The Current State of Retirement – 2015

Transamerica Center report gives a snapshot of retirees and compares pre-retiree expectations with retiree realities

A new report from the Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies (transamericacenter.org) provides a snapshot of current U.S. retirees and an interesting comparison between older workers’ (workers age 50+) expectations about retirement and the realities experienced by current retirees.

While the report covers a good deal more, below are some highlights relevant to nonprofit executives who are considering retirement.

Retirement age:

  • Median age when workers age 50+ expect to retire: age 67
  • Median age at which current retirees actually retired: age 62
  • Over half of older workers (51%) expect to work past age 65. (This may be in part due to the increase in the Social Security benefits eligibility age, which is now 66 or 67, depending on your birth year.)

Transition to retirement – here’s what older workers (age 50+) report about their expected transition to retirement:

  • Continue working as long as possible: 62%
    • Working reduced hours: 25%
    • Working in a different, less demanding capacity: 15%
    • Working as long as possible in current or similar position: 22%
  • Immediately stop working as planned: 24%
    • Stop working at a specific age: 19%
    • Stop working once a specific amount of money has been saved: 5%
  • Not sure: 14%

Current retirees who retired sooner/later or as planned – here’s a breakdown of the retirement timing reported by current retirees:

  • Retired sooner than planned: 60%
  • Retired later than planned: 7%
  • Retired as planned: 33%

About those who retired sooner than planned – current retirees report the following reasons for retiring earlier than planned: (multiple reasons may have been reported)

  • Employment related: 66%
    • Organizational changes: 27%
    • Loss of job: 26%
    • Unhappiness with job/career: 17%
    • Took a retirement incentive or buyout: 17%
  • Health and family related: 37%
    • Own ill health: 27%
    • Family responsibilities (e.g. becoming a caregiver): 11%
  • Financially able to retire: 16%
    • Saved enough/could afford: 12%
    • Received a windfall: 4%

About those that retired later than planned – current retirees report the following reasons for retiring later than planned: (multiple reasons may have been reported)

  • Financial and benefits related: 61%
    • Needed the income: 36%
    • Needed the health and welfare benefits: 23%
    • Haven’t saved enough: 22%
    • Anxiety about financial situation: 10%
    • Social Security/benefits less than expected: 9%
    • Recovering from a financial setback: 8%
    • Employer retirement/pension benefits less than expected: 6%
  • Enjoy working/staying active: 44%
    • Enjoy work/career 38%
    • Keeping active/alert: 26%
    • Was asked to stay: 8%

Spending time in retirement – here’s a comparison of older workers’ dreams of how they will spend their time in retirement compared to how current retirees say they actually spend their time:

Where to live – 61% retirees say they stayed in their current home. Among the 39% who moved, here are the top reasons (the numbers add up to more than 100% because multiple reasons were reported):

  • Downsized to a smaller home: 34%
  • Reduced expenses: 29%
  • Started a new chapter in life: 28%
  • Moved closer to family and friends: 27%
  • Change in marital status: 18%
  • Moved to an aging-friendly home: 11%
  • Moved to a larger home: 8%
  • Needed care or assisted-living: 2%
  • Other: 17%

Standard of living/financial situation – while a majority of current retirees report that their standard of living has either not changed or actually improved during retirement, over a third report a decline in their financial situation:

  • Changes in standard of living reported by current retirees:
    • Increased: 10%
    • Stayed the same: 60%
    • Decreased: 28%
    • Not sure: 2%
  • Changes in financial situation reported by current retirees:
    • Improved: 21%
    • Stayed the same: 43%
    • Declined: 35%
    • Not sure: 1%

For more information or to download a copy of the report, visit: transamericacenter.org/retirement-research/retiree-survey