Older Americans are not delaying their retirement despite Covid-19, research shows

Personal finance

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The Covid-19 pandemic was an unprecedented shock for many older workers. Even so, most do not plan to delay their retirement dates as a result, according to a report from Pew Charitable Trusts.

In April 2020, the unemployment rate for workers ages 65 and up climbed to 15.6%, the highest rate on record for that cohort. It also created the largest gap on record between that age group and workers ages 25 to 54, who had a rate three percentage points lower.

However, Pew’s survey has found that a majority of older Americans do not plan to change their retirement plans. Just 16% indicated they will retire later than expected due to Covid-19.

The survey was conducted during the height of the pandemic between May and June 2020 as part of a larger study on retirement planning underway at Pew. Respondents included 1,125 near and recent retirees ages 55 to 75, who have saved at least $30,000 toward retirement.

Admittedly, some older Americans do plan to delay their retirements due to the pandemic. Their likelihood to put off their retirement dates increased with age.

Just 12% of workers ages 55 to 58 said they plan to delay their retirements due to Covid-19. That increased to 17% for those ages 59 to 62; 28% for those 63 to 67; 34% for those ages 68 to 70; and 26% for those ages 71 to 75.

Plans to retire later were not necessarily tied to a lack of savings. Notably, the cohort who had saved $100,000 to $149,999 had the most people who said they plan to delay retirement, with just less than 3 in 10 respondents. That was the highest rate versus both lesser and bigger income brackets.

Meanwhile, about 3 in 10 of respondents who are already receiving Social Security retirement benefits said they plan to retire later.

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One factor that determines whether retirees reached their anticipated retirement date on time: how much guidance they receive from their employer. Those who had less support were more likely to say they planned to put off their retirements, the report found.

Of note, the survey found that just 11% of respondents who are either working or retired had withdrawn extra money from their retirement accounts amid Covid-19. Of those who did, 64% said it was prompted by an unexpected expense versus 14% who said it was pandemic-related. (Other responses were not broken out.)

The low withdrawal rates may have been helped by the record amounts of stimulus money Americans received through either direct checks or unemployment benefits, according to the report.

The stock market’s recovery from its March 2020 lows also could have helped older workers’ overall outlook.

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