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Probably IS Going to Happen: One in Four Say They Will Never Retire

Category: Work and Volunteering

July 31, 2019 — Nearly one-quarter (23%) of Americans say they never plan to retire, according to a poll from the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research. This suggests a disconnection between individuals’ retirement plans and the realities of aging in the workforce, since government data shows that roughly 1 in 5 (20%) Americans over 65 are either working or looking for a job.

The disconnect between saying they will continue to work and actually retiring often comes from outside forces. Illness, injury, layoffs and caregiving responsibilities often force older workers to leave their jobs sooner than they’d like. And that causes an unanticipated problem – they are out of the workforce before their retirement savings are up to the job.

The Retirement Confidence Survey makes the same point. The RCS identifies a lack of alignment between workers’ expectations about their age of retirement and prospects for working in retirement, compared with retiree experiences. Workers continue to report an expected median retirement age of 65, while retirees report they retired at a median age of 62. The survey has consistently found that 43 percent of retirees leave the workforce earlier than planned, with 35 percent citing illness or disability as the reason and 35 percent retiring due to changes at their company. In keeping with their income expectations, 80 percent of workers expect to work for pay in retirement, while only 28 percent of retirees report that they have actually done this.

Retirement confidence at an all-time high

The 2019 Retirement Confidence Survey (RCS) found 82 percent of retirees are confident in their ability to live comfortably throughout retirement, up from 75 percent last year and comparable to highs measured in 2005 and 2017. Furthermore, the percentage of workers who say they are very confident in their ability to live comfortably throughout retirement reached 23 percent, up from last year’s 17 percent and now reflecting levels measured more consistently in the late 1990s and early 2000s, prior to the financial crisis of 2008. Now in its 29th year, the annual RCS is the longest-running survey of its kind, and is conducted by the Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI) and independent research firm Greenwald & Associates. The AP-NORC poll had a similar poll question with results were not quite as optimistic as those from the RCS. In the AP-NORC poll 32% said they were either not prepared or not very prepared for retirement. Only 29% of those over age 50 said they were very prepared.

Is working longer a good thing, or a bad thing?

Meanwhile, Americans have mixed assessments of how the aging workforce affects workers: 39% think people staying in the workforce longer is mostly a good thing for American workers, while 29% think it’s more a bad thing and 30% say it makes no difference. A somewhat higher share, 45%, thinks it has a positive effect on the U.S. economy. Not surprising, working Americans who are 50 and older think the trend is more positive than negative for their own careers — 42% to 15%. Those younger than 50 are about as likely to say it’s good for their careers as to say it’s bad.

Comments? Did you leave the workforce before you intended to? Or, if you are not yet retired, at what age do you think you will retire? Do you think it is a good thing for people to stay in the workforce longer? We would love to hear your Comments below.

Posted by Admin on July 30th, 2019


  1. Here’s an article that traces the history of retirement, a relatively new invention for humans.

    While I retired at 55 I always planned to do so and saved and invested accordingly. Hubby also planned to retire at 55 but didn’t until close to 60 because he was enjoying his job and working from home most days worked out well for him. We do know a number of people who are working well past 66 and plan to continue as long as they are physically and mentally able. They are people who love their work and feel like they are making a contribution to the companies they work for. One woman I worked with took her BS and MBA online in her 50s and said she has no intention of retiring now (she’s 68) that she has a position for which she wasn’t qualified for in the past.
    The “outside forces Illness, injury, layoffs and caregiving responsibilities” that force people out of their jobs do happen and it’s why everyone needs to have a “plan B”. It is sad that only 29% of people over 50 in this survey say they are prepared for retirement but not surprising.
    AS for how older people affect the workforce I’d say it depends on the person, the job, the industry ,etc.

    by Jean — July 31, 2019

  2. Yes! I was going to continue working until I was 70, then claim my SS benefits, and hopefully have a large enough nest egg to see me through. Reality hit when my job was eliminated and I could not find another full time job with benefits. I had to pay for my own health insurance and I was forced to apply for SS benefits as I did not want to dip into my savings. I was 63.5 years of age. I was forced to sign a severance agreement that said I would not sue for age discrimination and I only got two months of severance and health insurance benefits. To add further insult to injury, I was not eligible for Unemployment Insurance because I had worked in a church. This floored me as it was an Episcopal Church and they were big advocates for UI when the economy tanked in 2008. I am trained as a nurse, I had hurt my back severely on a patient and so I learned the Administrative side of nursing and Medical office Management as well as software training for a Medical Electronic records company. Still, it was hard to find even a part-time job early on. I was a Docent at a historic Cathedral and I was able to give tours for the Spring season March to July 2018.They employed me but no benefits at all. Then I was employed by an Oral Surgeon/Dentist to assist in his office and I was able to write my own ticket. Still no benefits. I work Mon. Tues. Wed. I feel grateful for that job as it pays well and allows me to save a bit. I have to watch the income limits as my FRA year does not start until January 2020. I bought health insurance through a health share program for $150.00 month for their gold plan and I feel God had a hand in all of it. I cannot add much to my nest egg now but come January, I hope to be able to save much more. I found that many people are in my shoes and that it hit them in their late 50’s–with no Social Security benefits available to them. I thank God that did not happen to me.

    My plan A did not work out so I went to Plan B. With my continued work, my SSA benefits should grow a bit as well as I am still contributing to it. Congress needs to strengthen the laws against age discrimination…they do precious little to keep Seniors in their jobs and it is easy for employers do things like change job descriptions, decrease pay, or make life miserable so one wants to quit working. Three people were hired in succession and left since I left my old job at the Church. My last day there was November 30, 2017. All were young, and could not take the pressure and they all left. Now there are two doing the same tasks I did.

    by Jennifer — July 31, 2019

  3. I am 67 and have been battling cancer, but because I was a divorced Mom who raised a family alone, I am going back to work full time to pay the bills. I lost a kot of my investments in the Obama years and had to spend my savings to save my home. Because I live in a high property tax and high cost of living blue state, it would be impossible for me to retire unless I was willing to take government assistance, and I was not raised that way. So, cancer or no, I will be working a full time professional job until I cannot work anymore or die. Such is life. Hopefully, the stock market will stay strong and I can make up for the horrible losses during those 8 years. My property value went up, but now the property taxes have also gone up and a lot of seniors are being forced to sell their homes here.

    by Maimi — August 1, 2019

  4. Does anyone know what happens to SS benefits when I go back to work full time. I am post FRA. Should I continue to take it or suspend? I doubt it will go up much, but I don’t want to pay the max in taxes either. Anyone know?

    by Maimi — August 1, 2019

  5. Jennifer, I have a lot of family and friends who lost their jobs and were forced to take SS to survive. Many lost their homes and investments. Those years hurt a lot of seniors and those nearing retirement.

    by Maimi — August 1, 2019

  6. Miami, Not good if you lost money in the Obama 8 years – the markets went up 148.3% in those 8 years. Perhaps you’re thinking about the previous Bush 8 years – when the Great Recession hit Dec. 2007 – June 2009 – overall market during 8 Bush years was -26.5. I took a bit hit in retirement fund during that recession but got it all back, and growth has never stopped since 2009. It is harder to recovery from those big hits though the older we get…hope another isn’t around the corner but I’m preparing. I suspect the answer to your tax question on SS depends on income level coming from full time work.

    As far as this article, I left the full time, high pay, high stress work world 20 years earlier than expected at which was a great decision. I was able relocate and reestablish myself with my skills as a self employed part time worker. I set my hours, days and I’m in control. At 64 now, I will probably work another 10+ years if my brain function remains reliable – love what I do!

    by ljtucson — August 2, 2019

  7. Answering the question about “What happens to SS benefit when I go back to work full time?”
    If you wait until full retirement age, you’l get paid 100% of your SS benefits and your paycheck from work will not be reduced.
    If you want to make more research on this topic, go to Social Security Administration website:

    by Maggie | Save, Invest & Retire — August 2, 2019

  8. Maimi, take your benefits and invest in where they can earn a little money for you continue working at your job yes you may have some taxes but it sounds like they may not be too bad on your social security. I was advised this by a woman who was in the senior position at the social security administration here in Washington DC and even she said have you read the newspapers we don’t know how much longer we’ll be providing full benefits so I am taking her advice and as soon as 20 20 hits I am planning on finding work that will allow me to save and I will probably be working full-time by the following September hopefully. I will have reached full retirement age at the end of next September so that should work out well.if not I will sell my home take the equity in it move to a cheaper area of the country and work part-time and collect my benefits.

    by Jennifer — August 2, 2019

  9. Maimi…have you done any research on downsizing or moving to an area that would be less costly? Also…just my opinion but while you’re still having health issues why not let your body rest and heal and accept some help from the govt? When I lost my job at 58 and needed to move in with my mother who had dementia I qualified for some assistance. It was a godsend for the family. I was able to keep my mother from not having to go into a nursing home and saved the govt thousands of $s with keeping her home.

    by Babyboomer55 — August 2, 2019

  10. Due to global treaties that eviscerated the market for US made products, my husband and I wound up closing our small manufacturing business several years earlier than planned. We took on part-time consulting work, but that brings in less than 1/3 of our previous income so we had to supplement with retirement savings.

    Being only 63 at the time and not yet eligible for Medicare, we were deeply grateful that our state had fully embraced the ACA (ObamaCare) so were able to afford health care.

    We opted against very early SS because we have long-lived families and therefore want to maximize what we will receive in the latter years of our retirement. I started drawing at 65, DH started drawing spousal benefits against my record at age 66, and he’ll wait until 70 to draw against his own earnings.

    Jennifer: I’ve heard similar remarks before from SS employees. It actually outrages me that SS employees give that sort of advice. When it comes to post 2034 SS benefits, the wheel is still in spin. SS employees have no more insight or influence into what might happen than any of the rest of us. Those decisions will be made by members of Congress, not by the folks who work at SS.

    A very good friend is quite distressed that he and his wife took the advice of an SS employee who told them that they should “get it while they can because SS will be going bankrupt in a few years.” This couple duly started SS at age 62. Now in their early 70s, they are greatly regretful that they didn’t do their own research.

    I’m not suggesting that everyone should delay their SS benefits, just saying that SS employees have no insider information or influence on what might happen to benefits 15 years from now.

    by JCarol — August 2, 2019

  11. I get it Maimi. I lost 1/4 of my net worth after 2008. Tenants for rental properties where scarce, and I almost lost my entire investment in a commercial property. It was scary.
    Plus, it took 3 years to sell our home. Unemployment was high, with little hope on the horizon. Thankfully, things seem more hopeful now.

    by Caps — August 3, 2019

  12. J. Carol the rank and file SS Employees have no clue as to what might happen after 2034 and I have faith that SSA will survive and that those who are in the greatest need will be taken care of. I was not speaking with a rank and file employee. I was speaking with one of the upper echelon executives here in Washington, DC.

    I was shocked when I applied for SSA benefits and a rank and file young gentleman told me that President Roosevelt created SSA so that older employees would give up their jobs for the younger people! That was a shock. By the way when speaking with SSA, always ask for a Technical Expert and do not rely on whomever answers the phone after you wait for over an hour. That happened to me recently, luckily a technical expert was available and my issue was addressed promptly.

    by Jennifer — August 3, 2019

  13. The facts don’t back you up, Maimi. The facts do support ljtucson. I’m sorry you lost money but what you say just isn’t true regarding the stock market during the Obama years. My portfolio grew considerably. Maybe a good financial advisor can help you figure out how to minimize the additional years you need to work before retiring.

    I agree with JCarol when she says “SS employees have no more insight or influence into what might happen than any of the rest of us.” Another reason to consult a financial advisor, or do the research yourself, on when it’s best to take SS you and remember that everyone’s situation is different.

    by Tess — August 3, 2019

  14. The stock market crashed in September 2008 when President Bush was in office. It languished for a while, but the Obama administration put major corrective steps in place, and the market started steadily started growing not long after he was sworn into office. From March 2009 the Dow Jones was up 210% through January 17, 2017, just before President Trump took office.

    As to Social Security, I have had quite a few conversations with their employees. No one has ever suggested to me about the fund running out of money eventually. I have always operated on the highly likely concept that SS would be there for me. I have been so confident with that projection that I am waiting until I am 70 (this September) to take the highest payment possible. I am by no means wealthy. I have scrimped and been very frugal since retirement in order to get the highest amount at 70. That will ultimately and significantly benefit me and my spouse going forward.

    by Clyde — August 3, 2019

  15. Correct! The financial crisis hit bottom on March 9, 2009, when the U.S. benchmark, the S&P 500 stock index closed at 676. Yesterday the S&P 500 closed at 2932. So we have had incredible stock market growth the past 10 years. This growth has occurred during both the Obama administration and the Trump administration. Simple index investing in a S&P 500 mutual fund would have provided a very nice return.

    by Bubbajog — August 3, 2019

  16. I think we cleared up the facts about the stock market. For those of our Members who haven’t yet retired, what do you think about your retirement prospects? Will you ever retire, or do it at 65, 70, etc? How confident are you that you will be able to retire when you want to? Sadly, many of us who are retired hit the bench earlier than we thought we would.

    by Admin — August 4, 2019

  17. J Carol I was forced to take early SS due to lay off. My experience was quite different. The SS employee advised me to wait especially since my benefit was below the average. But I could not afford to wait as it was a means of survival for which I was grateful. There are many factors to consider and it is a truly personal decision based on your individual circumstances. One major is the condition of your health. But simply put even if you retire at 70 if you have no other means of income coming in, that will not suffice supporting you. Unless you are single, if you have a spouse, taking early SS is the best scenario especially if you are in good health and are able to secure a part time position which under todays employment market has greatly been enhanced. Again it is a personal decision based on your financial situation and your lifestyle.

    by LMB — August 4, 2019

  18. LMB, of course early SS can be a godsend. Personal circumstances figure heavily in such a decision and I’m glad you found the solution that worked best for you.

    I was taking issue with SS employees, regardless where they are in that hierarchy, suggesting that they have insider information about what Congress is going to do with SS in the future.

    Going back to the original question, if market forces hadn’t demanded that we close our business at age 63, we were planning to do so at 65. Retirement’s siren song of freedom was being crooned by some same-age friends who’d retired early and we were more than ready to join the chorus.

    Ignoring Internet “wisdom” stressing the need for $1 million dollars or more in retirement savings(!!), we put pencil to paper (or more accurately, budget numbers to spreadsheet) did research using helpful sites like this one, realized that retirement was doable, particularly if we could continue to generate a small income from consulting, and moved forward.

    Although we enjoyed working, we’d both been employed since age 16 and were ready for a change of pace.

    by JCarol — August 4, 2019

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