Experts have long held that baby boomers would work well into their golden years -- if only because of financial necessity.
But a new study shows that the oldest in the group, those born in 1946, are retiring in droves -- and not all of them in happy circumstances.
Nearly 60 percent of the early boomers are at least partially retired, according to the study by the MetLife Mature Market Institute. The majority of those -- 45 percent -- are completely retired, while 14 percent consider themselves retired but work part-time.
The MetLife survey also showed that 37 percent of respondents plan to retire in the next year and, on average, plan to do so by the time they're 68. The data also showed that a slight majority (51 percent) had retired sooner than planned.
Of those who have already retired, 37 percent cited health reasons for retiring sooner than anticipated, while 16 percent said their decision was the result of job loss or a lack of employment opportunities. Seven percent said that having the financial means to retire led to their decision to retire sooner than planned.
In an interview with AOL Jobs, the institute's director of research, John Migliaccio, said there was nothing in the data to suggest that boomers were being forced from the job market, though retiring sooner than anticipated because of failing health or inability to find employment would suggest that some boomers are facing difficulties in maintaining a livelihood.
Results from the survey also showed that nearly two-thirds of those polled (63 percent) are already collecting Social Security benefits and, on average, began doing so at age 63. MetLife says that finding defies the conventional wisdom that Americans prefer to hold off on receiving benefits until they are older and monthly payments are higher.
Regardless of whether boomers have retired or have yet to do so, many haven't saved sufficiently to afford retirement, according to the Insured Retirement Institute, an industry trade group.
The Institute's recent survey of more than 800 boomers shows that only 40 percent of those surveyed said they have saved enough to cover basic needs during their post-work years. Further, nearly two-thirds expressed doubt that they could afford their medical expenses, and three-quarters said they don't feel prepared to handle costs associated with long-term care.
The survey also showed that single people and middle-income boomers, who earn $30,000 to $75,000 a year, were less confident about their ability to afford retirement than others surveyed. The findings showed:
- 72 percent of single boomers aren't confident that they will have enough money to live comfortably throughout their retirement years, compared to 60 percent of married boomers.
- 38 percent of unmarried boomers expect their financial security in retirement to be worse than that of their parents, compared to 26 percent of married boomers.
- 70 percent of middle-income boomers aren't very confident about having enough money to live comfortably in retirement.
The institute's report, however, did show a glimmer of hope, with 74 percent of those surveyed saying, overall, they expect their financial situation to improve or stay the same during the next five years.
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