Less than 20% of boomers know how and when they’ll claim Social Security

Many seem unaware that delaying retirement a few years can give retirement income a big boost

St. Paul, MN, March 18, 2013 – Do more baby boomers now see Social Security as an important source of retirement income, prompting them to make plans for maximizing their benefits?

“Our survey found that only 18 percent of baby boomers are making decisions now about how they’ll claim Social Security,” said Michelle Hall, manager, Market Research. “But their focus on Social Security may be rising because half of that 18 percent tweaked their plans within the last three years.”

The Planners

Securian Financial Group surveyed 804 baby boomers about their plans for claiming Social Security retirement benefits. In the report, “How much will I get? Securian’s study of boomers’ Social Security strategies,” 18 percent (147) of respondents – the Planners – say they have developed or are developing Social Security strategies.

Link to report: How Much Will I Get?

Nearly half of the Planners created or started to create their plans between the ages of 60 and 65. The ages of 62, 50 and 55 stand out as benchmarks for planning, with 20 percent, 10 percent and 10 percent, respectively, starting at those ages.

Among the 50 percent of Planners who tweaked their Social Security strategies in the last three years, the most frequently selected reasons are:

  • Changed age at which I’ll retire – 59 percent
  • Changed age at which I’ll begin collecting Social Security benefits – 48 percen

Nearly 14 percent of this group also made changes in their spouse’s claiming strategies.
The most frequently selected triggers for Social Security planning among all Planners are:

  • Concern about whether savings will provide enough income in retirement – 44 percent
  • Need to decide on my retirement age – 42 percent
The 82 percent (657) of respondents who have not made Social Security plans or are just beginning to explore their options are the Non-planners. Nearly 17 percent (109) of them say they expect to receive no retirement income from Social Security, compared to four percent of the Planners.

 

The Social Security website is the Planners’ most popular source of information about claiming benefits: Sixty percent say they consulted it when making their plans. Twenty-two percent consulted financial advisors.

The Non-planners

The 82 percent (657) of respondents who have not made Social Security plans or are just beginning to explore their options are the Non-planners. Nearly 17 percent (109) of them say they expect to receive no retirement income from Social Security, compared to four percent of the Planners.

But not all Non-planners are so pessimistic. More than half (53 percent) say they expect Social Security will account for 40 percent or more of their retirement income.

When they do start making decisions about when they’ll claim Social Security, 66 percent of the Non-planners will consult the Social Security website for information. Nearly 40 percent of them will physically go to their local Social Security offices with their questions, compared to 22 per cent of Planners. Twenty-seven percent of Non-planners say they will consult financial advisors, compared to 22 percent of Planners.

“The number of boomers who expect to receive no Social Security benefits or aren’t sure how much they’ll receive reflects the group’s insecurity about financial security in retirement,” said Hall.

Methodology
Securian developed the survey which was fielded through uSamp’s online consumer panel from January 18-22, 2013.  Securian targeted consumers between the ages of 50-65 who were not yet retired, with a total of 804 consumers completing the survey.

About Securian
Since 1880, Securian Financial Group and its affiliates have provided financial security for individuals and businesses in the form of insurance, investments and retirement plans. Now one of the nation’s largest financial services providers, it is the holding company parent of a group of companies that include Minnesota Life Insurance Company and Securian Life Insurance Company, a New York admitted insurer.