American Adults Still Expect To Retire With a Pension

Armen Hareyan's picture

Pensions and Retirement

Nearly half (48 percent) of all non-retired adult Americans expect to retire with a pension, according to a new poll conducted by Harris Interactive for the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA).

"Despite all evidence to the contrary, pensions are still regarded as a safety net for retirement," said Carl George, CPA, Chair of the National CPA Financial Literacy Commission. "Americans have to understand that many of the entitlements of their predecessors are not guaranteed. It is up to them as individuals to prepare for retirement. Otherwise, they may find themselves working far longer than they had intended."

The safety net of a pension plan may not be there for many American workers, as more and more companies shift from defined benefit plans to defined contribution plans such as a 401(k). Yet, the AICPA/Harris survey found that only 14 percent of American adults mentioned their company's 401(k) plan when asked about ways they save.

"It's surprising that more people don't think of their 401(k) as a key way to save," said George. "They may not realize their 401(k) is where they can truly maximize their savings. It is automatically deducted from their paycheck, the dollars are pre-tax and their employer's matching contribution is essentially free money."


This also applies to younger workers. The study found that only 11 percent of workers under 35 years of age indicate they are participating in their company's 401(k). By waiting to take advantage of the tax-deferred savings and compound interest offered by vehicles such as 401(k)s, younger workers are missing out on the advantages of starting early and saving over time. In fact, people who start early can reap greater financial rewards.

Steps to Prepare for Retirement

The AICPA's 360 Degrees of Financial Literacy program features a consumer Web site, with hundreds of free tools and resources to help educate consumers about personal finance matters, including retirement. Basic retirement planning steps recommended on the site include the following:

1.) Know Your Retirement Needs

Experts estimate that you'll need about 70 percent of your pre-retirement income - lower earners, 90 percent or more