Need to Know: 2019 Retirement Confidence Survey

June 27, 2019

Each year, the Employee Benefit Research Institute conducts a survey to assess retirement confidence as well as perceptions about retirement readiness, anticipated age of retirement, and confidence in being able to cover expenses during retirement.


This year, the EBRI surveyed 2,000 Americans ages 25 or older. The survey included 1,000 workers and 1,000 retirees. The survey also included an oversample of 307 Gen X workers.


Here are the key takeaways about retirement confidence and expense expectations from this year's survey:

  • 82% of retirees are confident in their ability to live comfortably throughout retirement.

    • This is up from 75% last year and comparable to highs measured in 2005 and 2017.

  • 23% of workers say they are very confident in their ability to live comfortably throughout retirement.

    • This is up from last year’s 17% and now reflecting levels measured before the 2008 financial crisis

  • Retirees are also much more likely than last year to be confident in their ability to afford the lifestyle they are accustomed to (77% vs. 70%) and having enough money to last their entire life (76% vs. 67%).

  • Eight in ten retirees indicate they are very or somewhat confident they will have enough money to take care of medical expenses (7 in 10 last year) . 

  • Retirees are less likely than last year to say their overall expenses, health care expenses, and long-term care expenses are higher than they expected.

  • 67% of workers feel confident in their ability to retire comfortably, with 23% feeling very confident. 

    • While this represents an increase from last year, it is still lower than pre-financial crisis confidence levels.

  • 72% of workers are very or somewhat confident about being able to afford basic expenses in retirement, 4% are not confident about their ability to cover medical expenses and 48% do not feel confident about having enough money for long-term care in retirement.

  • 61% of workers say debt is a problem for them, compared with 26% of retirees.

  • Retirees and workers agree that income stability vs. preserving wealth is the most important goal driving their retirement planning strategy.

    • The groups differ when it comes to their expectation of that income source.

    • 82% of workers expect their income to come from an employer-sponsored plan (non-pension) while just 54% of retirees report this