January 4, 2022
Readers’ Favorite Retirement Blogs in 2021
For the baby boomers who are looking down the road to retirement, generalities will no longer suffice. They are diving into the nitty gritty.
Their keen interest in retirement issues, based on reader traffic last year, range from why the adjustments to Social Security’s monthly benefits are outdated to how it’s still possible for boomers, even at this late hour, to rescue their retirement.
First, and most important, there is hope for the unprepared. In “No-benefit Jobs Better than Retiring Early,” readers who want to retire but can’t afford it learned that they can dramatically improve their finances by finding a new job – ideally a less stressful or physically demanding one. Even if the job doesn’t have employee benefits, working longer will increase their Social Security benefits and allow them to save a little more.
The most popular article tackled a complex issue: “Social Security: Time for an Update?” The article explained the program’s actuarial adjustments, which are based on the age someone signs up for their benefits and factors into how much they’ll get. The adjustments, set decades ago, are no longer accurate, due to both increasing life spans that affect how much retirees receive from the program over their lifetimes and persistently low interest rates.
If these factors were taken into account, the researchers estimate that the average person who starts Social Security at age 62 would get more in their monthly checks, and the average person who holds out until 70 would get less.
However, not everyone is average. High-income workers tend to live longer and retire – and claim Social Security – later, while low-income workers have shorter lifespans and disproportionately start Social Security at 62. The researchers conclude that the inequities “are not a problem that can be solved by tinkering with the actuarial adjustment.” A true fix would “would require a reassessment of the benefit structure.”
A major issue facing boomers in their late 50s and early 60s is that households with 401(k)s typically have saved only about $144,000 for retirement in their 401(k)s and IRAs. The reasons for insufficient savings – explained in “Here’s Why People Don’t Save Enough” – boil down to things that are largely beyond their control, including disruptions in their employment, a lack of access to employer retirement plans, lower earnings than they’d hoped for, bad investments, unanticipated premature retirements, and health problems.
However, workers can do something to gauge how they’re doing: make sure they know how much they’ll get from Social Security. Social Security is the primary source of income for most retirees. But research described in “Workers Overestimate their Social Security” showed that men and women, old and young, regardless of their education, don’t have a handle on their benefits.
Individual workers can get an estimate of their future benefits from the federal government. The estimates, which are based on their earnings to date and are constantly updated, are available on their personal online statements on Social Security’s website.
Other popular 2021 blogs about retirement included:
- “Retirees Intent on Leaving Homes to Kids”
- “Retirees’ Home Equity: Useful but Unused”
- “Boomers Repairing their Mortgage Finances”
- “Enrollment Trends in Medicare Options”
- “Boomers Will Struggle with Care in Old Age”
- “First, Money Woes. 6 Years Later, Dementia”
- “Alzheimer’s: from Denial to Empowerment”
Most of the research studies reported herein were derived in whole or in part from research activities performed pursuant to grants from the U.S. Social Security Administration (SSA) funded as part of the Retirement and Disability Research Consortium. The opinions and conclusions expressed are solely those of the authors and do not represent the opinions or policy of SSA, any agency of the federal government, or Boston College. Neither the United States Government nor any agency thereof, nor any of their employees, make any warranty, express or implied, or assumes any legal liability or responsibility for the accuracy, completeness, or usefulness of the contents of this report. Reference herein to any specific commercial product, process or service by trade name, trademark, manufacturer, or otherwise does not necessarily constitute or imply endorsement, recommendation or favoring by the United States Government or any agency thereof.