Will You Retire at 65?

Many baby boomers say 65 is no longer a realistic retirement age.

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The oldest baby boomers have reached retirement age, and many have begun to enter retirement. Those born in 1946 started to reach age 65 in January 2011. Many baby boomers have already followed the path laid out by earlier generations and have exited the working world to begin their second act. The promise of living a retired life away from the stress of a job in which you are able to pursue interests at your own pace is apparently too enticing for even the baby boomers to resist.

Dave Bernard
Dave Bernard
According to a recent MetLife Mature Market Institute survey, 52 percent of the oldest boomers have already retired. They have left work behind and begun the next chapter of their lives. But that number also means that almost half of people who are turning 67 this year are still working. And among those who retired, 54 percent did so earlier than they originally planned to, mainly due to health issues and job loss.

Among the baby boomers who are still working, only 39 percent believe they will be able to retire as originally planned. Working boomers have increased their planned retirement age to an average of 71 in 2012, up from 66 in 2008. So, while 65 was a generally accepted target retirement age for earlier generations, you might say that 71 is the new 65 for the eldest baby boomers. Here are a few reasons retirement at age 65 is no longer a goal most baby boomers are aspiring to:

1. Just over half of the oldest baby boomers have reached or are on track to reach their retirement savings goals. Without that nest egg in place, it will be difficult to support a comfortable retirement lifestyle, causing some people to reluctantly delay their transition into retired life. For those who have no choice but to retire due to health issues or job loss, retirement living may unfortunately be filled with more challenges than rewards.

2. Although only 20 percent of retired baby boomers report a decreased standard of living in retirement, 58 percent say their retirement income is less than the income they enjoyed while working. It can be difficult to retire if you know you will have less money coming in and don’t want to reduce the lifestyle you have become used to.

3. Long-term health care costs continue to rise and are at the top of the list of retirement concerns. Some 31 percent of boomers report anxiety about providing for themselves and their spouse’s long-term health needs. Abandoning a job that includes medical coverage is risky.

4. There are also retirees-to-be who prefer to continue in their working role to stay engaged and challenged while the income keeps coming.

5. We have recently been through some difficult times, so a reluctance to cross over to a retirement of leisure and fun is not necessarily a big surprise. Many people may not feel secure enough with what the future holds to abandon a career that continues to pay the bills and perhaps allows them to save a bit for later. For many people, retirement may not be the best way to go just because they reach age 65.

Dave Bernard is the author of "I Want To Retire! Essential Considerations for the Retiree to Be". Although not yet retired, he focuses on identifying and understanding the essential components of a fulfilling and meaningful retirement. He shares his discoveries and insights on his blog Retirement-Only The Beginning.