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80 Is the New 65 for Many Retirees
CNBC.com | November 16, 2011 | 12:36 PM EST

The concept of a “retirement age” is becoming irrelevant, at least according to a new study of middle-class Americans.

Whether it's a desire to reach a certain nest-egg number, dealing with rising health-care costs, or grappling with mortgage debt, more workers are deciding to delay retirement.A quarter of middle-class Americans — defined as earning between $25,000 and $99,000 annually — say they will “need to work until at least age 80,” according to the annual retirement study by Wells Fargo.

"Another interesting shift in the mindset of Americans is their perception of how much money they need. Three-fourths of respondents said it's more important to have a specific amount versus a date: $350,000 was the median nest-egg goal, but median retirement savings were only $25,000 dollars," said Laurie Nordquist, executive vice president of institutional retirement at Wells Fargo.

Money managers will tell you that the driving force behind delayed retirement is the savings gap. The gap is widened by grim economic factors hitting the middle class.

"Social Security cuts and mortgage debts are on the top of their minds," adds Nordquist.

Mortgage Debt

When it comes to mortgages, the generational gap is the great divider. Overall, 86 percent of respondents said they want to pay off their mortgage before retirement.

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