Many Baby Boomers Retire Before They’re Ready

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Baby boomers born in 1946 retired an average of five years sooner than planned, and those who haven't expect to keep working longer than they thought two years ago.

More than half of the earliest baby boomers are now fully retired, and less than a quarter are still working full time.

Among those who are retired, more than half said they weren’t ready, according to a new MetLife Mature Market Institute study of more than 1,000 people born in 1946. A quarter of those who had planned to keep working said a job loss forced their hand, while nearly a third blamed health issues.

Other key findings about the oldest boomers include:

  • 86 percent are collecting Social Security benefits, and about half of those began collecting sooner than they had planned to.
  • Long-term care is their top concern, but just under a quarter have long-term care insurance.
  • 14 percent are working part time or seasonally; 4 percent are self-employed.
  • More than 40 percent are optimistic about the future, and 20 percent are satisfied with their personal finances.
  • 13 percent are providing regular care for a parent or older relative.
  • 8 percent have an underwater mortgage, meaning they owe more than the value of their home.

The retirees quit working on average five years ahead of their planned date, Reuters says. Those who are still working plan to keep going until age 71, up from their 2011 prediction of retiring at 69.

It’s not all doom and gloom. More than two-thirds of the retirees said they “like it a lot,” and more than a quarter “like it somewhat,” Reuters reports. More than 80 percent of them claimed to be in good or excellent health.

But retiring later is still better for those who can hold on. “Just three additional years of work beyond 66 can boost income down the road from Social Security and investments by 50 percent or more,” Reuters says.

That’s because retirees receive an extra 8 percent in monthly Social Security benefits for each year past 66 they wait before filing. More work also means more income to contribute to retirement. For some quick advice on postponing retirement, check out the video story we recently shot below.

Stacy Johnson

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