For Retirement, Is 80 the New 65?

By Bill McGuire

Nov 16, 2011 10:54am

The traditional retirement age of 65 is an outdated concept and middle-class Americans expect to continue working far longer, according to a  survey released today by Wells Fargo & Co.

Some 76 percent of the 1,500 middle-class Americans surveyed by Harris Interactive said it is more important to have a specific amount saved before retirement, regardless of age, and just 20 percent said it’s most important to retire at a specific age, no matter how little or much they saved.

“The fact that the vast majority of middle-class Americans expect to work well past the traditional retirement age has significant societal and economic implications,” Joe Ready, director of Wells Fargo Institutional Retirement and Trust, said in a statement. “Will people be physically and mentally able to work later in life? What will it mean for young people entering the workforce? And, how does our system of retirement savings need to be reformed to help reduce the savings gap?”

The survey taken in September and October also found that 25 percent of middle-class Americans say they will “need to work until at least age 80″ to live comfortably in retirement and three in four said they expect to work in their retirement years.  Of those, it was split about evenly between those who will have to work to  maintain their lifestyles and those who will work because they want to.

The survey found that 49 percent of middle-class Americans aged 25 to 49 would accept future cuts in Social Security to help reduce America’s debt, but that dropped to 28 percent of those age 50 to 59 and just 19 percent of those age 60 to 75.

“We’ve seen a shift in the role of work and employment during the traditional retirement years but we’re also seeing a shift in expectations for social support. There is a willingness among younger Americans to put traditional support systems on the table for reform as we look for solutions to strengthen the country and address the debt load of our nation,” Laurie Nordquist, director of Wells Fargo Institutional Retirement and Trust. said in a statement.

A majority of in the survey said they would “need to significantly cut back on spending today to save for retirement.”

The full survey results.

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