22 Jaw-Dropping Stats About Retirement

22 Jaw-Dropping Stats About Retirement

Get these often-surprising retirement facts under your belt and they can help you make better decisions and take savvier actions, leading to a more comfortable retirement.

Selena Maranjian
Feb 25, 2017 at 6:21AM
“Retirement: It’s nice to get out of the rat race, but you have to learn to get along with less cheese.”
— Attributed to Gene PerretLearning to get along with less cheese in retirement isn’t fun for most people. You can make it less painful, though, by effectively planning and preparing for retirement. Here are more than 22 retirement stats most of us would do well to know about — and many of which are rather surprising.

1 ) Your retirement may last much longer than you expect. If you stop working at 62, for example, and live to 97, your nest egg will need to support you for 35 years!

2) Living to 97 isn’t unthinkable. According to the Social Security Administration, 30% of 50-year-old women and 19% of 50-year-old men will live to 90. A Barron’s article recently noted: “The most likely age for a 50-year-old woman to die is 88, and the most likely age for a man is 85. A woman is more likely to die at age 92 than at her life expectancy age of 83, and a man is more likely to die at age 89 than 80.”

3) Retiring at age 62 isn’t crazy, either. The average retirement age was recently 63 — and you can start collecting Social Security benefits as early as age 62.

4) You may end up retiring earlier than planned. According to the 2016 Retirement Confidence Survey, 46% of retirees left the workforce earlier than planned, with 55% citing health problems or a disability as the reason and 24% citing changes at work such as a downsizing or workplace closure. 

Retirement5) According to an Edward Jones survey, about 60% of Americans of varying ages are worried about healthcare expenses in retirement. That may be surprising, but it’s also quite reasonable, because of the following retirement fact. 

6) Health care can cost much more than you think it will. According to Fidelity Investments, a 65-year-old couple retiring today will spend, on average, a total of $260,000 out of pocket on health care.
7) If you’re late enrolling for Medicare, it can cost you. Your Part B premiums (which cover medical services, but not hospital services) can rise by 10% for each year that you were eligible for Medicare but didn’t enroll. The no-penalty enrollment period for most people is anytime within the three months leading up to your 65th birthday, during the month of your birthday, or within the three months that follow.8) Lots of people are saving for retirement. There are more than 600,000 defined-contribution plans such as 401(k)s, with more than 70 million people participating in them. As of late 2016, there was about $7 trillion in 401(k) plans and close to $8 trillion in IRAs.9) Income from 401(k) accounts has been estimated to represent about 25% to 30% of overall retirement income. According to the Social Security Administration, most elderly beneficiaries get 50% or more of their income from Social Security, while 21% of married ones and 43% of unmarried ones get fully 90% or more of their income from it.10) The average 401(k) account balance in Fidelity Investments-managed plans hit a record average of $92,500 as of tRetirementhe end of 2016. 

11) That $92,500 won’t last long in retirement, and most people have saved less than that. According to the 2016 Retirement Confidence Survey, about 26% of respondents said they had less than $1,000 saved for retirement. A whopping 64% had saved less than $50,000.

12) Divorce doesn’t help matters. According to a recent survey from the American Institute of CPAs, three-quarters of retirement-age divorcees lack a good understanding of how to manage their personal finances. (It’s typical in couples for one spouse to manage the family finances, leaving the other one underprepared in the event of divorce.)

13) Many parents (aged 19 to 37) and grandparents (aged 50 to 70) are living more simply to save more for retirement. They’re eating out less frequently (more than 45% of both groups), traveling less (29% of both groups), and living in a smaller home (25% or more of both groups). (This is according to a 2016 TD Ameritrade survey.)

14) The average monthly Social Security retirement benefit was recently about $1,360, or $16,320 for the year.

15) If you think you’ll get more than the figure above because your earnings were above-average, you’re right. But still, the maximum monthly benefit for those retiring at their full retirement age was recently $2,687, or only about $32,000 annually.

16) Up to 85% of your Social Security income can be taxed, if your income exceeds a specified level.

17) According to the Social Security Administration, retirement benefits for those with average earnings will likely replace about 40% of your pre-retirement earnings. Those who had above-average earnings in their working years can expect a lower replacement rate, and vice versa.

Retirement18) You can increase your Social Security checks by delaying starting to collect your benefits. For every year after your full retirement age that you delay starting to collect (up to age 70), your ultimate monthly check will grow by about 8%, giving you the opportunity to increase your benefits by about 24%.

19) On the other hand, if you start collecting early, at age 62, you can expect your checks to be about 30% smaller. That’s not so terrible, though, because you’ll collect many more of them. And the system is designed to be a wash for those who live average-length lives.

20) If you’re worried about running out of money in retirement, you may be surprised at how much income you can buy through an annuity. Here’s the kind of income that various people might be able to secure in the form of an immediate fixed annuity in the current economic environment:



Monthly Income Annual Income Equivalent
65-year-old man $100,000 $560 $6,720
70-year-old man $100,000 $655 $7,860
70-year-old woman $100,000 $600 $7,200
65-year-old couple $200,000 $958 $11,496
70-year-old couple $200,000 $1,051 $12,612
75-year-old couple $200,000 $1,216 $14,592


21) Retirement doesn’t always play out as expected. A 2014 MassMutual survey found that 10% of retirees were surprised to find themselves lonely, bored, with a lost sense of purpose, and/or depressed in retirement. You may be tired of working, but the routine of having a place to go and things to do every day may be serving you well.

22) Finally, here’s some good news, despite all the worrisome findings above: That same survey found that 72% of retired respondents reported feeling quite happy or extremely happy in retirement.

To a great degree, whether you’re happy or frustrated in retirement will depend on how well you prepare for it — financially and psychologically. It can help to get and stay healthy throughout your life and to always have an active social life. And, of course, save aggressively for your golden years.


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