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Survey: First Wave of Boomers Ready To Retire by 65
 

By Kathy Gurchiek  1/9/2008
 

A majority of baby boomers who turn 62 in 2008 plan to be fully retired by age 65, a new study has found.

The findings from 1,000 respondents who were age 61 in 2007 fly in the face of expectations that the first of the nearly 77 million boomers—often depicted as workaholics—will be dragged, kicking and screaming, into retirement.

“In reality, it is impossible to accurately describe such a large group of individuals spread over a birth horizon of almost two decades, with only broad generalizations and convenient characterizations,” according to MetLife, which commissioned the phone survey conducted in November 2007.

These boomers, born in 1946, “were born at the cusp between the old guard and the new order of the mid-20th century,” MetLife noted.

On average, boomers surveyed have 2.4 children over age 18 who are not living with them; have two grandchildren, also not living with them; have not experienced any major health problems in the past 12 months; have some college education; and work full time for an organization that provides a defined benefit pension plan and health benefits.

A sizeable percent of these boomers plan to be fully retired by age 66 and 4 months. Thirty-one percent plan to apply for Social Security when they turn 62 this year, and 32 percent will wait until they turn 66 or older when they can receive full benefits, according to the survey.

Respondents who plan to take Social Security at age 62 gave entitlement as their reason, saying they would rather have the money than let the government have it, MetLife reported.

Others think it’s in their financial interest to take Social Security sooner, some need the money now, and others fear nothing will be left if they postpone receiving Social Security.

Other factors that may influence their decision:

    • 68 percent who will turn 62 in 2008 have employee or retiree health insurance; 47 percent are covered by a defined benefit pension plan.

    • 77 claim they are in good to excellent health and have an average net worth, excluding home value, of $257,800 and an average annual income of about $71,400.

    • 85 percent own their own home, with an average value of $297,900.

    • 74 percent are aware they are eligible at 62 to apply for a federally backed reverse mortgage.

    • 38 percent expect an average inheritance of $210,000, and 35 percent have received an average inheritance of $113,000.

    • 68 percent do not have parents who are living; 87 percent said neither they nor their spouse are caregivers to parents or other elderly relatives.

In general, those surveyed think they’ve done a good job of making sure they have a steady income for their future, although they also think they did a poor to fair job of saving and investing for their future and their children’s future.

Among those surveyed, 50 percent are covered by a 401(k) and 50 percent have an IRA; 38 percent own stocks and 38 percent have mutual funds.

“A sizeable portion” of their friends will apply for Social Security as early as age 62, MetLife found.

“They’re comfortable being identified as a baby boomer,” Sandra Timmermann of the MetLife Mature Market Institute said in a press release, “and contrary to claims that they’re not ready to retire, only 18 percent dislike the term ‘retirement’ to describe their next transition.”

Kathy Gurchiek is associate editor for HR News. She can be reached at kgurchiek@shrm.org.

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