Ready or not, Boomers are retiring

Despite dire predictions to the contrary elsewhere, a recent study finds that most retirement-age Baby Boomers are leaving the workforce on time.

While other surveys have indicated that many workers are planning to delay retirement due to financial concerns, a study from the MetLife Mature Market Institute finds most Boomers who have hit age 65 are either partially or fully retired. Of those not yet retired, most say they still plan to retire at the same age they had planned a year ago.

The study's results stand in sharp contrast to surveys published earlier this year that found that many workers feel their retirement will be delayed or even never achieved. The PwC US's 2012 Financial Wellness Survey found 53 percent of workers expect to delay retirement and a February CareerBuilder survey indicated that 11 percent of mature workers never expect to retire.

Average retirement age younger than 60

Conventional wisdom may have people working until the bitter end, but the MetLife study paints a very different picture when it comes to actual retirement practices. For Baby Boomers born in 1946 -- the first to reach of that generation to reach retirement age -- the average age of retirement is less than 60. Men born in this year retired, on average, at age 59.7 while women left the workforce at 57.2. Overall, 59 percent of those surveyed were either partially or fully retired by age 65.

"Many of the Boomers weathered the recession well and have been able to stop working," said Sandra Timmermann, director of the MetLife Mature Market Institute, in a statement. "Half of all Boomers feel confident that they are on track or have already hit their retirement goals."

Almost two-thirds of the survey respondents report they are already collecting Social Security benefits, and more than 60 percent feel confident in the system's ability to pay adequate benefits over the course of their lifetime. Still, only 43 percent are optimistic about the future.

Boomers not feeling old

Although they may be entering their retirement years, most 65-year-old Baby Boomers do not feel old yet. The MetLife study found, on average, individuals in this group won't consider themselves old until they reach 79.

Other findings from the study relate to family, health and assets:

  • 71 percent of survey respondents are married or living in a domestic partnership
  • 84 percent are parents and 83 percent are grandparents
  • 93 percent own homes, up from 85 percent in 2008
  • 20 percent say they are mentally sharpest today, compared to 31 percent who said their mental peak was in their 40s
  • 85 percent consider themselves healthy

If the prevailing attitude among younger workers is that retirement will never come, Baby Boomers may be proving them wrong. The first of this generation appear to be retiring earlier than expected, and according to the survey results, it doesn't seem to be an unpleasant experience. A resounding majority -- 96 percent -- told MetLife they like retirement at least somewhat.

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