The Oldest and Youngest Baby Boomers Have Different Retirement Plans

The oldest and youngest baby boomers have different retirement plans

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The oldest baby boomers have already begun to retire. But retirement is still decades away for the youngest members of this large generation, who seem to be quite distinct from their elders. Many of the youngest members of this cohort don’t even think of themselves as baby boomers, preferring to call themselves generation X, according to a recent study. Here’s a look at how retirement will be different for the oldest and youngest baby boomers.

Retirement worries. Both the oldest and youngest baby boomers are justifiably concerned about their retirement prospects. But different fears top their respective lists of worries. The youngest baby boomers expressed concern about outliving their retirement savings (18 percent) and having to work full or part-time during the traditional retirement years (17 percent), according to a recent MetLife Mature Market Institute and GfK Custom Research North America survey of the bookends of the boomer generation: the oldest 1946-born boomers, who are currently age 63, and the youngest baby boomers born in 1964, who will turn 45 this year. Meanwhile, the oldest baby boomers are more concerned about being able to afford health care (18 percent) and staying productive and useful in their retirement years (18 percent).

Part of the difference may be attributable to the aging process itself. But the slightly different worries may also be due to differing retirement finances. The oldest baby boomers are much more likely to have a traditional pension than younger ones (49 percent versus 37 percent, MetLife found). The youngest boomers are more likely to own a 401(k) (71 percent versus 54 percent). And few 401(k) owners haven’t recently worried about how to make that money last in retirement.

Social Security. Older baby boomers are eligible for their full Social Security checks at age 66, while the youngest boomers must wait until age 67 to collect their full entitlement, due to a change in Social Security law. The higher retirement age is gradually phased in for those born between 1955 and 1959. Under current law, Americans born in 1960 or later can’t collect their full Social Security due until age 67. Unsurprisingly, more of the younger baby boomers plan to delay signing up for Social Security until older ages than the older boomers in order to get the higher payouts.

Retirement age. The 1946-born boomers largely say they plan to retire at age 66, while those born in 1964 plan to retire at age 64. But that retirement age could be shifted older as the younger boomers age. The youngest boomers also say they would have to be age 71 to be considered old, while the oldest boomers consider 78 years to be old age.