The Takeaway: Contrary to Predictions, Boomers Are Retiring at 65

Conventional wisdom these days holds that conventional wisdom about retirement is wrong, or at least outdated-rendered obsolete by a bad economy, increasing longevity, etc. Recent reports have found boomers plan to work well into their 60s, 70s or beyond. But a new study from MetLife finds that, contrary to predictions, older Americans are retiring. In fact, more than 60 percent of 65-year-olds-the leading edge of the boomer generation-are already collecting Social Security. Just don’t say that makes them old: On average, 65-year-old boomers say they won’t consider themselves old until age 79 (a year older than reported in 2007).

The study, “Transitioning into Retirement: The MetLife Study of Baby Boomers at 65,” is a follow-up to a 2008 study MetLife conducted on the oldest and youngest boomers, and includes many of the same respondents. Some notable findings:

  • 59 percent of the first boomers to turn 65 are at least partially retired (45 percent are fully retired, while 14% are retired but working part-time).
  • Of 65-year-olds still working, 37 percent say they’ll retire in the next year; on average, those still working plan to retire by age 68.
  • Many leading-edge boomers say they retired earlier than they had expected; of this group, 40 percent did so for health reasons.
  • 63 percent of respondents are already collecting Social Security benefits, and on average began doing so at age 63.

Furthermore, boomers aren’t just retiring-they’re enjoying retirement. Almost all (96 percent) of respondents said they like retirement at least somewhat; 70 percent said they like it a lot.

That doesn’t, however, mean they’re all confident in their retirement security: Only 43 percent said they’re optimistic about the future. Of the 19 percent who are actively pessimistic, about one-half fault the government and one-fifth blame the economy.

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