For decades, the financial lives of Americans over the age of 50 were understood to follow a predictable lifecycle pattern. After working full-time into their early 60s, these individuals stopped working completely and began depending financially on a defined benefit pension plan. With a paid-off mortgage, comprehensive healthcare coverage, and reduced living expenses, they were free to live frugally, but securely, in their retirement.
Today, the real story for Americans over 50 – especially for those with limited incomes – is both less predictable and less secure. There are as many as 50 million low- to moderate-income Americans over 50 (the LMI 50+).
In contrast with previous generations, these Americans face higher costs of living, rising debt, changing living situations, the disappearance of defined benefit pension plans, and increased reliance on Social Security. Many in the financial services ecosystem, who see their role as helping Americans prepare for this time of their lives, have historically operated under the assumption that financial health increases with age, as retirees are able to tap into pensions, Social Security, and their own saved assets.
The reality is that many Americans, especially the LMI, are increasingly vulnerable as they age. And with the U.S. population aging rapidly, the LMI 50+ segment is growing, making these financial health challenges more common.