Despite the warnings from financial planners, relatives and the media, nearly two-thirds of baby boomers surveyed said Social Security will be either an "extremely" or "very" important source of income when they retire.
The poll, conducted by the Associated Press and the LifeGoesStrong.com lifestyle website for boomers, found that 44% of Americans between 45 and 65 years of age aren't confident they'll have the resources to live comfortably in retirement.
The findings mirror those found in several similar studies in recent months including last month's Employee Benefit Research Institute Retirement Confidence Survey, which concluded that Americans are more distressed about their retirement income than they've been in more than two decades.
Part of the problem, according to the AP-LifeGoesStrong.com report, is that 57% of the 1,160 baby boomers surveyed said they lost money in their retirement plans, personal investments or real estate during the recent economic meltdown, and 42% said these losses directly led to their decision to delay retirement so they can rebuild their nest eggs.
"Economic anxiety has certainly taken its toll on baby boomers," Valerie Coleman Morris, a personal finance expert and guest blogger on the LifeGoesStrong.com site, said in the report. "Pensions, Social Security and individual savings plans like 401(k) accounts aren't secure enough to float the average boomer's retirement boat."
While 55% of respondents said they have at least some degree of confidence in their retirement prospects, only 11% said they have "deep confidence" that they'll have the assets and income they need to maintain a comfortable lifestyle and afford rising health care costs as they age.
Among boomer households with incomes of less than $50,000 a year, only 35% are confident they'll have their ducks in a row in time for retirement, and the vast majority of those folks acknowledge that Social Security will be their primary source of income in retirement.
For financial advisors, this growing retirement angst represents an opportunity to reach out to boomers and those approaching retirement age who may not have the expertise or acumen to properly plan for their retirements.
In fact, only 14% of respondents who rate their own financial management skills as "poor" are confident they'll have the money they need for retirement, and 47% of self-confessed poor financial planners have "no" confidence in their retirement outlook.
The report found that boomers' median retirement savings checked in at roughly $40,000, a figure that was weighed down by the fact that a full 24% said they had saved nothing for retirement so far. Among those who have contributed to a retirement plan, the median value of those assets is approximately $100,000.
"Boomers are facing one of the most daunting retirement income challenges in history," Morris said. "The new normal needs to be: if I don't change my behavior, I won't be able to change anything."
Finally, 67% of boomers said they plan to do some type of work in retirement to supplement their retirement plans, and 35% said they'll have to work just make ends meet.
Barrett writes for Financial Planning, a SourceMedia publication.
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