American workers shouldn’t count on making up for inadequate savings by planning to work into their retirement years, since such plans are often doomed by unexpected health problems, Fidelity Investments said Monday in releasing findings of a retirement planning survey.
The study found the typical American working household is slightly better prepared financially for retirement than it was a year ago.
It also revealed 63 percent of today’s workers plan to work in retirement on at least a part-time basis to supplement their income.
However, nearly one-fourth of current retirees questioned in the survey reported they were left without expected income when they had to leave their jobs early because of unexpected health problems.
“When planning for retirement, it’s more than about just money, it’s also about health,” said Guy Patton, executive director of the Fidelity Research Institute, which Boston-based Fidelity created last year to study personal savings issues. “One can certainly significantly impact the other.”
For the first time in its three-year history, Fidelity’s annual retirement study questioned retirees, rather than just current workers.
The study found the typical working American household is saving at a rate that would allow it to replace about 58 percent of its income in retirement — up from 57 percent in the 2006 survey and 56 percent in 2005. The figure factors in private savings, Social Security benefits and pensions.
The best-prepared group was baby boomers aged 43 to 61, who are on track to replace 62 percent of their preretirement income once retired — meaning they would need to adjust to living on 38 percent less income when they retire.
A group the study labeled “pre-retirees” — those 55 and older — are on track to replace 61 percent of preretirement income. Bringing up the rear were Generation Xers, aged 25 to 42, who can expect to replace 54 percent of preretirement income, on average.
Generation X members increasingly are providing financial support for parents or in-laws, or expecting to at some point because of factors including health problems. Of those already supporting their parents, one-quarter of Gen Xers have had parents move in with them, the study found.
“We are increasingly beginning to see that Gen Xers are becoming ’sandwiched’ — much like baby boomers have been for years — shouldering multiple financial pressures that include caring for aging parents, providing for their own families and saving for retirement,” Patton said.
Patton said he was pleased that 42 percent of workers reported taking some action recently to improve their retirement readiness — steps such as reallocating retirement portfolios, increasing contributions to company-sponsored 401(k) retirement accounts, and seeking professional advice.
But the gap between workers’ current income and the amount they can expect to see during retirement will leave many people facing tough financial circumstances, Patton said.
“This is worrisome, since many retirees say they’re spending more money than planned, and some have not been able to work as long as they would have liked,” he said.
Fidelity, the nation’s largest mutual fund manager and a provider of retirement services, said its findings were drawn from a national online survey of more than 2,000 Americans who work full-time, are 25 years or older and earn at least $20,000 a year.
The latest poll was conducted Jan. 15-18 by Richard Day Research of Evanston, Ill. Information on retirees was from an online survey of 793 retirees aged 55 or older. Northstar Research Partners conducted that survey Jan. 23-28.