Workers Changing Expectations of Retirement

American workers realize they are behind in saving for retirement and are adjusting their expectations accordingly.

Sixty-nine percent of workers agreed they could save until age 65 and still not have enough for a secure retirement, according to the 13th Annual Transamerica Retirement Survey. Only 39% of workers agreed they are building a large enough nest egg.  

Many workers report that their retirement outlook has changed since the recession began in 2008. The majority (64%) are less confident. In addition, 42% of workers expect to work longer and retire at an older age, while nearly half (47%) of workers in their fifties expect to do the same.  

“American workers are adjusting their expectations of retirement, including working past age 65 and planning to work part time in retirement,” said Catherine Collinson, president of the Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies. “American workers have reshaped their vision of retirement; now it’s time to provide an updated road map to help them achieve retirement income to last throughout their lifetime.”  

In a conference call about the findings, Collinson noted that the survey revealed even workers in their twenties are having a retirement confidence crisis. Only 38% of workers in this age group agreed they are building a large enough nest egg. Collinson said younger workers have the longest time to save and prepare, so they need not repeat their parents’ outcomes.



The Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies suggests there are five key elements to retirement readiness:  


  • A clear vision of retirement including retirement dreams, expected retirement age and any plans to continue working in retirement; 
  • Retirement income, including savings and investments, pension benefits and government benefits; 
  • A retirement strategy that incorporates savings needs, potential risks and a back-up plan if forced into retirement sooner than expected; 
  • Knowledge to make informed decisions about retirement investments, government benefits and health care; and 
  • A family understanding and an open dialogue about finances and any expectations of support. 

Collinson pointed out that health care expenses can significantly affect retirement expenses, so a strong knowledge of Medicare is needed prior to retirement. Of the workers who plan to work past age 65 or work after they retire, the majority (64%) plan to do so because they want or need the income or they need health benefits.  

“The fact that workers are adjusting expectations for retirement is not all bad,” Collinson said. “Working in retirement not only helps [individuals] have adequate income, but offers opportunities to stay active and involved and build social relationships.” Seventeen percent of study respondents said they plan to work past age 65 or after they retire because they want to stay involved, and 16% said it is because they enjoy what they do.  

For the full survey results, visit