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Not-quite-golden years: As traditional pensions fade, wealth gap widening into retirement

  • 31db9d8306c97410VgnVCM100000d7c1a8c0____-Wealth Gap Rocky Retirement-1.jpg

    This July 8, 2014 photo shows William Kistler at work in his office in Denver. Sixty-three-year-old William Kistler views retirement like someone tied to the tracks watching a train coming: It’s looming, it’s threatening and there’s little he can do.“There is not enough to retire with,” said Kistler, a Golden, Colorado, resident who said he is unable to build up a nest egg for his wife with his modest salary helping seniors navigate benefits. “It’s completely frightening to tell you the truth. And I, like a lot of people, try not to think about it too much, which is actually a problem.”(AP Photo/Ed Andrieski) (The Associated Press)

  • a7d1cf0149d0bf1e5b0f6a706700486b.jpg

    In this July 7, 2014 photo, Susan McNamara poses for a photo in Quincy, Mass. She sold her home to meet expenses. “Over the years, all I’ve been able to do, especially as a single parent, is just pay your bills every month,” said McNamara, a 62-year-old adjunct professor from the Boston area. “Anything that’s left over is used up when your car breaks down or when the furnace breaks down ... There’s never anything left over, ever.” (AP Photo/Elise Amendola) (The Associated Press)

  • 31db9d8306c97410VgnVCM100000d7c1a8c0____-Wealth Gap Rocky Retirement-3.jpg

    In this July 8, 2014 photo, William Kistler, right, goes over a clients' information with support specialist Ronald Smith at Kistler's office in Denver. Sixty-three-year-old Kistler views retirement like someone tied to the tracks watching a train coming: It’s looming, it’s threatening and there’s little he can do.“There is not enough to retire with,” said Kistler, a Golden, Colorado, resident who said he is unable to build up a nest egg for his wife with his modest salary helping seniors navigate benefits. “It’s completely frightening to tell you the truth. And I, like a lot of people, try not to think about it too much, which is actually a problem.”(AP Photo/Ed Andrieski) (The Associated Press)

  • 31db9d8306c97410VgnVCM100000d7c1a8c0____-Wealth Gap Rocky Retirement-4.jpg

    In this July 7, 2014 photo, Susan McNamara prepares to borrow a book from the public library in Quincy, Mass. She sold her home to meet expenses. “Over the years, all I’ve been able to do, especially as a single parent, is just pay your bills every month,” said McNamara, a 62-year-old adjunct professor from the Boston area. “Anything that’s left over is used up when your car breaks down or when the furnace breaks down ... There’s never anything left over, ever.” (AP Photo/Elise Amendola) (The Associated Press)

  • 31db9d8306c97410VgnVCM100000d7c1a8c0____-Wealth Gap Rocky Retirement-5.jpg

    This July 8, 2014 photo shows William Kistler at work in his office in Denver. Sixty-three-year-old Kistler views retirement like someone tied to the tracks watching a train coming: It’s looming, it’s threatening and there’s little he can do.“There is not enough to retire with,” said Kistler, a Golden, Colorado, resident who said he is unable to build up a nest egg for his wife with his modest salary helping seniors navigate benefits. “It’s completely frightening to tell you the truth. And I, like a lot of people, try not to think about it too much, which is actually a problem.”(AP Photo/Ed Andrieski) (The Associated Press)

A growing gulf in the retirement savings of the wealthy and people with lower incomes threatens to exacerbate an already widening wealth gap.

Traditional pensions are becoming rarer in the private sector, and lower-paid workers are less likely to have access to an employer-provided retirement plan.

This is happening as more than 70 million baby boomers head into retirement, many of them with skimpy reserves.

A widening gap in retirement is likely to put pressure on government services and lead even more Americans to work well into what is supposed to be their golden years.