As our longevity increases, we will spend as many, or possibly more, years in retirement as we did working. It’s not unusual for people to live to age 90 these days, and some are even reaching the century mark. Whether retirement income can keep pace with longer life spans is a source of concern for many retirees. Unfortunately, the idea of 'retirement security' remains a major challenge that requires today’s workers to save more and/or work longer. Roughly half of all retirees are at risk of falling short when it comes to retirement income.
In 2018, the average household with adults aged 55-64, many of whom were first entering the retirement phase, was approximately $62,802. Unfortunately, the vast major of this money was used on various expenses, ranging from daily household costs to medical care.
Crunching The Numbers
Looking slightly beyond the age when individuals first begin exploring the idea of retirement, the median income for households age 65 to 74 was $47,432 as of 2018. However, not everyone in that demographic was retired or married. With Social Security payments equalling, on average, approximately $1,404 per month, it is easy to see that this form of assistance constitutes the bulk of retirees' income today.
Exploring Income Sources
As mentioned previously, Social Security remains a major source of retirement income for retirees. The age for full benefits eligibility has risen to 67, but many people are still opting for benefits much earlier and reducing the amount of money they will receive. For 2018, the average retired person receives $1,404, so a couple might receive $2,808 monthly in Social Security benefits. While many retired people benefit from their 401(k) income and similar employer-sponsored retirement plans, or IRAs, the average baby boomer has just $164,000 in retirement assets. For a couple, that equals retirement assets of $328,000, which at a 4 percent rate of return produces an income of $12,600 annually. AARP states that a retired couple needs a nest egg of about $1.18 million to generate $40,000 annually in income for a 30-year retirement.
Roughly one-third of current retirees receive pensions, so this income doesn’t apply to the majority of retirees. Pension numbers vary widely, with the median private pension bringing in less than $10,000 per year and federal pensions averaging $22,172.
Going Back to Work
More and more people are working again after retiring from their primary careers, and this trend is expected to continue. While some work because they enjoy it, others take on part-time or occasional gigs because they need the money to meet their living expenses. Nearly one-third of people age 65 to 74 are expected to be in the labor force by the early 2020s, while the number of those in the workplace past the age of 75 is expected to grow to 11 percent.
A graduate of New York University, Jane Meggitt's work has appeared in dozens of publications, including Sapling, Zack's, Financial Advisor, nj.com, LegalZoom and The Nest.