Retirement age: At least 65

Posted: May 26, 2012 at 5:21 am

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"What's a realistic retirement age? How much longer will most of us have to work?" -- Charles Maimone, Wilmington, N.C.

The answer depends on how successful you've been at saving, how cushy a lifestyle you would like to have and, of course, when you prefer to disengage.

That said, after the battering 401(k)s took during the financial crisis, a lot of people feel they'll have to stay on the job beyond the traditional age of 65.

In a recent Wells Fargo survey, 12% of affluent Americans estimated that they'd have to work until age 80 to live comfortably in retirement. Okay, that's extreme. But when SunAmerica Financial Group surveyed pre-retirees last year, it found that workers were expecting to exit at 69 on average, up five years from a decade earlier.

The upside to waiting

There's no doubt that if you've fallen behind in your retirement planning, staying in the workforce longer can dramatically improve your chances of achieving a secure post-career life.

You'll have more years to contribute to your retirement accounts, and your investments have more time to grow. And the combination of extending your career and postponing Social Security can often boost the size of your benefit by 8% or more for each additional year you toil. Every extra year you work is also one fewer that your savings will have to support. That alone reduces the chances that your savings will run out.

Those are just the financial benefits: Research shows that as long as you're not slogging away at a job you abhor, working can improve your physical and psychological well-being and keep you more socially engaged.

How much will you need for retirement?

The choice isn't yours

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Retirement age: At least 65

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May 26th, 2012 at 5:21 am

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