The increase in annual payouts during retirement would make a positive difference—the difference between "too little" and "enough"—for millions of American workers during their years in retirement.
Nothing's perfect, particularly in life and investing, but by deciding to work for eight more years, the representative American worker puts herself or himself into a much better financial position for a decent retirement. Anyone who is not sure about adding eight more years can take the decision to work longer one year at a time—with each additional year producing an 8 percent "annual raise" from Social Security, plus an average increase in annual 401(k) payouts of nearly $6,000.
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Why don't most people know about this soon enough to plan? Good question. Americans who run out of money after they've retired—when it's much harder to get back into the workforce—may understandably be asking tough questions that will be hard to answer. Questions like: "You could see what was coming. Why the @#!* didn't you tell me?"
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The best thing we can do now is to help each and every worker see for herself what her choices really are and what the financial consequences of each choice will be. Given the facts, most of our fellow citizens will want to make this choice: Continue working for 20 percent more years to get up to 100 percent more during each year in retirement. Every American worker deserves to know the facts so he or she can make an informed free choice.
Charles D. Ellis, Ph.D., is a leading investment consultant and the co-author of "Falling Short" with Alicia H. Munnell and Andrew D. Eschtruth of the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College.