Are you set for retirement or on the way to becoming a retirement crisis statistic?

Many Americans face a more difficult retirement than their parents enjoyed, thanks to vanishing employer pension benefit programs, potential cuts in Social Security benefits and rising health care costs, according to The Nation’s Retirement System, a report issued by the U.S. Government Accountability Office.

Whether you’re approaching retirement or that post-career time is decades away, you’ll want to know what you’re up against when it comes to preparing for retirement.

Below are nine retirement crisis statistics and ways you can build the retirement nest egg you need.

1. Outliving savings is a strong possibility

Today’s workers plan to live to age 90 (median) according to the 2019 survey What is Retirement? Three Generations Prepare for Old Age by Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies. A Northwestern Mutual study found that on average, people think they have a 45% chance of outliving their savings, yet 41% have taken no steps to start saving more.

You may be able to improve your retirement outlook by bumping contributions to retirement savings to at least 15%, reviewing and adjusting your asset mix portfolio and delaying Social Security retirement benefits, according to a 2018 Fidelity Investments study on retirement preparedness.

Find out: 6 Eleventh-Hour Strategies for Baby Boomers Facing America’s Retirement Crisis

2. Many workers lack retirement savings

Nearly 1 in 5 (17%) baby boomers have less than $5,000 in retirement savings and 20% have less than $5,000 in personal savings, according to the 2019 Planning & Progress Study: Work and Retirement by Northwestern Mutual. Gen-Xers have more time left to save, but 21% also have less than $5,000 saved for retirement, and 22% have under $5,000 in personal savings, according to the study.

Start saving early and consistently, recommends the Transamerica survey. Build an emergency savings fund to help prevent acquiring new debt or making early withdrawals from retirement funds.

Find out: 6 Ways COVID-19 Affects Retirement

3. Limited access to employer-sponsored retirement plans

Even though employer-sponsored retirement plans are one of the most important methods of saving for retirement, 49% of private sector workers had no access to such a plan in 2014, according to Retirement in America: Out of Reach for Most Americans, a 2018 report from the National Institute on Retirement Security.

If your employer sponsors a 401(k) or other retirement plan, join and contribute, especially if the company matches a portion of your contributions. Those employer matches can help build a substantial retirement nest egg faster. If no 401(k) is available through your employer, you can still contribute to an Individual Retirement Account (IRA).

Find out: Consider These 6 Reasons to Delay Retirement

4. Many are still recovering from the Great Recession

According to the Transamerica survey, around 20% of respondents have “fully recovered” and 37% have “somewhat recovered” from the Great Recession. However, 14% have “not yet begun to recover” and 8% feel they may “never recover.”

Nearly 1 in 4 millennials and Gen-Xers (both 23%) say they “have not yet begun to recover” or think they may “never recover” from the Great Recession, compared with 19% of baby boomers who don’t feel they’ve recovered financially.

Find out: 7 Reasons to Work Part-Time in Retirement

5. Most Americans don’t know how much they need for retirement

More than half (56%) of Americans don’t know how much money they will need to retire comfortably, according to the Northwestern Mutual study. On top of that, many people base their retirement income needs on erroneous beliefs about expenses in retirement or fail to take advantage of retirement savings account opportunities.

More than 1 in 4 baby boomers incorrectly assume that Medicare will pay for long-term care costs, according to Boomer Expectations for Retirement, a 2019 report by the Insured Retirement Institute, an association for the retirement income industry.

Around 1 in 6 boomers don’t participate in their workplace contribution plan. Only 55% of Boomers have any money saved for retirement, and nearly half of the 45% without savings used to have retirement savings at one time.

Find out: 6 Ways Downsizing can Stretch Your Retirement Income

6. Many people can’t afford to retire at age 65

Around 46% of Americans plan to work past age 65, and more than half of them say they’ll work longer mainly because they have to, according to the Northwestern Mutual study.

Top reasons for planning to work past 65 out of necessity include not having enough savings for a comfortable retirement (78%), inadequate Social Security benefits to live on (56%) and rising health care costs (49%), the study found.

Find out: 8 Questions to Ask Before Relocating for Retirement

7. Pensions are a thing of the past for most non-government employees

Unless you work for the government, the days of receiving a monthly pension check after retiring are mostly gone. In 1975, around 88% of private-sector workers with a workplace retirement plan had pension coverage, according to a report on American’s views of the retirement crisis by the National Institute on Retirement (NIRS).

In 2006, there were around 29,000 private sector pensions, but that number fell to 22,000 by 2014, according to the NIRS report. By 2016, only 15% of private sector workers participated in a traditional pension plan, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

Find out: 8 Pros and Cons of Having a Roommate in Retirement

8. Most people have no back-up plan if retirement arrives early

Only 26% of workers have a back-up plan if they’re forced to retire early, according to the Transamerica survey. Factors that could prompt an unexpected early retirement include job loss, health problems or becoming incapacitated due to an accident.

A retirement back-up plan could include savings, disability insurance and/or long-term care insurance in case retirement comes early due to unforeseen circumstances.

Find out: 5 Financial Advantages of Being Single in Retirement

9. Possible Social Security cuts loom

Many people expect Social Security retirement benefits to fund a portion or all their retirement income. However, Social Security is fully funded only through 2033. After that, the government benefits program is only three-quarters financed.

“Both Social Security and Medicare face long-term financing shortfalls under currently scheduled benefits and financing,” according to the Social Security Administration.

Find out: 4 Things to Know About Working While Drawing Social Security

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About the Author

Deb Hipp

Deb Hipp

Deb Hipp is a full-time freelance writer based in Kansas City, Mo. Deb went from being unable to get approved for a credit card or loan 20 years ago to having excellent credit today and becoming a homeowner. Deb learned her lessons about money the hard way. Now she wants to share them to help you pay down debt, fix your credit and quit being broke all the time. Deb's personal finance and credit articles have been published at Credit Karma and The Huffington Post.

Published by Debt.com, LLC