Americans are currently retiring earlier than they’d expected — but four out of five still struggle with the retirement process, new research suggests.
A recent survey of 2,000 retired Americans found that they’d initially expected to retire at 63.2 years old, on average, but instead did so at 61.5 years old, beating the median point by almost two years.
One in three (32%) even claimed that they “would have retired even earlier if they’d had the chance.”
However, 81% admitted to having difficulties while retiring, most commonly in accepting changes to their health as they age (51%) and letting go of their previous employment (22%).
Conducted by OnePoll on behalf of ClearMatch Medicare, the survey found that almost nine in 10 (87%) haven’t returned to the workforce now that they’ve left it.
Although 78% reportedly found fulfillment in their career, only 25% said they actively missed working, with 47% admitting they didn’t miss it at all.
Of those who did return to the workforce, 40% did so to occupy their time, while many did so for other reasons not outlined in the survey, often to help family members, friends or a former employer.
“My company begged me to do consulting for them,” one respondent recounted in an open-ended response, while another said that their former boss “called me back twice.”
Only one in four (26%) returned to work because the cost of living had increased.
Despite this, 44% of those polled admitted that the amount of money they saved up for retirement wasn’t enough — and 15% didn’t save for retirement at all.
Overall, respondents believed they’d need to save an average of $440,000 for retirement — although men cited much higher ranges than women ($468,843.7 vs. $420,853.8).
"The true cost of healthcare is often severely underestimated," emphasized Ben Pajak, CEO of ClearMatch Medicare, a part of HealthPlanOne. "It's a common misconception to believe that Medicare will cover all your healthcare expenses. When planning for your retirement, healthcare should be prioritized as one of your top concerns."
Although healthcare made up $228 of the average $3,020 a month that respondents spent, a large chunk of it (39%) came from insurance costs rather than medication (23%) or doctor’s visits (15%).
When asked to share their thoughts on the most common myths about retirement, 57% cited the belief that Social Security covers retirement, while almost half (51%) brought up the idea that all healthcare costs are covered under Medicare.
Currently, 88% are enrolled in Medicare, and 81% did so upon turning 65 rather than keep their employer’s healthcare offering. Of these respondents, 55% worked with a Medicare agent over the phone or online to understand the enrollment process.
“It’s important to consult with a licensed Medicare agent, so they can help you understand your current and future healthcare needs,” said Jennifer Girdler, vice president of sales at ClearMatch Medicare. “You need to consider factors like doctor visits, seeing specialists and the possibility of emergency visits or unexpected hospital stays. A Medicare agent will weigh the different plan options and help you select the plan that can help keep your medical costs down so you can enjoy retirement.”
Most commonly believed retirement myths:
1. Social Security covers retirement - 57%
2. All healthcare costs are covered under Medicare - 51%
3. You’ll have more free time than you know what to do with - 25%
4. People spend less money when retired - 21%
5. A 401(k) or similar savings plan is enough for retirement - 17%
6. People pay less taxes when retired - 16%
7. You can’t save for retirement when you have other expenses - 12%
8. The retirement process is easy 11%
9. You have to move somewhere new when you retire - 11%
10. You can work for as long as you need to - 9%
This random double-opt-in survey of 2,000 retired Americans was commissioned by ClearMatch Medicare between May 9 and May 15, 2023. It was conducted by market research company OnePoll, whose team members are members of the Market Research Society and have corporate membership to the American Association for Public Opinion Research (AAPOR) and the European Society for Opinion and Marketing Research (ESOMAR).