UACES Facebook Financial security in retirement: Can you pass the test?
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Financial security in retirement: Can you pass the test?

By Mary Hightower
The Cooperative Extension Service
U of A System Division of Agriculture

Fast Facts:

  • Social Security typically only covers 40 percent of expenses in retirement
  • Higher lifetime earnings yield higher Social Security benefits 

(314 words)

LITTLE ROCK -- George Foreman, first famous as a world heavyweight championship boxer, then as a kitchen appliance guru, once said, “The question isn't at what age I want to retire, it's at what income.” 

“That statement is true for most workers,” said Laura Hendrix, assistant professor and family financial expert for the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture. “Do you know if you will have enough to live the retirement lifestyle you envision?”

Retirement income comes from savings, pension plans, and Social Security benefits. 

“Many Americans are counting on Social Security benefits; however, most of us know little about it,” she said.  “A recent survey by MassMutual revealed that 72 percent of participants failed a quiz about Social Security -- even though Social Security covers 96 percent of workers. 

“If Social Security is part of your retirement plan, you should know about the potential benefits,” Hendrix said. “Here are 4 questions workers should consider”:

  1. How do I qualify?  Workers who pay Social Security taxes earn credits. Typically, workers earn about 4 credits per year. You need 40 credits, or 10 years, to qualify.
  2. How much is my benefit? Benefit payments are based on your career earnings and retirement age. Higher lifetime earnings yield higher Social Security benefits.
  3. When should I retire? If you retire at 62, benefits will be lower than if you wait. Amounts increase over a certain age range depending on when you were born.  Additional percentages may be added for workers who wait until age 70.  
  4. Will Social Security be enough? For most retirees, Social Security benefits are not enough to cover all of their expenses. A rule of thumb is that you’ll need 75 percent of your pre-retirement income. Social Security makes up only about 40 percent. 

Take MassMutual’s Social Security Knowledge Quiz:

Learn more about Social Security and calculate your potential benefits at

Estimate your retirement income needs with the Ballpark E$timate calculator: 

To learn more about personal and family finances, contact your county agent or visit


The Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service is an equal opportunity/equal access/affirmative action institution. If you require a reasonable accommodation to participate or need materials in another format, please contact your County Extension office (or other appropriate office) as soon as possible. Dial 711 for Arkansas Relay.

The Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service offers its programs to all eligible persons regardless of race, color, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, national origin, religion, age, disability, marital or veteran status, genetic information, or any other legally protected status, and is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer. 

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Media Contact: Mary Hightower
Dir. of Communication Services
U of A Division of Agriculture
Cooperative Extension Service
(501) 671-2126

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