Most Americans are waking up to the reality that Social Security should no longer be considered a reliable source of income in retirement, a recent survey said.
The survey comes as projections show that Social Security funds may be depleted sooner than later.
A massive 74% of Americans said they couldn't count on Social Security benefits when planning retirement income and 88% said it is critical to have another source of guaranteed income beyond these benefits to have a comfortable retirement, according to the Allianz Life survey.
Indeed, Social Security recipients stand to see their benefits cut by 20% as soon as 2034, one year earlier than was initially projected, according to the annual trustees' report recently released by the Treasury.
The revision comes on the expectation of slower near-term economic growth – gross domestic product and labor productivity were revised by about 3% for the projected period. Estimates also showed that Social Security trust funds declined by $22 billion in 2022 to $2.830 trillion.
"Social Security benefits are often the backbone of a retirement strategy, but it cannot be your entire strategy," Kelly LaVigne, Allianz Life vice president of consumer insights, said in a statement. "A strong retirement strategy will ensure you have enough guaranteed income to cover your essential expenses. That guaranteed income can come from Social Security benefits along with other investments and protection products such as annuities."
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Americans proceed with caution when it comes to investing
Most Americans were cautious about investing in the financial markets, despite the fears of a recession ebbing in the first quarter of 2023, according to the Allianz survey. More than half (63%) kept more cash out of the market than they would have otherwise and 62% said they kept their money in cash rather than endure market swings.
An increasing number of Americans are also worried that inflation and rising costs could make their desired retirement lifestyle unaffordable, the survey said. Seventy-eight percent cited this concern in the first quarter of 2023, up from 68% last year. Additionally, 66% are concerned that it will be too late to have a comfortable retirement if they don't increase their retirement savings soon.
Inflation hit 9.1% last June, a 40-year high and has since slipped down. However, Americans are still dealing with high prices on essentials like food, gas and shelter. Inflation and rising costs are why half of all Americans said they delayed or altered their retirement plans, a separate survey by U.S. News & World Report 360 Reviews said.
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Gen X is most worried about their financial stability
When broken down by generations, Gen Xers were most worried about their long-term financial stability and retirement, the survey said. Of this generational segment, 85% are concerned they won't be able to afford the lifestyle they want in retirement because of the increased cost of living, compared to 80% of millennials and 72% of Baby Boomers.
In addition, 43% of Gen Xers are worried that their employer might suspend 401 (k) matching and 67% said they are keeping more money out of the market than they should over concerns of economic volatility at a time when they should be aggressively seeking out strategies to build up savings.
"Gen Xers are entering into and in critical years of retirement preparation," LaVigne said. "Many people are often in their highest earning years in their 40s and 50s and finally able to really save a significant amount of money for retirement.
"This is when they need to establish strategies and really focus in on how they are setting themselves up for the retirement lifestyle they want," LaVigne continued.
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