Tough Economy For Aging Americans

By Matt Porter

September 12, 2012 Updated Sep 12, 2012 at 6:36 PM EDT

Windsor, NY (WBNG Binghamton) William Roth has been building towards a retirement for more than 45 years. But in 2008, he watched his $70,000 investment disappear.

"I basically got nothing," said Roth, "All my 401k, I lost three quarters of it in the recent stock fall and I'm only just beginning to get it back."

Roth isn't alone.

The National Bureau of Economic Research reported in a paper called, "Were They Prepared for Retirement?" that 46 percent of retirees die with $10,000 or less in savings.

"The wife's got to have something," said Roth.

"She's on Social Security. So she doesn't have that awful much coming in. So whatever I have in my retirement is going to add to what she's got."

Laura Bronstein, director of the Institute for Intergenerational Studies, said some things have gotten worse for seniors in the last ten years.

"If you talk to most middle class people who are approaching middle age or perhaps older age, most people are feeling less secure than their parents did," said Bronstein.

Bronstein, a professor of Social Work at BU, points to a slumping housing market and shrinking pensions as part of the problem.

"If they're not getting the equity they need out of their home," said Bronstein, "Then that's a big sort of savings that they thought they had, that they don't have."

Roth has lived in the same Windsor home since he was 13. He wants to keep it in the family.

"I want it to be able to trickle down to my son having it," said Roth. "He'd love having this place."

He said he'll do what it takes, even if it means delaying retiring.

For millions growing older, this growing problem isn't going away.