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Financially Cloudy Retirement Forecast for Many South Dakotans

April 11, 2007

According to AARP, 52 percent of Americans age 65 and older are dependent on Social Security to stay above the poverty line, and it’s the only source of retirement income for 21 percent of beneficiaries. The numbers are disturbing to the state’s largest senior group, and that’s why they’re holding a series of financial seminars across the state this month. AARP Associate State Director for Outreach and Service, Leni Healy, calls those numbers a reality check.

"Unfortunately the savings rate right now is the lowest since the great depression. The average American has less than $25,000 saved for retirement. That’s just one part of the big issues that face us. We’re living longer. We’re going to be in retirement longer and we need to have more money put aside for that longer, healthier life that we can expect to have."

Healy adds that what was appropriate for retirement in previous generations doesn’t work for today’s retirees.

"The cost of living is higher. Pensions aren’t as lucrative for people retiring now as they were when our parents retired. There are just all kinds of issues out there. The stock market has been very volatile. We’re just facing a few more challenges than any other generation."

Healy notes that many South Dakota residents nearing retirement age plan to keep working. She said that’s fine until the work skills begin diminishing.

"Even if we have every intention of working late, something may happen to our health that would prohibit us from actually working into our 80s and 90s. Obviously, over the long-term you’re going to need more money put aside. You don’t want to outlive your savings. You definitely don’t want to be penniless by the time that you do pass away."

The financial seminars are designed to help seniors save, manage and protect their financial resources. They’re free, with the first session scheduled for Aberdeen April 16 at the Ramada Inn. Additional seminars will be held in Rapid City April 18 and Sioux Falls April 21.

David Law/Eric Mack, Public News Service - SD