saved more: 30% of those 60 to 69 have saved $250,000 or more, versus 5% of 20- to 29-year-olds who have saved that much, 12% of 30- to 39-year-olds, 15% of 40- to 49-year-olds, and 23% of 50-somethings.

Still, saving is made harder by the fact that 25% of the workers surveyed -- all of whom work at companies with 10 or more employees -- do not have access to a workplace savings plan of any kind.

But among workers who do have access to a company retirement plan, the portion of younger workers -- those aged 33 or younger -- participating in such a plan skyrocketed to 70%, from 53% in 2007, likely driven in part by employers' embrace of auto-enrollment, which automatically pulls contributions from workers' paychecks, unless they opt-out of the savings plan.

Just 9% of those surveyed by Transamerica "strongly agree" they are saving enough for retirement, and just 10% said they are "very confident" in their ability to retire comfortably.

Forty-one percent are "somewhat confident" they will enjoy a comfortable retirement, while 29% "somewhat agree" they're saving enough.

The top retirement fears: Outliving their money, cited by 23% of survey respondents in the Transamerica study, and not meeting the financial needs of their family, a fear cited by 21% of those surveyed.

Fifteen percent said their single greatest fear about retirement is that Social Security benefits will be cut, or disappear entirely.

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