Almost two thirds of preretirees at the lower end of the income scale, 64%, will run short of funds after only 10 years in retirement, according to the latest figures from the Employee Benefit Research Institute.

Wealthy people are at risk too. Some 13% of people in the highest income bracket will have to significantly downgrade their standard of living within 20 years of retirement, and the same is true for 29% of preretirees at the next income level. One of the biggest risks, aside from not being able to cover basic living expenses, is covering healthcare costs beyond what Medicare covers, EBRI says.

“The results illustrate the importance of saving early,” said Craig Copeland, senior research associate at EBRI. “Advisors need to make sure their working clients are participating at the highest level.” Older workers who haven’t saved enough will have to downgrade their retirement income expectations, he says, doing their best to save wherever they can from whatever income have coming in, and perhaps picking up some part-time work to generate more income and to take advantage of whatever employee health plan is on offer.

Overall, 45% of people still working are at risk of running out of money in retirement, the study says. And that’s including the increase in 401(k) participation rates due to automatic enrollment mandated by the Pension Protection Act of 2006.

“The results show that auto-enrollment does have an impact and will certainly help younger workers, but many older workers are going to have to make some tough decisions,” Copeland said.

Results of a separate study by LIMRA are similarly dire. It says less that half of preretirees age 55 to 70 have adequately saved for retirement. Some 55% of preretirees have less than $100,000 in investable assets, LIMRA says. Only 63% of older workers in the private sector participate in their company’s retirement plan, and 91% of those who do participate aren’t contributing enough. Almost one third of preretirees have no plans to give up working.

LIMRA suggests advisors make sure their clients are taking advantage of catch-up contributions in their later working years in order to bump up their savings. The group notes that 60% of pretirees have household incomes of $50,000 or more with a median net worth of $250,000, so many people could do more to prepare for their retirement than they perhaps are doing.

“Unfortunately, preretirees lack the education or know-how to tackle these issues on their own,” according to the LIMRA report.

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