Most Americans know less than a handful of people in their 90s. In the future, the face of America will be radically different. One in three 65-year-old women today can expect to live into her 90s, and there are 77 million Baby Boomers who will be entering retirement over the next few years.
The biggest financial risk these retirees face, experts say, is not knowing how long they will live – and, therefore, how long their resources will have to last. At the same time, Social Security is expected to provide less of what people need. And fewer and fewer are covered by traditional pensions that provide guaranteed lifetime income.
Today, only about half of American workers have any type of employer sponsored retirement program, Social Security covers less than 40 percent of pre-retirement income, and the value of retirement assets has taken an enormous hit. For example, an employee age 45-54 who has been making contributions to a 401(k) for at least 20 years saw the value of that retirement fund decrease nearly 30 percent in 2008.
These shifts in the nation’s retirement systems are requiring increasing numbers of retirees to manage their savings on their own and manage them so they provide a steady stream of income for the 20 to 30 years many will spend in retirement.
Millions could experience dramatic declines in standard of living during retirement. Even careful savers are at risk. Retirees may spend their savings too quickly, leaving too little for the remaining 10, 20 or 30 years of their lives. Or they may spend too slowly and deprive themselves of an adequate standard of living. The impact on government social-services programs could be profound.