Survey: “Anxiety Index” Especially High Among Pre-Retirees

by: Leigh DeNoon

Americans aged 50 to 64 are today’s “most politically and economically anxious voters,” according to a new AARP survey known as the “Anxiety Index.” Seventy-two percent of people polled in that age group think they will likely have to delay retirement. More than half fear they won’t be able to retire at all.

Retirement educator Andy Landis, author of a book titled “Thinking Retirement,” hears such concerns frequently, but he says sometimes the anxiety can be minimized by running the numbers.”First of all, let’s get clarity. Sit down with one of those simulators or with a financial planner and let’s see where we stand. How far apart are we from the numbers we need to make ends meet?” He suggests a trial run- living within a projected retirement income- for increasing confidence. He adds that many people opt to delay retirement for just a few years, which also can make a big difference when it comes to their savings and benefits.

The survey found that 65 percent of pre-retirees doubt they’ll be able to live comfortably in retirement. Pollster Guy Molyneux with Hart Research says such findings aren’t typical for this age group. “People between the ages of 50 and 64 are at a peak of earning power in their life; they have more money saved usually than younger people do. So, we do not expect to see the highest levels of economic anxiety among that age cohort.”

Molyneux thinks today’s unusually high anxiety index among those over 50 who have yet to retire is tied to current economic and political conditions.

“What the boomers have taken away from all of this- the stresses of this economic catastrophe and their particular concerns about retirement- is they’ve decided this has made Social Security and Medicare more important than it ever was before,” Molyneux said.

According to the survey, only one-third of people over 50 are concerned about finding or creating jobs. Instead, their top worries in the survey centered around other aspects of financial security, such as inflation, taxes, and health care costs.

The survey is at www.aarp.org.