Too Many Retirees Clueless on Social Security
NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- You'd think retirees, especially cash-strapped baby boomers, would have a plan on how to claim Social Security benefits.
But you'd be wrong.
Says who? Says Securian Financial Group, a St. Paul, Minn., investment advisory firm.
Securian just released a survey showing less than 20% of boomers have a good idea on how they want to handle their Social Security payouts.
Securian's survey focused on 804 consumers, aged 50-65, "to learn the extent of Social Security's role in boomers' retirement income planning."
The inescapable conclusion: Americans nearing retirement don't have a clue how and when they'll start claiming Social Security benefits.
"Our survey found that only 18% of baby boomers are making decisions now about how they'll claim Social Security," says Michelle Hall, a market research manager with the firm. "But their focus on Social Security may be rising, because half of that 18% tweaked their plans within the last three years."
Securian focuses largely on those 18% of respondents who do have a retirement plan linked to Social Security. About 50% of those respondents started working on their Social Security claims between ages 60 and 65. Another 40% say they have started working on their payout plan between ages 50 and 55.
Of those boomers who are developing a Social Security plan, nothing is hard and fast. These near-retirees are changing their strategies on the fly:
- 59% of the "planners" cited by Securian say they will change the age at which they retire.
- 48% will change the age at which they begin claiming Social Security benefits.
- 14% say they are making changes in the way their spouses will collect Social Security.
The study adds an interesting, but slightly disturbing element: 17% of respondents who don't have a plan for Social Security believe they have a logical reason for it: They don't think they'll collect a dime in Social Security benefits, despite decades of paying payroll taxes.
On the other side of the coin, 53% of so-called "non-planners" say Social Security will make up more than 40% of their total retirement income.
It's a disjointed story, with an alarming number of older Americans without a plan for Social Security and more than a few who don't think they'll get any Social Security benefits at all.