Despite the popular belief that Baby Boomers will continue to work well past the traditional retirement age of 65, those born in 1946 are retiring in droves, according to Transitioning into Retirement: The MetLife Study of Baby Boomers at 65. This study is a follow–up to the 2008 MetLife Mature Market Institute study, Boomer Bookends: Insights into the Oldest and Youngest Boomers (released in 2009), which looked at the same segment of Boomers at age 62 and includes 450 of the same interview subjects from the original study.
- Almost one-half (45%) of 65-year-old Boomers are now fully retired (up from 19% in 2008).
- The majority of Boomers (63%) have also started receiving Social Security benefits, and of those half started collecting before they had originally planned, while only 5% retired later than originally planned.
- Almost four in 10 respondents (37%) who retired earlier than they had planned cite health-related reasons for doing so, while those who retired later than they had planned mention needing a salary to pay for day-to-day expenses (27%) and a desire to stay active (13%) as the reasons.
- Six in 10 Boomers are at least somewhat confident in the ability of Social Security to provide adequate benefits for their lifetime.
The study reports that 59% of the first Boomers to turn 65 are at least partially retired – 45% are completely retired and 14% are retired, but working part-time. Of those still working, 37% say they’ll retire in the next year and on average plan to do so by the time they’re 68. Half (51%) of those who are retired say they retired earlier than they had expected. Of those who retired early, four-in-ten say they did so for health reasons. The majority (85%) of respondents consider themselves healthy, and almost all (96%) retirees say they like retirement at least somewhat. Seven-in-ten (70%) like it a lot.
Almost two-thirds, 63% of respondents, are already collecting Social Security benefits, and on average began doing so at the age of 63, defying the conventional wisdom that people would choose to wait to receive benefits until a later age in order to receive a higher payout. Among those in the survey, just over 60% are confident that the Social Security system will be able to provide adequate benefits for their lifetime.
Regarding the attitude of these respondents, the data shows that 43% of those polled are optimistic about the future. Of the 19% who are pessimistic about what’s ahead, 49% fault the government and 21% blame the economy. The 65-year-old Boomers do not consider themselves old; on average they won’t consider themselves to be old until they’re age 79, a year older than reported in 2007.
- The average retirement age for the 1946 Boomers is 59.7 for men and 57.2 for women.
- 24% have a living parent.
- 84% are parents; 83% are grandparents, up from 77% in 2008.
- Of those not retired, 61% plan to retire at the same age as they planned one year ago.
- 31% of 65-year-old Boomers think they were at their sharpest mentally in their 40s; only 20% say they’re at their sharpest today.
- Home ownership increased significantly among the studied cohort since 2008, from 85% to 93%.
- 71% are married or in a domestic partnership; 12% are divorced or separated; 10% are widowed and 7% are single.