Millions of Americans count on Social Security to keep them afloat financially during retirement. And the program does a great job of preventing many folks from falling into poverty during their golden years.
However, it’s easy to expect too much out of Social Security, as a recent survey from Allianz Life Insurance Co. of North America has found.
In the survey, 1,000 adults ages 25 and older were asked to talk about their Social Security strategy. Their answers indicate a clear gap between worker expectations about retirement and the actual reality of how today’s retirees live.
Following are commonly held expectations about Social Security that are unlikely to be realized.
Working past retirement age
Near-retirees who plan to do this: 59%
Retirees who actually did this: 11%
Many of us plan to work well into our golden years. Some seniors love their jobs and never want to give them up. Others feel the need to work simply to pay the bills.
But the reality is that working deep into your golden years is a long shot. Obstacles such as age discrimination and health concerns quickly can upend dreams of an extended career.
Living on Social Security alone
Near-retirees who plan to do this: 40%
Retirees who actually did this: 10%
It’s a bit disconcerting that 4 in 10 near-retirees think they can live solely on a Social Security check. As the Social Security Administration has said:
“Social Security was never meant to be the only source of income for people when they retire.”
The average Social Security benefit is well under $2,000, so it’s impressive that even 10% of retirees are able to live on the program alone. But that still leaves 90% of retirees counting on additional sources of income.
It won’t be easy, but if you want to try to join the 10%, read “8 Tips to Retire Comfortably on Social Security Alone.”
Claiming benefits at full retirement age
Near-retirees who plan to do this: 57%
Retirees who actually did this: 46%
The gap between expectation and reality is a bit narrower here. Still, fewer people applied for Social Security at their full retirement age than those who say they plan to do so.
Presumably, some were forced to apply earlier, which means their monthly check will be smaller throughout their golden years.
Deciding when to apply for Social Security is not an easy task. There are pros and cons to applying either early or late in retirement. For more, check out:
- “7 Reasons Not to Take Social Security at Age 62“
- “5 Times When It’s Smart to Claim Social Security Early“
Claiming benefits early
Near-retirees who plan to do this: 33%
Retirees who actually did this: 49%
Many people are determined not to claim Social Security benefits early. But for some people, that’s not an option. In fact, one-third of those near retirement expect to take Social Security early.
But in reality, more people file for benefits early than originally planned to do so. That isn’t necessarily the wrong decision for some folks, but it does mean their monthly Social Security check will be smaller throughout retirement.