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Almost a Third of Americans Believe Social Security Won’t Last: Here Are Three Ways to Get Retirement Income


A 2022 retirement survey shows that almost one in three Americans believe that Social Security could run out of money and stop making payments. And another 31% expect that they will need to get retirement money earlier. Let’s break down what the survey from Schroders says, what Americans are looking for in retirement plans and three common ways retirees are getting income outside of Social Security.

A financial advisor could help you create a financial plan to secure streams of income for your retirement. 

What the Survey Says About Americans and Social Security

Schroders, a multinational asset management company headquartered in London, says that 32% of Americans are concerned that Social Security could run out of money or stop making payments. Additionally, the 2022 survey shows that 31% of respondents also expect that they will need to get retirement money sooner.

This perspective could drive non-retirees to seek retirement income solutions earlier at the expense of common strategies. One revealing finding: Only 11% of respondents said that they will wait until age 70, which is when you can get the maximum Social Security benefits.

For the majority of workers seeking to get early Social Security benefits, the survey shows that this is a deliberate decision: “86% of non-retired survey respondents are aware they could receive higher Social Security payments by delaying the start of their benefits.”

Schroders says that almost half of the respondents plan to take Social Security early, between the ages of 62 and 65. And this means those participants won’t be able to get their full benefits.

When asked specifically what part of their life after age 65 non-retired Americans expected to be the most expensive, almost half (49%) believed that their early years (65-74) would cost most. Only 30% said retirement between ages 75 and 84 would cost more, followed by 21% who thought life over age 85 would be the most expensive.

It’s worth noting that uncertainty over Social Security overlaps with key findings from another survey in 2022. Principal Financial Group’s annual Super Savers survey, released in September, also showed that the younger retirement savers are skeptical about the government agency’s solvency.

According to Principal, 60% of Gen X (ages 46-57) still counted on Social Security as a source of retirement income, while only 37% of Millennials (ages 27-45) and 23% of Gen Z (ages 18-26) believed the same.

5 Things Americans Are Looking for in a Retirement Plan

SmartAsset: Almost One-Third of Americans Believe Social Security Won't Last.

Roughly half of the survey respondents (48%) who currently participate in workplace retirement plans like 401(k)s, 403(b)s, or 457s said they had access to retirement income products. And of those who did not have income products (19%) or were unsure (33%), 62% wanted them.

Furthermore, of those who have retirement plans with income products, almost nine in 10 (89%) said they would likely use the product when they retire and keep assets in their employer plan.

Here are five features that respondents wanted most for an in-plan retirement income solution:

  1. More than half (52%) want lifetime income
  2. Almost half (49%) want consistent monthly paycheck income
  3. 42% want low fees or costs
  4. 40% prefer liquidity or access to money whenever they want
  5. 39% want protection from market corrections or down markets

These expectations are further complicated by the amount of savings that workers believe will be needed for a comfortable retirement.

In 2022, working Americans age 45 and older told Schroders that they will need $1.1 million in savings on average. But many found this goal out of reach.

Almost a quarter (24%) said “they expect to have at least $1 million in savings when they retire,” followed by another 20% expecting to have between $500,000 and $1 million saved. But more than half (56%) said they would have less than $500,000 saved, and this included 36% with a forecast of less than $250,000 in savings.

3 Common Ways Workers Are Getting Retirement Income 

The study says that almost half of all retirees surveyed (49%) “don’t have any strategies to generate retirement income and instead withdraw money as needed.” And this is particularly alarming for retirement experts.

“Given increasing life expectancies and widespread concerns about not being able to live comfortably without a paycheck, the advantages of creating a retirement income strategy that maximizes your Social Security benefits can’t be overstated,” said Joel Schiffman, the head of strategic partnerships at Schroders, in a statement.

The most common types of retirement income streams include Social Security and employer-backed pensions. According to the survey, retirees use these three common strategies to generate income:

  1. Almost one-third (29%) make systematic withdrawals from retirement accounts like IRAs and 401(k) plans.
  2. Nearly one in five (18%) get income from dividend-producing stocks or mutual funds.
  3. Under one in six (15%) rely on annuities as part of their income strategy.

Another popular income stream could include creating a bond or CD ladder. This is a portfolio that is made up of fixed-income securities that have different maturity dates. Retirees commonly use this strategy to generate income with minimal risk.

Bottom Line

SmartAsset: Almost One-Third of Americans Believe Social Security Won't Last.

The Schroders survey shows that 23% of respondents nearing retirement between the ages of 60 and 65 “have no idea how much monthly income they will need to generate in retirement to live comfortably.” Another 53% are most concerned, or even terrified (33%) “by the idea of no more regular employment paychecks.”

And the asset management company concludes that Americans need to educate themselves more on creating a retirement income strategy.

“More needs to be done to educate participants on the importance of higher income replacement, and that comes from planning for retirement income early in their careers,” said Schiffman in the statement.

Tips for Retirement Savers

  • financial advisor could help you set up guaranteed sources of retirement income. SmartAsset’s free tool matches you with up to three financial advisors who serve your area, and you can interview your advisor matches at no cost to decide which one is right for you. If you’re ready to find an advisor who can help you achieve your financial goals, get started now.
  • If you need help figuring out how much your retirement savings will grow over time, SmartAsset’s free 401(k) calculator can help you get an estimate.

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