Study finds that over a quarter of Americans anticipate never retiring

More than a quarter of Americans aged 50 and older expect never to retire, and 70% are concerned about the rising cost of living outpacing their income, according to a survey by AARP. The research, released on Wednesday, indicates that about 25% have no retirement savings, highlighting the increasing anxiety among older Americans about financial security. This trend is occurring despite economists and policymakers suggesting that the U.S. economy has largely stabilized after two years of significant inflation.

The survey reveals that everyday expenses and housing costs, including rent and mortgage payments, are the primary reasons why people struggle to save for retirement. This data is significant in an election year, as both Democratic President Joe Biden and Republican rival Donald Trump seek to secure support from older Americans, who traditionally have high voter turnout rates, with their policy proposals.

The AARP study, which involved interviews with over 8,000 individuals in collaboration with the NORC Center for Public Affairs Research, also found that one-third of older adults carry a credit card balance exceeding $10,000, and 12% have balances exceeding $20,000. Additionally, 37% express concern about meeting basic living costs such as food and housing.

Indira Venkateswaran, AARP’s senior vice president of research, emphasized the challenges many face in accessing retirement savings options, particularly given the current economic climate with rising prices. She noted that everyday expenses remain a significant barrier to saving more for retirement, leading some older Americans to believe they will never retire.

The percentage of people over 50 who do not expect to retire has been steadily rising, reaching 24% in July 2022, up from 23% in January of the same year, according to the biannual study. David John, senior strategic policy advisor at the AARP Public Policy Institute, highlighted the trend of older workers staying in the workforce longer due to inadequate retirement savings, a problem likely to persist in the future.

Data from the 2022 congressional elections and census data released on Tuesday shows that voters aged 65 and older comprised 30.4% of all voters, while Gen Z and millennials accounted for 11.7%.

President Biden has sought to appeal to older voters by advocating for a $35 price cap on insulin for Medicare beneficiaries and highlighting Medicare’s ability to negotiate directly with drugmakers on prescription drug costs.

Former President Trump, in a March interview with CNBC, hinted at the possibility of cuts to Social Security and Medicare, suggesting there is room for reductions in entitlements. However, Karoline Leavitt, press secretary for Trump’s campaign, stated that Trump would continue to strongly protect Social Security and Medicare in a second term.

According to the AARP survey, 33% of respondents over 50 believe their finances will improve in the next year.

A significant concern impacting Americans’ retirement prospects is the financial viability of Social Security and Medicare. According to the latest annual report from the programs’ trustees, these crucial safety nets for millions of older Americans are projected to face funding shortages within the next decade.

Medicare, which provides government-sponsored health insurance to 65 million older and disabled individuals, is expected to be unable to fully cover benefits for inpatient hospital visits and nursing home stays by 2031. Similarly, Social Security, serving 66 million retirees, is projected to lack sufficient funds to pay full benefits by 2033.

A March AP-NORC poll revealed that a majority of U.S. adults oppose proposals that would reduce Medicare or Social Security benefits. Instead, most support increasing taxes on the nation’s highest earners to maintain Medicare’s current operations.

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