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Brookings Now

10 facts about Social Security and retirement saving

“Social security is not going broke,” said Carolyn Colvin, acting commissioner of the Social Security Administration, at a Brookings Retirement Security Project event this week. She was joined by Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Director Richard Cordray to discuss retirement planning and to unveil a new retirement calculator. “Social Security is the only guaranteed monthly income for a majority of older consumers,” Cordray said.

After their keynote addresses, a panel of retirement security experts moderated by Guest Scholar Joshua Gotbaum discussed efforts to improve retirement planning and what knowledge the average American needs to make retirement planning achievable. Ted Gayer, VP and director of Economic Studies at Brookings, introduced the event.

Here are 10 facts about Social Security and retirement planning mentioned during the event. Full video is available below and on the event’s page.

1/3 of U.S. households spend all of their available resources in every pay period

60 million people received Social Security benefits in September 2015

For the average worker, Social Security replaces only about 40 percent of pre-retirement earnings

45 million people are already 65 or order, and 10,000 people are turning 65 each day

The average American now spends about 20 years in retirement
(in 1950, the average was about 4 years)

4 in 10 Americans aged 51-59 are reaching retirement with limited or no savings,
and are projected to face a saving shortfall

~2/3 of the 40 million Americans 65 and older who receive Social Security benefits
depend on those benefits for ½ or more of their retirement income

It’s about 70 percent or more of income for those 80 or older

Only 60 percent of people who retire claim to have done any retirement planning at all

Author

Delaying claiming Social Security “buys” people 6-8 percent more real benefits per year once they do take it

Olivia Mitchell, a professor at the Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania, explained this last point, noting that if a person stopped working at 62 but waited to claim benefits until 70, he or she would receive a benefit 76 percent higher in (real) dollars per month for life. “When to claim Social Security is many older Americans’ most important financial decision they will ever make in their lifetimes,” according to Mitchell.

Learn more about the event here and watch the video:

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