Boomers continue march to early retirement

Despite protests that they can never afford to retire, a new survey shows that baby boomers are still leaving the workforce before the magic age of 65. The trend not only contradicts the conventional wisdom spouted by business and financial journalists but may create problems for a federal government already struggling to pay its bills.

In a 2011 survey of 1,012 respondents born in 1946, the MetLife Mature Market Institute found that:

  • Almost half (45%) of 65-year-old boomers are now fully retired, up from 19% in 2008.
  • The majority of boomers (63%) have started receiving Social Security benefits.
  • Half of those retirees started collecting before they had originally planned, while only 5% retired later than originally planned.
  • Almost 4 in 10 respondents (37%) who retired earlier than they had planned cite health-related reasons for doing so.
  • Those who retired later than they had planned mention needing a salary to pay for day-to-day expenses (27%) and a desire to stay active (13%) as the reasons.
  • Six in 10 Boomers are at least somewhat confident in the ability of Social Security to provide adequate benefits for their lifetime.

The findings run counter to the popular belief that most boomers will work longer to make up ground lost to the Great Recession. They aren’t, and that has implication not only for them but for those who craft public policy.

— Jeff Widmer