Despite what we've been hearing for the last couple of years, those millions of Baby Boomers now reaching retirement age are ... yes, actually retiring, and not postponing their retirement to work extra years.
A new study released Tuesday, "Transitioning into Retirement: The MetLife Study of Baby Boomers at 65," suggests that the bulk of those born in 1946 and turning 65 this year have indeed retired, or are on their way to a full retirement.
The study, a follow-up to a 2008 Boomer study - when the participants were aged 62 - suggests that 59 percent of the first wave of traditional retirement aged Boomers are now at least partly retired (45 percent are completely retired and only 14 percent are working part-time; just 24 percent still hold down full-time jobs). And 51 percent admit they retired earlier than they expected, usually due to health reasons.
Approximately 63 percent of the respondents are already collecting Social Security benefits, something most began doing at age 63. And more than 60 percent of those surveyed say they are confident that the Social Security system will continue to provide them benefits through their retired lifetime.
MetLife's Boomers are also an optimistic bunch, with 43 percent saying they feel positive about the future. Eighty-five percent consider themselves healthy; 96 percent say they're at least partially enjoying their retirement, and 70 percent say they like it a lot. They also don't consider themselves "old," which they believe is associated with people aged 79 and older.
"Many of the Boomers weathered the recession well and have been able to stop working," said Sandra Timmermann, director of the MetLife Mature Market Institute. "Half of all Boomers feel confident that they are on track or have already hit their retirement goals. We found that more are homeowners today than in 2008, and that the value of their homes decreased by only 5.2 percent on average."
The study's other findings:
- The average retirement age for the 1946 Boomers is 59.7 for men and 57.2 for women.
- 24 percent have a living parent.
- 84 percent are parents; 83 percent are grandparents, up from 77 percent in 2008.
- Of those not retired, 61 percent plan to retire at the same age as they planned one year ago.
- 31 percent of 65-year-old Boomers think they were at their sharpest mentally in their 40s; only 20 percent say they're at their sharpest today.
- Home ownership increased significantly among the studied cohort since 2008, from 85 percent to 93 percent.
- 71 percent are married or in a domestic partnership; 12 percent are divorced or separated; 10 percent are widowed and 7 percent are single.