Majority of Retirees and Pre-Retirees Lack Sufficient Savings to Retire by Age 65, According to New Research from The Stanford Center on Longevity and FAR

New Study Shows More Than Half of Retirees and Pre-Retirees Are Barely Able to Get By Financially, With Only 1 in 10 Respondents Feeling Comfortable With Their Finances 

Findings Underscore FAR’s Mission to Provide Help, Hope to Retirees Through Home Equity Education, Tools and Products

SAN DIEGO--()--Retirement solutions leader Finance of America Reverse (FAR) today announced the release of “Disconnected: Perceptions vs. Reality in Retirement Planning,” a new study from the Stanford Center on Longevity (SCL) that examines the challenges and concerns facing retirees and pre-retirees as they plan for retirement. The report also suggests messages and interventions that practitioners and researchers can use to help anticipate and address these challenges. The study was made possible with support from FAR and builds on FAR’s mission to help address the U.S. retirement crisis through greater awareness of home equity solutions and indicates a need for more financial guidance and retirement planning earlier in life.

The study findings show that the majority of retirees and pre-retirees are not financially prepared for retirement and lack sufficient savings to fully retire at age 65. Of those surveyed, the median retirement savings were valued at $128,000 and more than half (55%) of respondents reported their financial situation as fragile or being just able to get by financially. Since most financial advisors suggest spending no more than 4% per year of invested savings, that equates to just $5,120 per year that the majority of retirees could safely withdraw from their investments to supplement other retirement income sources.

Among pre-retirees, almost half (46%) said they are deciding when to retire based on their age and not their target savings amount, while nearly one-third (30%) reported having no plan for deciding when to retire, which might result in retirees not having enough income in their later years, especially at a time when their medical and long-term care expenses tend to increase.

The findings also indicate there is room to improve the resources retirees and pre-retirees use to help make retirement planning decisions. According to the study, nearly three in four respondents (72%) rely on their own instincts when making retirement decisions, with that being the only resource used by more than half of all respondents. Conversely, only 41% of respondents say they currently rely on a financial advisor to assist them with retirement planning, and 60% of respondents indicated they should have done more planning than they did. The combination of these factors and the lack of planning earlier in life contributes to low confidence in retirees’ and pre-retirees’ future financial outlook, with only 10% of respondents feeling comfortable with their finances.

So many Americans manage their finances on their own for years without any advance planning, only to then find themselves ill-equipped for the surprises, frustrations, and sheer expense of sustaining a 30-year retirement,” said Steve Vernon, a consultant with SCL and co-author of the report. “The invaluable insights from this survey illustrate where a strategic, multifaceted approach centered around financial literacy and engagement, step-by-step expert guidance from wealth planners and advisors, and empowering messaging for retirees can truly make all the difference in building a financially secure future.”

The survey also reinforces the need for Americans to think about retirement planning more proactively and seek the advice of financial experts to help support them in reaching their future financial goals.

The way we think about and plan for retirement is going to require a fundamental shift. The accepted path of education, career, and a retirement at 65 ignore the true demographic and social changes happening in our country,” said FAR President Kristen Sieffert. “We need to invest in non-biased education and in building a set of retirement tools as broad and diverse as the various paths people take in the second half of life.”

Sieffert added: “We are living in a time of transition, marked by longer lifespans, increasing housing and healthcare costs, more volatile markets, but also encore careers, lifelong education, and a redefinition of life after 60. The insights from this study help inform our work with financial advisors and consumers alike, underscoring the importance of planning ahead and of home equity as a central financial tool for the new realities and possibilities in retirement.”

Martha Deevy, Associate Director and Senior Research Scholar at SCL, said: “We look forward to continuing our vital work with support from organizations like FAR so that more Americans are equipped with the tools and support they need to create healthy, vibrant lives throughout their retirement.”

Key Findings

In addition to highlighting aging Americans’ financial perceptions and aspirations for the future, results from the study also pinpointed several noteworthy trends. Key takeaways include:

Lack of Savings Contributes to Fragile Financial Outlook

  • The majority of pre-retirees and retirees surveyed reported having "modest" retirement savings, with the median value reported at $128,000. As a result, the majority of pre-retirees will not have sufficient income to retire full-time at age 65 under their pre-retirement level of spending.
  • Only 10% of respondents report feeling very comfortable about their finances.
  • 55% of respondents report they’re either fragile or only able to get by when it comes to finances.

Professional Advice Key to Improving Retirement Planning Decisions

  • 60% of respondents feel they should have done more planning than they did, while almost 3 in 4 pre-retirees and retirees want to do more planning in the future.
  • 72% of respondents reported relying on their own instincts to make retirement planning decisions; that was the only resource reported being used by more than half of survey respondents.
  • Only 41% of respondents say they currently rely on a financial advisor to some extent to assist them with their retirement strategies, with 45% reporting they do not use a financial advisor at all.
  • 60% of retirees and 64% of pre-retirees noted a financial professional would be extremely or very helpful in determining an investment strategy, while 57% and 61%, respectively, stated a professional’s advice would be helpful for planning their retirement savings.

Expectations for Retirement Don’t Match Retirement Plans

  • 80% of respondents cited lifelong financial security, affordability of care/assistance, and maintaining their preferred retirement lifestyle as extremely important or very important to them.
  • 81% of respondents saw unique circumstances as a net barrier to retirement planning, while 74% cited life’s uncertainties.
  • 46% of pre-retirees report they’ll base their decision to retire on their age, instead of when they attain a target savings amount.
  • 30% of pre-retirees report they have no plan for deciding when to retire, despite when and how to retire being one of the most important decisions facing pre-retirees.

Download the full report here:


The Stanford Center on Longevity conducted this study with support from Finance of America Reverse. Findings from the study incorporate research from multiple sources, including: a custom survey of 2,000 U.S. retirees and pre-retirees from the ages of 50 to 74, conducted by Greenwald & Associates; in-depth interviews with 21 academics, industry experts and recent retirees; and a detailed review of relevant literature across the financial planning and retirement spaces.

About Finance of America Reverse

As a retirement solutions company and part of the Finance of America Companies (NYSE: FOA) family of companies, Finance of America Reverse is committed to empowering people with the tools they need to achieve financial independence and get to work on retirement. Through its team of Licensed Loan Officers and network of lender and wholesale partners, Finance of America Reverse offers home equity products and services designed to help older Americans include home equity in their retirement plans. The company is licensed nationally (NMLS #2285) and is a proud member of the National Reverse Mortgage Lenders Association (NRMLA).

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James Goldfarb
Sloane & Company


James Goldfarb
Sloane & Company