For most of those in the workforce today, dreaming about when they can retire and start to enjoy more time for themselves and with their families is a given. The goal to work hard, save and then retire has always been in place – but what the retirement years will look like for many is changing drastically compared to the plans that some of our elders had access to in the past.
In addition to starting to save late in life and access to potentially less federal funding for retirement in the future, we find ourselves in what many experts are calling a “retirement crisis” in the U.S. But what does this really mean and should you actually be concerned?
Let’s take a closer look.
Currently, age 62 is the earliest you can claim Social Security retirement benefits. This is when you would be able to get replacement income based on factors such as your earnings history, the year you’re born, and what age you’ll start to claim Social Security. According to the AARP, the estimated average Social Security retirement benefit in 2021 is $1,543 a month.
In the past, workers had access to additional sources of income to help boost that monthly number. For example employer-sponsored pensions or other retirement savings plans, and personal savings that they accumulated.
Today, most of those defined benefit (DB) pension plans for employees have been replaced. So instead of getting a guaranteed monthly income in exchange for the years of work they’ve put in, they have a defined contribution plan (DC), such as a 401k, 403(b), 457, etc., that allows specific monetary contributions deferred from the employee’s paycheck – and sometimes with an employer match, usually based on a percentage of the employee contributions.
With the move to more self-directed retirement plans, figuring out how much you’ll need to withhold to save enough for retirement is very difficult and salary deferrals always reduce your net spendable income. This may be why an astounding number of employees forego participation in available retirement plans. This is partially where the retirement crisis begins.
Add to this the fact that the current Social Security benefit recipients are “paid” by the Social Security payroll taxes of the current workforce; effectively, a pay-as-you-go system. There are ominous undertones about the equity and long-term viability of the Social Security system, as we know it today.
Then there are the small businesses and private-sector workers that may not have access to a retirement plan through their employer at all due to them being too costly to manage and fund. This often leaves many failing to have any plans for how they’ll survive financially after retirement.
The reality here is that people are living longer and having fewer kids. That means a longer average duration of Social Security benefit payments but fewer workers paying into the Social Security system. So without having enough saved for their retirement years, individuals are depending much more on Social Security benefits to live – and this likely creates additional public assistance expenditures to further strain federal resources and inevitably leading to the potential for higher taxes and lower benefits.
So what can we do now?
It’s up to us as individuals to think about our retirement years now – before we’re close to the age where we are approaching retiring. Having a broad understanding of your options to efficiently and effectively save for your future can make an immeasurable difference. Our financial professionals can help ensure that you work towards securing your financial future. We understand risks, how to properly allocate assets, and help you determine how much to start saving now. Don’t wait until it’s too late – reach out today.