Are you saving enough for retirement? If not, you’re not alone!
Whether you’re aware of it or not, there’s been a festering retirement crisis in America for decades. Perhaps you recall politicians hurling retirement related insults at each other, such as: “he/she is going to cut your Social Security!”
And maybe you’ve never really understood why that was such a big deal.
Have a look at the following retirement statistics in America for a better understanding.
But be careful, they may trigger you to create a retirement planning spreadsheet at the end!
Note on mean vs. median: When a median value is significantly less than the mean (a.k.a average), it means a large number of people have less than the average, and so the median is a better gauge of who has what when it comes to money and income.
The average American’s retirement savings stats ahead will answer many additional questions, like what impact the pandemic had on retirement accounts, what the average savings and income in retirement look like, will Social Security dry up, and many more.
We truly hope these stats will urge you to take retirement planning more seriously.
Let’s start with a few eye-opening retirement stats:
- The average American predicts they will retire at 66.
- American retirees get paid $1,543 in monthly Social Security benefits on average.
- On average, 10,000 baby boomers turn 65 every day.
- A shocking 45% of baby boomers have no retirement savings.
- 59% of baby boomers plan to keep working in retirement.
- The Average 401(k) balance for those aged 50+ was $171,166.
- 1-in-12 Americans believes they’ll never retire at all.
- Social Security may suffer a 24% cut in 2035.
Here are some general retirement statistics in America?
1. 46.33 million Americans are considered retired and collect Social Security.
(Source: Statista I)
Ever wonder what percentage of Americans are retired?
As of 2021, slightly over 14% of Americans were deemed ‘retired’ and were receiving Social Security benefits. This figure has continued to increase every year for the past 10 years. It was at 34.59 million in 2010, which mean the 2020 figure marks a 34% increase in retirees over one decade.
And it is predicted to continue this year-on-year increase through the coming decade as well, due to the fact that the U.S. population is aging rapidly. But should we reach a point at which we have more beneficiaries than contributors, our country may run into an insufficient funds notice.
2. The median U.S. household retirement income is $56,632, and the mean U.S. household retirement income is $84,153.
(Source: US Census Bureau CPS)
Here’s a stat for those curious about the average retirement income in the US, and what they can expect. So, the good news is that both the median and mean increased from 2016 numbers. The median rose 29.6% from $43,696 in 2016. And the mean shot up 25.15% from $67,238 in 2016.
Those are healthy looking numbers on the surface, but they fail to communicate the full story. In fact there are many angles these figures can’t convey, but there is one a simple table can demonstrate. Have a look at the rate at which retirement income falls with age.
Here is the average retirement income as of 2021 by household age:
|Households Aged||Median Income||Mean Income|
|75 & older||$37,335||$58,644|
Note that those aged 60 to 64 have a median income almost twice as high as those 75 and over. But that’s not even the worst of it, the averages are even more dire for single households.
Because the data shows almost half of all Americans aged 65 or older from single households have incomes of less than $25,000 per year. Now, that is far less than most require for lifestyle and health costs.
Here is the retirement income table for single households:
|Household Age||Median Income||Mean Income|
|75 & older||$24,147||$36,491|
3. The average American predicts they will retire at 66.
On average, non-retired Americans think they’ll hang up the boots at age 66. But this figure is up from previous decades, so what gives?! During the ’90s the average American hoped to retire at the age of 60. And that number has slowly but steadily risen since then, even hitting 67 years in 2012.
In fact, 41% of those surveyed by Gallup said that they’ll be waiting past 65 to retire, a number that was less than 30% of respondents in surveys conducted in 2004 and before. Back in 2012 the amount of non-retired American who said they’d wait past 65 to retire was just 12%.
But these days, 12% is the number of American’s who predict they’ll retire before 60!
4. 18 years is the Average retirement length in the United States.
(Source: The Motley Fool, Vanguard)
Consider the fact above, that most Americans predict to retire at 66, the average American retiree will enjoy retirement until the age of 84. But remember, these are just averages. Some people outlives them, some do not, sadly.
In fact, Vanguard even put together a table depicting the likelihood of living to various ages, using data from the Society of Actuaries.
|Household Member||Chance of living to 85||Chance of living to 90||Chance of living to 95||Chance of living to 100|
|62-year-old man and woman*||71%||44%||18%||5%|
|62-year-old man and man*||64%||34%||11%||2%|
|62-year-old woman and woman*||77%||52%||25%||8%|
Note: The figures for the couples reflect the chance of either of them reaching that age.
5. In 2021, the average American retiree gets $1,543 in Social Security benefits per month.
(Source: AARP, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics)
That’s an annual average of $18,516, which doesn’t seem that ‘secure’, and it also explains why people are refusing to retire these days. And why many continue to work, even though they’re technically retired.
For example, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor, those over the age of 65 spend about $43,000 per year, on average. The two averages just don’t match up for comfy living.
In further comparison, most retirement savings recommendations estimate that people should prepare at least $1 million dollars for a 30-year retirement period. This equates to roughly $2,800 a month, which is still well below the current Social Security benefit average of $1,543.
6. The number of U.S. military retirees is predicted to grow to 2.21 million by 2030.
(Source: Statista II, U.S. Census Bureau)
When it comes to military retirement statistics, a slight increase is in the forecast. In 2021, there is an approximate 2.19 million U.S. military retirees.
But the figure is expected to grow to 2.21 million ex-soldiers by the end of this decade. Naturally, an increase in military retirees’ total payments and average benefits will grow alongside it. As of now the military trust fund should be able to handle it.
7. 79% of union workers have defined benefit plans available to them vs. 17% of nonunion workers.
(Source: U.S. Census Bureau of Labor Statistics)
Around 79% of union workers are entitled to defined benefit retirement plans or pensions. Which means union workers are overall better prepared going into retirement.
As they have their worker pensions and benefit plans to act as a cushion after ending their career and their income stream. And these plans and pensions help immensely, as not every union worker saves enough for retirement outside of work.
8. 31.25% of realtors aim to keep their client base at retirement.
(Source: Schroders, Real Estate Career HQ)
According to Schroders, 42% of people are concerned about outliving their assets! This could help explain why 1-in-3 real estate agents seek to hang onto their client base well into retirement.
Most realtor retirement statistics state that 30% of agents are past the 60 year mark, and the challenges of saving for retirement have a third of them postponing it altogether.
In fact, 68% of real estate agents say they’ll keep working as long as their healthy and able to do so! Only 22% of agents surveyed by Real Estate Career HQ said they planned to retire before the age of 60.
9. The average American retirement savings figure was at $255,200 in 2019.
(Source: The Federal Reserve)
According to Fidelity, an average 65-year-old couple who retired in 2020 should expect to spend around $295,000 in after-tax dollars on medical expenses and overall healthcare thereafter. And that’s excluding long-term care!
So when we compare it to the Federal Reserve’s reported average retirement savings number of $255,200, things don’t look too promising for the average American retiree.
10. 69% of American workers are confident about retiring, but only 31% have a written plan in place.
(Source: The American College of Financial Services, EBRI)
According to the Employee Benefit Research Institute’s 2020 Retirement Confidence Survey, American’s attitude towards retirement is, well . . . seemingly confident.
An impressive 7-in-10 workers said they felt confident they’d have enough for a comfortable retirement; with another 27% saying they felt ‘very confident’. While the majority of workers also reported that thinking about retirement planning stresses them out!
Now confidence is one thing, but a carefully thought out plan is a much safer gamble. Yet only 31% of American’s surveyed by the The American College of Financial Services reported having some sort of a plan in place for retirement needs. And the same survey concluded overall retirement literacy to be fairly low in 2020.
How prepared are baby boomers for retirement?
What’s a baby boomer? A person born between 1946 and 1964.
11. On average, 10,000 baby boomers turn 65 every day.
(Source: Transamerica Center, U.S. Census Bureau)
We also know that by the year 2030, all baby boomers will be age 65 or older.
But, have you ever wondered how many baby boomers are retiring each year? According to the Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies 10,000 baby boomers turn 65 every day!
Also, the number of American aged 65 and over is projected to be 88.5 million by the year 2050. And the baby boomers will largely be responsible for this increase in the older population.
12. A shocking 45% of baby boomers have no retirement savings.
When it comes to how much the average baby boomer has saved for retirement, sadly, it’s not much! Because according to the 2019 data from the Insured Retirement Institute, roughly 45% of baby boomers had no retirement savings.
What’s even worse is that, of the 55% who do have savings, 28% have less than $10,000. This demographic is poised to enter retirement in worse financial shape than previous generations, and will have to heavily rely on their Social Security benefits for daily expenses.
Working with a financial advisor makes a big difference too, as 7-in-10 baby boomers who do so reported having a calculated retirement savings goal. Versus just 25% of those without one.
13. 51% of baby boomers are still paying their mortgage in retirement.
(Source: Transamerica Center)
An alarming 28% of retirees still carry mortgage debt into their golden years. In fact, when Transamerica asked retirees about financial priorities, a shocking 40% of them cited paying off debt as an imminent priority. Whether it be credit cards, mortgages, other loans, etc.
And baby boomers don’t seem to be heading into retirement in any better shape, as more than half of boomers stating they are still paying off their monthly mortgages in retirement.
With average monthly home-ownership costing $1,200 and average baby boomer savings so low, this poses a great concern for many of our current and future retirees.
14. 29% of baby boomers are still part of the labor force.
(Source: Pew Research Center )
Millennials became the largest generation in the labor force back in 2016, according to the Pew Research Center analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data. But 29% of baby boomers between the ages of 65 and 72 were still clocking in on the job.
And overall baby boomers constituted 25% of the American labor force in 2016, with many of them having no plans of retiring any time soon. But what impact will Boomers remaining in the work force have on younger workers? Only time will tell, but the reverberations of these choices may have a financial impact on younger generations for years to come.
15. There could be a 75% increase in the number of older Americans requiring nursing home care.
(Source: CareGiver.org, NIH.gov)
This is another baby boomer retiring statistic that is sure to raise some eyebrows. Because by 2030 the number of Americans in nursing home is projected to reach 2.3 million, an increase of 75%. Naturally, the baby boomers are the ones driving this as they’re the next aging generation.
In general, there are various aspects of economic burden that are associated with an aging population. There’s social security payments increasing, growing medical care insurance costs, the burdens associated with uncovered medical expenses such as pharmaceuticals, and the growth of long-term care costs. Aging boomers are on track to face a lot of these challenges very soon.
16. Almost 30% of Americans aged 65+ are considered obese.
(Source: America’s Health Rankings)
This is a retirement statistics that most don’t factor into their planning. Yet, it is probably one of the most important ones to consider.
Why does it matter so much? Because obesity is one of the leading causes of preventable life-years lost among Americans! And the mortality risk of obesity only increases with age. Not too mention the decreased quality of life that comes with it.
And so, while baby boomers are expected to live longer lives than their predecessors, so too are they projected to have more chronic diseases. As obesity rates have increased by 40% among retirees aged 65 to 74, with 72% of men and 67% of women older than 65 considered obese.
17. As of 2021, 59% of baby boomers plan to keep working and earning in retirement.
(Source: Business Wire: Voya Financial, Pew Research Center)
A new survey from Voya Financial Inc., reports that 59% of the currently employed baby boomers plan to work in retirement, with many citing the pandemic as the reason.
And the pandemic did another thing to this generation, it forced nearly 30 million baby boomers into unwanted retirement, according to data from the Pew Research Center. Their data showed that since the start of the pandemic, the number of Boomer retirees went up by about 1.1 million.
18. The Average 401(k) balance for those aged 50+ was $171,166 as of 2020.
Those aged 60 to 69 had an average of $182,100, while those aged 70 to 79 had an average 401(k) balance of $171,400 according to Fidelity. On trend with many older people continuing to work in retirement, the Further Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2020 removed the age limit for contributions to traditional IRAs. The contribution limit was for those aged 70.5 and older.
19. On average, a retiree spends $4,300 out-of-pocket for health care expenses annually.
(Source: Center for Retirement Research, HealthView Services Financial)
According to a study done by the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College, the average out of pocket spending (excluding long-term care) for retirees was $4,274 per year. Now, this study is a little outdated, having been done in 2014.
A more recent report by HealthView Services Financial analyzed the same figure, but for a 65-year old couple retiring in 2019, at $12,286 per year until the age of 70. At 70 that figure jumps to $16,155.
This is on top of the fact that, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, 99% of those aged 65 and over in the U.S. have health insurance coverage.
20. 30% of baby boomers have no access to an employee-sponsored retirement plan.
(Source: Pew Trusts)
According to recent statistics on retirement plan access and participation from Pew Research, 1-in-3 baby boomers were without access to an employee-sponsored retirement plan.
Pew’s research also listed 41% of millennials and 35% of Gen Xers as having no access either. Furthermore, the data showed participation in retirement plans increasing with age. Perhaps we truly do wise up as we age!
What are some shocking retirement statistics to consider?
21. A shocking 1-in-12 Americans believes they’ll never retire at all.
(Source: National Institute on Retirement Security)
According to the National Institute on Retirement Security, a horrifying 75% of American’s believe the U.S. faces a retirement crisis. With 37% of respondents strongly agreeing and 38% somewhat agreeing with the sentiment.
Furthermore, 58% of Americans are concerned they won’t be able to achieve financial security in retirement. Thus, we come to understand the 8% of American’s current employed who believe they’ll never get to experience retirement at all.
22. One in four spouses over 50 years of age splits.
(Source: Oxford Academic, PMC)
We like to hope and believe that couples who have been through thick and thin together, stay together till death do them part. But surprisingly the divorce after retirement statistics indicate otherwise. In fact, divorce rates in the U.S. have decreased over the years, with the sole exception of retirees. According to the Gray Divorce Revolution study, in just 2 decades the number of couples divorcing after the age of 50 went from 1-in-10 to 1-in-4.
What is going on? Perhaps it’s the fact that we’re living longer, and growing further apart. It could be couples just waiting until the kids are older. Maybe it’s women working more and becoming more financially independent, even out-earning their spouses. And perhaps it’s a change in how our society views divorce and living the single life.
Whatever the case may be, it’s not easy growing old. And not having a partner makes it even worse. For most people their partner is their source of social contact on a daily basis, and losing that means losing a part of yourself. In fact, the rate of cognitive decline with age is 70% less in people with frequent social contact versus those with low social activity.
23. Some say the best way to plan for retirement savings is to follow the Rule of 25.
(Source: Quicken Loans)
Have you ever head someone mention the ‘Multiply by 25 Rule’ when discussing retirement statistics?
Unfortunately, there’s no magic formula that calculates exactly how much money you’ll need for your golden years. And fair enough because, among other things, it depends on how you plan to live, your health, and whether you keep your home or not.
Nonetheless, certain formulas can help paint a clearer picture as to how much you’ll need. And the Rule of 25 is actually pretty simple. To determine the amount you’ll need in retirement, you just multiply your total annual expenses by 25.
Thus, if you’re planning to spend $40,000 a year, you’ll need to set aside (40×25) a cool $1,000,000.
24. 38% of Americans fail to save because they have too many other expenses.
(Source: Bankrate, Wells Fargo)
Their reasons may differ, but a significant amount of American’s report having more pressing matters than stashing away for retirement.
While 16% of American’s report not having gotten around to saving yet, another 16% reports they’re unable to do so because of their low-quality jobs.
Retirement facts such as this highlight the reasons many American’s are behind on retirement planning. In fact, 2 out of 3 American workers list student loan debt as having a negative impact on their retirement savings goal. A far cry from how previous generations viewed such a debt.
25. 58% of Americans rated their retirement savings’ adequacy C or lower.
(Source: TD Ameritrade)
According to a 2020 TD Ameritrade survey, most American’s believe their savings will not be enough for retirement. Which is in-line with the nation’s retirement statistics overall.
Furthermore, the survey’s results showed most American’s wait until they reach the 60s to ramp-up saving for retirement. And it doesn’t seem like this trend is stopping any time soon, as nearly 2 out of 3 people in their 40s have less than $100,000 saved for retirement.
26. 401(k) plans average balance plummeted by 19% in Q1 of 2020; but then increased by 36% in Q1 2021.
2020 was a wild year. With Fidelity reporting average 401(k) balances plummeting in Q1 to $91,400 from a 2019 Q4 average of $112,300. Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs) saw a similar plunge, falling -14% from $115,400 to $98,900, over the same period.
But there is light at the end of the tunnel. In fact, so much light that the 401(k) average balance has hit a new record!
With loans and withdraws from retirement savings accounts trending downwards in 2021, Fidelity reported a Q1 average 401(k) balance of $123,900. And this marked a 2% increase from Q4 2020 numbers, as well as a super boost of 42% over Q1 2020.
27. Social Security may suffer a 24% cut, and be unable to pay full benefits starting in 2035.
(Source: CBO.gov, Schroders)
According to a Schroders survey, the majority of working American’s (67%) don’t think that the amount they’ll receive in Social Security will be enough to live on. In the financial world, it’s no secret the funds Social Security uses to pay benefits are running low.
In fact, the Congressional Budget Office noted that the Social Security Old Age and Survivors Insurance fund may be running dry within a little over a decade if no further action is taken.
This is the fund that pays out benefits to retirees, and by 2035 is projected to only be able to pay 76% of benefits. And if nothing changes, those retiring in just over a decade will face dire challenges.
28. Baby boomers putting off retirement stunts career growth for younger employees.
(Source: USA TODAY/LinkedIn Survey)
One of the problems with baby boomers working into their later years, is their younger counterparts can’t climb the career ladder as readily.
In fact, up to 41% of working millennials report promotion difficulties caused by baby boomer not giving up their higher positions.
And our retirement age statistics show that Gen Xers and Millennials aren’t throwing a fit. Because these days, 1-in-4 Americans continue to work even after the ripe young age of 65, a much higher ration than that of the ’90s.
This can lead to ambitious young people leaving companies in order to move up into middle- and higher-level jobs. While other’s are left to ask, “can you please retire so I can get a promotion?”
29. A whopping 28% of those who are retired say they felt pressure to retire.
(Source: TD Ameritrade)
While health and employment shifts are the leading causes for early retirement, almost 1-in-3 retirees reported being pressured into retirement. Furthermore, a shocking 50% of retirees said they retired earlier than they would have liked!
Most reported the pressure coming from employer, family, and/or social norms. While 22% listed being laid off or let go from their job as their reason for retirement. Only 5% listed an unexpected financial gain as a reason.
When asked, most said this is the advice they would give to their younger selves, “start saving and investing earlier in life!”
30. 2-in-3 retirees say their most recent employers didn’t help them transition into retirement.
(Source: Transamerica Center: Retirement Survey, BLS.gov)
In addition to this fascinating U.S. retirement statistic, according to the 2018 U.S. Bureau of Labor data, 15% of workers aged 60 and over had been with their employers just two years or less.
But, what makes this number even more shocking is that only 34% of retirees use a professional financial advisor. Thus, the majority are left to figure out such an important thing on their own.
31. More than half (56%) of Americans don’t know how much they’ll need to retire.
(Source: Northwestern Mutual, Transamerica Center)
Among many other sobering retirement planning statistics, Northwester Mutual found that most American’s just aren’t ready for retirement.
Because more than half of them don’t know how much they’ll need for retirement, and a shocking 45% believe they’ll outlive their savings.
Couple this with only 5% of retirees saying they frequently discuss retirement planning with their friends and family, and we are in for some interesting times ahead.
32. 71% of Americans say that they are afraid that there will be no available Social Security funds when they retire.
(Source: Wells Fargo)
The majority of American workers are in fear of Social Security running dry by the time it’s their turn to benefit. And 63% have no idea what they would do if the scenario were to play out.
Furthermore, across all generations, workers said they would feel betrayed if the money they pain into Social Security was not there for them in retirement.
Finally, 79% of non-retired workers expressed much more faith in their personal savings than in Social Security. And 90% feel that Congress should make worker access to tax-friendly retirement plans easier.
When is the best time to start saving for retirement?
They say it’s never too early to start saving for retirement. And truth be told, that is probably the only right answer. Because everyone’s circumstances and life trajectories are different.
But if you’ve been asking yourself “when should I start saving for retirement” lately, here are some stats to help you see how you compare with other people and age groups, on average.
Median retirement savings by age
Here are the median retirement savings by age in the U.S, according to a survey by the Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies.
The median retirement savings of Americans in their:
- 20s is: $16,000
- 30s is: $45,000
- 40s is: $63,000
- 50s is: $117,000
- 60s is: $172,000
What’s the average retirement savings by age?
On the other hand, the 2019-2020 Federal Reserve SCF data also shows us the average (mean) retirement statistics by age in the United States:
What is the recommended retirement savings by age?
Think the above retirement stats broken down by age look impressive? Let’s find out if they truly are.
Some financial experts will give the following ‘rule of thumb’ advice to individuals asking how much they should be saving if they plan on retiring by the age of 67. They say Americans in their:
- 30s should have 1–2 times their annual salary saved,
- 40s should have 3–4 times their annual salary saved,
- 50s should have 6–7 times their annual salary saved,
- 60s should have 8–10 times their annual salary saved.
Thus, a 35 year old making $55,000 per year should have up to $110,000 saved for retirement. This number is more than twice the current median and mean amount an average American has saved.
Whether you’re saving for retirement in your 20s, 30s, 40s, or even 50s, by the end of reviewing the above retirement planning stats you should know how much an average retired household spends, and what percentage you should seek to save for retirement.
Note on the numbers used in the article: In an effort to paint a fuller picture, the figures in this article were aggregated from numerous credible sources, who reported the results of their surveys at various points in time.
I leave you with the best advice, which the overwhelming number of 2021 retirees’ said they’d give to their younger selves:
- start saving earlier in life
- start investing earlier in life
- pay off your debt as soon as possible
- and always have an emergency fund.
It’s not always easy and there are so many seemingly more pressing matters to allocate funds to.
But don’t forget your future self, and your best friend when it comes to growing money, time.
You won’t regret it. After all, your golden years are meant to be . . . golden!
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