This week, the AARP Public Policy Institute released a preliminary study of a survey they conducted in October 2010 with 5,027 men and woman 50 and older.
ITEM: 24.7 percent of exhausted their savings
ITEM: 19.4 percent fell behind in credit card payments or accumulated more card debt
ITEM: 12.4 percent lost health insurance
ITEM: 49.5 percent put off medical or dental care or were not taking their medication on schedule
Here is the full graph related to hardships from the recession:
ITEM: 52.7 percent rated their family's financial well-being as only fair or poor
ITEM: 41.4 percent saw their their retirement savings balance decline and not recover; another 49.3 percent said their balances declined and are not back to pre-recession levels, but are moving in the right direction
ITEM: 13.5 percent began collecting Social Security to help make ends meet; of those, 67 percent began collecting the benefit earlier than they had planned
Although all the statistics are troubling, the last hits me hard because when a person takes early Social Security, the benefit is permanently lower than it would be at full retirement age and beyond.
After being forced to give up my fruitless, year-long search for work, frugal does not begin to describe how I lived for a year until I was eligible for the full benefit at age 65 and eight months. But I believed it was crucial to hang on for that full amount - Social Security is 85 percent of my income and I knew I would need every penny of it for the rest of my life.
Only people who had been in the labor force at some point during the previous three years were included in the survey and some questions asked for a personal assessment of well-being – this one regarding their financial situation:
Another asked what people were doing now to prepare for a more secure retirement:
In their overview of the report [available online here - pdf], AARP notes:
”...one-third said they expect to delay retirement. Yet many jobseekers were still unable to find employment.
“Recovery for persons most adversely affected by the recession (e.g., the long-term unemployed, those who filed for bankruptcy) will likely be long and slow, and some may never make it back to where they were before the recession.”
You work hard all your life, do everything right and then some rich banksters come along and destroy your plans. They will be fine, but you won't.
AARP will release the full report from the survey later this year and I hope there will be more in-depth coverage than in this first release of the people who will not recover their losses.
Meanwhile, how are you – retired or still working – making out? Feel free to comment anonymously if that is more comfortable for you.
At The Elder Storytelling Place today – Susan Gulliford: Music Lesson