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Nearly Half of Americans 55+ Have No Retirement Savings

The rate is improving but still leaves huge numbers unprepared, GAO estimates    

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Nearly half (48 percent) of households headed by someone 55 and older lack some form of retirement savings, according to the latest estimates by the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO).

The 48 percent estimate for 2016, using the latest available numbers, represents a slight improvement over the 52 percent estimate for such households in 2013, the GAO reported. That’s the good news.

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But 29 percent of those who are retired or nearing the traditional retirement stage of life still have no retirement savings or a defined benefit plan, such as a job-based pension, and will need to rely on Social Security.

“Many retirees and workers approaching retirement have limited financial resources,” the GAO noted in a previous report.

Retirement experts have long warned about an impending financial shortfall for millions of older Americans, as many employers phase out pensions. The shift has forced more and more Americans to prolong their working years or rely on their savings and Social Security benefits.

Individual retirement accounts (IRAs) and work-based 401(k) savings plans have helped compensate for the erosion of pensions. But many Americans have not taken advantage of these ways to save or lack the resources to do so.

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), who requested the GAO update, says that Social Security should be expanded to help those with little or no savings. “At a time when half of older Americans over the age of 55 have no retirement savings, our job is to expand Social Security to make sure that everyone in this country can retire with the dignity they have earned and everyone with a disability can live with the security they need,” he tweeted last month.    

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