Elderly African American couple trying to figure out their finances.

Debt Levels for Households Nearing Retirement Decreasing, But Still High Compared to Past Generations

By Craig Copeland, Senior Research Associate, Employee Benefit Research Institute

Are you approaching retirement age and still carrying debt, including credit card balances? Are you working to pay off your debt before you retire? 

Recent analysis of data from the Federal Reserve shows that while the current generation of individuals approaching retirement are making headway in reducing their debt, they are still are carrying more debt than earlier generations.

Evidence from the Federal Reserve Board’s Survey of Consumer Finances (SCF) paints a mixed picture of trends relating to debt levels of families with a “near elderly” head—those age 55 to 64. By many measures, the debt burden has improved for this demographic group since the Great Recession. At the same time, in many ways, this family cohort shows higher levels of indebtedness than families with older heads. Also, as with many of the families with elderly heads examined in the SCF, the families with a near-elderly head show a pattern of stubbornly higher indebtedness than in past generations—specifically those in the 1990s.

Debt Levels:

Credit Card Debt:

“Research like this helps us understand the risks those nearing retirement run when it comes to retirement preparedness,” says EBRI President and CEO Lori Lucas. “It is ASEC’s mission to educate people on how to improve outcomes by managing debt levels so they have the ability to save for their long term financial security.”


Let America Saves help you save money so you can feel confident about your finances. It all starts when you make a commitment to yourself to save. Take the first step today and take the America Saves pledge to save money, reduce debt, and build wealth over time. And it doesn't stop there. America Saves will keep you motivated with information, advice, tips, and reminders to help you reach your goal. Think of us as your own personal support system.

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@EBRI discusses the debt status of the generation approaching retirement, and how such trends help financial capability organizations serve their constituents >> http://bit.ly/2F79JkN @AmericaSaves

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