Dramatically high percentages of Americans —even in the upper income categories—are likely to run short of money after 10 or 20 years of retirement, according to a new study.

A new analysis by the nonpartisan Employee Benefit Research Institute finds that almost two-thirds (64 percent) of Americans in the two lowest pre-retirement income levels will be running short after 10 years in retirement.

However, the EBRI study also finds that after 20 years of retirement, almost a third (29 percent) of those in the next-to-highest income level will run short of money, as will more than 1 in 10 (13 percent) of those in the highest-income level. Not surprisingly, those with the highest income are at the lowest risk of running short of money — but many in the highest income category still face significant risks of not being able to pay basic expenses and uninsured medical expenses for the remainder of their lives.

The study finds that nearly half of early Baby Boomers—those on the verge of retirement, currently ages 56 to 62—are at risk of not having sufficient income to pay for basic retirement expenditures and uninsured medical expenses, and nearly the same fraction of “Generation Xers” are in a similar position.

“As the private-sector retirement plan system evolves from a largely paternalistic one to a system in which workers must make their own decisions, policymakers need to understand what percentage of the population is likely to fail to achieve retirement security under current conditions,” said Jack VanDerhei, principal author of the study. “Even more important is to identify which of those households still have time to modify their behavior to achieve retirement security, and how they need to proceed.

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