Survey: Americans expect to retire later than in prior decades

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This Tuesday, Oct. 12, 2021, photo shows a Social Security card in Tigard, Ore. Millions of retirees on Social Security will get a 5.9% boost in benefits for 2022. The biggest cost-of-living adjustment in 39 years follows a burst in inflation as the economy struggles to shake off the drag of the coronavirus pandemic. (AP Photo/Jenny Kane)

(NewsNation) — Americans in 2022 are expecting to retire at later ages than those in the past three decades, according to a new Gallup survey.

Those working today say they expect to retire at the age of 66 — six years older than the age workers expected to retire in 1995.

But American workers may be overestimating how old they’ll be when they actually call it quits. Over the last 30 years, the average actual retirement age is about five years less than the expected average — although that age has also risen, according to the data.

In 1991, the average American worker retired at 57 but in 2022 that age has risen to 61, according to Gallup.

The upward trend largely corresponds to increases in the age when seniors can collect their full Social Security benefits.

In 1983, Congress raised the age at which people could receive full retirement benefits. Today, anyone born after 1960 will have to wait until they turn 67 before becoming fully eligible — an increase from the previous age of 65.

What may be somewhat surprising is that the actual retirement age of 61 has remained fairly stable in recent years, even as an estimated 2.4 million people were pushed into retirement due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

An analysis by Pew Research found the change in the percentage of retired adults during the pandemic was especially pronounced among those 65-74, which could explain why the actual retirement age hasn’t fallen noticeably despite people being forced into “early” retirement.

Over the last 20 years, the percentage of retirees in each age range has fallen but the decline is especially pronounced among 60- to 64-year-olds, Gallup found.

While it’s unclear if today’s workers are retiring later for economic reasons or simply want to stay in the workforce longer, the survey results come at a time when older Americans on fixed incomes are being hit especially hard by surging inflation. Although Social Security does adjust annually for inflation, the latest 5.9% bump has not kept up with the 9.1% rise in prices.

Recently released data from the University of Massachusetts-Boston’s Elder Index, showed around half of senior citizens cannot afford essential expenses, such as health care, food, housing and transportation.

Others have seen their 401k investments shrink amid a tumultuous few months on Wall Street.

On Friday, the U.S. Labor Department will publish its July jobs report, which could signal whether the U.S. is heading toward a recession.

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