According to a recent survey by Transamerica, most workers think that the financial challenges they'll face in retirement will be harder to overcome than the challenges that prior generations faced. Do you agree? Read on to find out workers' top concerns about retirement and Social Security, and why they're so concerned.
No. 1: Holes in the safety net
Currently, Social Security is meeting its obligation to recipients by drawing down its trust fund. However, that trust fund will be depleted by 2034, and according to Social Security's trustees, that will result in an across-the-board 25% cut to benefits. Facing that grim reality, it's little wonder that roughly 55% of workers earning less than $100,000 and 62% of workers earning more than $100,000 want to see this program put on solid financial footing once and for all.
No. 2: Retirement savings are a big deal
High-income workers are most likely to say they're planning to rely heavily on retirement savings for retirement income, rather than Social Security. Overall, 44% of workers earning more than $100,000 annually believe that accounts such as 401(k) plans will be their primary source of retirement income. Additionally, 47% of Americans with college degrees and 44% of Americans with postgraduate degrees anticipate they'll lean heavily on savings in retirement.
Unfortunately, retirement savings are likely to come up short for most. According to Vanguard, the average worker is only saving 6.8% of his or her income in defined contribution plans, including 401(k) plans, and the median balance of these accounts was just $26,405 coming into 2016.
No. 3: A long road ahead
Pessimism over financial security in retirement is widespread among American workers, with four out of five workers believing their generation faces steeper odds at achieving financial security than previous generations. Concern is especially high among American workers earning less than $50,000, many of whom are lagging behind in their retirement preparations. Nearly one in three American workers without a college degree says that they'll need to rely on Social Security for the lion's share of their retirement income, and as a result, these workers are more likely than any others to expect to have to continue working in retirement to make ends meet.
No. 4: Retirement fears abound
While nothing is scarier to workers than outliving their retirement savings, Social Security's demise and deteriorating health that requires long-term care are also common worries weighing on workers' minds.
Congress could sure up Social Security's future, but doing so could involve hard-to-swallow solutions, including reduced payouts or an increase to the age at which Americans can claim benefits.
Meanwhile, longer-living Americans are increasingly being diagnosed with delibating diseases, including Alzheimer's disease, that require significant daily care, and given that long-term care can cost $3,600 per month or more according to Genworth, it's not surprising that workers are nervous -- especially since Medicare won't cover long-term care costs in most cases.
No. 5: Looking for answers
Overwhelmingly, American workers admit that their knowledge of retirement programs, such as Social Security, is limited. Only 18% of Americans report knowing "a great deal" about Social Security, and even fewer claim that they know a great deal about Medicare and Medicaid.
If you're among the majority of American workers who could end up missing out on valuable benefits associated with these programs because of a lack of knowledge or understanding of how to make the most of them, now's the perfect time to start educating yourself. After all, the more you know about retirement progams, the more likely you are to be able to enjoy a worry-free retirement.