What’s worse than having to work until 70 instead of 65 before you can safely afford to retire? Not knowing if even that will be enough.

New research from the Employee Benefit Research Institute indicates that, for one-third of households ages 30 to 59 in 2007, working until one’s eighth decade will not provide sufficient savings. The projection model in the EBRI report, based on millions of real-life 401(k) participants, shows large swaths of the baby boomer and Generation X populations run short of estimated expenses.

“It would be comforting from a public policy standpoint to assume that merely working to age 70 would be a panacea to the significant challenges of assuring retirement income adequacy, but this may be a particularly risky strategy, especially for the vulnerable group of low-income workers,” says Jack VanDerhei, EBRI research director and author of the report.

Working longer, the research indicates, certainly does help. EBRI projects that 64% of 2,007 households age 50 to 59 would be considered financially fit for retirement by 70, compared with 52% by age 65.

What’s more, the data suggest that participation status in a defined contribution retirement plan at age 65 will be extremely important due to the multi-year consequences for additional employee and employer contributions to the plan.

“While workers need to make their own decisions on the correct trade-offs of saving today versus deferring retirement, they should be able to expect that those presenting alternatives be as accurate and complete as possible, avoiding simplistic ’rules of thumb’ that may result in future retirees, through no fault of their own, coming up short,” VanDerhei says.

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