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Half of Americans Entering the Peak 65 Zone Are Already Retired and Claiming Social Security

As the youngest and final group of Baby Boomers begin reaching the traditional retirement age of 65, new research conducted by the Alliance for Lifetime Income (ALI) shows stunning changes to the retirement landscape. The study reveals that half of Americans ages 61 to 65 have already retired and started claiming Social Security payments. Additionally, 28% are still providing financial support to adult-age children and extended family members.

The 2024 Protected Retirement Income and Planning (PRIP) annual study, now in its sixth year, examines the attitudes and behaviors toward retirement savings of Americans ages 61 to 65, known as Peak 65 consumers. PRIP is the only research of its kind that simultaneously surveys both consumers and financial advisors. The first chapter of the report released today highlights critical insights on the state of retirement today.

Disparate Assets and Emotions About Retirement

The study uncovers a wide disparity in investable household assets among Peak 65 consumers, influencing their outlook on retirement. While 51% have investable household assets of less than $100,000, 25% have assets between $100,000 and $500,000, 13% have assets between $500,000 and $1 million, and 11% of Peak 65 consumers have assets of $1 million or more.

It also reveals a seesaw of emotions when it comes to how Peak 65 consumers feel about retirement and money. While 34% are worried about their financial situation, an almost equal number (33%) are confident. And while 39% are uncertain about their financial situation, 42% are optimistic.

"This year's PRIP survey confirms how emotionally uncertain and financially unprepared Peak 65 consumers are as they enter retirement," said Jean Statler, CEO of the Alliance for Lifetime Income. "More than half of Peak 65 consumers have saved $100,000 or less. It's almost certain they will run out of savings and have to rely on Social Security as their only income."

"The problem is people don't realize that Social Security is designed to cover only about 40% of your pre-retirement income on average, leaving a huge gap. The good news is millions of Peak 65 consumers still have the opportunity of protecting themselves from outliving their savings with an annuity. It's why educating consumers on how to have a secure retirement is so vitally important and something we've dedicated ourselves to doing here at the Alliance," said Statler.

Retiring Early

Half (51%) of Peak 65 consumers are already retired. Those who stopped working did so at an average age of 57.7. Those who are still working plan to retire at an average age of 67.1. A 2020 ALI survey of Americans aged 61 to 65 identified health concerns or dissatisfaction with their employer as the main reason 25% of retirees stopped working. An additional 22% were either forced or incentivized to retire. "The data consistently demonstrates Americans often retire earlier than they anticipated due to unforeseen circumstances," said Statler, "It's more important than ever that people expect the unexpected when planning for retirement."

Claiming Social Security Payments Early

Nearly half (49%) of Peak 65 consumers are already receiving Social Security payments. 66% of them have investable household assets of less than $100,000. Among Peak 65 consumers who are now drawing Social Security payments:

  • 43% are doing so because of a disability or the inability to work;
  • 40% need the income;
  • 30% expressed "fear of missing out", citing concerns that Social Security won't be there in the future, their payment would be cut, or that they may die before reaching full retirement age.

"There is real concern that Social Security will not be able to support people who are relying on it as their primary source of retirement income, which is why Congress needs to act now," said Jason Fichtner, Executive Director of the Alliance's Retirement Income Institute and former Chief Economist at the Social Security Administration. "With pensions virtually gone, middle class Americans in particular are looking for protection and financial certainty in retirement and should be considering annuities to create their own personal pension to fill the gaps left by Social Security."

Financially Supporting Adult Relatives

The 'sandwich' generation is growing. Nearly 4 in 10 (38%) of Peak 65 consumers have one or more living parents or in-laws, which underscores the challenge of planning for a long retirement.

Additionally, 28% are currently providing financial assistance to adult relatives, including children aged 18 or older, grandchildren, parents, in-laws and other family members. Of these, 18% of Peak 65 consumers say this financial support cuts into their retirement savings and income.

Challenges in Retirement

Nearly half (48%) of Peak 65 consumers do not think their retirement savings and sources of income will last their lifetime, and nearly a third (31%) worry their retirement income won't cover their essential monthly expenses throughout their lifetime.

"While it's a difficult financial picture for more than half of Peak 65 consumers, there is still an opportunity for millions more to be financially secure in retirement if they protect themselves with an annuity," said Statler. "Federal Reserve data shows that the median income for an annuity owner in 2022 was about $76,000, and so we know that middle Americans are using annuities to create personal pensions to protect themselves."

Corresponding Findings from a Definitive Study

This first chapter of the 2024 PRIP study aligns with the findings from a definitive study commissioned by the Alliance's Retirement Income Institute. Authored by Robert J. Shapiro, a former Under Secretary of Commerce for Economic Affairs, the study examining the economic impact of Peak 65 consumers found a majority of Americans who will turn age 65 between 2024 and 2030 are not financially prepared for retirement.

Released in April 2024, the study finds that two-thirds of these Baby Boomers will struggle to maintain their lifestyles in retirement based on their assets and their likelihood of living up to 20 or more years in retirement.

About the Survey

This online survey of consumers was conducted by Artemis Strategy Group from February 15 to March 2, 2024. The 2,516 consumers are ages 45 to 75, of which 505 are an oversample of Peak 65 consumers ages 61 to 65, for a total of 886 Peak 65 consumers.

Data is weighted to align with the population on age, income by gender, race/Hispanic ethnicity, region, work and retirement status, assets, and education.

About the Alliance for Lifetime Income

The Alliance for Lifetime Income (ALI) is a non-profit 501(c)(6) consumer education organization based in Washington, D.C., that creates awareness and educates Americans about the value and importance of having protected income in retirement. Our vision is for a country where no American has to face the prospect of running out of money in retirement. The Alliance provides consumers and financial professionals with unique educational resources and interactive tools to use in building retirement income strategies and plans. We believe annuities – one of only three sources of protected lifetime income – can be an important part of the solution for retirement security in America. The Alliance's Retirement Income Institute houses the leading retirement scholars and experts who create evidence-based research and analysis, with practical ideas and actions to help protect retirees. For more information about the Alliance, visit

About Cannex

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Annuity Alliance is not affiliated with the Alliance for Lifetime Income or CANNEX. This article is for informational and educational purposes only. It should not be used to make a buying decision. If you would like to speak with a financial professional at Annuity Alliance using the Contact Form.