updated 5/15/2006 5:36:27 PM ET 2006-05-15T21:36:27

Most Americans aren’t sure how much money they can withdraw from their savings each year to fund retirement without running short, according to a survey released Monday.

Experts say retirees can safely spend about 4 percent of their assets each year, but a study conducted by Mathew Greenwald & Associates for the New York Life Insurance Co. found that just one in 10 respondents knew that rate.

In fact, some 36 percent of those surveyed believed retirees could spend up to 14 percent a year, and 40 percent didn’t know what a safe spending rate would be.

The telephone survey involved more than 1,000 working and retired adults 41 and older with at least $100,000 in investable assets. Conducted from Feb. 9 to March 9, the results had a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.

“Lack of knowledge, combined with uncertainties surrounding investment returns and life spans, mean that even retirees who have substantial nest eggs are gambling with their financial futures in retirement,” New York Life executive vice president, Ted Mathas, said in a statement accompanying the report.

New York Life, which sells annuities, also asked about consumers understanding of these products. Annuities are a tax-deferred retirement planning tools designed to provide payments to the holder at specified intervals.

While about three-quarters of respondents said they were aware of annuities, just 39 percent of pre-retirees said they would be very interested or somewhat interested in investing in them.

Among reasons given for not investing in annuities were that people weren’t yet close enough to retirement, hadn’t yet thought about it, were wary of annuities, didn’t trust insurance products or hadn’t found a product they liked.

The survey also found that 70 percent of respondents were concerned that there may be major cutbacks in Social Security benefits, which are paid out monthly in annuity fashion to retirees.

© 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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