Recession delaying retirement for 'Middle Boomers'

Middle baby boomers retirementMore Middle Boomers -- those 52 to 58 years old -- expect to work about five years beyond their planned retirement date, thanks to the recession, according to a new study of that segment of 29 million people.

The "MetLife Study of Boomers in the Middle" showed 54% saying they were behind in their retirement-savings goals. Economic conditions have hurt 76% of those surveyed, and almost half of those are concerned about their ability to recover.

"I think just in general we're seeing people who need to work longer," said Sandra Timmermann, director of the MetLife Mature Market Institute, in a telephone interview with WalletPop.

Of those Middle Boomers who have delayed their retirement age, 85% have been hurt financially by the recession.

Many Middle Boomers who planned to retire at age 65 will work until they're 70, Timmermann said.

The benefits are much more than a paycheck for five more years: a 401(k) retirement account match, not drawing down their assets, delaying Social Security benefits, and benefits from their employer such as health care.

It won't get them to a life of leisure on the golf course anytime soon, but it will hopefully lead to more money when they get there.

"I think working longer is just going to extend your working life and shorten your time in full retirement," Timmermann said.

The good news for Middle Boomers is that they're in their peak earning years and have a net worth of $100,000 or more, excluding their home value.

Most will rely on Social Security for their retirement income, 42% of it, on average. But the recession has caused more of them to consider applying for Social Security benefits at an earlier age -- 65 or earlier with almost one-quarter planning on applying at age 62 for lesser benefits. Full Social Security benefits are available at age 67 for most Middle Boomers.

It's a difficult decision to make: Work longer and take full Social Security benefits later, or retire as planned and take less Social Security benefits sooner, but have less money in retirement.

Aaron Crowe is a freelance journalist in the San Francisco Bay Area.
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